Ever wondered what type of car Lightning McQueen is?

  • Fans have debated what model of car Lightning McQueen is
  • Numerous models have been suggested, including a Ford GT and Mazda RX7
  • However, it turns out he’s a composite made up of various models 

Published on Jul 10, 2024 at 7:19 AM (UTC+4)
by Claire Reid

Last updated on Jul 10, 2024 at 1:35 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

Pixar fans and car lovers have been debating what sort of car Lightning McQueen was – and it turns out he’s a bit of a mix of various models. 

Lightning McQueen first appeared on the big screen in Cars in 2006. The movie went on to spawn several sequels and two spin-off series. 

Voiced by Hollywood star Owen Wilson, Lightning McQueen is the competent but cocky rookie who becomes stranded in the small town of Radiator Springs while competing in the Piston Cup. 

While there, the car learns the meaning of friendships and becomes a far more humble motor than when he arrived. 

READ MORE! 7 real cars that were used in Disney’s movie Cars

The model Lightning McQueen was based on has sparked debate

The flick was an instant classic and, despite being almost 20 years old, remains popular today. 

However, when it comes to the very serious matter of what model Lightning McQueen was, there is much debate. 

In a post on Reddit, one fan claimed that his research – a Google search – had led him to believe that Lightning McQueen was a C6 Corvette, but went on to say that ‘didn’t sit right’ with him for various reasons, and claimed that he reckoned the car was actually a Monte Carlo from the early 90s to mid-2000s. 

Other Redditors claimed he was a Dodge, Ford GT or even a Mazda RX7. 

But it turns out, they’re all wrong – as the animated talking car is actually a custom-build and isn’t based on any one single vehicle. 

Cars’ creators put a lot of effort into the concept

When making the film, Cars creator John Lasseter and his team met with General Motors to talk about the new Chevrolet Corvette design; he also befriended design chief J Mays from the Ford Motor Company. 

But when it came to creating Lightning McQueen, designers opted for a composite, combining several models, and ending up with something that is part stock car and part Le Mans endurance racer – because Lasseter wanted to ensure the car looked good on screen. 

“Due to aerodynamics, the shape of NASCAR cars is relatively flat and not very interesting,” Lasseter told the LA Times in 2006.

He went on to add that the finished design did end up ‘with some Lola and some [Ford] GT40’ in the mix. 

Oh and in case you’re wondering, Lightning McQueens’ girlfriend Sally Carrera is based on a real car – she’s a Porsche 911

You learn something new every day, don’t you?

# Tags - Cars, Movies


Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist who hails from the UK but is now living in New Zealand. She began her career after graduating with a degree in Journalism from Liverpool John Moore’s University and has more than a decade of experience, writing for both local newspapers and national news sites. Across her career she's covered a wide variety of topics, including celebrity, cryptocurrency, politics, true crime and just about everything in between.