— Spoilers ahead for all films in THE FAST & THE FURIOUS franchise and expanded universe —
From 2013 to 2016, I drove an off-white 2001 Buick LeSabre, semi-affectionately nicknamed “The Boat.” When it wasn’t sitting in morning traffic on the FDR, or slowly circling the block fishing for an alternate-side-parking break like an Old Man And The Sea impression, it was near-weekly in the shop for an excessive amount of tear that never seemed to correlate with the minimal amount of wear I put on it. I eventually had to give it up after it failed inspection because—and I’m likely misquoting here—“the steering column is about to fall off, you’re lucky you even made it to the shop.”
On some level, some tiny, nostalgia-drunk part of my brain still misses The Boat—but The Boat was not a great car.
What is a great car? Couldn’t tell you. I do not know a thing about cars.
It’s essential that you remember this, even as I make my seamless transition into the rankings of the cars of the Fast saga so that these rankings are taken within the proper context. I do not know the worth of the Fast cars, nor do I understand their technical specifications or historical significance. Any vehicular jargon I deploy in the following paragraphs is almost certainly being misused, and if not, I almost certainly have no idea that it isn’t.
Which is to say, much like Dominic Toretto’s driving, and the plot mechanics of every film in the Fast franchise, these rankings have been made almost entirely on instinct, with little-to-no regard for any sort of logical grounding.
A few also-ran’s to get us started:
- Idris Elba’s auto-bike (an easy top-10 contender if not for its not-a-car-ness) [Hobbs & Shaw]
- Brian’s bridge-jump Skyline (almost made the cut based on being one of the only cars I know the name of in the franchise) [Turbo Charged; 2 Fast 2 Furious]
- Sookie’s pink bridge jumper [2 Fast 2 Furious]
- Letty’s charcoal early upshifter [Fast & Furious 6]
- Roman’s purple pink-slip car [2 Fast 2 Furious]
- Dom’s classy-as-hell white and orange project (a pick for the real heads) [Los Bandoleros]
- Roman’s parachute car [Furious 7]
- Space Shuttle Pontiac Fiero [F9]
- The safe car tandem team [Fast Five]
- Dubai building-hopping super-car (the beast in a cage) [Furious 7]
Which brings us to the Top 10:
The vehicular embodiment of “it doesn’t matter what’s under the hood—the only thing that matters is who’s behind the wheel.” Stripped for parts pre-race, and a certified death-trap for anyone who isn’t being portrayed in a movie by Vin Diesel, it’s impossible to root against this rusted masterpiece.
“Physics be damned” may as well be the Fast saga motto, and (almost) no car embodies that more than Owen Shaw and his crew’s flipper cars, deployed to spectacular effect against Brian and the London Police Department writ large. Between its impossible lane shifting and the automobile acrobatics it facilitates, the Flipper was a shoe-in to make the list.
Overshadowed by a later entrant into our list from the same film, the antagonistic “Drift-King” Takashi’s all-black-everything car is the sleekest the series has to offer and features in one of my personal favorite races of the franchise. The driver might be a dick, but that’s the only thing keeping this very cool car from climbing higher up the rankings.
If there’s one thing I know about cars*, it’s that a 100%** surefire*** sign that a car is expensive**** is when you can see the color of the breaks***** through the tires. Featured in one of the highlight scenes from the newest installment in the franchise, and driven by one of the saga’s most scene-stealing role players (give Dame Helen another Oscar ASAP), this purple-bodied, yellow accented beauty seems like it would be incredibly fun to drive fast while escaping from the London Police—none of which are things I have or will likely ever do. Oh well.
***probably closer to possible.
****I have no sense of the actual value of this or any other car.
*****I am completely guessing that these are breaks.
The tank may be the eye-catching set-piece here, but before it obliterates Roman’s ride, his white it-sounded-like-somebody-said-Mustang-so-lets-go-with-that brings a new level of classy elegance to the often more sport and muscle-fixated franchise. Its role as the anchor that ultimately stops a war machine in its tracks (and leads to one of the series most hilarious “hitting a car is safer than hitting pavement” moments) vaults it even further up the list.
Oh sweet silver whatchamacallit…how bright you burned, how fast you faded. A bit more screen-time and Dom’s “it’s the fall that’ll kill ya” coup from the Fast Five might have topped the list. Instead, it’s with us for only a few exhilarating minutes before careening to a watery demise. Without it, we’d never have one of the franchise’s best “they’d definitely be dead right now” sequences, and our list most certainly wouldn’t be complete.
I’m sure there are a bunch of cool specs and mods and interesting features to unpack about this early 2000’s masterpiece, but ultimately the pick comes down entirely to nostalgia. Even as the series has transcended its gritty Point Break “inspired” origins to travel into the literal stratosphere, the LA street racing scene that may or may not actually exist will always feel like a home to those of us who’ve been with the Fast saga from the jump—and no car is more emblematic of that home base than the ten-second car that ultimately bound Brian and Dom together.
A testament to the persuasive capacity of the Fast franchise is how thoroughly it has convinced me of the dominance of American Muscle while providing me only a loose grasp of what American Muscle is. Generally speaking, when Dom drives an older-looking car, I’m on board—and if forced to choose between them, it’s impossible to pick against the OG.
Let’s put to the side the truly fascinating context that Han, at this point in the Fast saga timeline, is a multi-millionaire running low-end side-hustles off his Yakuza chop shop business just for kicks, while side-hustling those side-hustles by serving as a black ops super-spy for professional bag-getter Kurt Russel aka Mr. Nobody. For the purposes of this ranking, the only things that matter are:
1.) Han is the coolest, and
2.) Han’s car is the coolest.
As someone who could under no circumstances pull off driving a sports car, or an orange car, or a car that drifts, or a car that can drive faster than 85mph without feeling like it’s going to come apart at the seams, no car in the Fast franchise had made me more wish that I could. Han’s and his signature ride’s return to the franchise is the best thing about F9, and hopefully a sign of much more to come.