Veteran movie car coordinator Dennis McCarthy has worked on many of the biggest films and franchise of all time, from Marvel (Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War) to DC (Man of Steel, Birds of Prey) to the Fast saga (every installment since 2 Fast 2 Furious).
But he can describe the basic function of his job in the simplest of terms. “It’s really just trying to put the right cars in the right place, and with the right character,” he says. McCarthy works with key figures like the screenwriter, director and stunt coordinator to figure out not only which cars to pair with specific scenes and actors but also what mechanical modifications are required to ensure the vehicles can achieve what the filmmakers need for the film sequence.
McCarthy is especially essential, then, on a film like this summer’s F9, the latest high-octane adventure with speedsters Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and family that makes its on-demand premiere today.
So what better expert to break down the back stories behind two of the biggest vehicular stars of F9 as Yahoo Entertainment presents exclusive 3D augmented-reality renderings of the film’s Dodge Charger Wide Body and Dodge Charger Hellcat — two of the nine Chargers McCarthy and his 12-person team built for the film — which you can virtually place in your family room.
Dodge Charger Wide Body
“The 1968 mid-engine Hellcat charger is a completely scratch-built car. That’s something that's really a one of a kind — well, I should say in our case, it’s actually two of a kind, because we built two mid-engine Hellcat Chargers. The other seven were powered by a different engine up under the hood. And we had a fiberglass dummy Hellcat motor behind the driver’s seat. But that was really just something that came up because I’m trying to find something that hasn't been done or that we haven't done because we’ve built so many Chargers through the course of this franchise. I wanted something different, basically.
“So the whole styling cue on that car is kind of like a ’60s Le Mans race car: the knockoff wheels, the style of the gauges, the upholstery on the seats. I tried to [give] the car kind of a period feel, until you look through the rear glass and see what's powering it, which is obviously some serious modern muscle there with a six-speed transaxle. But I think out of all the Chargers we built, that's definitely my favorite.”
Dodge Charger Hellcat
“For the Act 1 Charger, I think we started off with a 2018 Charger and we actually created our own wide-body cars. … In the movie car, we actually had some Dodge Demons leftover from Fast 8 [2017’s The Fate of the Furious]. So we basically took all those wide-body parts and cut, diced, sliced, molded, basically built our own. … And we adapted the Dodge Demon hood. There's basically one hero car [the primary vehicle featured on camera and the basis for all the alternate stunt models] that does have an actual Hellcat motor, and we actually transplanted a Challenger 6 Speed into that car. … We really wanted the clutch, the manual-shift car feature, so we basically had to build our own, with the help of Dodge.
“But beyond that, it’s a really great picture car because we don't have to do that much to it. Even most of the stunt cars are just the regular SRT model, which still has more than enough horsepower. They have great brakes, basically everything you’d want in a performance car. The one hero car, the way it’s featured in the film is obviously extra cool because it has the actual Hellcat motor with the six-speed and we did the Dodge Demon tune on it. So it’s really about 800 horsepower at the flywheel.”
F9 is now available on demand. Watch it here.
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