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The Most Realistic Cars In Fast And Furious Were The Three Black Civics

Illustration for article titled The Most Realistic Cars In Fast And Furious Were The Three Black Civics
Screenshot: The Fast And The Furious

Honda Civics were staples of the tuner car scene in the late ’90s and early 2000s. They were common at import car shows before The Fast And The Furious came out and the aftermarket catalog was deep. In fact, that’s why they got a prominent role in the movie.

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If you’ve seen F&F, I’m sure you remember the trio of evil-looking 1992 to 1995 fifth-generation (EJ chassis code) Civic Coupes stalking semi-trucks. And then one of them slides under the truck... Maybe your dad had to give you a stern talking-to about how that was not physically possible? No? Just me?

(It wasn’t possible for a lowered Civic to drive under a big rig, by the way, the movie truck was lifted 18 inches for the stunt).

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Anyway, here’s Fast & Furious-car-consultant-turned-tuner-car-historian Craig Lieberman’s breakdown of how those three (actually seven) Civics were put together:

“Producers basically viewed these cars as disposable,” says Lieberman. “...It would be no surprise to us if none of the cars survived the filming.”

But they did! And six were unceremoniously re-used in 2Fast 2Furious as background cars with new paint and body kits. You can probably guess which car did not make it to the sequel:

Gif: The Fast And The Furious
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If you watched the video, you learned that these cars did not have engine swaps, nice exhaust systems, or any performance upgrades of any kind. Without which, the U.S.-market Civic Coupe was really not much of a speedster. At all. Here’s the whole build sheet as reported by Lieberman:

  • ViS Racing GT Bomber body kits (because “producers wanted the front to look menacing.”)
  • StreetGlow green neon underbody jobs (because of course.)
  • Veilside-style Kombat spoilers
  • 17-inch Axis Neo wheels (because Axis literally couldn’t give them away)
  • $50 universal muffler
  • And that’s it

Any of you who were into tuner cars circa 2001 might remember that before “cars and coffee” was a thing, it was “Mountain Dew and mall parking lots.” And the modification list of most of the cars I remember seeing what pretty much exactly like the stunt cars Lieberman helped design.

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Wheels, maybe a body kit, maybe neons, definitely a cheap bolt-on muffler, and probably nothing else. Hence, the crappiest cars in The Fast And The Furious were the most accurate reflection of what the tuner scene looked like to a lot of people.

I should disclose that I’m not trying to bash anybody here–my first car had one-fourth of a body kit, a smaller fraction of an underglow kit, a muffler and nothing else, too before I wrecked it.

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Those $80,000 Eclipses and 10-second Supras existed, but they were at shows or legitimate drag strips, not slinking around warehouses like they were in the movie.

Regardless, I think the “heist Civics” looked cool in the movie and I still think that era Civic is a great-looking car. I just wish Lieberman had said where the movie cars’ exhaust note was synthesized from!

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

I feel like I was lucky to be part of “pre Fast and Furious” import car culture, because it was somehow even weirder. We only had these reverse-flipping Japanese magazines for inspiration, so the cars I thought were cool were eccentric Japanese tuners with no regard for anything but engineering and being purely weird.

When The Fast & The Furious came out, I remember distinctly thinking it was weird they featured Civics, a square body Jetta, and an Eclipse. My buddy Paul had a nicely built Supra at the time, so I understood that choice. I was driving an FD RX-7, but it was done in the “Viper Oreca” style blue paint with two white stripes down the middle. I even had a custom VPRSNPR (“Viper Sniper”) vanity plate for it. Why? Because I saw it in a Japanese magazine and thought it would be cool. My buddy Paul’s Supra was painted with a Ford GT-40 “Gulf” style paint job, and even had those American racing style rims. (There was a whole thing about bastardizing American themes on Japanese cars.)

The problem most of the old import tuning guys had with F&F was that most of the cars were slow. If you wanted to go fast in that era, you got a 300ZXTT, or a 3000GT VR4, or an RX-7, or a Supra. (Sometimes you’d run into a weirdo in a Starion.) A Civic is just a really stupid starting point for a fast car. Granted, I had one friend (what’s good Taka?) with a really fast CRX, but Taka was the odd one out, and he also didn’t have back seats. Or a stereo. Or a passenger seat. Or air conditioning. So yeah, his shit was fast as balls, but also, it was a rattle box filled with hot air and it smelled like the Chinese food styrofoam that had been sliding around the back since July.

Sadly, Taka's CRX became the picture of import culture.