When we talk about the coolest vehicles in the movies, the first ones that come to mind may be the Mustang in "Bullitt," the Trans Am from "Smokey and the Bandit," the Dodge police car from "The Blues Brothers," or any of the Aston Martins James Bond drove. But what about the equally cool trucks from film and television? How would Bandit (Burt Reynolds), Snowman (Jerry Reed), and Fred the basset hound have gotten their beer supply to Georgia without the big rig? How would Scooby-Doo's meddling kids get to the scene of the crime without the Mystery Machine? Don't forget the black-and-red van from "The A-Team" television show and movie. Here are some of our favorites from the recent past, as well as sneak previews of trucks starring in upcoming movies. Enjoy!
We were invited to visit the set of the movie "Fast Five," the upcoming sequel in the "Fast and the Furious" series, which comes out April 29. Without giving away too much of the plot, there is a heist, there are plenty of performance cars, and some of the story takes place in Rio de Janeiro. The big surprise, though, is that there are quite a few trucks that are essential to the story, unlike the earlier "Fast" films, which featured mainly street racers.
Regions of San Juan, Puerto Rico, doubled as Rio, and while we were there, we saw chase scenes and gun battles. We also interviewed Dennis McCarthy, who helped get all the vehicles together for the movie. He was in charge of coordinating the right modifications for each vehicle. He's also worked on "The Green Hornet," several of the other "Fast and Furious" movies, "Death Race," "Live Free and Die Hard," "Herbie Fully Loaded," and "Batman Begins."
The trucks seen in the heist scene are completely custom, but their most recognizable aspect is their cabs, which come from Oshkosh militarytrucks found at a military salvage yard. Dimensions of the trucks were defined by their use in the film-the deck height had to match that of the train cars, and length had to be as short as possible for maneuverability. The engine, a 500-plus-horsepower fuel-injected GM Ram Jet 502 big-block crate motor, had to be put in a lower position within each chassis to lower the center of gravity-to make them more controllable in jumps-and set up to allow for a 50/50 front/rear weight bias. The monster truck-like suspension was customized by guys known for preparing trophy trucks and off-road race buggies. The plan was to give the trucks big wheels and tires, suspension with a lot of travel, and the ability to jump multiple times with as little damage as possible. And jump multiple times they did. Corey Eubanks (Bob Eubanks' son) did the jump work for this scene, launching the massive vehicles 75 feet forward and about 25 feet off the ground. For each jump, there were GoPro HD digital video cameras mounted at each suspension point; afterwards, the team would review the files to determine if the tuning was correct. The trucks' front axle is a widened Dana 60 from a Chevy K30, while the rear axle is a Dana 70. The suspension uses Fox bypass shocks, dual-stage shocks, and nitrogen-charged bump stops.