7 Badass Facts About the ‘Death Proof’ Cars

Being a stunt driver is one of the coolest things a person can do with cars, yet we hardly ever talk about it – except for Quintin Tarantino, that is. Thanks to Tarantino’s homage to ’70s B horror and action films and the history and legacy of stunt drivers, Death Proof, The world got a small, very skewed look into the wildness of Hollywood stunt people. Ok, maybe trying to glean much serious intent or meaning from this film is a stretch. What’s certain is that Death Proof is an extremely entertaining film full of incredible characters, a fun plot, and fully and completely badass muscle cars

As with any Tarantino film, you can dig down about as far as you want to go, and there’s always a wealth of fun trivia, insane stories, and wreckless filmmaking that add up to make the iconic director’s films. Here are seven badass facts about the Death Proof cars. 

What cars did they use in the Quinten Tarantino film Death Proof?

Death Proof Chevy Nova
The Death Proof Chevy Nova | Screenshot from Death Proof

Death Proof had four stars: a 1971 Dodge Challenger, a 1969 Dodge Charger, a ’71 Mustang Mach 1, and Stuntman Mike’s fiendish 1970 Chevy Nova

Not only are these three of the coolest cars in history, but they are also representative of some of the most famous car movies of all time, mainly the cult classic Vanishing Point. But if you see some other car movie references, you probably aren’t making it up. Tarantino loves movies and tends to fill his films with references to many others. 

7) What kind of car does Stuntman Mike drive in Death Proof?

The bad guy, Stuntman Mike (played by Kurt Russel), is a former stuntman with murder on the mind. One of the coolest facts about this movie and our superbly written badie is that a tricked-out 1970 Chevy Nova is the perfect car for an old stuntman to drive. 

However, unlike most factory Chevy Novas, the one used in the film has stroked 350 V8. That’s why you might notice a bit more growl than Novas usually make. 

6) This film is an homage to stunt cars

As noted by Hot Cars, stunt cars and stunt performers are rarely acknowledged or ever talked about. Tarantino took this opportunity to really dig into the profession, culture, history, and some of the more fantastic elements of stunt driving. 

Instead of glamourizing stunt cars, the Nova they use in the film is a true-to-form stunt car, complete with spartan interior, roll cage, and some creepy creative liberties, of course. 

5) Where is the Death Proof Nova now?

One of the surviving Novas used for shooting was ceremoniously sold to the real stunt driver in film for only $500. Aside from its picture car status, this was a screaming deal for such a muscle car. 

He then chose to give the 400-hp Nova to his son. I guess the driver figured the car would keep his son safe. “Death Proof,” right? 

4) 440 Magnum Dodge Challenger

Tarantino needed the Challenger cars to have 440s because that is what the Dodge Challenger in Vanishing Point had. Most of the actual cars really had 440s and four-speed manuals, but the one most used in the film had the 383 mag and an auto trans. Tarantino still made sure the badging said 440. This film really was all about showing love to old car films from the ’70s. 

3) Mopar Duel

Once Stuntman Mike is forced to switch out of the killer Chevy, he makes the extremely cool choice to switch to the matte black ’69 Dodge Charger. This accomplished two things: 1) The Charger is reminiscent of the Bullit Charger. Although, that one was a ’68 Dodge Charger 440. 2) we get to have this MOPAR battle that pits our protagonists, driving a pristine, white Challenger against a monster in matte black Charger of the same make. It feels a little like good vs. evil to me. 

2) There’s more going on with this Dodge Charger than meets the eye

The ’69 Dodge Charger is one of the coolest cars ever made. It’s tough to pick a favorite car in a movie with Challengers, Chargers, and Novas. Although, I feel like many of you wouldn’t hesitate to name the Charger the coolest without even thinking. 

While the Charger is cool all on its own, more is happening here. Remember, this film is an homage to B action and horror that focus on cars. The Charger dons the same paintwork as the bad guy’s Charger in Bullit; it has the same wheels from the General Lee from Dukes of Hazard and the same tag numbers as the Charger in Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (a car chase film from the 70s).

1) Don’t forget the Mustang Mach 1

Although the Mustang doesn’t get much screen time and isn’t quite on the same level of importance as the other cars, but it holds some car movie references too. 

The Mustang Mach 1 is a bit looser of a reference, but this ’71 Mach 1 was dressed to look more like the “Elanore” Mustang from Gone in 60 Seconds. Since a real Elanore Mustang would have been a bit on the nose and pricey. 

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