Since their debut in 2001, the Fast and The Furious movies have been both the joy and the bane of gearheads. The joy comes from seeing all these amazing machines on screen, often put through wild stunts and making them shine. The bane is from how the movie perpetuates scores of car myths. Thanks to the F&F films, many moviegoers assume any car can be turned into a hyper-fast machine that can continue to drive after enormous damage and embark on stunts that defy the laws of physics. Plus, how they can get many details of cars wrong from the engines to how some models work for real.
Yet amazingly, the movies can get some things right on cars. Some of the wild stunts can be performed for real, and several of the cars can be as powerful in real life as on film. They can also capture details of car culture and some of the automobiles pretty rare. Yes, the things wrong with F&F are plentiful, but they can be correct as well. Here are eight things F&F lied to us about cars, but seven they got right, which shows how entertaining the movies are.
15. WRONG: None Of These Cars Can Run Nines
via Motor Authority
Gearheads may love the movies, but they can also grit their teeth at the many mistakes made with cars. One of the biggest is in the first film when the group is hanging out at the shop, and Jesse tells Vince he has to “tune your NOS timer if you want to run nines.”
The essential thing being, the cars in question include a Skyline R33, a 2.0 GTI, and an RX7. It doesn’t matter how much tuning you do, none of those are going to be able to run a quarter-mile in under ten seconds, throwing the whole idea off.
14. RIGHT: Japanese Car Culture Really Can Be That Wild
While Tokyo Drift gets a bunch of things wrong (the majority of Japanese teens don’t drive), it does help nail the often wild world of Japanese car culture. While the film may have inspired some aspects, it also drew from how Japan was leading the way in crazy car stuff.
The bōsōzoku trend existed since the 1950s and has pushed its way into crazy lights, wild designs, and impossible car builds. If anything, the film toned down how crazy the car culture can be in that nation.
13. WRONG: Cars Can Easily Slide Under Trailers
To be fair, it’s not like F&F invented this fallacy, but they sure did perfect it. From the first film, a regular sight has been cars easily sliding under tractor-trailers and even oil tankers with ease.
It’s a neat visual but woe to any driver who tries it in real life. Not only are real trailers much lower, but they have the massive safety bar underneath, which never shows up on film. Far too many accidents have occurred replicating this stunt.
12. RIGHT: Lamborghinis Are Not Made For Ice
The entire ice chase scene in Fate can be crazy (cars unable to outrun a submarine?), but it does have one realistic bit. As the team hit the ice, Roman is screaming about being out of control and targeted by bad guys. Tej rightly points out it’s because Roman decided a bright orange Lamborghini would be an excellent ride.
An expensive ultra-fast supercar with no snow tires is the worst vehicle for an icy setting. It’s a rare time the movies acknowledge just because a car looks cool doesn’t mean it should be driven in a specific environment.
11. WRONG: Nitro Is Like Safe Rocket Fuel
This has been one of the biggest fallacies of the series, which has inspired its own car myth. Thanks to the movies, rookie modders assume that nitro is like rocket fuel that can instantly turn any car into a high-speed machine.
Nitro only adds acceleration in accordance with a car’s fuel, and putting it into the wrong type of engine/system can even decrease speed. It also doesn’t emit flame, yet too many modders have ruined their engines trying to replicate these nitro rides.
10. RIGHT: The Gas Costs For Those Cars Are Huge
The opening of the fourth film is Dom and the gang robbing an oil tanker. It’s not just to sell the fuel for themselves but joking, “it’s cheaper than paying at the pump.”
This isn’t just a pure joke as the team regularly uses either major muscle cars or supercars that can burn through gas in record time. That’s just for regular races, let alone secret missions. Anyone wanting to replicate these cars better be ready for some high gas prices.
9. WRONG: You Can Do A Burnout And Wheelie At Once
The cars have been put through some ridiculous stunts throughout the series. But one of the most prominent remains in the very first film when Dom and Brian are ready to engage in their big race. Dom makes an intimidating move of a burnout and wheelie at once.
It’s obvious this was somehow fixed as a burnout is due to no traction while a wheelie is too much traction. It’s pure movie magic and not something that can be done for real.
8. RIGHT: While Not As Easy, Cars CAN Be Hacked
Yes, the scene where Cipher can get hundreds of cars to self-drive at once is Hollywood hacking at its finest. Yet there is a kernel of truth in it. With self-driving cars becoming more commonplace and computer systems advancing, it is indeed possible to hack into a car system and even remote control it.
It wouldn’t be as instant or smooth as the movie makes it look, but cars being hacked is a growing concern that the movie plays on.
7. WRONG: The Louder The Car, The Better It Is
There’s an old trope on “reality is unrealistic.” Meaning folks are so used to something from the movies that they won’t accept the reality. In the case of the F&F series, the producers have regularly had to put in loud noises for the engines and exhaust of cars.
That’s because people assume the louder the engine, the higher the power. If anything, even muscle car fans enjoy a softer engine as too much noise hurts the exhaust system. The movies make it appear that sound proves a car’s power.
6. RIGHT: Brian’s Supra Truly Was That Powerful
Brian’s bright orange Supra is one of the most famous cars of the franchise and a favorite of Paul Walker’s. While many of the cars are enhanced or exaggerated for the movies, the producers barely had to do anything with the Supra.
It boasted an incredible 2JZ 3.1 engine with NOS infection and turbo-charging to boost it to 600 hp. No wonder Walker loved it as much as fans.
5. WRONG: Tuning Is Easy And Awesome
Tuning and modifying existed long before F&F, but they took it to a new level. Granted, car TV shows can be as bad, but the movies make it look like restoring or modifying a car is a simple process that can take just a few hours.
It also appears that a little tuning can transform any vehicle into a high-powered machine ready to dominate the road. Too many real mechanics can attest to how complicated these jobs are in real life.
4. RIGHT: The Corvette Was A Real Barn Find
Letty’s 1966 Corvette Sting Ray shown in Fate may appear to be the typical old car cut up for the big stunts. The truth is that it was a real barn find discovered in poor shape.
They had to do a lot of restoration, and the original 327-cc V8 was lost in favor of a 400 hp Chevrolet crate engine. It came together for a beautiful ride as Letty’s talk on this being a rare beauty is for real.
3. WRONG: Cars Go Faster In Reverse
This first happens in 2 Fast when Brian tries to outrun the cops by spinning his car around and then speeding it off in reverse. Driving in reverse can be done, but the film makes it look like it’s going even faster.
The very aerodynamics of a car prevents it from achieving the same speeds, not to mention how reverse is only meant for small bursts. Let’s not get started on Fate of the Furious when Dom is able to run a car in reverse while on fire to win a race….
2. RIGHT: Cars Can Be Parachuted Out Of Planes And Land Safely
A scene that seems utterly crazy is when, to stop a convoy, the team bail their cars out of a cargo plane and parachute them to the ground. More amazing is that they did indeed drop the cars out of the aircraft, with only one ending up smashing when the chute didn’t open up.
It’s not just the film as this “car skydiving” is a regular thing. So while not recommended, it is possible for cars to pull off this crazy stunt.
1. WRONG: Drifting Actually Slows A Car Down
The entire point of Tokyo Drift is how “drifting” is made out to be a terrific way to speed up a car and give it an edge in a race. Anyone who tries it in real life is in for a rude surprise.
Drifting increases a car’s drag, and rather than control it going into a corner, it makes it easier to spin out. It’s a reason why it never took off in the States as drifting is nowhere near as effective as on film.