The cars of Speed Racer: Type E

The Type E was a frequently-seen design in the final race of the movie — frequently seen being destroyed that is. A number of versions flash by during the Grand Prix, including the main car, #13, driven by Prince Kabala, who goes out in spectacular fashion after getting smashed by the GRX.

Kabala is notable in that he was a character from the original animated series. He appeared in the infamous “Fire Race” episode, which showed panthers and people being eaten alive by piranhas, and a race against time through the interior of a volcano that leaves almost 100 drivers entombed by the end of the story.Kabala also kept track of the drivers he had killed with a gallery of photos with skulls stamped on those who “would never race again” — as they euphemistically put it. Pretty heady stuff for a kid’s cartoon, and it made a huge impression on this 8-year-old viewer. It must have made an impression on the Wachowski Brothers as well, for in the movie they included the Kabala character and a scene with piranhas in what was clearly a fan shout out to the original episode.

Kabala’s car from the cartoon was released in 1/55 scale by Jada, and the Hot Wheels version of the  T-180 was one of the more common models from the movie line.For the movie, the character was bumped up to the status of Prince, and given an over-the-top jewel-encrusted car. (These closeups were taken from the web site of Phiyen Nguyen, a graphic artist who worked on the film, creating textures for the computer-generated vehicles. More of Prince Kabala’s vehicle, and other car designs from Speed Racer can be seen at his site here)

Type E Race Car Numbers sighted: 13

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