The Fast And The Furious was the surprise hit of summer 2001. It was a goofy low-stakes B-movie with a not-huge budget and no stars, telling the story of a team of L.A. street racers turned truck hijackers and the undercover cop tasked with taking them down. It was practically a remake of Point Break, but with cars instead of surfboards.
However, it certainly wasn't without errors. There were things that made absolutely no sense about the cars, but we were all willing to let it slide, because this was a car movie for car people, and at the time there weren't any movies that spoke the language of gear heads and car enthusiasts in the same way. Let's take a trip down memory lane and check out some things that didn't make any sense in that first F&F installment.
When we're first introduced to Brian and his green Mitsubishi Eclipse in the beginning of the movie, he is testing the top speed of his car. But something is off, as he appears to have 7 forward gears. After seeing him shift into first before starting, you can count 6 more up-shifts after, either by seeing him change gear or by hearing it.
As Brian is maxing out his Eclipse, the car spins out for no apparent reason as he hit 140mph. A car won't spin out just because it reaches its top speed, and he didn't jerk the wheel to lose traction, nor did a tire blowout. A car will either reach a drag limit or, in this case, hit the engine's fuel cut off, and should continue straight.
After spinning out, Brian says he needs two massive tanks of nitrous oxide because his car topped out at 140 mph. That's not how this stuff works though. What it will do is create more torque to improve acceleration - but only in controlled circumstances where more fuel is added. But let's not get hung up on facts.
First of all, not a single car in the first movie would be capable of doing 9-second quarter-mile runs. The Supra is most likely somewhere in the 10-second range, where we'd most likely also find the "9 seconds flat" Charger. In comparison; Hemmings reported that one of the biggest muscle car organizations developed a "10-second club". Only a few racers broke into the ten seconds and barely any broke under ten.
We know what you're thinking. Dom's RX7 was awesome, how dare we say it didn't make sense?! As a show car, it definitely made sense, but this was supposed to be the fastest car on the streets of LA. Not with that massive and heavy sound system it wasn't! It was a totally useless feature for a racecar, no matter how cool it was.
During Jesse's inspection of the Eclipse before the race, you can tell it's a non-turbo engine, but Jesse claims it has a T4 turbo - and a 10-second car would have a visible front mount intercooler. He also says it has a NOS fogger system and direct-port nitrous injection. Seems a bit strange to be running two different nitrous systems on one engine.
During the first race, a square plate on the floor falls off Brian's Eclipse due to "Danger To Manifold". The Mitsubishi Eclipse is a unibody car; the frame and body are built as one solid piece, and it does not have floor pans. Also, it doesn't seem to bother Dom when he's in the passenger seat later. But how could Brian evade the police with those fried piston rings?
Dom makes fun of Brian after winning in the first race scene. Dom says that Brian was "Granny shifting, not double-clutching like you should." Double-clutching is primarily used by truckers that don't have good synchros on their transmissions. Granny shifting is upshifting while revs are still low, a technique used to prevent traction loss with powerful torque cars. In other words, this doesn't make any sense! At all!
As Johnny Tran and his cousin shoot up the Eclipse, we see the nitrous catching fire and then causing the car to blow up. Here's the thing: nitrous oxide does not burn, it just provides oxygen so more fuel can be burned. Nor will it explode like it did when the Eclipse was getting shot at.
Brian shows up with the wrecked Supra, Dom says he wants a 10-second car, not a 10-minute car. And they all laughed. Did they forget the Supra came with the 2JZ engine? Even if it had been an N/A model Supra, seeing as they clearly were prepared to spend some cash on it, an engine swap would've been an easy fix... along with the overnight parts from Japan.
It makes no sense that the Charger should scare him. Earlier in the movie, Jesse tells Vince that he has to tune the NOS-timer and he'll run 9's. According to Dom, the Charger ran the quarter-mile in 9 seconds flat. He's already driving cars that are as fast as the Charger then, so it shouldn't be much of a difference... unless he wants to drive it fast around corners.
Remember when Brian tells Dom that Hector is running Spoon engines with T66 turbos and a Motec Systems exhaust. Spoon engines would struggle to spool the T66 turbos as the exhaust gases don't have enough pressure to run them effectively. Sure, there could be other mods we don't know about, so let's say that's possible. What's definitely impossible is the Motec Systems exhaust - Motec makes engine management systems, not exhausts.
As Johnny Tran is pressing Ted to find out where his SR20 engines are he says "Do you see anything missing here? They've got no engines! Do they?" - it's very clear that he's talking about the cars in the garage. However, those cars are a Honda Civic and an Integra - so the Nissan SR20 engines make no sense and wouldn't fit.
As Jesse pulls up in his dad's Jetta to race against Tran, you can clearly see that the Jetta doesn't have front brake calipers. We know there is something about engines that calms Jesse down - but clearly, he hasn't figured out the rest of the car yet. The 2-liter, 8-valve Jetta with its automatic transmission might not be the fastest cars at Race Wars, but it would still need brakes!
In the last scene when Dom and Brian drag race there's a close-up shot where the sound of the engine revving up and down doesn't match the throttle positions. The butterflies on the blower scoop close when he revs up the engine, while they should actually open to let the air in.
While we do sometimes see drag cars spin their tires while the front wheels lift slightly off the ground, the full-on burnout wheelie Dom performed in his Charger is impossible. Dom even managed to pull it off on the street, not on a dedicated drag strip - which makes it even less likely. Now we're wondering if all that torque twisted the chassis as he got off the line?
While not exactly accurate, the Charger wheelie was still a legendary scene. However, what really doesn’t make any sense in this scene is how Brian's Supra isn't pulling away when Dom is doing two-wheeled burnouts. They're neck and neck the entire race, while in reality, Brian should be ahead right from the start.
The ending of the first movie is a defining moment in Dom and Brian’s friendship. They race to the train tracks, and at the very end, a train is approaching. For some reason they weren't already going pedal-to-the-metal during the race, so now they floor it and narrowly avoid the train... while defying physics and becoming airborne for no apparent reason in the process.
Although clearly done for cinematic purposes so it was obvious what is in the truck, the container full of electronic equipment at the beginning of the movie isn't packed anywhere near realistically. Everything is packed at the sides and none of it wrapped in plastic or on pallets. At the first turn, the boxes would be all over the place.
The first movie starts with a hijacking scene where one of the Honda Civics with lame department-store spoilers drives underneath a trailer. However, trailers with enough ground clearance to pull this off just don't exist. They also have a safety guard running the length of that open space to prevent this kind of thing to happen with low vehicles - even the lowest of Civics wouldn't fit underneath an un-altered trailer.