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AutoWeek Design Forum: Previewing the world of Cars 2

Thu, 13 Jan 2011

If you liked Cars, the sequel is going to be a similarly enjoyable ride.

Pixar's Brad Lewis and Jay Shuster previewed Cars 2 at the AutoWeek Design Forum in a dual keynote address on Thursday that offered insights into the impressive depth and creativity behind the film.

"We love the details at Pixar," said Lewis, codirector of the movie, which premieres on June 24.

The cars and the plot have been updated and enhanced, while the drama promises to be more sinister.

The backdrop of Cars 2 is a series of races called the World Grand Prix. Circuits include Tokyo, London and Italy. Creators took extreme care to build settings based on real-world places and landmarks, and the striking night race at the Singapore Grand Prix served as inspiration. Elements such as a palace and the Big Ben clock tower were "carified," taking elements from auto parts and blending them into the designs.

There also are new characters, highlighted by Finn McMissile, voiced by Michael Caine. McMissile looks like a 1960s British sports car, and there's more than a subtle comparison to a British secret agent. As the name implies, McMissile shoots missiles out of his headlights and has machine guns on the sides. He's paired with Holley Shiftwell, who looks like a sleek sports car.

Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson, gets a freshening. While his proportions remain the same, McQueen was sported up by designer Chip Foose--he created the drawing for the movie producers in about three minutes. McQueen gets updated flames on the sides, new wheel packages, ground effects and a GT-styled spoiler.

"All of these things combine to enable the car to act," said Shuster, Pixar art director.

Background characters, including villains, are based on the AMC Pacer and Gremlin.

By Greg Migliore