Pixar licenses Cars 2 AMC villains for a song thanks to Chrysler bankruptcy

Joe Mantegna and Peter Jacobson from Pixar's CARS 2 – Click above for high-res gallery

Earlier this week, we spent the day at Pixar to get a sneak peak at Cars 2. And before you ask, here's what you want to know: The sequel is an order of magnitude more awesome than the original and chief creative honcho John Lasseter drives a Mercedes-Benz SL65. So with that out of the way...

While interviewing one of the feature's principles, we asked about vehicle licensing. When the flick hits theaters June 24, you'll see "Carified" (their term, not ours) versions of everything from Audi to Opel models, but the villains in the film are made up of what the Pixar team contends are the world's worst cars. So there's an assortment of unloved Eastern European metal mixed in with two main antagonists: an AMC Pacer ("Acer" – voiced by Peter Jacobson) and a Gremlin ("Grem" – voiced by Joe Mantegna).

Obviously, it would be a tough sell to go to an automaker and say "We need villains, and your cars are perfect representations for the most loathsome creations on wheels," but the Pixar people came to AMC's owners – Chrysler – at precisely the right time.

When Pixar approached the automaker about licensing the names and likenesses of two vehicles for the film, Chrysler was in the throes of bankruptcy, it was divorcing itself of Cerberus, and it wasn't sure who its next parent would be... if indeed it was to have one at all. Pixar – knowingly or otherwise – took advantage of the situation and managed to snag usage rights to the vehicles for the film just when the automaker was in turmoil and strapped for cash. The results are spectacular, but you'll have to wait for our full story and the animated feature to come to your local cineplex to find out why.

  • CARS 2: (L-R) Finn McMissile, Mater, Lightning McQueen

  • CARS 2: Holley Shiftwell (voice by Emily Mortimer)

  • CARS 2: Finn McMissile (voice by Michael Caine)

  • CARS 2: (L-R) Holley Shiftwell, Finn McMissile, Mater

  • CARS 2: (L-R) Lightning McQueen, Mater, Luigi, Guido, Fillmore, Sarge

  • CARS 2: (L-R) Mater (voice by Larry the Cable Guy), Lightning McQueen (voice by Owen Wilson)

  • CARS 2: Professor Z (voiced by Thomas Kretschmann)

  • "CARS 2" Mater (voice by Larry The Cable Guy) ©Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Finn McMissile
  • Finn McMissile
  • Finn McMissile is a master British spy. Though charming and eloquent, it’s his stealth maneuvering, intelligence and years in the field that enable him to thwart unexpected attacks from bad guys, making quick daredevil escapes.. Finn’s design is sleek and timeless, but he’s also prepared for any tricky situation with an arsenal of ultra-cool gadgets and weaponry, including front and rear grappling hooks, a missile launcher, deployable magnetic explosives and a holographic disguise emitter. As a seasoned professional in the game of international espionage, Finn believes there is a conspiracy brewing during the World Grand Prix. His clandestine work surrounding the global exhibition race puts him on a collision course with Mater, whom he mistakes for an undercover American agent with a genius disguise.

Finn McMissile Cars 2
  • Finn McMissile
  • Finn McMissile is a master British spy. Though charming and eloquent, it’s his stealth maneuvering, intelligence and years in the field that enable him to thwart unexpected attacks from bad guys, making quick daredevil escapes.. Finn’s design is sleek and timeless, but he’s also prepared for any tricky situation with an arsenal of ultra-cool gadgets and weaponry, including front and rear grappling hooks, a missile launcher, deployable magnetic explosives and a holographic disguise emitter. As a seasoned professional in the game of international espionage, Finn believes there is a conspiracy brewing during the World Grand Prix. His clandestine work surrounding the global exhibition race puts him on a collision course with Mater, whom he mistakes for an undercover American agent with a genius disguise.

Holley Shiftwell
  • Holley Shiftwell
  • Holley Shiftwell is a beautiful young British desk agent, turned spy-in-training who’s stationed in Tokyo. Well-educated and sharp, she knows every trick in the book—or rather, she relies on every trick in the spy manual. She’s armed with the latest state-of-the-art spy equipment imaginable, from hidden cameras and concealed weapons to a telescoping utility arm and a holographic pop-up display. Holley is a highly motivated agent, but is fresh out of the academy, so her experience is based on lessons learned in school rather than real-life situations. When seasoned international spy Finn McMissile requires Holley’s technical expertise for his latest top-secret field operation, she finds herself pursuing a rendezvous with the most unlikely candidate—Mater, an innocent caught up in the intrigue, who is mesmerized by the beauty of his newest friend.

Rod Torque Redline
  • Rod "Torque" Redline (voice of Bruce Campbell)
  • Rod "Torque" Redline is considered by many as the greatest American spy in the world. Recruited after the Cold War for both his brains and brawn, Torque is a tough-as-nails Detroit muscle car with a mastery of disguises. In his latest deep-cover operation, he obtained vital information about the plot to sabotage the World Grand Prix. So Rod plans a rendezvous with his British counterparts to share his discoveries at the World Grand Prix welcome reception in Tokyo, Japan. But with the bad guys hot on his tailpipe, Rod is forced to ditch the intel early and with the first party guest he sees – a rusty American tow truck named Mater.

  • CARS 2 Siddeley (voice by Jason Isaacs)

Miles Axlerod
  • Miles Axlerod
Professor Zündapp
  • Professor Z
  • Professor Z, aka “The Professor” (voice of Thomas Kretschmann)

  • Grem
  • Grem is a dented, rusty orange AMC Gremlin. After years of being dismissed for his design, even being called a “lemon,” Grem has a big chip on his fender that has led him to the underworld of international espionage. As a henchman for a villainous boss Professor Z, Grem and his partner-in-crime Acer are trying to sabotage the World Grand Prix and the famous race cars competing in it. When Grem and Acer mistake Mater for an American agent with important top-secret information, the ruthless lemons set out on a round-the-globe chase to stop Mater from foiling their evil scheme.

Acer Cars 2
  • Acer
  • Acer has always felt like an outcast in the car world. The beat-up green AMC Pacer joined forces with fellow “lemon” cars as henchmen for the devious Professor Z, whose clandestine mission is to wreak havoc at the highly visible World Grand Prix. Acer must hunt down the American and British secret agents who’ve stolen crucial information about Professor Z’s underhanded plot—his primary target just happens to be Mater, who’s been mistaken for a spy. Acer tries very hard to be a tough guy, but he’s over-eager compared to his no-nonsense accomplice Grem.

Francesco Bernoulli
  • Francesco Bernoulli
  • Francesco Bernoulli grew up in the shadow of the famous Monza race course in Italy where he and his friends would sneak onto the track and race the famous Pista di Alta Velocita bank turn. He was an instant winner on the amateur circuit and soon became an international Formula Racer champion. The ladies love Francesco’s open wheels, youngsters look up to his winning spirit and fellow racers envy his speed. But Francesco’s biggest fan is Francesco himself, as evidenced by his racing number. As the most famous race car in Europe, #1 Francesco is a favorite to win the World Grand Prix, which also makes him McQueen’s chief rival.

Shu Todoroki
  • Shu Todoroki
  • Shu Todoroki is a Le Motor Prototype racer representing Japan and bearing #7 in the World Grand Prix. Shu was raised at the base of the active Mount Asama volcano in Japan, and soon became a champion on the Suzuka Circuit. His sleek design sports a fiery red Ka-Riu dragon, which Shu borrowed from Japanese legend because he relates to the small, yet fierce nature of the dragon. His team legacy is filled with victories – his coach, a Mazda, was the only Japanese car to ever win at Le Mans – and Shu hopes to prove his champion-level racing on the international stage of the World Grand Prix.

Raoul Caroule
  • Raoul ÇaRoule
  • Known as the “World’s Greatest Rally Car,” #6 Raoul ÇaRoule was born in Alsace, France. A restless soul, Raoul joined the famous ‘Cirque du Voiture’ French circus where he learned Gymkhana – a graceful, drift-filled motorsport that taught him pinpoint timing and an unparalleled ability to navigate tricky courses with ease. He’s the first car to ever win nine consecutive rallies. Raoul is confident he can use his rally experience to pull ahead of his fellow World Grand Prix racers during the three courses’ touchy dirt sections, especially with his fans in the stands waving banners that read: “ÇaRoule Ca-Rules!

Carla Veloso
  • Carla Veloso
  • World Grand Prix contender Carla Veloso hails from Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The sweet but powerful Latin diva can dance the night away at “Car-nival,” but spends most of her time on the racetrack. After setting a new track record at the local Interlagos circuit, she was drafted to join the 24-hour endurance racing team in Europe, where she posted a consistent series of podium finishes. In the World Grand Prix, the proud Brazilian Le Motor Prototype racer is the only female in the field, and Carla is ready to prove to the world that #8 is there to win for her home country.

  • Tomber
  • Tomber (voice ofMichel Michelis)is a dubious little French car with an unusual, and very unstable, three-wheeled design that befits the meaning of his name - to fall. By trade he deals car parts from a stall in a Parisian market - though his questionable merchandise sources have led to his reluctant acquaintance with British secret agent Finn McMissile.

Rip Clutchgoneski
  • Rip Clutchgoneski
  • The former European colony and newly independent Republic of New Rearendia is desperate to put their name on the map – the #10 open-wheeled racer Rip Clutchgoneski is their best bet. After putting together a remarkable string of qualifying races, Rip’s entry into the World Grand Prix is clearly the Cinderella story of the competition. Though Rip credits luck for his chance on the international stage, it’s really skill and exuberance that brought the proud New Rearendian racer to the starting line.

Lewis Hamilton
  • Lewis Hamilton
Jeff Gordon Cars 2 character
  • Jeff Gorvette (voice of Jeff Gordon)
  • Jeff Gorvette is one of the greatest American racecars alive today. Donning the stars and stripes of his country’s flag, the #24 Corvette C6.R has proven his ability to succeed on the big ovals and the road courses of the Grand Touring Sports circuits. Having moved from his hometown of Vallejo, California to Indiana to be closer to the racing world, Gorvette’s ability to accelerate at such a young age has turned hoods wherever he competes. His championships and number of victories are unmatched, making him a respected competitor—and legitimate threat—at the World Grand Prix.

Miguel Camino
  • Miguel Camino
  • Spain’s most renowned, admired and captivating car is Pamplona’s Miguel Camino. He first caught his home country’s attention by participating in the infamous Running of the Bulldozers. His flair, style and speed as a toreador in the dozer ring has inspired a generation of young bulldozer fighters, and soon that same speed and verve turned headlights of fans and competitors alike on the Grand Touring Sport racing circuit. Bearing the #5 and the fiery colors of the Spanish flag, Miguel Camino is hoping to race his way into more hearts at the World Grand Prix.

Max Schnell
  • Max Schnell
  • Max Schnell started as a humble production sedan from Stuttgart, Germany. An avid amateur racer, Max would practice alone in the back roads of the dense Black Forest—a trek that eventually caught the eye of a racing team owner. Soon Max was on a professional circuit, bearing the #4, and as his horsepower increased, he converted himself to carbon fiber, dropping his weight and getting into prime racing shape. He’s won more races at Motorheimring than any other World Torque Champion League car in history. A naturally brilliant engineer, he used logic and analytics to refine his build, and plans to approach the World Grand Prix in the same perfectly calculated manner.

Darrell Cartrip
  • Darrell Cartrip (voice of Darrell Waltrip)
  • Darrell Cartrip is a legendary multi-Piston Cup champion turned beloved racing announcer. The Kentucky-born #17 Chevrolet Monte Carlo is known for his wild color commentary, delighting Piston Cup fans with his humor, charisma and signature catch phrases—"Boogity, Boogity, Boogity! Let's go racin' boys!" He’s spent years on the track, in the pits and in the grease, and he’ll tell you all about it. This American Southern gentleman knows what it takes to win, and plans to bring that fervent expertise to calling the World Grand Prix.

Brent Mustangburger
  • Brent Mustangburger
David Hobbscap
  • David Hobbscap
  • As a handsome forest green 1963 Jaguar Coombs Lightweight E-Type, David Hobbscap (voice of David Hobbs), originally from Royal Leamington Spa, England, is a worldwide racing luminary. His 30-year career in professional racing spans the globe and all types of motorsports. Now David shares that priceless knowledge as an announcer, where he’s also well known for providing comic relief during race broadcasts. A former champion with 20 starts at 24 Hours of Le Mans, his storytelling comes from personal experience. Anything but your ordinary television sportscaster, David can’t wait to enlighten and entertain the World Grand Prix audiences.

Uncle Topolino
  • Uncle Topolino
  • In the small village of Santa Ruotina, near Porto Corsa, Italy, Luigi’s favorite uncle, Uncle Topolino, resides with his beloved wife, Mama Topolino. Uncle Topolino is the owner of the village’s tire shop, where he taught Luigi and Guido everything they know, though Uncle Topolino is full of sage advice about more than just tires.

Mama Topolino
  • Mama Topolino
  • To all who know her, Luigi’s aunt, Mama Topolino, is a masterful cook with the best fuel in the village of Santa Ruotina, near Porto Corsa, Italy. Though she has a loving, but fiery relationship with her husband, Uncle Topolino, she shows her love and generosity for both family and friends by feeding everyone her renowned delizioso fuel.

Zen Master Cars 2
  • Zen Master
  • A master in the art of sculpting the serene zen rock garden at the Tokyo museum, Zen Master wears his old woven reed hat and uses his antique wood rake to create mesmerizing patterns in the garden’s sand.

Okuni Cars 2
  • Okuni
  • Okuni is a micro car Kabuki dancer who dons the traditional white-painted face and an exquisite colorful kimono for her performances at the Kabuki theater in Tokyo, Japan.

Pinion Tanaka
  • Pinion Tanaka
  • Pinion Tanaka is a gold-painted micro van and a professional Sumo wrestler from Tokyo, Japan, who’s always a menacing sight in the ring in his signature teal mawashi.

Kingpin Nobunaga
  • Kingpin Nobunaga
  • As a professional Sumo wrestler at an arena in Tokyo, Japan, Kingpin Nobunaga is a gold-painted micro van who fights his fiercest matches when he’s wearing his lucky purple mawashi.

Prince William Cars 2 character
  • Prince Wheeliam
  • Prince Wheeliam of England is an avid racing fan. He can’t believe his luck that the final race of the one-of-a-kind World Grand Prix is happening on the streets of London. Though he must remain impartial when by his grandmother the Queen’s side, he is privately rooting for his fellow Brits Lewis Hamilton and Nigel Gearsley to cross the finish line first.

The Queen Cars 2 character
  • The Queen
  • With the final stage of the World Grand Prix racing through the historic streets of London, England, the Queen (voice of Vanessa Redgrave) is quietly elated she was invited to preside over the finish line by Sir Miles Axlerod. Painted in shades of the most royal blues and never without her jeweled crown, the Queen is the definition of decorum and regality, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy a bit of first-rate competition!

Cars 2 double decker bus
  • Topper Deckinton III
  • Topper Deckington III is a classic British double-decker bus in a vivid shade of red who relishes in his daily Killswitch route through London’s famous bustling Petroldilly Circus.

Chauncy Fares
  • Chauncy Fares
  • No one knows the sites, streets or shortcuts of London better than the jovial Chauncy Fares, a quintessential London black cab.

Sargeant Highgear
  • Sgt. Highgear
  • Sgt. Highgear is a member of the regiment assigned to London’s landmark Buckingham Palace. With a recognizable tall bearskin cap atop his scarlet body, he stands guard at his sentry box with pride and conviction.

Cars 2 pit crew
  • "CARS 2" (L-R) Fillmore (voice by Lloyd Sherr), Guido (voice by Guido Quaroni), Luigi (voice by Tony Shalhoub), Mater (voice by Larry The Cable Guy)
Cars 2 Sally
  • Sally
Cars 2 Sheriff
  • Sheriff
Cars 2 VW van
  • Fillmore
Cars 2 Fiat
  • Luigi & Guide
Luigi Cars 2
  • Luigi
Guido Cars 2
  • Guido
Ramone Cars 2
  • Ramone
Lizzie Cars 2
  • Lizzie
John Lassetire
  • John Lassetire

[Images: Pixar]

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