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Deep dive: Sean’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo from “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”

1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Tokyo Drift

“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” may have introduced drifting to the franchise, but it still featured some American muscle, including a Chevrolet Monte Carlo that appears early in the movie. As usual, Craig Lieberman, a technical advisor for the early Fast and Furious movies, has the details on the Bowtie coupe.

Main character Sean Boswell (played by Lucas Black) was written as a teenage muscle-car fan with little money, so the ratty-looking Monte Carlo was a natural fit.

The Monte Carlo was largely overlooked by collectors (in 2006, at least), making it more affordable, Lieberman noted. It still had plenty of tuning potential, though, and producers were looking to feature a different muscle car after using the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, and Yenko Camaro in previous movies, he said.

The low-income underdog story plays out with Boswell racing a rich kid in a then-new Dodge Viper. The ensuing destruction gets Boswell in trouble with the police, forcing him to move to Tokyo and setting the plot in motion.

1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Tokyo Drift

The production team built 11 copies of the Monte Carlo, which is typical, as extra cars are needed to perform specific stunts, serve as backups, or be sacrificed for on-screen crashes. One of those cars was listed as having a 632-cubic-inch V-8, although it may have actually been a 572-cubic-inch engine, Lieberman said. Either way, it was rated at 780 hp on pump gas, or over 800 hp on racing fuel, according to Lieberman.

The engine was connected to a 4-speed manual transmission with a drag-race-style shatterproof bell housing, and a General Motors 12-bolt rear end. Again, only one car got the full complement of performance parts, as it didn’t pay to upgrade cars that were destined to be destroyed anyway.

After filming, the surviving cars were scattered. One is now in France, another was offered for sale on eBay in 2015 with a $100,000 asking price (it later sold for $61,440), while a third car was offered for sale in 2019 with a $39,998 asking price. At least one car is still owned by Universal Studios, and at least a couple more survive, according to Lieberman.

In “Tokyo Drift,” Boswell ultimately ends up with a Ford Mustang powered, somewhat controversially, by a Nissan Skyline GT-R’s RB26 engine. Lieberman has a deep dive on that car as well, which is definitely worth checking out.

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