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posted on April 14th, 2017

No one predicted the runaway success of the Fast & Furious film franchise when the original cult film about an undercover cop trying in vain to save a group of petty thieves from themselves debuted in 2001. Behind all the car chases, fight scenes, corny races, and girls, the film’s core concept of family-like bonds formed over a common passion resonated with audiences.

As the years passed, and as the films focused less specifically on car culture and more on over-the-top action and rampant destruction, that theme of kinship remained a constant. It transcended the movies themselves, bonding cast and crew together in a direct parallel to the ragtag family of their characters.

After Paul Walker’s tragic death during the filming of Furious 7 rocked the automotive world, Vin Diesel promised an eighth installment. “Paul used to say that eight was guaranteed. And in some ways, when your brother guarantees something, you sometimes feel like you have to make sure it comes to pass.”

With that spirit in mind, let’s take a look at the most iconic, lovable, influential, and plain badass cars featured in Fast & Furious films over the years.

Dodge Charger R/T (Image Credit: gearheads.org)

Dom’s 1970 Dodge Charger R/T

The first film was a mosaic of brightly colored and excessively vinyled 1990s imports, which made Dom’s pitch-black 1970 Dodge Charger R/T all the more sinister. Whenever Dom got behind the wheel of this muscled monster, complete with a blown V8 and over 900 horsepower, it signaled to the audience that he meant business. Built as a father and son project before Dom’s father passed away in a racing accident, this car perfectly embodies the spirit of the Fast & Furious franchise. The first movie’s final drag race between Brian and Dom featured the Charger pulling a massive wheelie off the line, starting the beloved and aptly ridiculous tradition of Vin Diesel wheelies.

Toyota Supra from the Fast & the Furious (Image Credit: mecum.com)

Brian’s 1994 MKIV Toyota Supra

The team rebuilds the “hero car” of the first film from a singed husk in record time, with piles of parts infamously overnighted from Japan. The mere suggestion of doing a “full build” with an unlimited budget is enough to make a car nerd’s breath quiver. This little orange Toyota, complete with its painfully out-of-style wheels and body graphics, is also solely responsible for skyrocketing the Supra’s popularity among tuners. These days, MK IV Supras are able to claim insane prices and bone-stock examples are nearly impossible to find.

Volkswagen Jetta from the Fast & the Furious (Image Credit: reddit.com)

Jesse’s 1995 MKIII Volkswagen Jetta

Jesse’s character arc is practically a Shakespearean tragedy. A young kid suffering from crippling ADD finds purpose working in Dom’s shop modifying and tuning cars. He seems to stay out of the blatantly illegal activities of his crew, but is inevitably punished for the company he keeps. After blowing his nitrous too early in a drag race “for pinks” against the first film’s antagonist, he flees rather than give up his car, and is gunned down for it in broad daylight. Though, if you look carefully, it looks like Jesse forgot to install brakes and wasn’t even running from Tran after all.

Nissan Skyline GT-R from Fast & Furious (Image Credit: fastandfurious.wikia.com)

Brian’s 1999 R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Featured in the first few scenes of the second film, this nitrous-snorting beast made the Nissan Skyline the signature car of the Brian O’Conner character. The R34 made a comeback in Fast & Furious, when Brian raced Dom for a spot running drugs for the Braga cartel. Back when 2 Fast 2 Furious was released in 2003, the R35 (the first generation of Skyline sold in the US) was still years away, so no one complained about giving one of the world’s most celebrated Japanese sports cars some glamour time on screen.

Mitsubishi Eclipse from the Fast & the Furious (Image Credit: fastandfurious.wikia.com)

Brian’s 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse

This is the first car we see Paul Walker’s character driving in the entire film franchise. The little lime green Eclipse is practically single-handedly responsible for the body kit and graphics craze that swept the car scene in the early 2000s. The unjustified destruction of this car early in the film is also the plot device that turns the protagonist and antagonist of the first films into inseparable partners of justice in the rest of the franchise.

Joey is a freelance writer who loves everything about interesting cars and the people who drive them. He can most often be found lying under an old car or playing with his golden retriever, Molly.