The cars of the early "Fast and the Furious" movies are in many ways tiny snapshots of the tuner culture of the late 1990s. While the early installments of the franchise celebrated the diversity of automotive enthusiasts, there were some cars that were built for very narrow story purposes. The "Heist" Civics of 2001's "The Fast and the Furious" are perfect examples.
We turn yet again to Craig Lieberman for the background on the cars. As technical director for the first three films in the franchise, Lieberman oversaw everything from the selection and building of the films' "hero" cars to the doubles used in wild stunts and over-the-top action sequences.
The filmmakers knew that it would be a crime to make a movie focused around street racing and tuner culture without acknowledging the Honda Civic's domination of the scene in the 1990s. The team sourced seven Civics for the film to be used across multiple scenes, knowing that at least one would be trashed during an attempted hijacking at the culmination of the film's second act.
All were repainted in the factory black finish found on '94 models (though the cars themselves varied by a year or two in either direction) and while they were dressed up to look the part, they were unmodified aside from being kitted out to look alike.
Each got a VIS GT Bomber body kit, a Veilside-style Kombat dual deck universal spoiler, and underbody neon lighting by Street Glow. The wheels were sourced from Axis and were chosen because the company representative could not find buyers for the gold Neo 7 in 17x7 and was practically willing to give them away.
As for performance? Each car got a $50 eBay muffler, and even those were just for looks; all of the engine noise in the film was dubbed in. No superfluous money went into making the Civics special; they were meant to be disposable.
In fact, to get the most bang for their buck, the filmmakers actually recycled six of the Civics (including Letty's, which was rolled during the second hijacking scene in the first film) for "2Fast 2Furious." Each was repaired, repainted and re-cast in the second movie as street racers' rides for scenes where filler cars were needed.
After the second film, the Civics simply went to auction and, to Lieberman's knowledge, never resurfaced.
"The good news is that these cars are among the most replicated in the world, other than the wheels, which are basically impossible to find," Lieberman says. "You can still find the body kits online. Because of this, people from around the world have built their own versions to keep the memories alive."
There's more that we didn't get to here. Lieberman's videos are insightful and entertaining and we encourage you to view the "Heist" Civic deep dive above in its entirety.