Life after death: what happens to a car “not on the move.”


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What happens to the crumpled cars you see in the movies?

Action directors and producers are directly responsible for the thousands of vehicles that have been mutilated on set over the past decades. For example, in The Fast and the Furious movie alone, 230 cars were crashed. And to whom do these twisted piles of metal get when the director shouts: “Stop! Cut!” and the actors leave the set? And no less important is the question: what happens then with these cars? After all, they have already been removed from registration and do not have the legal right to drive on the roads.

A few years ago, film studios simply turned to local car dumps. For example: “Hey, we have some cars here just for you!” And the owners of such items took them with pleasure. But when some of the Mustangs that Steve McQueen wrecked during the filming of Detective Bullitt were put on the list of bad cars, people began to pull up to the junkyard to profit from some parts from the famous cars and earn some money from it. One of the funniest incidents like this happened with 300 Dodge Chargers called “General Lee”, which took part in filming the famous television series Ducks of Hazzard. A whole crowd of people, thirsty for easy money, then tried to steal from the unfortunate cars everything that came to their hand.

How are cars written off?

Disposal of broken equipment has become not so easy, and now it is no longer enough to simply dial the number of the owner of one of the local dump sites. Today some strict rules and regulations clearly regulate the entire process of decommissioning damaged cars. Well, the budgets of the militants continue to increase because the directors who shoot them want to destroy as many cars as possible. The constant increase in the number of wrecked cars for the sake of our entertainment with you can be clearly illustrated by the following example: during the filming of the movie “The Blues Brothers”, released in 1980, 103 cars were broken, and during the work on “Transformers-3”, which ended in 2011, 532 vehicles were destroyed.

Automotive tricks of the film industry

  • To save money, most of the machines bought for filming were far from new. Some of them were still in relatively good form and could even be exploited, while others were purchased in a completely unusable form and used exclusively to create the desired picture on the screen. What happens to such “rarities” after filming is over when the tow truck takes them to the landfill?
  • After being deemed “unusable” due to severe damage, most vehicles are usually sold to the local auto scrap, which is disassembled for parts. That is why such sites are called “auto showdowns”. This is a great way to breathe a “second” life into some car parts, which are bought with pleasure by people who want to save on spare parts and acquire the necessary components and assemblies used.

There is another way to dispose of used cars, which is not well-known to the public. This is Hollywood, which buys a lot of these cars for filming chase scenes. One of the previously published articles provided interesting facts about the movie “Fast and the Furious”. It was about purchasing lots of used cars by its producers and their cooperation with the owners of used car sites. Denis McCarthy, a car buying coordinator for the film, once said: “On the set, we crashed up to 25 cars a day. At night they were taken out, and instead of them, 25 others were delivered to us. This process was repeated day after day, and it involved many tow trucks and car transporters. “During the filming of Furious 5 in 2011, the filmmakers even worked with the Puerto Rican government. The subject of such cooperation was the supply of inexpensive used vehicles from San Juan recycling yards. From there, they were taken to the set, where they were successfully smashed during the work on the chase scenes and then returned to their homeland for final processing.

We operate by car

The last stage of a car’s life is called the “car scrappage program”. Usually, it is sold in a landfill, where they are turned into compact cubes of crumpled metal. As a rule, this happens after the car has stood for some time in a landfill, and then its employee has put a mark on it “for recycling”. Before this, all the liquid in the car must be drained, the airbags must be dismantled, the battery removed, and the fuel tank must be dismantled to avoid an explosion. After that, the car is fed under a special press, where it breaks, then goes to remelting and eventually turns into a lamppost. And then – during the filming of the next action movie, some Hollywood star will enter this pillar in a luxurious Bentley, and the cycle will begin anew.

But with the development of automotive technology, refiners have problems. Most modern cars are not entirely made of metal, as they used to be, and therefore car dumps are no longer making as much money from recycling them as they once did. The batteries of hybrid cars contain precious metals, but not every landfill has equipment capable of recycling them. Let’s not forget that there are no shortages of tyre brands in the UAE.

Therefore, their owners are trying to sell such batteries, so to speak, “at a reasonable price.” But, unfortunately, car accidents have not yet disappeared from our lives, and blockbuster directors with multi-million dollar budgets will always need many wrecked cars. But the advent of the autonomous vehicle and the increasingly used CG graphics in action movies could take a toll on the recycling industry.


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