Poor Musha Motors … in spite of having one of the more interesting T-180 designs, with decorative samurai woodcut decals, the Type B car got very little screen time. Below you can see the main Musha Motors vehicle, #77, a split-second before Speed destroys it in the final straightaway of the final race.
Several versions can be seen briefly in the final race, but only if you don’t blink. Even Musha’s villanous driver (the Asian guy with spiky white hair) doesn’t get a name, and is labeled only “Yakuza Driver” in the credits. Nice Hot Wheels though.
Type B Race Car Numbers sighted: 77
The Type A was a prevalent vehicle in the movie, getting a lot of screen time — mostly due to it being the car of the Gray Ghost, one of Speed’s rival drivers. This T-180 (the fictional name given to the Formula 1 style cars in the Speed Racer world) was also made into a full scale mock-up — with real-world sponsors — that appeared at several auto shows.
In the movie, the Type A is manufactured by Écran Établissement. In addition to #23, the Gray Ghost’s car, there are at least 4 other versions of this make that put in brief appearances. #23 was featured in the DVD special feature “Supercharged,” and was one of the vehicles available to players in the video game tie-in.
The Gray Ghost’s T-180 was one of the more common Hot Wheels in the series, and a second, exceedingly rare version of the vehicle was released painted as #22 — the Rude Noodles/Mrs. Oats car (which can be seen ever-so-briefly disintegrating around the Mach 6 on The Drop in the Grand Prix.)Update: Here’s a much better shot of the rare Type A Hot Wheels, courtesy of hollywood-diecast.com. Available exclusively through a box set at Target, the packaging identified the car as “Masurai” (though whether that was the driver or the corporate owner, it doesn’t say — there is no indication Masurai is one of the fictional sponsors of the vehicle either, so take your pick.)
Type A Race Car Numbers sighted: 22, 23, 43, 55
A recent post over at io9 on sci-fi movie flops mentioned the big screen Speed Racer as one of the all-time money losers in Hollywood history — which, alas, is true — but also kicked off a defense of the 2008 release as, well, not a bad film. One of the things that made the movie shine were the numerous and stunningly original car designs created for the racing scenes.
As part of my creation of Speed Rally (and tracking all of the Hot Wheels released in conjunction with the film), I cataloged every vehicle in the movie — even those that were on the screen for less than 2 seconds. While this might seem excessively geeky, it is also an showcase of the work that went into the creation of the cars by dozens of artists. Due to the frenetic speed of the action, many of these designs flashed by too quickly to be seen, much less appreciated.
Unfortunately, due to the cinematic crater left behind by the Brothers Warner and Wachowski, the film quickly disappeared, the toy line did poorly, and these brilliant designs were buried. (One of the saddest things I saw online was a plea by a graphic designer who had worked on the movie for months, and was seeking a single rare Hot Wheels of the car he had created for Speed Racer — even after all his hard work, the execs at Warner Bros. had stiffed him when it came to getting him a token of his effort.)
Anyway, here is the first of several posts looking at the cars of Speed Racer: