If you watch The Fast And The Furious today, the Nissan Maxima that rips a ridiculous burnout out of the barbeque scene might seem a little random. But if you were into cars when the movie was new, I bet you remember these getting driven hard. The one in the flick got picked for sheer convenience of the production, but the build is pretty cool to revisit.
Fast and Furious Technical Director Craig Lieberman’s back with more behind-the-scenes story time. As I’ve written a few times before, his channel is a wealth of fun and interesting facts about not only the F&F movies, but tuner car culture in the late ’90s and early ’00s.
This video on the backstory of “Vince’s Maxima,” which was actually Lieberman’s personal car (so was the orange Supra), is short and sweet. As a random aside, it’s the most tonally YouTubey, so to speak, of Lieberman’s videos so far.
As you’ll hear Lieberman explain, that Maxima was a genuinely heavily-modded car with a bunch of parts provided by known Nissan tuner Stillen including a supercharger. Those 19-inch wheels would have been pretty epic in 2001, too. Back then, aftermarket wheels that size on a car like this weren’t common to see on the street.
Lieberman said he wanted a Lexus GS400 for the role of Vince’s car, which would have been awesome, as those are absolutely sweet, but the production ended up grabbing Lieberman’s own Dodge Viper Blue Maxima because it was readily available. Remember, the F&F franchise wasn’t working with Dwayne Johnson-level money when the first movie was made. In fact, it wasn’t even a franchise yet.
The vehicle was an automatic–that burnout is a real, harsh neutral drop. The driver just mashed the gas in reverse and slammed it into drive without letting off the throttle, but I guess the gearbox survived! Grease on the tires made the exit a little more dramatic for the camera.
Maximas are not remembered as quintessential tuner cars like Civics and Integras, but these cars were solid all-rounders and popular picks for people who wanted to mix business with pleasure behind the wheel without necessarily spending BMW M or Mercedes AMG money. The fourth generation in particular, like Vince’s, was common to see making noise at stop lights or leaving high school parking lots in a hurry in the mid-2000s.
In fact somebody in my own little gang of newly-licensed adolescents at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High a few lifetimes ago had one... I remember thinking it felt like a highline luxury rocket ship compared to the other cars in our group, which were either small-displacement Hondas or low-trim Bondo-buggy muscle cars.
That might be part of the reason there aren’t too many left on the road today. In fact, shoot, when’s the last time you saw a fourth-gen Maxima in any condition?