Screenshot: 2 Fast 2 Furious (Universal Studios)

The Fast & Furious movies are ostensibly about a culture of bolting accessories to cars—at least until stuff like this started being the norm—so it’s a natural vehicle for product placements. Some backstory on fitting sponsored parts into one car in particular, from the worst movie of the series, seems exceptionally wild to me 16 years later.

Craig Lieberman, car historian and technical director on the early F&F flicks, has been sharing his knowledge of early 2000s import car culture and Hollywood backstories on YouTube lately. I’ve been enjoying it immensely. If you read this site with any regularity, you might have noticed that.

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Today, he shared some knowledge about the Mitsubishi Evo VII that Paul Walker’s character drove in 2 Fast 2 Furious and there are some interesting nuggets here that movie fans and car nerds will appreciate.

The Evo VII was never sold in America. We’ll get back to how that lead to complications later, but it did make it an odd choice for the movie. One of Lieberman’s refrains in all his videos is that he wanted the F&F movies to feature “authentic” cars that were actually popular in tuner culture.

But while the Evo VII was big in Japan, it’s not a car you would have seen stateside back then—the Evo VIII we did get must have just missed the cutoff.

As for the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder driven by Walker’s co-star Tyrese Gibson, yeah, no, that car was never an object of desire for anybody.

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But here are two strips of backstory about Walker’s character’s Evo I found pretty interesting.

The graphics on the sides, laid over that paint color I might have dubbed “Chromustard” which was hot around 2003, is actually two close-up pictures of the car itself. They’re so heavily stylized and small that I never noticed this, and I’ve seen this film more times than I’m willing to admit in writing.

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Cannot unsee.
Screenshot: 2 Fast 2 Furious (Universal Studios)

I’m sure folks have made this observation before. You can even see the door handles in the inception-pictures, after all. But I never caught it, so hopefully at least one more person is now enlightened. This detail is so wacky it actually makes me like the car, and the movie, a lot more.

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But the funnier truth is in the taillights. As Lieberman tells it, car light company TYC wanted to have its wares featured on the movie cars. Specifically, it wanted its aftermarket taillights on Walker’s Evo.

Remember how popular “Altezza-style” lights were after the Toyota Altezza/Lexus IS300 blew everybody’s minds with its weird semi-clear taillights? No? Well, kids, that was a cool thing like 20 years ago.

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Searched 9/11/19; you can still find them easily
Screenshot: Google

But TYC didn’t make taillights for the Evo VII, only the regular Lancer. Which TYC did make lights for.

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Since those lights didn’t quite fit on the Evo, the people in charge of creating the 2Fast movie cars had to cut and craft and tweak the bodies of these vehicles so they’d install somewhat cleanly.

Screenshot: Craig Lieberman (YouTube)

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Screenshot: 2 Fast 2 Furious (Universal Studios)

To a casual viewer that might not seem like a big deal, but bodywork on a car is laborious, especially on a shaped spot like a rear quarter panel. So the notion of hacking up a car as exceptional as an Evo, just to fit some cheesy aftermarket taillights, seems low key mind-blowing even in the context of Hollywood nuttiness. Especially since it had to be done four times!

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And, of course, the movie was pretty bad. Then again here I am guzzling down and sharing trivia about it more than a decade after its release, so, who’s really laughing. All of us, I hope, because this is a happy place.