Speed Racer: History of the REAL Mach 5

Published 7 years ago by , Updated June 29th, 2013 at 11:52 am,
Mach5 all of them p Speed Racer: History of the REAL Mach 5

Strangely, when I first heard about the Speed Racer movie by the Wachowskis, I was reserved in my anticipation. Then, when I heard it was going to be sporting some serious CGI, I got depressed because I didn’t think it would meet my hopes.

However since then I’ve seen the movie trailers and they’re so cool my wife has to bring me down afterwards. It looks like it’s going to be true to my memories of the show.

In the upcoming movie version of Speed Racer, the Mach 5 is built by Speed Racer’s dad, Pops Racer, and it’s got some pretty cool features like the auto jacks and tire belts, just to mention a few.

As far as specs on the Mach 5 go it’s been said to have 5,000 horsepower distributed to all four wheels evenly. Whoa… I was really hoping for a little bit more than that. “-)

So that’s a bit of info on the movie version of the car, but did you know that there have been a few real Mach 5′s built over the years?

Probably the most well known version is the Mach 5 prototype that resides in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. It was built in 1999 and is very true to the cartoon design. It was used in a national automotive safety tour sponsored by the Child Safety Network and is said to contain a ‘mid engine’ and *crickets* (whatever those are). It was then put on Ebay where the Petersen Museum bought it for $125k.

mach5 petersen Speed Racer: History of the REAL Mach 5

After the safety tour prototype was built, someone got the idea to build 100 street legal production ‘signature’ versions and they were made in 2002, also by the Child Safety Network. They plopped it on a 2001 Corvette chassis with a modified body to resemble the Mach 5. It had a 345 hp power plant and cost about $75k. They’re called the signature series because each car was signed by actor Peter Fernandez, the voice of Speed Racer and Racer X in the 1967 version of the franchise. (He’s also the writer of the theme song we all know and love.)

mach5 corvette Speed Racer: History of the REAL Mach 5

With that being said, I recently came across a Road And Track test drive article on the Mach 5 being used in the new movie coming out May 9th. My eyes lit up and I started reading fervently because they had some awesome images of the test drive.

I like the statement the reviewer made in the beginning of his article saying how we’d sit around the TV set, (I was one of them) watching Speed Racer go wheel to wheel with a gang of racing villains who make Tony Stewart look like Tinkerbell. (Some of my NASCAR blog readers would most definitely take issue with that statement!)

The car they tested, the Racer Motors Mach 5 sports an 8.0-liter quad sequential turbocharged V-12 that pumps out 1700 bhp at 8000 rpm and 1400 lb.-ft. of torque at 5500 and it only weighs just over 2400 lbs. on it’s 245/40ZR-18 tires. I’d love to take a trip to the grocery store in that!

mach5 road track Speed Racer: History of the REAL Mach 5

The question was put out there if this power plant wasn’t a little overkill and the response: “The car is supposed to be able to go 300 mph. And this is what’s required to get it there.” Point made.

You’re probably salivating like I was when I was reading this, and the images were just helping my happy state that someone built a car and someone got to drive it. I mean, they’ve built the Batmobile and the Ghost Busters wagon and so on, so I was eating this up and annoying my wife until I got the part of the “road test” where the author started talking about how he tested the different features of the car like the pneumatic jacks and the jump feature, the tire crampons… and then I knew that I had been had.. like you just now… Have you ever thought you had yourself a winning lottery ticket until you noticed it’s the wrong date you’re looking up? Yea, that’s how I felt, and misery loves company… sorry.

There’s a bright side to everything though. While I thought I was getting info on the real Mach 5, in the end, I did get a potentially more complete set of stats for the car from the cartoon just as I had I started out looking for and that’s fine by me. Heck, even the pictures of the road test were more special affects, created by Polyphony Digital Inc. I was so disappointed!

But being ever hopeful as I am, I’d like to see another street version of the car, and if this movie is a a hit (as it’s expected to be), no doubt some savvy entrepreneur will take on the project. I’ve been saving my cash just for this kind of “rainy” day! I just gotta come up with a real good explanation for my wife when it shows up in the driveway besides grocery runs! Yeah, I know… I’ll have to find my 1/18 scale ERTL diecast – it may be all I have!

A quiz for our readers: Do you know what the M on the hood of the Mach 5 stands for?
OK, here’s a clue if you need it. But do you know what the G on Speed’s shirt in the cartoon stands for?

Speed Racer opens on May 9th!

Sources: Wikipedia; Petersen Automotive Museum; Sussex County Online; AutoBlog Hi-Res Image; Road and Track;

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  1. Mifune Motors for the “M”; haven’t a clue for the “G”. Gokuh, maybe?

  2. GO!

  3. How cool would it be to own one of those? ALMOST as cool as owning a replica of the Batmobile from the 60′s TV show. :-)


  4. I so can’t wait!!!!!
    This film is going to be soo huge and influence so many.

    I don’t know what the G stands for?

  5. I’m still waiting for a few more folk to pitch in with ideas or the answer. I want to give a few others a chance before I let it out of the bag.

    But speaking of GO, the show over in Japan is called “Mach Go! Go! Go!”


  6. Yea Bruce unless someone gets it right, don’t tell us til next week!! Or the next Speed Racer post..?


  7. With all the gadgets the Mach 5 has its basically another version of the Batmobile.
    If not better than the 60′s camp tv show model.

    But its not in the same universe. Forget the same time, same channel bs.

    Speed Racer is about to set the Manga/awesomeness bar in the universe of film,, big time!!!

    Speed Racer will be MORE groundbreaking than the Matrix and the Matrix was pretty big. :-)

    Boy, what a “once in a lifetime” month of great films. Haha. (Laughing like the joker) while quoting the Talking Heads. :-)

  8. Bruce did you give away the answer. Go! Go! Go?

    I’m reading an article about Speed Racer wow is this film going to pack the theaters.
    We’ve all seen the trailers so we kinda know its going to look different from any film we’ve ever seen.
    Let me tell you, from what I’m reading I think that’s going to be an understatment.

    The Wachoskis are back and this time there creating a new “bullet time” vfx called “Bubble Technology”.
    It enables for a seemless blend of CGI and live action. This film is allmost 90% CGI and there pushing it in a new direction to create a live-action anime experience.

    Another term their using to describe the amazing car races is called “Car_fu” with it they hope to capture the zany cartoon look of the original series along with creating a new landscape in motion cinema that the entire family can enjoy.

    (I call it printing money).

    • Yep. Got one. Took about 6 years.

  9. Just saw the new Speedy Trailer and wow does it look awesome.

    The saw blades are in the picture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Die hards will know what I mean.

  10. Yo Gotham, wish I could afford something like those, bud! :-)


  11. The G on His Shirt:

    In the original Anime series, before it came to the U.S., the main character’s name was Gō Mifune.

    The M on the car and his helmet, as I noted before stood for Mifune Motors, the family business, and was a type of tribute to Japanese film star Toshiro Mifune. His given name was Gō, and is represented by the yellow letter G embroidered on his short-sleeve blue shirt.

    There ya have it gang.

  12. The NASCAR race tonight from Richmond, VA has a car sponsored by the studio that made Speed Racer.. driven by Bobby Labonte in the famous Petty Enterprises #43 car.

    It’s white, with the classic M on the hood. Looks kind of cool. Now if they could get that hood cowl on the car!

  13. As I understand it, the original Japanese title Mach Go Go Go was a play on words lost in the translation to English. Not only, as pointed out, was “Gō” Speed’s name (I have seen other Asians named Go, though not necessarily Japanese, but apparently it is a real name), but “go” is also Japanese for the number 5. So I guess it would be “Mack 5, Go Gō! (like “Go Joe”, I assume). So the final line of the theme, “Go Speed Racer, Go Spead Racer, Go Speed Racer, Go!”, looks both like a nod to the 3 Go’s in the original title and to his “real” name being Go.

  14. Good info,

    Ques:how do you think it will do next weekend?

    (Thankfull for copy & paste technology).

  15. The Mack 5 is wonderful but I don’t call it the Mack 5. I call it the “POWERFUL MACK 5″ and I love the 5 on the side and the big M on the hood! Your #1 fan Andrew Toelke

  16. So what did you think of the movie Andrew?

  17. they should make a mach 5 on a barabus tkr chassi and put in 2 twin turbo v8.

  18. I know this will make me sound like a sourpuss, but I don’t like any of the various full scale (or “real life”) Mach 5s out there. They all look phony to me. None of the “real life” Mach 5s follow the true body lines of the cartoon version from the original ’60s cartoon series. What “body lines” am I talking about? Well, I know you are all familiar with the theme song at the beginning of each episode of the ’60s Speed Racer series. I’m sure you all remember at the very beginning you see a top view of the Mach 5 with it’s front end pointed towards the base of the television screen for a brief second, then the car suddenly swing to a different position so that you are now looking at a broadside view of the car with it’s front end pointing to the left of the tv screen. This is the first several seconds of the Mach 5 you see just before Speed Racer appears on the screen running towards the car, with his back to the viewers, and jumps into the cockpit and starts up the engine and speeds away.

    This is the Mach 5 I am referring to whenever I speak of “true body lines”. This Mach 5, in my opinion, in these first several seconds of the intro, is the best looking Mach 5 in the entire intro and in the entire series. It doesn’t look this way anywhere else. The body lines are more realistic on this Mach 5 that you see in the first several seconds of the intro (which probably last about 5 or 6 seconds before Speed Racer suddenly appears and jumps into the cockpit) and this is the Mach 5 whose body lines I would follow as closely as possible if it were up to me to build a real life version.

    The various full scale models I’ve seen of the Mach 5 in the past look fake and lousy. And are all made from fiberglass. Why fiberglass?! The is what makes the car look fake. I prefer it be made from sheet metal like other race cars. And another thing that bugs me about the full scale Mach 5s – well, I don’t know about all, but at least, one of the full scale models sits on a corvette chassis. And I think that’s crazy. Why should a famous car like the Mach 5 sit on another famous car’s chassis?! To me, that’s like walking around in somebody else’s shoes. I don’t like being rude for the sake of being so, but I truly think all the full scale versions of the Mach 5s I’ve seen so far really stink. And if it were up to me. I would’ve followed the body lines of the Mach 5 you see during the first several seconds of the intro.