When Days of Thunder reached theaters in 1990, people called it Top Gun for auto racing. And why not? It was written and directed by the same team and featured Tom Cruise, who was very much in demand after his starring role in the original Gun from 1986. It was action-packed with high-speed thrills, and spoiler alert – the character Cruise played was a hotshot with some skill who wins in the end.

But for many, the real stars were the cars – and this YouTube video from Coors Bandit uncovers two of them. These were allegedly screen-used cars, specifically the number 51 Mello Yello Lumina and number 18 Hardee's Lumina. Judging by their state, we'd say they were most decidedly used, with the video claiming they were stunt cars in the movie.

Days Of Thunder Movie Car
Days Of Thunder Movie Car
Days Of Thunder Movie Car

We visit the Mello Yello first, and to call it rough is an understatement. After a lengthy process reaching the owner, a deal was sealed over the phone, and the new owner trucked to Florida where it was rotting away in a forest. Considerable rust on the outside gives way to major rot underneath, complete with big holes in the floor. It was sitting on the ground without wheels; loading it onto a trailer required some quick tire changes and even then, at least one wheel refused to turn. It was eventually secured, though it looks like some large chunks of the Lumina's lower fascia were sacrificed in the process.

The second car appears to be in slightly better shape, but only slightly. The current owner actually learned of the car's existence a couple of years ago, though an initial discussion with its then-owner didn't go well. It changed hands, the current owner caught wind of it, and the rest is history. Ironically, it was also rescued from a Florida forest without wheels.

Unfortunately, rescued in this case means simply cleaning them up, bolting on some wheels, and parking them in a showroom. The current owner says these are not restorable, but he wants to preserve them as they were at the end of filming for the movie. Unfortunately, the passage of time has taken a considerable toll since then. Aside from rust and rot, the Hardee's car used to be blue and orange. Now, it looks blue and white.

The 51 is special though. It shows Cruise's character Cole Trickle as the driver, which means it was a car used for the final act of the movie when Trickle takes over for his rival-turned-friend Rowdy Burns, the normal driver for the 51. While it's sad these will never drive again, at least they're on display for folks to reminisce about days gone by.

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