It takes a lot of money to crash a car, at least for the Fast and Furious movies.
Craig Lieberman, technical adviser for the first three movies of the franchise, explains just HOW expensive in a new video that takes us behind the scenes to see exactly what it took to produce the iconic train heist scene in the popular Fast Five movie.
By the time that fifth movie was being filmed, the production company knew they had the right formula to make mega-bucks with the franchise. Therefore, they were willing to up the production budget considerably, all the way to $125 million from the first movie’s meager $39 million.
The gamble paid off, though, as Fast Five went on to rake in $626 million.
One of the stars in Fast Five – other than Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, of course – was the 1963 Corvette Grand Sport Roadster that was stolen from a moving train and eventually sent soaring into the water 300 feet below.
Lieberman explains that producers didn’t want to incur the wrath of Corvette enthusiasts everywhere by destroying a real rare Grand Sport, so they did the next best thing. They hired a company named Mongoose Motorsports out of Ohio to build 12 replica cars at a cost of $500,000, with full knowledge that some of them wouldn’t survive all the craziness typical of a Fast and Furious movie. (You can still buy your own version today, starting at $70,000 and going up depending on options.)
In fact, only three of the cars are still around today, with one of them on display at the Volo Museum in Volo, Illinois.
Five of the cars were stunt cars only, including three that were rigged with giant air cannons to catapult them off the cliff into the climactic quarry scene. Two of the cars were sent to the special effects department to get them prepared for driving on dirt roads in the desert, using off-road VW chassis made into roadster shells.
Only the so-called “hero cars” received the big GM crate 502 engine capable of 460 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque, hooked to a Borg-Warner Super T four-speed manual transmission. They also used a combination of C3 and C4 suspension and brake components and 17-inch versions of the famous Halibrand wheels. The stunt cars had to settle for 350 Chevy engines with Turbo 400 transmissions, non-show car paint jobs, and partial interiors.
The train heist scene was one of the most complex scenes in the movie, according to Lieberman, who noted that it culminates when the Corvette is catapulted off the cliff. The use of CG helped blend practical shots with green screen work and digital effects to make a seamless sequence, he said.
Apparently, CG can only do so much to have a scene look realistic because producers spent $25 million for the train scene alone, actually buying a real train and 600 yards of real track in Arizona. On the other hand, the bridge you see in the scene didn’t exist and was added through the use of CG, Lieberman says. “In fact, since the train track was in Arizona and the [Bellwood] quarry was in Atlanta, CG was absolutely going to be necessary,” he added.
CG was used to put Walker and Diesel in the car since the company obviously didn’t want to risk having their stars hurt. “In fact, when the Corvette went off the cliff,” Lieberman says, “there was no one in the car at all. The Corvette that was dropped into the water was an empty shell – no people, no powertrain. The stunt guys jumped into the water completely separate from the Corvette being dropped. [They] wore harnesses attached to their bodies to help slow their descent. CG allowed them to put the actors’ faces onto the stunt bodies.”
Now that you’ve seen all the behind-the-scenes action in how they pulled off this stunt, here is how the action scene came together and was presented in Fast 5:
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[VIDEO] Driving the Fast Five 1963 Corvette Grand Sport
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