What kind of car is Lightning McQueen from Cars?

It's a question you've probably asked yourself before

3y ago

With Cars 3 set to be released in cinemas later this month, the world of cartoons and animations will turn toward Pixar's creation to make another monster impact at the box office. If you've seen the trailers, you'll know that this film seems a little darker than the last couple, possibly shifting the franchise down a slightly more mature path while focussing on a new, seemingly hybrid racecar opponent.

While wandering around the Goodwood Festival of Speed, I stumbled upon a large Pixar stand showing off full scale models of a couple of the characters. The main car in the films is obviously the Owen Wilson-voiced Lightning McQueen and after a bit of an inspection, I struggled to figure out exactly what car Pixar has been trying to portray with his character.

My immediate thought was that there is some Chevrolet in there, specifically a sprinkling of Corvette lines. American cars really aren't my strong point so after some research, I unearthed some interesting information to uncover the identity of the now iconic red racing car.

The first thing to clear up is that he's obviously a stock car. That conclusion doesn't take a genius considering they race exclusively around ovals. And that short-track rear spoiler, the huge NASCAR-style wheels and the striking lightning bolt livery all scream stock car racing.

In terms of the car's brand, Bob Pauley (one of two Cars production designers) said "He’s the new rookie/veteran, he’s sexy, he’s fast, he’s different. So he’s invented. We took the best of our favourite things, from GT40s to Chargers… just sketching them out, we came up with what McQueen looks like".

The director and writer of the film, John Lasseter, has also stated that although they wanted to have McQueen as a true stock car, they were found to be a bit boring, saying "Due to aerodynamics, the shape of NASCAR cars is relatively flat and not very interesting".

Bringing some relevance to some iconic cars into the mix, the guys at Pixar decided to inject the design "with some Lola and some GT40". That insight makes Lightning McQueen a Le Mans/NASCAR mix, which is actually pretty damn cool if you ask me.

I'm starting to see it now...

I'm starting to see it now...

In other words, he's a bit of a Frankenstein car but considering the vehicles used to make up his finished design, this character certainly has some legendary motorsport pedigree nestled within his pixelated lines.

Join In

Comments (75)

  • I saw this and I knew !

    - 1937 Willys Coupe

      3 years ago
  • THIS is a 1937 Willys Coupe

      3 years ago
  • with the side exhausts and that rear end he's a viper imo

      3 years ago
  • A guy in my neighborhood here in Hawaii went allllllll out and wrapped his corvette lightning style. Revving up during our towns annual Christmas parade made my day! And my son’s too!

      3 years ago
  • Mazda mx 5 / miata front end, back end of a corvette/mustang gt.

      3 years ago