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Cars - The Movie

Broadcast date : 9th July 2006

The best part about Cars is that it’s director, John Lassiter, is a big-time car-freak, and he based most of the characters on real cars, and icons at that.

Lightening McQueen is a Nascar racer, pretty much like the South African version of Nascar known as the Total V8 series.

These 500 horsepower monsters look almost like American production muscle-cars, but underneath the fiberglass and sheetmetal, they are ALL muscle.

In Cars opening sequences, Lightening get’s caught for speeding on Route 66, which is how he ends up behind bars in Radiator Springs. But he meets some cool people there.

One of the cool dudes is Ramone, the Tattoo artist. Ramone is a customized version of the Impala, one of the closest renditions of The Batmobile ever produced by Detroit.

But lest we get our comic book plots mixed up, it’s important to note that '59 Chevys, like Lolly Jackson’s pillarless coupe, are highly prized by the Hispanic-American low-rider movement.
This car, and its 1959 model year, represent a high-water mark in the fins-and-flash era of American automobilia, which is why they make such awesome custom cruisers.

While this coupe is standard apart from the wheels, the Spanish American low-rider chicos fit special hydraulics and cover them with artwork.

Hence, in the car world Ramone does tattoos and a fine hip-hop routine. His voice in the movie was played by Cheech Marin, famous for the ‘70s Cheech and Chong comedy recordings.

It’s such a cool touch, using a Fiat 500 to play an Italian racing fanatic. Many people may scoff at Ian Huntley’s 1960’s twin-cylinder Fiat having any competition connections, but they’d be dead wrong.

Former Ferrari Formula one star Jean Alesi is president of the international Fiat five-hundred club. And, not only does Michael Schumacher own one, but it’s the seven-time champion’s voice you’ll hear when a Ferrari finally shows up at Luigi’s tyre shop.

While director John Lassiter didn’t specifically identify Mater as a particular model, most experts agree it’s based on a 1950s General Motors pick-up.

This clean and mean 1958 Chev Apache street-rod was built by Alberton professional customiser Eddie Finch.

It offers the best of both worlds – show and go – thanks to a modified Chevy small-block motor, a body lowered or "channeled" on the chassis, and custom wheels and paint.

A good ol’ boy’s dream truck, and a modern car-culture icon.

You can see Sarge is a rules man by that stern frown. The World War Two Willy’s Jeep is no nonsense, upright, strong, and can take its punishment like a… well, a Jeep.

John Hunt’s 1946 CJ2A is the first of the civilian models. Of course Sarge considers himself an army jeep from his polished tyres right down to his spotless sump oil.

We wouldn’t have thought of a Carrera as a girl’s car – sorry, a girl car – but then Sally’s a thoroughly modern lady.

"Cars" is a delightful movie, and for us motorheads it’s the detail that elevates it way beyond the comic-book genre.
Real life cars like these have each carved a special niche for themselves in motoring history, and so will this instant film classic. As for the Nascar racing hero Lightning McQueen, well, as director John Lassiter says, life’s about the journey.

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