Lightning McQueen Is An Amalgamation Of These Iconic American Muscle Cars

To those of us familiar with the movie trilogy Cars, Lightning Mc Queen is the car that the everyday man and woman can relate to. The design of Lightning is based on a composite of four iconic cars from automakers like Ford and Chevrolet; it is also heavily inspired by two different generations of NASCAR racecars.

The Pixar Cars trilogy was a roaring success, which ensured that Lightning would be firing on all cylinders throughout the three movies. Montgomery Lightning McQueen is a stock racing car with the number 95, and he is the chief protagonist in Pixar films, Cars, Cars 2, and Cars 3. All three films are animated but have a cult-like following. Comedian and well-known actor Owen Wilson did the voiceover for Monty for the entire Cars franchise.

McQueen is a racer in the Pistons Cup, a carbon copy of the NASCAR cup series. He acquires seven Pistons cups throughout his illustrious driving career. While his appearance undergoes some changes to keep up to date with modern racing trends throughout the Car’s movie franchise, his demeanor and popularity remain the same. The original Car’s movie is regarded as the best movie, with Cars 2 considered the weakest of the three movies.

Related: Cleanest And Most Impressive Lightning McQueen Build Spotted In Thailand

Here’s What Car(s) Lightning McQueen Really Is

Red 1967 FORD GT40 MK IV
Mecum Auctions

The Designers at Pixar have stated that the design of Lightning was based on a composite of several cars, as mentioned in the opening paragraph. Lightning design displays strong features of NASCAR’s Generation 4 cars, and its shape and lines are quite similar and powered by an ever-reliable V8 engine. Another influence on the preliminary design of Lightning’s exterior and engine sound was the highly impressive and coveted Chevy Corvette C6.R

For the sequel, the car’s shape was altered slightly by adding a raised wing to keep pace with the changes in NASCAR, and Lightning in Cars 2 ultimately resembled 2010s Cars of Tomorrow NASCAR. The final car, but certainly not least, that was given credit for the design concept of Lightning McQueen was a Ford GT 40, which is still basking in its glory from the ‘Ford vs. Ferrari’ movie.

Yellow Chevrolet C6R
Car & Classic Auction

The GT is the ideal car to base Lightning’s design on and is still considered to be the greatest American sportscar ever made by many gearheads, even to this day. When it was first released, it was a legitimate rival to Ferrari, which was no surprise given its 7.0 liter V8 engine, which produced 463 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque with a top track speed of 200 mph. Not only is the GT 40 a great car, but it is also extremely rare, which makes it the perfect design concept for Lightning McQueen.

Lightning McQueen: The Iconic Muscle Car That Stole America’s Heart

Disney Pixar Team Lightning McQueen Animated Car
Disney Pixar Twitter

Lightning McQueen has become an iconic figure and is immensely popular amongst gearheads across America and the world, for that matter. Aside from winning races, Lightning also had a goofy side which was evidenced by his catchphrase ‘Ka-chow,’ which has no intrinsic meaning but certainly seemed to fit with Lightning’s character.

Ultimately it is McQueen’s character development over the course of the three movies that endear his character as he starts the first movie off as conceited and brash. Still, this harsh exterior gives way over the trilogy of movies.

Owen Wilson brought Lightning into the American living rooms. Albeit an animated racing car, he made him relevant and relatable, which is one of the main reasons that he still enjoys cult status today. It should be noted that Keith Fergusson does the voiceover for the Cars video games.

Lightning’s lasting popularity is a testament to how well-thought-out his character and his design were right down to the finite detail. Due to this meticulous approach, Lightning also enjoyed vast commercial success away from the big screen in the form of toys, video games, books, tv shows, and a character at Cars land, which is a car-themed section of Disneyland in California.

Throughout the movie trilogy, Lightning was full of four-wheeled fun and daring racing, which ensured that he was adored by both young and old viewers.

Related: 10 Famous Movie Cars That Were Absolutely Terrible In Real Life

McQueen Had Lightning Speed To Back Up All His Bluster And Bravado

Disney Pixar Lightning McQueen Animated Car
Disney Pixar Twitter

Lightning’s engine gave off a mighty snarling sound that is reminiscent of the V8 engine from the Corvette C6.R. It is no surprise that Lightning was so quick as the C6.R, GT1 produced 590 hp, had carbon-ceramic brakes and advanced aerodynamics.

Lightning McQueen is designed exactly how you would construct a racing car. It takes elements from all these iconic American Muscle cars that have thorough pedigree, winning races such as Le Mans, NASCAR, and In Lightning’s case, the Piston Cup seven times.

Lightning McQueen is all about American pride, and it is no surprise that no European cars, such as Ferrari or Lamborghini, feature in the design concepts. Despite this fact, Lightning and, in fact, the Cars movie franchise was just as popular in Europe as it was in America.

The only shame in the design is that it did not have elements of a Mustang Shelby or Dodge Challenger, which would have made it the ultimate gearhead fantasy. One can only hope, and who knows, a Cars 4 could be on the horizon, but one fears that if another movie in the franchise was made, Lightning McQueen may end up with an electric engine and suffer from range anxiety!