When The Fast and the Furious hit theaters in 2001, no one could have foreseen the enormous franchise that the hit movie would produce over the years. And yet, almost two decades and a bunch of movies later, the series is going strong with more films in the works. Over the course of the films, there have been hits and misses yet the movies have consistently grown in terms of budget and scope. The actors that starred in the first installment—relative newcomers at the time like Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster—all quickly became established stars. Meanwhile, plenty of new names have been added to the mix, including Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Charlize Theron, Ludacris, Tyrese, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham, and more. The budgets for each and every film have been higher and higher, as the franchise slowly turns into a globetrotting international story rather than an intimate picture of backyard modders racing on the streets of Los Angeles.
Updated April 2022: If you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve updated this article with more information about the cars featured in the movies over the years, whether they’re real street racers or not.
But the real stars of the movies have always been the cars: tuned imports, Detroit muscle, and increasingly, exotic supercars have all fit into the Fast and Furious films seamlessly. And for the gearheads in the audiences, some of these cars become the stuff of dreams. Just imagining blasting down the road in Brian O’Conner’s or Dominic Toretto’s powerful, customized rides sounds like a ton of fun—but just like any movie, some of the action on the screen is the real deal and some of it is fake. For anyone thinking they’d like to get their hands on a car that starred in the Fast and Furious movies, keep scrolling for some models to avoid at all costs, and others that are legit street racers waiting for the right driver to slide behind the wheel.
20 Prop Car: Volkswagen Jetta
One car that made an impact right out of the gate when the original film, The Fast and the Furious, hit theaters in 2001, the tuned Volkswagen Jetta seemed like a sporty German alternative to the predominantly Japanese street racers in the movie.
And yet, all those graphics, those white wheels, a body kit, and that hilarious spoiler can’t rescue the Jetta from its own failings. Namely, the VW Jetta is a front-wheel-drive commuter car with its entire engine mounted ahead of its front axle, making it completely silly to drive with any true performance ability in mind. Not to mention that it only had a 2.0-liter, 8-valve engine, and an automatic transmission.
19 Prop Car: Dodge Stealth
A Dodge Stealth made a major appearance in perhaps the most minor installment of the entire Fast and Furious franchise, the short film titled Turbo-Charged Prelude that preceded 2 Fast 2 Furious.
In the clip, Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner drives from Los Angeles to Miami, winning races all along the way. But in real life, a Dodge Stealth is a car that any fan should avoid, despite its quintessentially 1990s style, because its complex mechanisms and packed engine bay make it a nightmare to maintain and keep on the road.
18 Prop Car: Honda Civic
A trio of Honda Civics set the stage for the central plot of The Fast and the Furious. Paul Walker plays Brian O’Conner, an undercover operative tasked with tracking down a crew of street racers who keep knocking off semi trucks on the highways of California. Of course, the rest is history, but any hardcore fan of the film franchise should know that a Honda Civic—no matter how modified it may be—is simply the wrong car for a carjacking crew to attempt a heist with.
The replica above points out the stylized nature of the cars, which cannot help the Civic overcome the fact that it was designed to be an economical commuter, not a true sports car.
17 Prop Car: Volkswagen Touran
The franchise’s third installment, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, had many flaws that have consistently kept it ranked as perhaps the worst of all the F&F movies. But perhaps the strangest detail was the appearance of Lil Bow Wow (now known just as Bow Wow) in the role of Twinkie, the main character’s tour guide, procurement specialist, and all-around sidekick.
Even odder, Twinkie drove a Volkswagen Touran featuring a fully custom body design centered around the Hulk. It should be obvious at first glance that the tiny minivan offers nothing in the way of sports car performance. Who in their right mind would pick this car when there’s so much JDM awesomeness available?
16 Prop Car: Chevrolet Monte Carlo
A theme has developed that Tokyo Drift may have featured a plethora of terrible cars that any driver should try to avoid, and just like most of the rest of the movie, the cars in it are pretty questionable.
One of the more confusing choices is the appearance of a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, driven by Lucas Black as Sean Boswell in the movie’s early scenes. The Monte Carlo is meant to be in stark contrast to the aggressive Dodge Viper that it races, and the truth is that the big car has little hope of keeping up with anything at all, let alone one of the more aggressive monsters ever to roll out of a Detroit factory.
15 Prop Car: Mitsubishi Eclipse
Various Mitsubishi Eclipses make appearances in the first couple of Fast and Furious movies, but the most memorable one is undoubtedly the heavily modified green Eclipse driven by Paul Walker in the first film. Complete with outrageous graphics, a NOS system, and, as always, an enormous spoiler, the Eclipse is seen during practice runs in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, as well as when it loses a race to Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto.
But despite how cool the Eclipse might have seemed in the movie, there are plenty of much better, much more reliable cars that can serve as the basis for a better street-racing build.
14 Prop Car: Mazda RX-8
Another car that shows up as a drifter in the third film, the Mazda RX-8 is the non-turbocharged rotary-powered successor to the RX-7. But despite more futuristic, edgy styling, plenty of power from its engine, and a well-balanced chassis, the RX-8 is a car to avoid just because of the rotary engine’s design flaws.
While a high-revving, low-weight engine sounds great at first, the rotary’s seals always wear out quickly, it sucks gas like a vacuum throughout its life, and it will end up burning oil and needing rebuilds after even short periods of intense driving.
13 Prop Car: Jensen Interceptor
One of the more unique cars driven in the entire Fast and Furious franchise is the Jensen Interceptor piloted by Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty in the sixth installment. While plenty of fans of either the films or automobiles in general may not even have recognized the Interceptor, probably thinking it was yet another heavily modified muscle car, the model is actually an English-built, Chrysler-powered touring car rather than a legit piece of Detroit motoring.
With a heavy curb weight and low build quality the Interceptor is clearly all about looks over actual performance potential.
12 Legit: Nissan Skyline GT-R
Probably the most capable and recognizable car to appear so far in the entire Fast and Furious franchise, the Nissan Skyline GT-R may not have signified immediately for audiences in the United States when it first showed up. But for international crowds and gearheads in this country, the sighting was extra special because Nissan never shipped the Skyline to this country.
With its twin-turbocharged inline-six engine paired to all-wheel drive, not to mention clean styling and plenty of mods, pulling up to the starting line next to a Skyline GT-R like the one Paul Walker drove would be scary for anyone in just about any other car.
11 Legit: Acura NSX
Honda’s team built the world-renowned Acura NSX from the ground up to be a Ferrari-beater at a fraction of the cost. And after many years of development, the result was a mid-engined supercar with aerospace technology and styling, some of the best handling in the world, and an exterior design that improved downforce at high speeds without excessive spoilers.
If there’s a knock on the NSX, it might be the slightly lower-end power figures. But with a bit of modifications (or maybe even a bolt-on supercharger) and the right driver behind the wheel, not many cars can keep up with an NSX in a straight-line race, much less through tight turns.
10 Legit: Honda S2000
The Honda S2000’s best feature is its four-cylinder engine, which in earlier, AP1 models can rev to a sky-high redline of 8,800 RPM and produce 250 horsepower. Throw in nearly perfect weight distribution, a legendary six-speed stick shift, and a standard limited-slip differential, and the result is a car that is still highly unique even to this day.
An S2000 can be easily found on the secondhand market, and is a great starting point for anyone looking to master the art of driving at, and beyond, the limit.
9 Legit: Nissan 370Z
When Gal Gadot took on a larger role in Fast Five, few automotive fans or film fans could have foreseen her ground-breaking performance to come in Wonder Woman. But Gadot took her character’s story arc to the next level in Fast Five, with some bold moves highlighted by a turn at the helm of a modified Nissan 370Z.
That exact car actually ended up in Paul Walker’s collection before his tragic accident, but a similar 370Z is easy to find both new and used today, and the model’s combination of good looks, a smooth inline-six engine, and excellent handling are great for aggressive driving.
8 Legit: Nissan Silva S15
A car had better be a stellar performer if it’s going to earn the nickname Mona Lisa. Audiences watching The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift may not have instantly recognized the Nissan Silvia S15 that featured in the film, but it should have looked somewhat familiar to the more knowledgeable gearheads because of its similarities to the 240SX that Nissan shipped to this country.
With neutral handling, easy modding, and plenty of aftermarket support, the Silvia or a 240SX tuned similarly can offer plenty of fun for drivers looking for a bit of rear tire burning through tighter canyon curves.
7 Legit: Yenko Super Camaro
Along with all the heavily modified imports that feature throughout much of the Fast and Furious franchise, a healthy dose of Detroit muscle has fit into the mix, as well. And despite Dominic Toretto’s love for his Dodge Charger, probably the gnarliest muscle car to feature in all the films was the Yenko Super Camaro that had a small role in 2 Fast 2 Furious.
For those who aren’t aware of just how special this car is, it came about when former racing driver Don Yenko special-ordered 106 Camaros and modified them agains the expressed wishes of Chevrolet’s home office, with the result being a massively powerful, limited-edition Camaro that truly has no equal.
6 Legit: Toyota Supra Turbo
The fourth-generation Toyota Supra set a new standard for power and style when it debuted in 1993, but it was the Turbo iteration complete with a six-speed manual gearbox that hit these shores in 1997 which sent the car into the upper echelons of the sports car world.
Similar to the Nissan Skyline GT-R, the Supra Turbo used a twin-turbo setup on an inline-six engine to produce up to 320 horsepower and 315 lb-ft of torque, and that’s before installing the ‘overnight parts from Japan’, which can significantly boost those numbers without sacrificing any of the 2JZ-GTE engine’s legendary reliability.
5 Legit: Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
Just about everyone knows about the Subaru Impreza and its WRX and STI packages, but the lesser-known competitor to those rally-bred cars is the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Over many generations since the 1990s, the Lancer Evo has always maintained an even closer relationship to the competition racers that lend many parts to its impressive performance capabilities.
The Evo formula has always remained the same; a powerful, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive to transfer all the power to the road.
4 Legit: Ford F-150 SVT Lightning
Most fans of The Fast and the Furious probably don’t even remember that Paul Walker drove a Ford F-150 SVT Lightning for a brief moment in the film. But the Lightning was a significant step for Ford, one of just a few trucks that have been designed for street sport in the history of the pickup truck itself.
The second generation of the Lightning, which featured in the movie, had more external cues pointing to the supercharged, 5.4-liter V8 under its hood that could produce up to 380 horsepower and allowed the Lightning to shock just about anyone off the line.
3 Legit: Bugatti Veyron
The Bugatti Veyron needs zero introduction to anyone who has given the automotive industry any kind of attention in the last decade and a half. And though entirely too few fans will ever be wealthy, or lucky, enough to own one, drive one, or even see one, the Veyron simply has to be featured on this list because it is one of the most impressive cars ever made.
At the very least, it is certainly a serious speed demon thanks to a massive, quad-turbocharged W16 engine capable of cranking out numbers in excess of 1,000 horsepower.
2 Legit: Dodge Viper SRT-10
The Dodge Viper SRT-10 is undoubtedly the gnarliest creation to come out of Detroit—even including the results of today’s power wars like the Dodge Challenger Demon and its ilk. For its time, and still today, nothing matches the Viper in terms of raw, unbridled power.
And no automaker could possibly get away with producing a sports car with such minimal amenities these days, either—the Viper didn’t come with ABS, traction control, or even exterior door handles when it first hit the streets. With a monster V10 under the hood producing 500 horsepower, the Viper that raced at the beginning of Tokyo Drift was truly the real deal.
1 Legit: Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita
Possibly the rarest, most spectacular car to ever appear in any of the Fast and Furious films made a quick cameo at the end of Fast Five. After the heist and chase, the film’s stars go their separate ways, spending their money in the ways that suit their fancy.
Tyrese’s character, Roman Pierce, went all-out and bought himself a Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita, the predecessor to the Swedish firm’s world-beating Agera RS. Clad almost entirely in carbon fiber, the CCXR Trevita gave Tyrese all he needed in terms of performance and style—although he’d probably have been happier if Ludacris’s Tej Parker hadn’t gotten himself one to match.
Sources: fastandfurious.fandom.com, imdb.org, and wikipedia.org.
Fast And Furious: 19 Things That Make No Sense About The Cars
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