Route 66 & "Cars"
Pixar’s animated movie Cars was based on real people, places, and cars along Route 66.
The Sheriff car was voiced by Michael Wallis, author of Route 66: The Mother Road. Wallis guided the Pixar crew on two Route 66 tours when they were doing research for the movie. Angel Delgadillo’s Barber Shop in Seligman, AZ has artwork autographed by John Lasseter and others on display.
While Radiator Springs somewhat resembles the Route 66 town of Peach Springs, AZ, it is most likely a composite of many small towns along Route 66.
Trains regularly run on the railroad tracks along Route 66, just like the train that Lightning McQueen speeds in front of in the movie.
The tractors that invade Radiator Springs are like the wild burros that roam historic Oatman, AZ.
The Cadillac Range of mountains that surrounds Radiator Springs is a combination of the rugged Black Mountains near Oatman, AZ, the colorful Grand Canyon area in western Arizona, and the Cadillac Ranch sculpture in Amarillo, TX.
When Sally and Lightning McQueen go for a drive, the forest road is a composite of the Flagstaff area and the twisting, turning road that leads to Oatman, AZ.
The bridge in front of the waterfall that Sally drives on resembles the now-closed bridge over Diablo Canyon at Two Guns, AZ. The waterfall is reminiscent of Havasu Falls, a destination for Route 66 travelers near Peach Springs, AZ.
Lizzie’s Curio Shop in Radiator Springs looks a lot like the Hackberry General Store in Hackberry, AZ, complete with the “Here it is!” sign. The “Here it is!” sign near Lizzie’s shop also looks like the historic “Here It Is!” billboard for the Jackrabbit Trading Post in Jackrabbit, AZ.
The Cozy Cone Motel is based on the historic teepee-shaped Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ. It is probably named after the Cozy Dog drive-in restaurant on Route 66 in Springfield, IL.
The hospitality at Flo’s V-8 Diner is reminiscent of the friendly Snow Cap diner in Seligman, AZ. The canopies at Flo’s V-8 Diner resemble the old canopy at a gas station on Route 66 in Needles, CA.
Fillmore, the VW bus, was inspired by Route 66 hippie artist Bob Waldmire, who painted the massive mural of Route 66 at Meteor City, AZ. Fillmore’s geodesic dome home looks like the rainbow-topped dome at Meteor City, AZ.
Ramone’s body-art shop in the film is patterned after the U-Drop Inn, an Art Deco gas station complex in Shamrock, TX.
The Wheel Well Motel resembles the rock overlook at the old Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post at the Arizona-New Mexico border.
The wide desert vista that Sally and Lightning gaze at from the Wheel Well Motel resembles the scenic view of the Painted Desert from the Petrified Forest overlook off I-40.
Unlike the "Cars" movie, there are no saguaro cacti to be seen along the real Route 66. Saguaros are native to the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and are not found in the high desert plains of northern Arizona. But hey, a movie about Arizona has to have saguaros in it!
These pages are a continuous work in progress.