The Cars Featured In Ghost In The Shell Are Bizarre And Wonderful

Big, pulsating chunks of the internet are quite excited about the trailer just released for the movie adaptation of the iconic manga and anime Ghost in the Shell. Sure, it looks exciting and is full of sexy killsexbots and all that, but, more importantly, there are cars in there, too. Extremely unusual ones. Let’s scrutinize the crap out of them.


First, if you have yet to see the trailer, I happen to have one right here you can use for your viewing:

Now, it’s not exactly a car-focused movie, but there were certainly some notable cars in there. Assuming they’ll be keeping to the general details of the original 1989 comic and its various animated adaptations over the years, this takes place in mid-21st century Japan. So, let’s figure a good 50 or so years in the future.

That timeframe does make the cars they’ve chosen a bit surprising, since from what I can tell they all seem to be roughly ‘80s-era designs. There’s four reasonably-visible cars in the trailer, and two of them appear to be ‘80s-era Lotuses. This may be in homage to the original era of the story, or just because the crisp, linear designs of that era match the overall look the film is going for.

Whatever the reason, it’s our duty to look at these cars, so let’s get to it:


The first car you see in the trailer is also the biggest mystery. I think it’s a late ‘80s Nissan Sentra, just modified with some sort of full-wraparound bumper thingie, sort of like a carnival bumper car. Perhaps that some kind of sensor array for an autonomous system, or just a big rubber bumper to allow for lazy, sloppy driving. It’s the future, who knows what kind of shit these kooks are up to?


The next car we see is the halo/hero car of the trailer: a modified second or maybe third-gen Lotus Esprit. I don’t think it’s a fourth-gen one because it doesn’t have the slightly more rounded styling details of that one. So, I’m saying this is an Esprit from somewhere between 1976-1987.

It’s pretty modified, of course, with louvers on the C-pillar, taillights replaced with some sort of grillework, and an odd manhole-like thing on the rear deck:


This site has better photos of the car, which is known as Batou’s car, and is where I got details of that “N22" cover-thing. Probably the maintenance access hatch for the reactor or whatever powers that thing.

Overall, this is a very badass-looking Lotus.

We encounter another old Lotus in the next scenes:


That one appears to be a Lotus Excel (sometimes called the Lotus Eclat Excel), which was made from 1982-1992. This is sort of appropriate for a Japanese setting, since this car was designed during Lotus’ partnership with Toyota, and even used a Toyota transmission.


It’s a handsome, sleek, sharp-lined hatchback design that fits with the automotive aesthetic that seems to be present in Ghost in the Shell’s world very well. It’s clearly modified a bit (it is a future car, after all) but it’s hard to tell how much from this first trailer.

Behind that non-Hyundai Excel, we come to the last car of the trailer:


Now, I’m pretty sure that’s a Subaru XT. Like all its fellow actor-cars, it’s modified, but that central linear recess and the slightly squared-off shape of the rear wheel arch make me think we’re looking at Subaru’s interesting little designed-with-a-ruler-only sports car here.

They’ve tweaked the C-pillar a good bit, and possibly much more. Considering the linear automotive aesthetic they’re working with in this future, the XT is a perfect choice.


This was just a teaser trailer; hopefully the next one will be full of ‘80s-era hard-edged automotive excitement. In our era of flowing curves and undulating wave-like shapes and hardly any sharp angles on anything, this vision of an automotive future is refreshing to see.

Especially with mudering sexborgs jumping all over them.

(Thanks, Christian!)

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Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)