As one of the earliest adaptations of a Japanese television series in the West, Tatsuo Yoshida’s 1960-era phenomenon, Speed Racer, solicited a fun, interesting, and visionary approach toward the world of futuristic racing. The series’ primary vehicle — a glorious white, yellow, and red Mach 5 — was the protagonist of many automotive enthusiast’s wildest dreams, and due to the show’s overwhelming success, it received its very own live-action adaptation in 2008.
While the vast majority of the vehicles in the modern-day Speed Racer were constructed in a CGI environment, it was decided by directors Lana (and Lilly) Wachowski that the show’s original frontrunner, the Mach 5, was indeed worthy of a real-life rendition. The sleek, “1,000 -horsepower” race car was produced for the film. While there’s no engine in the vehicle, a fiberglass body, replica gearbox, steel frame, and beautiful red upholstery mirror Speed Racer’s original vehicle. Perspex headlights, lightweight alloy wheels, prominent air intakes, and a trademark cockpit adorn the vehicle’s exterior — but the seven-button, seven-function steering wheel is perhaps the most interesting. In the movie, the apparatus boasts a variety of uses, including (but not limited to) hydraulic auto jacks for mid-race repairs, adaptable grip for every different kind of terrain, blades for plowing through obstacles, a deflector shield, and Evening Eye — a night vision headlight setup that allows for adequate vision in less-than-exemplary conditions. The Mach 5 is believed to be the only vehicle actually produced for the Wachowski film, and now, it’s available for public view via Petersen Automotive Museum’s “Hollywood Dream Machines” exhibit.
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