Fast and Furious – Thoughts After Viewing From An Inside Perspective

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I’ve had a long history with the development of Fast and Furious (FF4). I just got a chance to see the movie on Friday night for the first time in its entirety. Being behind the scenes for the filming gave me a lot of perspective on what I thought the movie might look like or how it might progress. Of course most of my assumptions I thought of ended up being false. I think that is perhaps always the case with movies if you’re on the inside; The end result is a bit of a mystery that gets worked out in the editing room after everyone else packs their bags and moves on. You can really only hope for the best and then let it go.

Regardless of what I thought would or would not happen, the movie is a huge hit and I’m very glad! The F&F franchise needed a hit to keep it going and this movie delivered huge box office numbers. That is what was needed to keep the franchise moving forward and I’m excited about part 5!

I received a lot of emails from friends, fans and car enthusiasts asking me what happened to the Bulletproof S2000s that the studio had me build. The response is the basis of this post and I’ll keep it short since I’m short on time.

There were some great cars filmed for the movie that much to my surprise never saw any screen time at all.

Most notably would be the Mines R35 GT-R which the studio had for quite a long time and used in (what I thought was) an important part of the film. I think not just the audience, but the movie car department of the movie and Mines themselves were dissapointed that such a high profile car was not utilized at all despite lots of filming and expense.

Also I noticed that Taro’s Vertex kitted 350Z (from ZigZag Asia) was there for the filming and never got any screen time. That was a shame because the car was very clean (expect nothing less from those guys).

Lastly are the cars I was involved with. Sure, I knew the gold S2000 would be a wildcard because of editing. The gold car was in an important scene, so it remained in the movie but the scene was edited down so much that I watched my hood flexing under the guy’s head more than I saw the car. In fact I didnt really see the car at all, just the hood getting abused after the slam. The movie industry is crazy when you think about how much work is done in advance for such a little amount of usable film. They had me pull the engine out of the car to do that scene since they were supposed to drop my engine on the guy’s head. They ended up not using anything of my car and in the end it could have been any hood that the guy was thrown on. Oh well…

Next up is the more surprising thing on my end. The movie studio went as far as changing out one of the opening scene cars to have me build them two identical S2000s for a race scene (you need two or more cars for any major film car that gets driven – in case of a break down). There was supposed to be a 2-3 minute opening scene of the movie that featured a few cars. They filmed that scene for I believe 1-2 solid weeks and it involved a drug run across the border and ended up in Letty’s death to set up the movie. When they removed the entire opening scene it was not only a surprise to me, but also to other insiders in the movie who spent a ridiculous amount of time and money to make that scene. In the end the entire scene was trimmed down to about 3 seconds of flash back material in which I think I might have caught a split second glimpse of the red S2000 I put together for the film (I’ll have to pause it once I get it on DVD).

In Hollywood there are no guarantees so I’m not upset. I’d be lying if I didnt say that I was surprised…I spent a solid 1-2 months on the movie for what amounted to at most 1 second of screen time. But ultimately that is how it works with big budget films. I cant be mad about it because the studio did what I and everyone expected them to do…to make a movie that is popular and sells LOADS of tickets. I highly doubt 99.9% of the viewing audience cares at all that the Mines GT-R, that Vertex Z or my S2000s were not in the film. They didnt make this movie for me and probably not for any of us reading this blog, just like they didnt make Bow Wow’s Hulk car for Tsuchiya and our friends in Japan with Tokyo Drift. Its ok, its the movie biz and in the end it makes crazy stupid amounts of money for those lucky few who have the juice.

So on my end, it was a lot of build up for really no reward…but I’m comfortable with at the least gaining a better understanding of the process and knowing that I’m not alone…I mean Mines gave them their demo car for something like 5 months and got absolutely zero screen time…so who am I to be upset.

As usual I remain persistent and I hope that the third time is a charm for me (I did a little work in FF3 with no results, did a lot more in FF4 with almost no result, and FF5…we’ll see…) That’s not counting the bit of film time I got in FF1 since that was so long ago.

Here’s two shots of the S2000s produced for the opening scene of the movie (which I hope will at least be on the DVD)

Bulletproof Automotive S2000 Fast and Furious Opening Scene - Deleted

Bulletproof Automotive S2000 Fast and Furious Opening Scene - Deleted

Bulletproof Automotive S2000 Opening Scene Fast and Furious

Bulletproof Automotive S2000 Opening Scene Fast and Furious

It should be noted how fast these cars changed under the varying conditions of the studio. It started with me having  full creative control in which I prepared a quick concept of the car (the GT3 green S2000 with flat black TE37s with the green stripe). Then mid way through the studio required the car to be a candy red. In response to the candy red show car color I decided to go crazy and do 24K gold RE30 Volks in 19×11 size with stretched tires. I figured if they want bling, I’ll give them bling!  Then 12 hours before filming they (without my knowing) took the RE30s off and put on Koenig wheels, took off the craftsquare carbon mirrors and put on APR mirrors, spray painted the leather seats, discarded the clear corner lenses for the headlights, slapped in some orange side markers and sent the car to filming. Since I’m not a fan of Koenig, and APR I’ll not be posting any pictures of the car in the final movie spec. Perhaps the DVD will show that.

Most funny part of filming: The S2000 is a drug transport car in the movie and is filmed both racing and sitting still during a drug deal. It wasn’t until on the set that they started trying to figure out how to fit a massive case of drugs into the S2000. They started “trying” to open up the rear hatch (which if you have this hardtop you know is not possible by simply trying to lift it open) and looking for places to store a massive case of heroin. In the end, the S2000 is not a great drug transport car if you’re moving weight like that…so we ended up pulling the passenger seat out to put the case in. I found that to be a really amusing moment.

Fast and Furious 4 Opening Scene Feature Car Project – Pt. 1

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Some of you have heard the rumors already. Universal Studios had asked us to build them twin S2000 feature cars. The Honda S2000s will be used in a racing scene along with a few other feature cars for the opening sequence of Fast and The Furious 4. Currently the two cars are already completed and have started filming.

It is a long and interesting story, some of which I can say now and some of which I cant. Here is part 1:

I was a consultant on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift for a short period of time. During that time at one point I was asked to design/build the majority of the cars for FF3 (they even asked me to have Top Secret build them a full built GT-R engine for the Mustang). I was given the car list and I started to plan some pretty serious cars. Shortly after the planning stage everything started falling apart and I left the project because their direction and my own did not mesh. I had big hopes to bring some of the hardcore Japanese functional design to the movie but ultimately the movie’s decisions were made for reasons other than purely the art form of building the best cars possible. The only tangible thing that materialized from my time with them was the article I wrote for Modified Magazine offering the world exclusive on the GT-R powered Mustang and an inside peak on the development of the movie.

Link to “JDM Goes Hollywood” Here:

As any of you who read this blog know, my gold S2000 was selected for a brief feature in the 4th movie as the center of a particular scene. Little did I know that the movie’s producer who owns the franchise was on set that day. He saw the car and from what I’m told, was blown away by it. A quick decision was almost made on the spot to remove the car from the scene and use it for the opening race sequence of the movie. However they were already set to do the scene and they completed the scene as intended.

Naturally once a car is featured in the movie, for continuity reasons they can’t use it again. However the visual impact of the gold S2000 still resonated with them. Shortly after, I was contacted about a last minute project idea…build them two new S2000s for the opening sequence of the movie.

This was a challenge on both my side and theirs for a number of reasons. First was the nearly non-existent budget they gave me to build the two cars. On their end it was a challenge because they had already built two FC3S RX-7s for the opening scene which would then be useless if they had me build them two replacement cars. Ultimately we agreed on a deal that had them not use the RX-7s that they had built and that would have me arrange 2 widebody S2000s for them.

So the project began. I had 3 weeks to build them two feature cars from scratch. I was fortunate enough to have Josh, a client of mine donate his car for one of the two vehicles (he’ll get his car back in a month or so). Short on time, I decided that I needed to buy the second one myself.

As a result of the unique circumstances and pressures of doing this last minute deal, the movie studio offered me two unique exceptions from the usual formula of building feature movie cars.

1. I was allowed Bulletproof Automotive logos on the cars whereas pretty much all other cars have no sponsor logos at all.

2. I was allowed full creative control of the car (or so they said at the time when I agreed to the deal)

So I was off on a mad rush to build two cars out of thin air with relatively no money and no time. I temporarily abandoned my office duties as the president of my company and was out of the office for nearly the full three weeks coordinating the build of these two cars. I wanted to show Fast and the Furious viewers something aggressive, unique and distinctively hardcore JDM. The cars in the past installments of the movie, from a JDM perspective, have let me down continually. As such, I felt immense pressure to bring something purely hardcore into the movie

Within 24 hours notice I had my photoshop master buddy Cedric craft up a concept for me. I was dead set on using the Porsche GT3 RS Green color. I wanted to accentuate the green with a set of matte black 19″ TE37 rims with color coded green time attack stripes and black MS-Revolution graphics with a splash of gold foil. Of course parts wise I wanted to use our Bulletproof Remix hardtop, a standard off the shelf Tracy Sports widebody aero kit, Top Secret or J’s Type V carbon hood, JGTC NSX type carbon mirrors and Top Secret R34 rear diffuser. Oh yeah, and a green color matched roll cage visible through the rear hardtop window. Throw the usual details I like with unique paint accents on carbon parts, and agressive offset with stretched tire rims and I’d be content.

I’m in love with the color combo on the GT3 RS and nobody has ever done a green car quite like this that I’ve seen. I also love the challenge that the color combo poses because it doesn’t work on a car unless it is comparably as hardcore as the GT3 RS. I knew it would be controversial and challenging, and thats what I always go for when I build a crazy car project (I get no satisfaction when playing it safe and predictable). We all had fights about it in my company’s office because it was such an extreme color choice. But that was what I wanted to do and I fought for it, internally at our office and with the movie studio.

After the rendering was completed we at my office and at the studio all agreed this would be it.

Here is what I WANTED to build them (please excuse what was a couple hour rush color swap photoshop)

Concept - Fast and the Furious 4 Opening Scene S2000s

Every project needs inspiration, here was mine:


PS: Part 2 will be released on this project soon. Its great having such a large community of like-minded JDM enthusiasts (we’re getting some major visitor traffic on this blog). I’ll continue to give you the uncensored details that I think you’ll find interesting. If it’s a bit long winded then I apologize…but I’d rather give you too much than too little.

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24K Gold RE30s Mounted Up

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19×10 and 19×11 on an S2000. Tire sizes 255/30 front and 275/30 rear.

I soooooo wish that they didnt make me build a red car. I really dont like red cars. At any rate, I cant wait to put these gold RE30s on my gold car, it’ll look incredible!

24K Gold RE30s

PS: Thanks for all of the great comments!

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24K Gold Volk Racing RE30 – Racing Meets Bling

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24K Gold Volk Racing RE30 19×11

Being what I consider a purveyor of quality JDM tuning I often challenge myself to great degrees as I aim to push the boundaries of how we see conventional tuning. At the same time I must also balance the respect of the core principals that I love. These wheels simply put, are pushing the boundary.

For the latest car project I’m completing, I must satisfy my clients desire for bling and showmanship while retaining my hardcore JDM roots. Later on I’ll release my original concept for the project, which ultimately was changed as I was required last minute to paint the car to the new specification of the client (Red). Personally I dont like red cars at all so that posed a lot of frustrating challenges on its own. But working with the needs of the project, I wanted to find a wheel spec and style to match a show car quality red paint hue that unexpectedly forced on to the project. So, what did I do? I decided to embrace the bling and set out to do the first set I’ve ever seen of 24 karat gold racing wheels.

Knowing that adding the gold plating would increase the weight slightly I set out for the lightest wheel with the most agressive size I could find. 19×10 and 19×11 Volk Racing RE30s were the answer. After refinishing the wheel in real 24K gold, the result was still a very impressive weight of 21.55lbs, damn good for any wheel of that size!

While keeping strength and light weight function in tact, I can still say the famous Chappelle quote: This wheel is “The Most Baller S#!T Ever!”

Feel free to comment about how sacrilegious it is to take a racing wheel and gold plate it, I’m ok with the love and the hate mail. Sometimes I’m confident enough to go against my own theories and still reach the desired result…same goes with my gold S2000 when I made my own aero parts by mixing and matching and modifying while at the same time I always talk about the proven theory that mix and match aero doesnt function properly.

I feel that if the confidence, strategy and skill is there then rules are meant to be broken from time to time.

24K Gold Volk Racing RE30 19×11

24K Gold Volk Racing RE30 19×11

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Vin Diesel Broke My Car (no, really he did)

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The title says it all!

You can watch how my car got damaged but you’ll need to wait until 2009 when The Fast and the Furious 4 comes out to see it. It was a cool scene in the film, but I guess Vin got a little more into character than we all expected. A damaged fender, hood, bumper and headlight wasn’t supposed to be part of the deal! Oh well, at least 10 million or so people will enjoy watching the craziness that ensued to create this mini-tragedy for my car. Now I need to have Mana-P re-do the graphics for the front half of the car as I replace all of the parts and repaint. This is going to be expensive…

Vin Diesel Broke My Car

Edit: Bryan commented on who’s paying to fix it. I found an answer for that…

Am I kidding? Yes…we’ll sort of. You know you want to buy the t-shirt…C’mon…Vin Diesel…Bulletproof S2000…how could you go wrong? Buy My Product! LOL.

Here’s how the car looks when it’s not damaged by Vin:

Bulletproof Automotive S2000 GT With Top Secret TE37s

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