Culture in Disney and Pixar’s Cars

March 30, 2008

The other day we were talking about Disney and Pixar’s animated film Cars. I love that the film is not just another cartoon but an expression and record of culture, the American car culture.In being a film expressing culture it is inspired by the car culture.In making it they could have easily chose to create generic cartoon cars but they chose to use real and historical cars.Here are a few of the inspirations for the film.

The mountain range making up the landscape surrounding Radiator City was clearly inspired by the the famous Cadillac Ranch located in Amarillo, Texas along the classic Route 66.  The creators buried 1949 to 1963 Cadillacs so their rear halves pointed out to the skys.  The point was to emphasize the beauty of the chrome and fins era in which the cars were made.

The Cozy Cone motel came from the wigwam motels also along Route 66 with the closest one in San Bernardino, CA.

The cars and characters were also inspired.  “The King” character was based on the famous NASCAR 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner driven by Richard Petty.  Petty himself even supplied the voice for “the King.”

Doc Hudson was characterized in resembliance to the Fabulous Hudson Hornet which is from the legendary winning car of the early years of NASCAR.  The voice was provided by Hollywood car guy Paul Newman.  Newman himself was also a race car driver.

It is also worth mention that the name of the main character Lightening McQueen.  Steve McQueen was also a Hollywood car guy and a skilled motorcycle racer.  McQueen starred in and did much of the stunt driving in Bullitt which contains one of the greatest car chases filmed.

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