The Super Cars of "Need for Speed"


For decades, cars have been a vital part of global culture. There is a strong association between drivers and their vehicles and they are often seen as an extension of ourselves, representing who a person is and what they stand for. Now from DreamWorks Pictures comes a film that honors the heritage of the world's passion for cars, the testosterone-fueled “Need for Speed.”

Based on EA Entertainment’s best-selling racing video game franchise of the same name, the film is a visceral and evocative return to the great car-culture movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s, tapping into our timeless fascination with the individualism and freedom of a car and our love of the open road. “Need for Speed” captures the excitement of the game in a real-world setting while bringing a level of intensity and authenticity to the action on-screen.


In “Need for Speed” the stars of the movie are the cars themselves, so it was important that the filmmakers found cars that would deliver the right look, attitude and performance on screen. In the end, a variety of classic ‘70s muscle cars and pricey European super cars were chosen.

Waugh comments, “The film begins in Mt. Kisco, New York, a blue-collar town with hard-working Americans, and that sort of culture had always gravitated toward muscle cars.”

The Mustang that Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots drive en route to De Leon was designated the film’s hero car. The “it” car of 1964 symbolizing freedom, romance and America, the Mustang launched the American muscle car movement and went on to become a worldwide icon.

Once Ford Motors heard about the film and the significance of the Mustang to the story, they were eager to get involved. The company worked with production to design a special “Need for Speed” Mustang based on the 2013 Shelby GT500. Caroll Shelby, a legendary American racer turned car designer who created the performance-based Mustang for Ford in 1965, had been working on the 50th anniversary edition when he passed away in 2012.

Ford was intrigued by the premise and collaborated with the filmmakers to style a car they hoped was similar to what Shelby would have created. Both parties wanted to respect the vision Shelby might have made without making it look too futuristic but did keep two of Shelby’s signature design elements, the blue stripes and chrome.

According to Waugh, “If you wanted a Mustang you always wanted the Shelby Mustang because it was an amazing car.”

The frame was altered by celebrated Ford designer Melvin Betancourt and built by Techno Sports in Detroit. Some of the alterations made to the “Need for Speed” Mustang include: a wider body, 20-inch alloy wheels (to help facilitate easier stunts for the stunt drivers), a V8 engine topping out at 190 miles per hour, heavier compression rates on the springs, high-charged Bilstein shocks and thicker sway bars. The interior console was adapted to accommodate an iPad for Tobey to use when communicating with his crew and the futuristic side-view mirrors were turned into cameras.

Eventually seven different Mustangs were built, each serving specific purposes ranging from beauty shots, stunts and driving shots to a model that could be lifted by and hang from a helicopter. Three of the cars were 5 L 420 horsepower with a six-speed manual transmission, two were 662 horsepower with a V8 engine and six-speed manual transmission, one was 5 L 420 horsepower with an automatic transmission and one was 305 horsepower with a V6 automatic transmission.

One of the focal points in both the crucial race between Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper and Harrison Gilbertson and the climactic show-down at De Leon are the European super cars, which include: a Swedish Koenigsegg Agera R, a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, a Spano GTA, a Bugatti Veyron and McLaren F-1, all of which were featured in the video games, and a Saleen S-7. All six super cars had a GM LS3 engine, 430 horsepower 425-foot pounds of torque and weighed close to 3,200 pounds.

The production also required multiples of each super car rigged for camera platforms on set for a variety of shooting needs, but due to their exorbitant price tags ($2 - $3 million each) and the fact that they could not be placed in situations where damage was possible, they would have to be built. Luckily the manufacturers were enthusiastic to get involved and shared confidential CAD specs with Reel Industries in Los Angeles who then created 15 chasses and fiberglass shells for each make and model which could then be swapped out.

Waugh explains, “There are only a few super cars in the world and they’re not really camera-friendly. You’re not going to drill into the side of a two and a half million dollar car…they’re art pieces, that’s what everyone forgets. You’re going to replicate it to wreck it so the real one is still there.”


“Need for Speed” tells a story of honor, friendship and loyalty and the high-octane journey of one man looking to clear his name. For Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), who runs his family’s auto shop and races the underground street circuit with his buddies on weekends, life is good. But his whole world is turned upside down when he is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In prison he spends the next two years thinking about one thing: vengeance. His best chance at defeating his enemy, Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), is the high-stakes car race known as De Leon. The Super Bowl of underground racing, De Leon takes place once a year and only a few select drivers are invited to participate with the winner taking all. While questioning the morals to which he has always adhered, he is nevertheless determined to bring down his enemies…no matter what the cost.

The film stars two-time Emmy® winner Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), Dominic Cooper (“Captain America: The First Avenger”), Imogen Poots (“Fright Night”), Ramon Rodriguez (“Transformers”), Rami Malek (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”), Scott Mescudi (aka rap artist Kid Cudi), Dakota Johnson (“21 Jump Street”), Harrison Gilbertson and Michael Keaton (“Batman”).

Opening across the Philippines on March 12, 2014, “Need for Speed” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.
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