You never see it in any of the Fast & Furious movies, but Dominic Toretto and his crew likely spend just as much time filling up their tanks at the pump as everyone else. Normally, while their Dodge Chargers and other vehicles probably take a lot of fuel — especially during high-speed chases and races — it’s probably not too costly for them considering the millions they’re after on their various heists. However, with gas prices the way they are today — from $5.74 per gallon in California to $4.45 in New York — you’ve got to wonder if their jobs would be worth the cost of overhead anymore.
To find out, I reached out to Ahmed Ibraheem, a mechanic who runs the YouTube channel The Car Care Nut. With his deep knowledge of cars, we broke down the three most famous chases and races in Fast & Furious history and figured out how much they would cost in gas alone.
Before we begin, though, a couple parameters: For one, Ibraheem says that pretty much all of these cars would use premium fuel, so I’m using AAA’s numbers for the average national premium fuel price. As of this writing, that’s $4.98 per gallon. I’m also treating these chases as though they’re real, which means I’m not counting multiple takes, and I’m going about this as if they’re happening today.
1) The First Race
Movie: The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Approximate Distance: Two miles
Total Cost of Gas: $6.27
Cost Breakdown: This is the race that started it all — the four-car street race in Downtown Los Angeles. By counting the city blocks crossed in the scene, Ibraheem tells me that the four racers go about two miles total. Also, unlike future races and chases where characters crash halfway through, everyone finishes the race (even if Brian wipes out and pulls up a little later).
Getting to the cars, Ibraheem tells me that Dom’s Mazda RX-7 gets 17 miles per gallon and Brian’s Mitsubishi Eclipse gets 19 miles per gallon. As for the other two cars, the Acura and the Honda, they each get 23 miles per gallon. But as Ibraheem aptly points out, “These numbers apply to people who are driving like human beings.” Because of their ‘over-exuberant driving,’ he’d cut each car’s mileage in half.
That would mean Dom’s Mazda would get around eight miles per gallon, so when the two-mile race is up, he would have used a quarter of a gallon of gas. But with the use of nitrous oxide — which forces more air and gas through the engine — Ibraheem says the number should be cut in half again, bringing Dom down to just four miles per gallon. With that, in a two-mile race, he would have used about a half gallon total. Brian also used nitrous oxide, so he would have used 0.42 gallons. For the also-rans — who didn’t use nitrous oxide — each of them needed just 0.17 gallons.
All told, the four cars combined used 1.26 gallons of gas. Even with today’s gas prices, that’s not too expensive: just $6.27.
2) The Vault Chase
Movie: Fast Five (2011)
Cars: Two 2010 Dodge Charger SRT-8s; a 2011 Gurkha F5 LAPV; two 2004 Volkswagen Touaregs; a 2011 Dodge Ram; a 2005 Toyota Sequoia; a 2000 Mitsubishi Montero (probably); two Yamaha WR450F motorcycles; and about 50 police vehicles, many of which are Dodge Chargers
Approximate Distance: Six miles
Total Cost of Gas: $119.75
Cost Breakdown: Fast Five was the film that transformed the franchise from street-racing movies into heist films, and it did so in spectacular fashion. The most memorable chase from the film — and maybe even in the franchise overall — is the vault heist, where Dom and Brian attach a huge bank vault to two 2010 Dodge Chargers. They then outrun and obliterate a shit-ton of police officers, as well as Hernan Reyes’ motorcade (he’s the bad guy, played by Joaquim de Almeida).
There’s a ton of stuff going on in this chase, but by examining the scene and counting city blocks where possible, Ibraheem estimates that the Chargers — which are in the race from start to finish — both go about six miles. That model of Charger gets about 13 miles per gallon, but again, their “exuberant” driving would cut that down to about 6.5 miles per gallon. They’re also towing a giant safe, which Ibraheem thinks would cut that number in half again. Over the six miles, that would mean each burns up two gallons total. But Dom detaches from Brian and does some extra craziness at the end, including hauling that vault around on his own, using nitrous oxide and popping a wheelie, so he may have burned up another gallon there. Altogether, let’s say the Chargers ate up five gallons of gas.
At the very beginning of the scene, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson smashes through a wall with a Canadian-made military vehicle called a Gurkha, which, according to one online source, is probably model year 2011. It gets 10 miles per gallon, which should be cut in half for speed. It only goes about a mile in the chase before disappearing, though, so Ibraheem says it eats up about 0.2 gallons of fuel. It’s notable, though, that this is a diesel vehicle, which is somewhat pricier at $5.13 per gallon.
Reyes’ motorcade — which consists of two Touregs, a Ram, a Sequoia and probably a Montero (it’s hard to tell) — only joins the chase at about the halfway point, so we’ll say they each went just three miles. They’re all gas guzzlers — eating up 6.5 to 8.5 miles per gallon each at that speed — so, doing all the math, that totals up to 1.94 gallons.
The sheer volume of police cars in this scene makes it impossible to break them each down into make and model, especially since, as Ibraheem says, “Many of these models would never be used as police cars.” I count about 40 police cars and 10 police SUVs, but for the sake of my own sanity, I’m going to say it’s an army of 50 Dodge Chargers. That’s far from being random though, as many of them are Chargers, which isn’t that fuel efficient of a car — it gets 18 miles per gallon, or nine miles per gallon at this kind of speed. By saying they’re all Chargers, it should reasonably balance out the SUVs with the smaller cars, which have no business being police cars in the first place.
I’m also going to say all 50 Chargers only went three miles, as most of them were smashed to shit throughout the six-mile chase and put out of commission.That’s obviously a lot of assumptions and estimations, but with 50 Chargers going three miles at nine miles per gallon, that’s a total of 16.7 gallons.
There are also two Yamaha motorcycles in this race for about a mile each, but Ibraheem says to only give them a total of 0.1 gallons each.
Altogether, not including The Rock’s diesel vehicle, that would amount to 23.84 gallons of premium gasoline, which would cost $118.72 at the national average. Adding The Rock’s ride back in, the grand total would be $119.75. This is admittedly pricey, but it would still be a small price to pay for the $100 million they stole from that vault.
3) The Runway Chase
Movie: Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Cars: Two 2012 Dodge Charger SRT-8s; two 1990 Land Rover Defenders; a 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE; a 1991 Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse W460; a 2010 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 940; a flip car; and a fucking airplane
Approximate Distance: 18.37 miles
Total Cost of Gas: $287,373.25
Cost Breakdown: The average airplane runway is generally between 8,000 and 13,000 feet long. At Bovingdon Airfield — where the runway chase was filmed — the runway length is just under 5,000 feet. Yet, the runway chase scene in Fast & Furious 6 lasts an impossibly long 13 minutes. In 2013, a kindred spirit of mine at the BBC calculated the length the runway would have to be in the film, putting it at 18.37 miles — or approximately 15 miles longer than the longest runway on Earth. But as I said at the beginning, I’m doing all of my calculations within the reality of the Fast & Furious franchise, so, if the BBC says the in-movie runway is 18.37 miles long, that’s good enough for me.
While the runway in this scene may be impossible, tracking the cars isn’t. Three bad guy cars are chased by three good guy cars, one of each ends up on an airplane and the plane promptly blows up. There are also two other vehicles in the mix, but it’s nothing too complicated.
Let’s begin with the two Chargers, which Ibraheem says are getting just seven miles per gallon with their high-speed driving. One Charger ends up on the plane about a quarter of the way into the chase, so it only uses $3.29 worth of fuel. The other Charger makes the whole run, so it uses up $13.05 worth of fuel.
The third good guy car is a 1990 Land Rover Defender. The bad guys also have the same model of vehicle, both of which are getting just eight miles per gallon. The bad guy car gets knocked out by the good guy car at about the halfway point, which means it uses $5.73 worth of fuel. As for the good-guy’s Defender, it survives, which means it uses $11.46 worth of fuel.
The bad guys also have a 2006 Range Rover, which gets seven miles per gallon, and a diesel 1991 Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse, which gets 8.5 miles per gallon. The Range Rover is in it for about three-quarters of the chase, which means it uses $9.81 worth of fuel. As for the G-Klasse, that’s in the chase only for the first quarter, so we’ll say it uses $2.77 worth of diesel.
There’s an Alfa Romeo as well and a cool-looking go-kart thing on the plane when it arrives, both of which enter the action. The Alfa Romeo is getting about 12 miles per gallon, while the go-kart — or flip car — has the same engine as a Dodge Charger, so that’s getting just seven miles per gallon. Both of these enter the chase at about the halfway point, but the flip car is gone within a few seconds, so let’s give that one 0.1 gallons, which would cost just 50 cents. The Alfa Romeo makes it until the end, so let’s say it uses $3.83 worth of fuel.
Then there’s the airplane. But it’s not just any airplane. The airplane that the bad guys are using to escape is the Antonov An-225, which Popular Mechanics describes as “the biggest plane in the world.” While the scene takes place in Spain, we don’t know where the plane came from or where it’s going, so let’s say it only has half a tank of gas. The fuel capacity for this behemoth is 98,567 gallons, so half that would be 49,283.5 gallons. Jet fuel costs are up now too, and the national average is presently at $5.83 per gallon. The plane explodes during the scene, which means it uses up that entire half tank, costing a total of $287,322.81. Combining that with all the gasoline and diesel consumed by the rest of the vehicles — which amounted to $50.44 — the total fuel cost for the runway chase would be a startling $287,373.25.
As for the matter of whether or not it was all worth it, the answer is obvious: Of course it was. Dom, Brian and the rest of the gang were saving Jordana Brewster’s Mia — who’s Dom’s sister and Brian’s wife — and when you’re in Dom’s crew, it’s all about family.
Oh, and utterly unbelievable, gas-guzzling car chases.