Monday, November 21, 2011

A Karmann Ghia Has No Radiator Grille: Pixar Cars 2 For Geeks

About that secret pass phrase in Cars 2, it shows that the hick tow truck Mater really does know his Volkswagens. I did too because my traditional Geek Chinese Dad bought a 1961 Beetle and a series of Type 2 buses for the family so I grew knowing every Volkswagen as well. So for the car geeks:

Holley Shiftwell: A Volkswagen Karmann Ghia has no radiator grille

Karmann Ghia is the same slow
bug with a fancy sporty body

Mater: Of course it doesn't, thats cause it's air cooled.

Classic rear-engine air-cooled flat-4 Bettle engine with tall fan

Of course the karmann ghias wheren't the only ones, besides the beetles

you had the type 3 squarebacks with the pancake motor,

Pancake engine from

At the heart of the pancake engine is basically a Type I/II long block with rearranged accessories.  The cooling fan is mounted at the rear end of the crankshaft pulley, the oil cooler sits horizontally and the generator sits low against the crankcase. The effective height of the engine is about 15inches/38cm, which allows for additional cargo area above the engine in all Type IIIs. (that means there is a trunk/cargo area in front AND in back!)

Dustin Hoffman demonstrates that in the front where there is normally and engine, you'll find a trunk. And in the back where you'd normally find a trunk, you'll find ... another trunk?? (The engine is under the trunk floor).

wikipedia: The Type 3 was initially equipped with a 1.5 L (1493 cc) engine based on the air-cooled 1200cc flat-4 found in the Type 1, but given a 69mm stroke it became the basis for the 1300cc and 1600cc engines that followed in the later Beetle (Type 1) and Volkswagen Type 2 Bus T1 and T2.[citation needed] While the long block remained the same as the Type 1, the engine cooling was redesigned by putting the fan on the end of the crankshaft instead of on the generator. This reduced the height of the engine profile, allowed greater cargo volume, and earned the nicknames of "Pancake" or "Suitcase" engine. The engine's displacement would eventually increase to 1.6 L (1584 cc).

and before both of them you there is the type 2 buses, my buddy Fillmore is one of them.

The Kharmann Ghia is also known for being one of the inexpensive sports cars driven by Maxwell Smart, it was the sporty body version of the bug, but just as ridiculously slow and noisy.

From: the rear engine cover was the standard VW air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine. It was rated at the same 36 horsepower as in the Beetle, though minor relocation of components in the engine bay was necessary to get it to fit under the coupe's lower bodywork .//  the Karmann-Ghia had a much smaller frontal area than the Beetle, and the originals could hit a top speed of around 72 mph, maybe 10 mph higher than the sedan. Acceleration was no faster: Both cars could consume up to 36 seconds reaching 60 mph from a stop, and the transmission shifted with same rubberiness through the gears. But both had great straight-line traction in muddy or icy conditions. ...
For 1961, horsepower jumped to 40 at 4900 rpm ...Engine size increased to 1.3 liters for 1966 and horsepower rose to 50 at 4600 rpm. There was another bump to 1.5 liters and 53 horsepower for 1967, and a step to 1.6 liters and 57 horsepower for 1970, and finally, to 60 horsepower in 1971. The 1600s were the quickest Karmann-Ghias, capable of 0-60 mph in about 21 seconds and a top speed of around 82 mph. A switch in final drive for manual-transmission models in 1972 increased top speed to 90 mph

The Type 3 squareback seems to have been Volkswagen's answer to the Chevrolet Corvair, which was itself Detroit's answer to the Volkswagen, it had a "pancake" engine which had a fan low enough to put a station wagon load floor over the engine, and the notchback and fastback had a trunk in front AND in back. (Only the corvair van and wagon had cargo space in back)

Dustin Hoffman demonstrates that in the front, where most cars put the engine, is a trunk. And in the back where you would normally find a trunk, there's...... another trunk?

Actually the engines do have ventilation grilles in the back sides, but not in the nose mainly because the engine in in the BACK, but we can't fault Pixar for that.

The bad guys were also favorites of mine, "Grem" the AMC Gremlin with sport X trim, though oddly it's the later post-1975  "battering ram" bumper versions, not the original elegant 1970-1972 models, and "Acer" the even more oddly shaped Pacer sedan. These cars actually weren't mechanical lemons at all since the Gremlin was just compact Hornet with it's rear hacked off and shared mechanicals going back to Rambler days.
Original 1971-1972 Gremlin X

The Pacer was also a wierd body on fairly mundane mechanicals after the Wankel rotary engine idea didn't pan out.

The Gremlin actually outlasted the VW Bug, Pinto (which had a repuation for blowing up on rear impact) and the Vega (which had a repuation for aluminum engines that would self destruct) as the short Spirit and Eagle 4x4s into the late 1980s.

The Pacer was basically a small car that was a roomy and ate gas like a big car, an idea that never did have a really right time.

AMC Spirit was the ultimate Gremlin with a tidier tail

But the Pacer presaged the "jellybean" aerodynamic cars of the 1990s, and while the Gremlin was roundly laughed for the "where's the rest of your car" joke, many Japanese and German cars would also create new body styles by hacking off or adding (Volkswagen Jetta) a trunk. Both the Gremlin and Pacer are affordable collectible cars, though it can be expensive to keep a Gremlin in show condition if it is missing any parts.

What is Professor Z ?

(Pixarwikia) Professor Z

C2cs ProfessorZ1 4-per16-4 R rgb.jpg
Performer:Thomas Kretschmann
Appeared in:Cars 2

Professor Z, short for Zündapp, is the secondary antagonist in Cars 2.
Cars 2Edit
"Professor Z, aka “The Professor,” is an internationally wanted weapons designer in a small, sophisticated German package. He is a brilliant, but mad monocle-wearing scientist who is plotting to sabotage the World Grand Prix. Though his true motive is unclear, Professor Z is willing to do whatever it takes to eliminate all obstacles and keep the “project” on schedule."
During the film, it is learned that the Professor is not the main villain nor is he the leader of the lemon cars. As it turns out, he is actually working for Miles Axlerod. Since Professor Z is a scientist, Miles has him invent an electro magnetic pulse device which is disguised as a World Grand Prix camera, to use on the racers that use the gas Allinol. This was all part of a plan to turn the world against alternative energy and have all cars rely on gasoline, bringing profits to the lemon cars and himself due to the fact that they own the largest untapped oil reserves in the world.
In the end, Professor Z is missing his monocle, tied up by Finn McMissile, and tazed by Holley Shiftwell. He ultimately is arrested in London.


  • Top Speed: 50 mph
  • 0 - 50 mph: 12 seconds
  • Engine Type: 2-stroke single cylinder 250 cc
  • Horsepower: 14


  • He is modeled as a Zündapp Janus, a micro-car in which back passengers sit facing backward.
  • His license plate is BAD GA 58, which appears to be a pun on "bad guy". The 58 is one of the years the Zündapp Janus was made (1957-1958).


  • "Give it up McMissile!!"
  • "It's Finn McMissile! He's seen the camera! Kill him!"
  • "Lightning McQueen cannot win the race."
  • "It's the american spy!!!"
  • "Only the one who installed the bomb can deactivate it."
Zündapp Janus
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It was difficult to see what was front and what was rear.

The Zündapp Janus had doors in the front and rear.
Dornier Delta Prototype for the Janus
Zündapp Janus was the name of a microcar model made by Zündapp in Germany between 1957 and 1958. Originally Zündapp made motorcycles, but in 1954 decided to make a more weatherproof vehicle. They looked at designs from Kroboth, Brütsch, and Fuldamobil before settling for a design by Dornier Flugzeugwerke. The novel design featured a front-opening door for access to the front seat, as well as a rear-opening door for access to the rear-facing rear seat; this "coming or going" design was given the name of the Roman god, Janus, usually pictured having two faces: one looks forward while the other one looks back. The car was powered by a mid-mounted 2-stroke single cylinder 245 cc (15 cubic inch displacement) engine unique to the Janus developing 14 hp (10 kW), enabling a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). The suspension was of the MacPherson strut type that proved to be very comfortable. Production started in June 1957, but only 1731 cars were made in the first six months. By mid-1958, Zündapp abandoned the project and sold the factory to Bosch. A total of 6902 Zündapp Janus cars were made.
While in racing and sports cars the mid-engine configuration leads to optimal car handling, acceleration and braking, the engine was much lighter than the rear passengers, leading to a variable center of gravity.



Grzejniki dekoracyjne said...

Very interesting post for a vintage cars lovers! Best regards from Poland!

Anonymous said...

Good work

AaMom said...

Very nicely done. I liked the history lesson on one of Pixar's great movies. :-)

AaMom said...

Enjoyed the history lesson. Thanks!

Suchir said...

My 2.5yo is a big fan of Cars2, and I stumbled upon your blog searching for trivia on Cars2. Thanks for the lovely post, will look forward to more from you. I'll be better informed now on the story. Many thanks from India.

Suchir said...

My 2.5yo boy is a great fan of Cars 2, and I stumbled upon your blog searching for trivia on the characters. Thank you very much for the lovely post, will be looking forward for more, since Planes will be around anytime now.
Many thanks, from India

Jimmy Reeder said...

It really is nice to see that filmmakers do know what they’re talking about. Some filmmakers simply go on creating films that are based on real cars, but are really inaccurate. That usually causes misinformation to the general audience about their views on the car. Great review anyway.
Jimmy Reeder