What better way for a complete car nut to relax and have some laughs than to settle down and watch a movie like Cars 2? As a reminder to attendees of the 2011 New York auto show that this animated feature goes on theatrical release from June 24, three of its “stars” are on display: Lighting McQueen, Tow Mater and a new character, Finn McMissile.
The suave McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine, but sounding oddly like Simon Cowell from time to time) is a British secret agent whose looks have been inspired by Aston Martins and Ferraris of the early 1960s. And he has an impressive array of James Bond-style gadgets to help him on his top-secret mission. This involves traveling the world to investigate three big motor races, while sending race machine McQueen and tow truck Mater far from their roots in the small desert town of Radiator Springs.
In the big city of New York, the toon trio are rendered virtually life-sized in three dimensions – even down to the dimples in the corners of each smiling “mouth.” They’re also electric vehicles and are the largest radio-controlled replica cars ever built. Each electric motor has 1,000 pound-feet of torque, that’s more than twice the accelerative power of a real-life 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo (480 lb-ft). But they can only travel up to 10 mph. Engine and exhaust sounds come from 200-watt audio systems under their hoods. Tow Mater has a special paint job that develops real rust.
Each car took more than 10 days to make. Disney/Pixar, the film’s producers, have declined to credit who actually created them, preferring to give the illusion that they just “jumped” off the big screen. However, Goodyear gets a nod for providing bespoke tires.
New York is only one stop in the cars’ “Agents on a Mission” tour, sponsored in part by the State Farm insurance company. Other cities include Miami, Boston and Washington D.C. Cars 2 is, of course, a sequel to the Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning original, with the same director, John Lasseter (who is actually a character in Cars 2 – John Lassetire, a pickup truck). The vocal services of Owen Wilson as McQueen and Larry the Cable Guy as Mater have also been retained. More information can be found on www.disney.com/cars.
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.