Brought to you by the Fast & Furious car builders…
Nissanhitched its wagon to Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise last year for the Rogue One episode based on the obvious tie-in with the Rogue. It continues for this year’s impending Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi installment. The tenuous link the company is making now is the fact that the movie involves choosing between the light and dark sides of The Force. Nissan is using that reference from the movie and showing the choice automakers have between making virtuous technologies such as electrification and autonomy available for the many (light side) or the wealthy few (dark side). Spoiler alert: Nissan is opting for the former. At this year’s show, Nissan brought six new Last Jedi-themed cars and trucks and the Rogue One Rogue.
The cars have all been built by Vehicle Effects of Sun Valley, California, the company responsible for the vehicles in the Fast and Furious franchise, the most recent Batmobiles, and the Marvel franchise vehicles, among others. Of the Nissan Star Wars franchise vehicles the company has made, the largest and most elaborate is this Nissan Titan, which is inspired by the giant AT-M6 Walker bots the First Order uses to terrorize General Leia Organa’s Resistance.
We spoke with Eric Shimp of Vehicle Effects who explained that most of what we see on the Titan AT-M6 is aluminum, with some of the repeating shapes (such as the battery boxes in back) having been popped out of a mold for consistency. The intricate circuit panels on the sides are 3-D-printed parts, and the entire thing is then painted. There is no wrap on any of the main Star Wars cars (there were two wrapped vehicles in the Convention Center entry atrium).
Lucasfilm sent Vehicle Effects gigantic computer files with vastly too much surface information to incorporate on a pickup-sized Walker, but rest assured that those items that were scalable to this vehicle are incredibly accurate. The big challenge with this vehicle was to prevent the added gear from looking like a camper insert. We think they succeeded on that front.
The finished vehicle reportedly weighs about 6,500 pounds. It is powered by the stock gas V-8, and the interior remains stock, except the back seat area is filled with sound equipment to generate the booming effects of a stomping AT-M6 Walker. Vehicle Effects isn’t saying how much it cost to build but admits this one has the most labor hours in it—though the X-wing fighter Rogue involved considerable machining.
Nissan’s Star Wars fleet will be making the rounds of smaller auto shows through the first quarter of 2018, by which time the movie will probably have run its course in even the second-run theaters.