Let's face it, at this point it looks like there's no stopping the Fast & Furious franchise. It's a powerhouse, no doubt. So, with the release of the newest flick hitting theaters just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, we couldn’t help but showcase one special cast member. No, it's not Vin Diesel or Paul Walker.
As car enthusiasts, we'll soak up nearly anything with four wheels, a thumpy powerplant and aggressive stance. For the most part, die-hards aside, we remain unbiased to the domestic badges from the big-three. Case in point, when we were approached with the opportunity to get our greasy mitts on the hero car from the yet unreleased Fast & Furious 6 – a 1968-1970 Dodge Charger Daytona, we couldn't turn it down; nearly falling out of our chairs. We replied quickly through email, “When and where – we’ll be there!”
Of course meeting the owner of Vehicle Effects, Dennis McCarthy, was only part of the experience. We were also treated to some behind the scenes action for the seventh up and coming Fast & Furious movie. Yes, you read that correctly. Vehicle Effects is fast at work piecing together vehicles for movie number 7, whoa!
McCarthy is no stranger to supplying blockbuster movies with memorable rides either. Vehicles Effects has taken the lead on a number of movies including, “The Green Hornet” as well as five other previous Fast & Furious productions. Don’t get the wrong idea; Vehicle Effects isn’t your typical bolt-on speed shop. No, their facility is a fully contained fabrication shop. From vehicle introduction – running or rolling - to finalized running condition, Vehicle Effects can handle it all.
For Fast & Furious 6, muscle cars were a must. McCarthy’s team went in search; drumming up a whole mess of Dodge Chargers in various condition from running to barely there. “We found a total of seven, 1968-1970 Dodge Chargers from across the country. Some were a mess with barely anything to build from,” explained McCarthy.
Each of the seven Dodge Chargers was fortified identically to assure that each car remained unmistakable from the next while screaming to life on screen. Each Charger was packed full of custom fabrication work and a unique powertrain setup.
Vehicle Effects fabricated custom body panels including all of the nose, trunk and wings. McCarthy explained, “We tore apart each Charger, custom fabricated the nose pieces out of fiberglass and designed each of those pieces, including the slightly smaller wing so we could access the trunk.” Additional bodywork included shaving the drips rails, molding front and rear bumpers, installing LED taillights and creating a set of custom mini-tubs to house a set of wide rear rubber. Of course, seven times over.
Vehicle Effects didn’t stop with the body work either. McCarthy’s team made sure to add loads of safety components and parts. Of course, each Charger included a complete roll cage that would make any drag racer envious as well as an included fire extinguisher for safety.
Of course slowing all that whoa called for some serious stopping power. A set of Brembo 6-pstion front calipers with 14-inch rotors were mounted up front as well as a unique Brembo caliper and rotor setup for the rear. Out back, McCarthey’s team designed an ingenious plan, which included the use of two, opposing calipers clamping the rear rotor. One caliper would serve as the driver’s primary braking source while the other caliper would clamp on the rotor for stunts via a drift-brake handled mounted in the car.
We drove these LS3’s hard. Lots of jumps and stunts, lots of high-rpm and we never had an engine failure with the six months of ...
Vehicle Effects also installed a variety of chassis components, including a Riley Motorsports front K-Member, which not only helps add structural rigidity but facilitates a unique engine swap. Vehcile Effects even added solid motor mounts to tie the K-Member and engine together – stay tuned on that one.
To handle bounce, Vehicle Effects outfitted each corner of the Chargers with a set of AFCO, single-adjustable coilovers while 4-link setup is connected to a Detroit locker-stuffed, Ford 9-inch rearend. Speedway Engineering was called into duty as well; helping to control sway with a cache of swaybars front and rear. Of course, Vehicle Effects laid this out seven times over. Doing the math, that’s a total 28 shocks and 14 swaybars.
Remove the hood and a very unfamiliar, non-Mopar engine was stuffed between the framerails. No, your eyes are not playing tricks with you. If you’re familiar with late-model powerplants, you’ll recognize the composite intake manifold, individual coilpacks, fuel rails and center-mounted throttle body as an LS engine. Not just any LS would do, though, of course.
Vehicle Effects stuffed seven, 420hp LS3 crate engines; complete with everything you’d need from Chevrolet Performance into each Charger. Each LS3 was backed by a fully-built, Turbo 400 3-speed automatic transmission with a manual valvebody.
No expense was spared on these slushboxes either. Each TH400 received a Continental converter and even billet input shafts for repeated abuse on set. Only one Charger would get a slick-shifting 5-speed manual, which we had the chance to feature here. Custom exhaust cutouts allow burly orchestra compliments of a toned and tuned Magnaflow exhaust system. Those exhausts exit beautifully on each side, below the belt line and before each rear tire.
While we were on subject, McCarthy threw down some truth our way, “We drove these LS3’s hard. Lots of jumps and stunts, lots of high-rpm and we never had an engine failure with the six months of filming these cars were put through.” If that’s not a testament to the strength of these late-model mills, we’re not sure what else you’d need. Reliable would be a complete understatement.
Post filming, only three and a half Chargers have survived their on screen debut. Currently, Vehilce Effects is fast at work compiling ammunition for the next movie. Stay tuned, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with what’s next for the Fast 7 Furious series.
Make sure to check out all of the images along with what we couldn't fit in the gallery below!