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Fast and Furious movies use “zombie cars” every day, apparently

Fast and Furious has already done space, so zombies feel like a perfectly logical addition to the world. But it's not quite what it seems.

The Fast and Furious movies used zombie cars

It won’t surprise you to learn that the Fast and Furious franchise has used and abused a lot of cars over the years. In fact, there was a special and rather spooky name for the vehicles they’d rent just to destroy them: zombie cars.

When it comes to the petrol power of the Fast and Furious franchise, car coordinator Dennis McCarthy is the ultimate expert. Nobody knows more about the Fast and Furious cars than he does, and he explained to Bloomberg in 2017 that it takes dozens and dozens of muscular machines to make each of the new movies about Dominic Toretto and his crew.

“I never really know the exact answer to how many cars we use in each film,” said McCarthy. “It’s hard to keep track. There were 300 to 400 cars that were purchased or built, vehicles that we had. Then in Cleveland, we had zombie cars – cars we would rent and wreck and return them. We’d go through 60 to 70 of those a day.”

We had never heard of zombie cars before we read this interview, but we can totally understand why they’re needed. All of the Fast and Furious characters seem to enjoy indiscriminate destruction, so that means the production team has to provide a constant supply of cars primed for slaughter.

Take this sequence, for example, in which the villainous Cipher took control of a parking garage packed with self-driving vehicles. While there was some CGI used, of course, the stunt team made sure that as many of these cars as possible were real. That’s serious carnage.

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Ultimately, it’s this sense of reality that makes the best movies in the franchise really work. It doesn’t matter how far the laws of physics are stretched in the story because the real stunts ensure that everything stays as grounded as it’s possible to be when you’re blasting cars into space.

As McCarthy puts it: “98 or 99 percent of the time, there is a guy behind the wheel. The fact that we do these things behind the wheel is very important. We are actually really doing stunts. We are really putting guys in cars. We are really flipping cars in cannons. I never heard the stunt crew say ‘we can’t do that’.”

The Fast and Furious cast is certainly willing to muck in behind the wheel when insurance will allow it, and McCarthy has previously revealed the best driver in the cast. Everyone involved in these movies wants them to feel real, and that bodes very well indeed for the Fast and Furious 11 release date.

For more on the absurd genius of the most recent movie, check out our Fast X review. You can also revisit the whole series with our guide to the Fast and Furious movies in order and find out how Fast and Furious actually got something right about space travel.