The cars of Speed Racer: Type J & K

The next two vehicle models show up all-too-briefly, but as they appear together, I’m posting them here as one entry. Type J & K designs are prominent in the Fuji race, where both blow up in spectacular fashion on the skyscraper-sized loop.The low-slung Type J almost looks like a modern Formula 1 racer, albiet without the large wing in the rear. Instead, it has a second pair of shark fins that mirror the pair in the front of the vehicle.Here you can see Type J passing above Taejo Togokahn’s T-180, and below is a screenshot of one from the final Grand Prix, with a better view of the rear fins.The Type K car is the opposite of the low-profile J, with a triple jet engine and beefy wing in the back. While it didn’t have a name or number, the main K car was distinctive in that its driver didn’t wear a helmet, but instead took to the track wearing a cowboy hat. Yippee-kay-aye, mother—Neither the J nor K T-180s were made into toys. A pity considering the K car is a really smart-looking vehicle that got more screen time than some makes that did appear in the line of Speed Racer Hot Wheels.

The cars of Speed Racer: Hangul

Taejo Togokahn’s sporty street car puts in a big appearance in the Casa Cristo, the grueling cross-country race that is the centerpiece of the movie. As part of the convoluted plot to expose the fixed outcomes of the World Racing League (WRL), Taejo agrees to turn over damaging evidence to the authorities if Racer X and Speed join his team and help him win the Casa Cristo. Dubbed the “Hangul” — the name of the Korean alphabet — in both video game and press releases, the car’s name is never mentioned in the movie, though Togokahn Motors can be seen printed in both English and Hangul on both this vehicle and the T-180. As Taejo was played by Korean pop star Rain, this was clearly part of the effort to promote the film internationally.Taejo’s Street Car was a common toy tie-in and produced in a number of sizes: the 1/64 scale Hot Wheels can be seen here, and above is the much larger “battle morph” version. (Photo courtesy of the Speed Racer Wiki.) By the way, while the name is correct on the car itself, Mattel ended up misspelling “Togokahn” on most of its toy packaging, switching the a and h. Details, people, details!

Hangul Race Car Number: 77

The cars of Speed Racer: Type H

While several full-scale prop vehicles were built for filming Speed Racer (notably the Mach 5), the Type H has the distinction of being the only actual functioning race car to come out of the movie. A fully operational prototype of the T-180 was created for real-world sponsor Petrobras, the biggest company in Brazil, and the 8th largest oil company in the world.
Here are a series of shots from Brazilian website Omelete, along with a video detailing the step by step creation of the vehicle:

While the Petrobras car was created solely for promotional purposes (targeting the race-happy Brazilians and their passion for all things Formula 1 … or so the film producers hoped), it was barely seen in the final cut of Speed Racer. What did put in an appearance was the version driven by main character Taejo Togokahn (the images here, once again, from the web site of Phiyen Nguyen).This T-180 shows up once, in the Fuji Helexicon race, destroying a number of cars in spectacular fashion — before spectacularly crashing itself, exploding in mid-air. Several other Type H makes can be seen during the final Grand Prix at The Colosseum, and the Togokahn Motors car is also one of the cars showcased in the DVD extra “Supercharged.”Unfortunately for die-cast collectors, no Hot Wheels version of the vehicle was ever created — especially curious, considering plastic toys of the T-180 were made for McDonald’s Happy Meals, General Mills breakfast cereal promos, and, oddest of all, a tiny set of ear tanglers. (That’s right, you can get an earring of Taejo’s race car, but not a Hot Wheels. Go figure.)

Type H Race Car Numbers: 3, 77