Is Lighting McQueen Really a Subaru? Debunking a Popular Myth Behind the Cars Franchise’s Iconic Design

The "Cars" movie franchise has captivated audiences worldwide since its debut in 2006. The lovable and fast-talking Lighting McQueen quickly became a fan favorite and the face of the franchise. One of the most common myths about this character is that he is a Subaru. In this article, we will explore if this myth has any basis in reality and delve into the inspiration behind McQueen’s design.

The Origin of Lighting McQueen’s Design

John Lasseter, one of the original creators of the "Cars" franchise, designed Lighting McQueen to resemble an amalgamation of various sports cars from the 1960s. The most obvious design inspiration behind McQueen is the Ferrari 250 GTO, considered one of the most beautiful sports cars ever to grace the roads. The designers took the sleek and aerodynamic look of the Ferrari and adapted it to fit McQueen’s more cartoonish appearance.

Why is the Myth of Lighting McQueen Being a Subaru so Pervasive

The myth of Lighting McQueen being a Subaru may have originated from the character’s color scheme. McQueen’s color scheme of red and black is a signature style of Subaru’s WRX STI model. However, the similarities between McQueen and the WRX STI end with the color scheme. McQueen is a much larger and more stylized car than the WRX STI, with a more aerodynamic body shape modeled after the Ferrari 250 GTO.

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Is There Any Cultural Significance to McQueen’s Design?

The design inspiration behind Lighting McQueen has both cultural and historical significance. The Ferrari 250 GTO, which inspired McQueen’s design, was created in the early 1960s to dominate racing circuits around the world. The car’s sleek design and impressive performance made it an icon of the era, with only a small number of units ever produced.

The designers of the "Cars" franchise wanted to pay tribute to this iconic car in creating Lighting McQueen. The character’s design, performance, and personality reflect the spirit and legacy of the Ferrari 250 GTO. In this sense, McQueen’s design is a tribute to the golden age of sports cars and their cultural significance.

The History and Design of Subaru Cars

While McQueen’s design may be inspired by the Ferrari, Subaru cars have their own rich history and unique design features. Established in 1953, Subaru is a Japanese car manufacturer that has produced many popular models over the years, including sedans, wagons, and SUVs. Subaru is known for its use of the Boxer engine, which enhances the car’s stability and handling, and its innovative all-wheel drive system.

Subaru’s cars have developed a loyal following among car enthusiasts, especially those who live in cold and snowy climates. The company’s cars are durable, reliable, and stylish, with a unique design language that sets them apart from other Japanese car manufacturers.


In conclusion, while there may be similarities between Lighting McQueen’s color scheme and the Subaru WRX STI, the character’s design is primarily based on the Ferrari 250 GTO. McQueen’s design pays tribute to the golden era of sports cars and their cultural significance. While Subaru cars have their unique and significant design features, their connection to McQueen’s design is, at best, tangential.

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The "Cars" franchise continues to be a beloved children’s franchise, loved by both young and old audiences. The charm and personality of Lighting McQueen are a testament to the franchise’s success. While the myth of McQueen being a Subaru may persist, it is essential to understand the inspiration behind the character’s iconic design.

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Billy Covington

With a passion for all things automotive, Billy is our go-to expert on Subaru performance upgrades and modifications. He's been featured in several car magazines and blogs, and his extensive knowledge and expertise make him a valuable member of our team. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys playing guitar and writing music.

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