Deep dive: Brian’s Mitsubishi Evo VII from “2 Fast 2 Furious”

The “Fast and the Furious” series has featured dozens of memorable cars, but one of those cars almost didn’t get its moment in the spotlight.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII driven by Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Connor in “2 Fast 2 Furious” could have been a Dodge Neon SRT-4.

That’s the story from Craig Lieberman, technical director on the first three “Fast and Furious” films. He’s been doing YouTube deep dives on different cars from the series, and this time around he explained how the Evo ended up in “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

“This car almost didn’t happen at all,” he said.

Universal was considering using the SRT-4, as Dodge was willing to make pre-production cars available. In contrast, it was unclear how the production crew would get any Evos. Filming took place in 2002, but the Evo VIII wasn’t scheduled to launch in the United States until 2003. Eventually, Mitsubishi offered four examples of the outgoing Evo VII originally slated for a European rally team.

Because the Evo VII was never sold in the U.S., finding parts to modify the cars was difficult, Lieberman said. So modifications were kept to a minimum. The cars got body kits, new wheels and rear spoilers, and new taillights from an automotive supplier that had paid for product placement in the film. Those taillights were actually made for the non-Evo Mitsubishi Lancer, so bodywork had to be altered to get them to fit.

Two “hero” cars used in close-up shots also got underflow neon, and all four cars were converted to rear-wheel drive to make them easier to slide around, Lieberman said.

The cars were also painted in a retina-searing green (it’s House of Kolor Lime Gold Kandy, in case you were wondering), with graphics that started out identical to those of Lieberman’s personal R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R. That car was eventually rented by Universal and driven by O’Connor earlier in the film, so the Evos got additional graphics to distinguish them.

The Evo was featured prominently in “2 Fast 2 Furious,” including a scene where it was raced against a Yenko Camaro. Unfortunately for Evo fans, the wide-open throttle noises used in that scene weren’t from that car, according to Lieberman. The sound was modified in postproduction with exhaust notes from a Honda S2000 and Subaru WRX—the Evo’s arch rival.

Two of the four movie cars are known to survive, according to Lieberman. One is in Pennsylvania and the other somewhere in France.

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