Can you believe that Jackie Chan turns 62 this year? The pint-sized action star is still out kicking ass too, as his career is as unstoppable as a self-driving semi. After 124 films, countless broken bones, 36 awards with 44 nominations, and a net worth that Forbes ranks at over $350 million, the Hong Kong superstar has ascended to a level of popularity that only remains trumped by Bruce Lee.
But what a lot of people don’t know about the cheeky little action hero is that he has a deeply rooted love for automobiles, and that in many of his films he did a lot of his own driving. For his role as the biker gang ass-kicker in the 1981 hit The Cannonball Run, Jackie Chan was awarded the esteemed title of “Subaru Driver #1” in the final credits, and was brought back a few years later for the second installment as a Mitsubishi Engineer. This time around he had more screen time, and when he wasn’t busy kicking biker ass (again) he was keeping his driver’s turbocharged Mitsubishi Starion up to speed.
It was about this time that the actor began working with Mitsubishi Motors, which jump-started a 30-year partnership with the Japanese automaker. Over the years a slew of his films have featured quite a few custom creations from the company, as even villains tended to pilot Mitsubishis in chase scenes. While many of Chan’s vehicles were completely ridiculous in every way, much like Jackie Chan films themselves, you have to suspend some level of disbelief in order to truly appreciate them.
Another bizarre bit of info is that every year there is a race called “The Jackie Chan Cup” in China. Since 1984 this celebrity-based auto race has offered international motor journalists and sexy Asian starlets the chance to careen around a track in suped-up Mitsubishis, all beneath the supervision of professional touring car drivers.
But let’s get down to it. Here are some of our favorite Jackie Chan cars.
1. The Jackie Chan Lamborghini Aventador
The unique Lamborghini Aventador seen here was part of its “Ad Personam Program” from a few years back, and according to sources at the time, the supercar was custom-built for Chan and then later exhibited in 2014 at a party in his honor. It was then auctioned off for charity, where the proceeds went toward the China Film Institute “Jackie Chan Charity Fund” in order to help support the development of China’s film industry.
While the vehicle reportedly received zero mechanical upgrades (like a 690-horsepower 6.5-liter V12 isn’t enough), it did get a few styling tweaks designed as one-offs for Chan. Outside, the Lambo got a unique titanium gray exterior paint, the brake calipers were coated a rich red, and the car’s stance was upgraded with a staggered set of Nero Ade forged black wheels. The interior received a unique red and black theme that mirrored what is found in the wheel wells, and featured custom stitched Chinese characters. Translated to English, the characters that are stitched across the “Rosso Alala” interior leather door inserts and headrests read “Long,” a reference to Chan’s Chinese name Cheng Long.
2. The Wheels on Meals Minivan
The intro to the slapstick and downright hilarious 1984 classic Wheels on Meals shows a heavily modified Mitsubishi L300 minivan blasting over the crest of a hill, as Jackie and his cousin/business partner make their way to downtown Barcelona. Here they set up shop with the push of a button, as an oh-so 1980s computer screen digitally illustrates the van transforming into a food truck.
With its bulging fender flares, oversized roof spoilers, custom front air dam, and extra wide wheels and tires, this center point of the action flick is one badass retro wagon. Later, as the film’s heroes lead the baddies on a crazy car chase, a wide variety of the van’s food dispensing equipment gets put to work as weapons against the evil forces in pursuit.
3. Custom Mitsubishi Cabriolet
A couple years after Chan’s yellow minivan adventure, another custom Mitsubishi made its way into one of his films as a space-age chop-top Colt. Looking like the estranged cousin to Doc Brown’s Delorean from Back to the Future, the little silver machine seen here featured mirrors that were mounted toward the top of the windshield, fog lamps that looked to be about the size of dinner plates, and the largest Mitsubishi badge in history out front.
This car also sported some horizontal tinted windows that ran across the upper portions of the doors, a transparent rear wing that read “MITSUBISHI” in bold white letters, and it spat flames from its exhaust whenever the “twin-turbo” button was pushed. Unfortunately, it was smashed to smithereens later on a bridge, and although the hero and his sidekick managed to bail via a front-mounted escape pod, it’s worth noting that all of the villain chase vehicle in this scene were Mitsubishis also.
4. Bentley Mulsanne
In an entirely unexpected move in 2013, Jackie Chan teamed up with Bentley to make an announcement/advertisement where he played a high-end chauffeur. After delivering his client to the Great Wall of China and seeing the sights while driving in various performance modes, Mr. Chan hops out of the ultra-luxurious sedan, performs some impromptu kung fu, and disappears in a cloud of smoke.
The other half of the story here (and the more believable one) is that when making the short, Chan delivered a heartfelt soliloquy from the backseat of the Mulsanne. He told stories about his foolish youthful ways and blowing money like an idiot in the 1980s, and how he has since become a dedicated philanthropist with a desire to help the needy. At the time of filming, Chan had financially backed the building of 26 schools in impoverished areas with his own money.
5. The Limited Edition Jackie Chan Evo IX
In September of 2005, Ralliart, Mitsubishi’s performance-oriented division, produced 50 one-off Jackie Chan Special Edition versions of the Lancer Evo IX, with Japanese tuning specialists FireSports handling the majority of the aftermarket workload. Since Chan serves as the honorary director for Team Ralliart in China, it only seemed fitting that the superstar would receive a Fast & Furious style performance version, complete with a fully built motor, forged wheels, custom aero, and mountains of interior upgrades.
6. Custom Mitsubishi Pajero Turbo
Yes, I know that this thing looks just about as disproportional as Donald Trump’s hairpiece, but what you see here is exactly what you’ll find in Jackie Chan’s Armour of God 2: Operation Condor. Where the silver two-seater Cabriolet stole the show in the first film with its massive Mitsubishi badge, bizarre door windows, and hidden escape pod, the Pajero Turbo seen here was the chariot of choice in the side-splitting 1991 follow-up.
Mud, sand, small trees, shrubbery, bad guy skulls… you name the obstruction, this little bastard bested it. Note the bizarre Batmobile custom built rear half of the vehicle, the overloaded roof rack, and Chan’s insistence that a dirt bike got slapped on the back. One of my favorite moments in the film is when Chan turns his Pajero into a boat and goes fishing in it, dirt bike and all.
7. The Mitsubishi 3000GT Prototype
In 1993, Jackie Chan starred in a silly little police caper called City Hunter, where for most of the film the self-indulgent private eye is stuck on a cruise ship full of wealthy elitists, gorgeous women, sinister terrorists, and very little food. It was by no means a laugh riot like some of his other films, and the horrid soundtrack was on par with what you’d hear on an old episode of Viper, but toward the end of the film moviegoers were rewarded with quite the pleasant little surprise.
At the time Mitsubishi was gearing up to unleash its twin-turbo, V6-powered, all-wheel drive 3000GT VR4, and what better way to show it off in style than as a cameo in a Jackie Chan action flick? At the time the sports car was still being referred to as the HSX, which had been its nameplate ever since its concept debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989. A couple years later Jackie piloted another VR4 in the race-inspired film Thunderbolt, a cult classic that supposedly inspired the Fast & Furious franchise, but we’ll get to that later.
8. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR
This gunmetal grey Evo IX MR is about as covert as Jackie gets when he wants to slide beneath the radar off-screen. Here you see him sneaking into his Hong Kong “hideout,” where he has his own personal garage, loft studio, and mountains of memorabilia. Looking at it from this angle, Chan’s Evo looks relatively stock, and being an avid fan, chances are that Chan still has this sedan in his personal collection along with a few other generations.
9. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III GSR
Our final entry may not look like much, but talk to any dedicated Japanese auto enthusiast and you’ll realize that this little sedan is a thoroughbred unicorn. Originally reserved for rally cross, the Evolution has come a long way from its humble beginnings. In order to better promote the vehicle’s launch, Mitsubishi thought it could reach a wider audience via the big screen by showcasing what the vehicle was capable of with a little aftermarket love.
Watching the scene where Chan’s team is hastily unpacking Evo parts and tinkering with the turbocharged test mule shows that six years before the first Fast & Furious flick landed, a kung fu legend was already setting the tone. While banana yellow paint jobs have never really been my cup of tea, I wouldn’t hesitate to take a genuine Evo III GSR, especially if Jackie Chan once drove it.