Disney/Pixar and Academy Award®-winning director John Lasseter have become virtual car engineers of sorts and have taken Porsche’s flagship model, the Porsche 911, and created a sporty leading lady called “Sally Carrera,” who is a star of the fast-paced comedy adventure “CARS” that premiers in theaters nationwide June 9, 2006.
Even though Sally Carrera isn’t a real car, she is the result of several years of research and engineering, a process that rivals that of Porsche’s famous automotive development.
“CARS” tells the story of a hotshot rookie racecar driven to succeed who discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs, where the town’s offbeat characters help him realize that there are more important things than trophies, fame and sponsorship.
“Sally is the only modern car in the town of Radiator Springs,” says John Lasseter, the director of “CARS” and one of Pixar Annimation Studios’ founding members. “She’s a Porsche 911 and she’s beautiful, beautiful.” Adds Lasseter, “It’s interesting that people mostly think of a Porsche as powerful and a guy’s car, but the lines on a Porsche are so beautiful that it fits perfectly for the character of Sally.”
While the virtual Porsche is the only contemporary car appearing in a leading role, Sally Carrera’s selection was not a case of corporate product placement. The model’s unique attributes of being high-performance, yet stylish and sophisticated, led the film’s creators to cast Sally as a Porsche.
Bringing “Sally” to Life
While an actual Porsche 911 has 320 horsepower, and can go from 0-60 in less than five seconds, the development of the virtual “Sally” and the movie took more than five years, and paralleled many of the same stages used in the creation of an automobile.
In 200x, Porsche Cars North America provided a 911 to the Pixar Animation Studios during the course of production so that animators, designers, sculptors and story-tellers could see, hear and feel a real Carrera first-hand, and then take that reality and translate it into the animated character of Sally Carrera, voiced by actress Bonnie Hunt.
Similar to the creation of a new vehicle, after initial sketches were done, Pixar created prototypes of their visions with clay models. With a real life-size Porsche 911 in the Pixar studios, artists closely studied the vehicle’s design, movement, and dimensions. Lasseter’s mandate was that the “CARS” cast of characters must appear as real as possible, and he insisted on what he called “truth in materials,” which meant that the animation could not stretch or squash the cars in a way that would be inconsistent with their solid metal frames.
On the Road
In addition to supporting the creative process, Porsche also provided an actual 911 that was custom-made into a life-size version of Sally Carrera, which is now touring with her co-stars, Lightning McQueen, Mater and Mack, across the country with stops in over 40 cities, and highlighted by an appearance at the film’s world premiere in Charlotte, NC at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Porsche also partnered with Disney/Pixar to help tell the story of “CARS” to different audiences and media outlets by co-hosting a “virtual car launch” press event at Pixar Animation Studios in northern California–complete with a screening and a special behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film - attended by members of the leading automotive industry media. This program has helped generate coverage in automotive publications like Road and Track, which do not normally cover a film release, in-turn promoting the film to car enthusiasts everywhere.