Did You Know That Some of the Cars From the Movie Cars are Actual Cars?

Pixar’s animated film Cars has some of the most lovable and colorful cars on the planet. But did you know that a lot of them are based on real-life cars?

So in other words, Lightning McQueen and many of the rest of Cars characters are not just merely the imagination of the movie’s animators, but also the product of different automotive manufacturing companies. Some of them you may have already spotted driving by. Or you may also have been in one of them before!

Especially if you’re a huge fan of the movie, knowing which cars that your preferred Cars characters have been inspired by totally changes everything — you may even find yourself researching about the vehicle that your favorite talking car in the movie represents and search far and wide just to see (and probably give it a test drive!) one in person.

Without any ado, let’s check out some of the cars that Cars characters are based on:

Lightning McQueen

All Cars fans can agree that no other character in the animated film is more recognizable than Lightning McQueen. Despite this, you may have a difficult time figuring out which automobile this iconic protagonist is based on.

Even if you’re a huge fan of cars — the wheeled things that we ride to go places, not the movie — you may find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out which automobile he’s inspired by. Well, that’s because unlike most characters Lightning McQueen is inspired not only by just a single car. This is why you may be able to notice design elements from the likes of the Ford GT40, the Dodge Charger, and the Chevrolet Corvette C6.

Sally Carrera

 There is no need for you to be a massive automobile enthusiast to know which car inspired the appearance of Sally. As a matter of fact, even if your eyes were closed the first time that she made her appearance, you would have an idea which vehicle she’s based on — her full name, which is Sally Carrera, makes it pretty obvious.

Needless to say, she’s based on a Porsche 911 Carrera — one from the 996 series, to be exact. Because of her sleek looks, it’s no wonder why Lightning McQueen fell in love with this attorney of Radiator Springs. By the way, a quick history Sally Carrera was supposed to be a Mustang car. However, she was made into a Porsche car instead because the grille gave her a more feminine appeal.


There’s a popular tire shop in Radiator Springs, and it’s called Luigi’s Casa Della Tires. Just like what the establishment’s name says, it is owned by none other than Luigi, which is based on a 1959 Fiat 500.

At the onset, this entrepreneur may not be that fond of Lighting McQueen. However, the time came when the two became good buds — as a matter of fact, Luigi even came to the Los Angeles International Speedway to help Lightning bag first prize. In the tire shop, by the way, Luigi has a loyal helper that goes by the name of Guido. It’s quite obvious which vehicle this lowly Cars character represents: a forklift.

Francesco Bernoulli

Everyone’s favorite Lightning McQueen wouldn’t shine as brightly as he did in Cars 2 if it wasn’t for his main nemesis, Francesco Bernoulli. In the said installment of the animated film, the Italian character Francesco was one of those that were selected to partake in the World Grand Prix, of course competing against Lightning.

To know which actual car he’s inspired by, all you have to do is take a quick look at him: he’s none other than a Formula One race car, although the book entitled Meet the Cars said that he’s a prototype 2009 Formula FB1.

Chick Hicks

While there are Cars characters that we love, there are also those that we love to hate. Case in point: Chick Hicks. Also sometimes referred to as Thunder, he is the main antagonist in the first installment of the animated film. He made an appearance in the final installment, but just as a minor character. Rude even to his very own minions, Chick is a cheater. After winning the Piston Cup, his car racing career went downhill.

In spite of having a bad attitude, no one can deny that he has good looks. His appearance was inspired by a 1987 Buick Grand National. And by the way, the decals on his green-colored body amount to more than 300.

Doc Hudson

Unlike Chick Hicks Doc Hudson is someone in the movie that we can’t help but adore. He is Lightning McQueen’s mentor, and Doc Hudson’s the reason why the main Cars character became a winner.

As his full name suggests, Doc Hudson is based on the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, which is a well-known NASCAR Grand National Series as well as AAA stock car back in the early part of the 1950s. Sadly, Paul Newman, the actor who provided Doc’s voice, passed away somewhere in between Cars and Cars 2. In the last installment of the movie, however, plenty of narrative parts were dedicated to honoring Doc Hudson.

Tow Mater

In Cars Lightning McQueen had a best friend, and it’s none other than Tow Mater. Everyone who has seen Cars can agree that he’s not the prettiest of all Cars characters. That’s because his body is beaten, dented and rusted. However, just like what we’re told always, we should not judge a book by its cover. True enough, Mater may have corroded exteriors, but inside him is a big heart that’s golden! It’s no wonder why in the second installment of Cars Mater was the protagonist. The good news is that in the sophomore Cars Lightning McQueen Mater tandem wasn’t broken.

This character Lightning McQueen was always seen with wasn’t inspired by a single automobile. While Mater’s looks are based on a Harvester tow truck, some of his design elements were from a Chevrolet truck from the 1950s.

Finn McMissile

In Cars 2, Mater was mistaken for as an American spy by a British spy named Finn McMissile. The former was hired by the latter to help solve the sabotaging of the World Grand Prix.

Nobody can deny that Finn McMissile is a handsome car. And if you are wondering which real-life automobile inspired his sleek looks, the animators from Pixar said that much of the character’s design was taken from a 1958 Peerless GT, which is a British sports car. They were looking for a British speedster with tail fins, and that’s the only model that they could find. Some people agree that Finn resembled the Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

Holley Shiftwell

There was a secret agent who worked closely with the British spy Finn McMissile, and it’s the beautiful Holley Shiftwell. All sorts of weapons and technologies are hidden inside her shiny purple curves, ranging from guns, electroshock devices, projection lamps to retractable wings — yes, she can fly! And because Holley Shiftwell is super cool and nice, ever since she debuted in Cars 2 she appeared in a number of video games.

By the way, her stunning appearance is the combination of a couple of sleek cars: the Jaguar XJR-15 and the 2008 MT-R Mark I. It’s no wonder why she’s one of the most eye-catching Cars characters!

Jackson Storm

The primary antagonist in Cars 3 is named Jackson Storm, and his looks and skills made him completely intimidating — not to mention that he’s also teeming with confidence and cockiness. In the animated film, his record-breaking speed shook car racing to its core as he spearheaded the next generation of race cars.

Because Jackson-Storm was a futuristic vehicle, his designers based him on a concept supercar: the Nissan Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo. This sleek automobile was created by Polyphonic Digital for the Gran Turismo series. In terms of looks and capabilities, it’s evident that Lightning McQueen Mater Jackson Storm are vastly different from each other!

Just Before You Go

So many other Cars characters are in existence, and many of them have been inspired by a wide variety of real-life cars. However, the ones that we mentioned above are definitely some of the top head-turning characters from the three installments of the popular animated film.

Regardless if it’s Lightning McQueen Jackson Storm Mater or another cool character from Cars that you like the best, feel free to mention it in the comments section below and tell us why!

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