- Community-Threatening Construction: Before Lightning's arrival, Interstate 40 was constructed, resulting in the town to get bypassed to save driving time. As a result, the town literally vanished from the map, but the folk never gave up on trying to attract customers again.
- Dying Town: Their home was initially this with thanks to the nearby interstate being constructed. Finally averted by the end of the film when Lightning permanently moves there.
- Out of Focus: Their roles have gotten slightly smaller in later movies, with only Luigi, Guido, Fillmore and Sarge accompanying Lightning throughout most of the second movie. The first two accompany him throughout most of the third movie.
- Pals with Jesus:
- All of them to Lightning after he permanently moves in with them. Also with Cruz, after becoming Lightning's student.
- Also with Doc, who is revealed to be a former racer himself. At least until his death.
- Sixth Ranger: Cruz Ramirez joins the gang at the end of Cars 3.
- Town Girls: Showgirl Flo is femme, boisterous Lizzie is butch (Later joined by feisty Cruz), and sweet Sally is neither.
- Token Minority: Luigi, Guido (Italian) and Ramone (Mexican), are the only members of the gang who are foreign. Later joined by Cruz (Hispanic).
- True Companions: Initially averted at first upon Lightning's destruction of the town, but played straight in the climax of the first film onward. Most of them are part of his pit crew, and are there for him. They all act like this toward each other as well.
- Vague Age: All of them act like young adults, with Doc as the oldest. They are also old enough to live on their own. However, they seem to keep the same appearances as years pass (as seen in the "Our Town" montage where they look the same as they do now and in Doc's newspaper where he still looks as old as he does today), and don't even show any signs of aging at all.
A 1951 Hudson Hornet, Doc Hudson is Radiator Springs' medical doctor and judge. He sentences Lightning to fix the town's road after destroying it. He hides his past from his friends, which Lightning accidentally discovers, which Doc does not like one bit.
- Blue Is Heroic: He is navy blue with chrome accents.
- Bus Crash: He's mentioned in the second film to have died sometime after the first due to Paul Newman's death.
- Cool Old Guy: Despite being cold towards Lightning, he's actually a cool judge, doctor and former racing champion and helps Lightning during the climax in the first film.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Back in 1954, he crashed in the middle of a race and everyone worried about his future. After being repaired, he was replaced by a rookie and lost his career for good.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has some touches of this. For example, after Lightning crashes into the cacti:Doc: Was that floatin' like a Cadillac or stingin' like a Beamer? I'm confused.
- Deuteragonist: While Lightning gets the bulk of the Character Development, the first film also focuses on Doc coming to terms with his past and regaining his love for racing.
- Did Not Get the Girl: He rejected Louise Nash, who was in mad love with him, because he ironically didn't have a thing for fast women.
- Fake Shemp: Paul Newman died in 2008. His unused voice recordings from the first film were pieced together to provide the character's lines in the third one.
- For Your Own Good: How he justifies selling out Lightning to the Piston Cup officials. Sally, Mater, and the rest of the town don't take it well.
- Grail in the Garbage: He uses his Piston Cup trophies to hold his tools in his garage/clinic.
- Hanging Judge: Judging from his introductory speech.
- Hypocrite: He asks Lightning, after he finds out that Doc Hudson used to race, if he ever thought about anyone except himself. Lightning responds by accusing Hudson of doing the same thing, since he told no one in Radiator Springs about his racing past.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Sort of. Doc did have a very successful career, holding the record for most wins in a single season and winning three consecutive Piston Cup championships. But after his wreck in '54, instead of returning to a hero's welcome he was labeled finished and replaced with the next rookie in line.
- Icy Blue Eyes: Representing his tough, former racing nature, and the fact he starts off cold at first. This contrasts with Lightning who has the "innocent" variant (though he has the "icy" variant prior to his Character Development).
- Ink-Suit Actor: Believe it or not, his features were inspired by his voice actor's face.
- It's All About Me: Sally accuses him of this when he alerts the Piston Cup officials to pick up Lightning.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Comes off as quite bitter towards McQueen at first, but helps support him during his race.
- Living Legend: Even after disappearing from the race scene after his nasty accident and the following mistreatment from his sponsors, everyone realized whom he was at the final race.
- Parental Substitute: Doc aced as a paternal figure to Lightning.
- Small Name, Big Ego: According to his old racing friends, he was calling himself the Fabulous Hudson Hornet even when he was just starting off. He then proceeded back in the day, to earn every right to that ego.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Even though Doc Hudson prefers not to discuss his racing past, he alerts the media to Lightning's whereabouts after he leaves town, not wanting to be hounded by the paparazzi, and he even shows up at the Piston Cup race in his old racing colors as the head of Lightning McQueen's pit crew to lend his support.
- Retired Badass: He was forced to retire from racing for good following his crash in '54, but still has the skills within to help Lightning.
- Riches to Rags: Originally a Piston Cup racing star, he was forced to retire after being repaired and replaced with a rookie, and now works as the town doctor of Radiator Springs.
- Trickster Mentor: A version of this for Lightning towards his racing career.
A Porsche 911 Carrera, Sally is an Los Angeles attorney who grew tired of her life in the big city and ended up in Radiator Springs. She becomes the town attorney and runs the Cozy Cone Motel. She longs to see the town restored to its former glory, and becomes Lightning's girlfriend.
- Almost Kiss: She and Lightning in the first film before Mater interrupts.
- All There in the Script: Her last name "Carrera" is not stated in the animation so far.
- Embarrassing Tattoo: A tramp stamp!
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Has light teal eyes which represent her adoration towards the town, and for being the first one who deeply cared about Lightning.
- Hello, Attorney!: Lightning is immediately smitten when he sees her.
- Nice Girl: Sally is nice, friendly, pleasant, and kind to others.
- The Nicknamer: She calls Lightning "Stickers", referring to the various decals on his body. A few times throughout Cars 3, she accidentally calls him "Stinky" due to his grey undercoat, only to correct herself.
- True Blue Femininity: She is light blue, representing her feminine nature.
- Official Couple: With Lightning.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She is this to the town, believing that after Lightning's arrival, fixing the road will bring customers back. This is played even further in the climax of Cars 3 — Lightning discovers that since he started the Florida 500 and Cruz finished under his number, they both share the victory and Lightning wins the bet against Sterling. Sally proves this word-per-word following this reveal.
A Volkswagen Microbus, a New-Age Retro Hippie who sells organic fuel. Has a fiery friendship with Sarge.
- Actual Pacifist: Goes with his hippie nature. More specifically, he, along with Sally, were the only ones not to participate in the Radiator Springs vs. Lemon Gangs in London.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Shaped like the hippies' signature vehicle, sells organic food and speaks with a calm duuude voice.
A 1941 Willys MB Jeep, Sarge is Fillmore's best friend and neighbour. He runs a surplus store.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Though painted a dark olive, he's not really that bad, just rather strict.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sarge does this during the end credits montage when running a boot camp for pampered SUVs."A-TEN-SHUN! Kiss the pavement goodbye, gentlemen! When I'm finished with you, you'll have mud in places you didn't know you had!""Yo, I never been off road!"
- Meaningful Name: He's a jeep with a camouflage paint job who acts and sounds like a drill sergeant. He also plays "Reveille" every morning, which is almost drowned out by Fillmore's music.
- No Indoor Voice: Often speaks like this.
- Properly Paranoid: He greatly distrusts Axlerod and switched out Lightning's Allinol with Fillmore's organic fuel. This is what actually saves Lightning from being killed later on.
- Symbol Motif Clothing: The military-like star on his hood along with the icon of his Surpluss Hut on his doors.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Fillmore.
An Italian Fiat 500 and Isetta-based forklift. Guido and Luigi run Luigi's Casa Dell Tires, which has a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa made from tires. Luigi is a big fan of race cars, particularly Ferraris. Guido only speaks in Italian, and can change tires in seconds, wanting to perform a pit stop on Lightning during his time in town.
- Ascended Extra: Secondary characters throughout the movies, but in Cars 3, they get a more prominent role as the only Radiator Springs citizens who accompany McQueen on his journey.
- Bilingual Bonus: Pretty much everything Guido says, seeing as how he can only speak Italian.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Guido is pretty silly, but his tire changing skills are something to behold.
- Chaste Toons: Luigi's aunt and uncle (see below).
- Cultural Translation: For the Italian dub, Guido doesn't speak standard Italian, but rather the distinctive local dialect of Ferrari's home city of Modena. His Italian voice is Alex Zanardi, auto racer, future Paralympic handcyclist, and native of Bologna, a city not far from Modena that has a similar dialect.
- Fan Boy: Luigi's a hard core Tifosi and Michael Schumacher supporter. He gets to meet Schumacher and gush all over him at the end of the film.
- Keet: Guido especially, but both of them count.
- Gratuitous Italian: Both of them, but Guido exclusively speaks in Italian.
- Mr Fix It: Guido. A very fast one too, much to the Chick's forklifts' amusement.
- Third-Person Person: "Luigi know what you want."
- Those Two Guys: Luigi and Guido are the Italian mechanic version.
Flo is the wife of Ramone, and is manager of Flo's V-8 Cafe gas diner. Her design is a stock 1950s show car.
Radiator Springs' body artist and husband to Flo, Ramone is a 1959 Chevrolet Impala. He is very proud of his art deco, usually altering his paint job in every new scene.
- Happily Married: To Flo.
- Hot Paint Job: He's fond of giving these, as well as usually sporting one himself.
- Origins Episode: The deleted scene "Motorama Girls" explains how he first met Flo and fell in love with her.
- Passing the Torch: After Docs death, he appears to have taken over repairing broken cars and healing them.
- Pimped-Out Car: Aside from his numerous paint jobs, he possesses impressive hydraulics as well.
- Third-Person Person: Often speaks like this.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Ramone's got a different paint job in almost every other scene.
A gentle fire truck. He is not one for words, is quite shy, and very fond of the plants in Radiator Springs.
- Cry Cute: He cries twice in the first film. Once after Lightning insults him and the other when he thinks that Lightning has left Radiator Springs.
- Gentle Giant: He's the largest vehicle, but he also has the biggest heart.
- The Quiet One: He almost never speaks onscreen due to his shyness, but after the death of his actor he becomes The Voiceless in the sequel.
- Shrinking Violet: He's very shy when it comes to meeting new cars. In fact, he hid from Lightning during an attempt at a conversation.
Sheriff of Radiator Springs, a 1949 Mercury Eight police car.
- Badass Mustache: Though not real, the filters just above his front bumper resemble a mustache.
- Dark Is Not Evil: He's generally black and white, but he's not really mean, just rather strict.
- Defrosting Ice King: Much like Doc, Sheriff isn't too fond of Lightning after he unceremoniously tears up the town road. However, after Lightning's change of heart and fixing the road, Sheriff offers to escort Lightning back to the stadium.
- Generation Xerox: According to a guidebook on the blu-ray version, his entire family were cops.
- His Name Really Is "Barkeep": His name is his literal occupation.
- Ink-Suit Actor: He looks like a car-ified version of his voice actor dead-on, especially the mustache-esque grille.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gruff and strict attitude aside, Sheriff does in fact care about Radiator Springs and warms up to Lightning in the end.
- No Indoor Voice: Hence being the police officer, he has his moments.
- The Sheriff: Sheriff of Radiator Springs.
- Sweet Home Alabama: Speaks with a faint Dixieland accent, suggesting he came from the south.
An elderly 1923 Ford Model T coupe, Lizzie is the widow of the town's founder Stanley. She runs Radiator Springs Curio, which sells car souveneirs and accessories.
- Cloudcuckoolander: A bit of one, presumably due to age. Refers to the television as the radio and after mentioning Big Al in the courtroom, Ramone points out he left years ago, to which Lizzie asks Ramone why he brought him up.
- Dark Is Not Evil: She's black, but really friendly and humorous.
- Dirty Old Woman: Lizzie is an old Model T who delights in very bad comedy and slapping stickers onto the rears of male cars.
The late founder of Radiator Springs and husband to Lizzie. A statue of him stands outside the town's firehouse.
- Happily Married: To Lizzie. Before he died, at least.
- Jump Scare: One of the many things when Lightning wrecks havoc in Radiator Springs, is that Stanley's statue rockets up and lands in front of the scene from Lightning's first person perspective complete with a Scare Chord.
- Our Founder: For Radiator Springs.
Piston Cup racers and authority
A Mack Superliner truck who is Lightning's transport and the closest thing he has to a friend.
- Gentle Giant: A gigantic red semi-truck and also a Nice Guy.
- Nice Hat: The large sail on his roof resembles a trucker cap.
- The Nicknamer: Sometimes he calls Lightning "boss".
- Only Friend: Was this to Lightning prior to his redemption.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: While at the Thunder Hollow Crazy 8, he disguised himself as a delivery truck for "Jocko Flocko's Party Supplies" to hide his identity.
- Vitriolic Best Friends: With Lightning.
Lightning's agent who is only heard over the phone. America assumes that Harv is a 1996 Oldsmobile, while Clarkson believes that he is a 1979 Ford Granada Ghia.
- Informed Attribute: Billed as the World's Greatest Agent, yet he hasn't the time to care for Lightning McQueen. Could be justified due to being Married to the Job.
- Large Ham: Jeremy Clarkson in the UK version plays up Harv as one.
- Married to the Job: Despite being Lightning's agent, he has virtually no time for his client.
- Mean Boss: Harv threatened to fire Mack if he didn't get Lightning back in his trailer, and when Lightning is finally found, Harv is more overjoyed with the publicity than actually getting his racer back.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He's only in two scenes, but both are important to Lightning's story: the first shows how lonely Lightning truly is, while the second is when Lightning's forced to return for the race.
- The Voice: He is only heard over Lightning's phone.
A 1969 Plymouth Superbird, Strip Weather, better known as "The King", is the golden boy of Dinoco. He is participating in his last championship before retiring.
- Back for the Finale: He shows up again at the very end of Cars 3.
- Blue Is Heroic: He is light blue, and the nicest of the three leaders.
- Color-Coded Characters: Sky blue with hints of white and orange.
- Cool Old Guy: Not as old as Doc Hudson, but he has been in the race scene for some time and is about to retire, and gives some advice to the aspiring champion Lightning not to be so greedy and listen to his team.
- Doomed Moral Victor: Although he doesn't die, he becomes severely injured by a crash caused by Chick Hicks during the final lap of the tie-breaker race.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine.
- Friendly Rivalry: He's on much better terms with Lightning compared to Hicks.
- History Repeats: His crash at the end mirrors Doc's crash. However, unlike Doc, he had someone — Lightning — to help him finish his last race.
- Ink-Suit Actor: The King's model is based on Richard Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird.
- Retired Badass: He retired after the first film, but still has a lot left in him, such as when he acted as crew chief for his nephew Cal.
- Spell My Name with a "The": Lightning addresses him as "Mr. The King" upon their encounter before the race results are revealed.
- Sweet Home Alabama: Speaks with a heavy Southern drawl (like his voice actor), something shared among his family members.
Lightning's obnoxious rival who is Always Second Best to the King. He is a green 1986 Buick Regal racing car.
- Always Second Best: Was this to The King. And when Lightning breaks onto the scene, he slips back into Always Third Best.
- Appropriated Appellation: His nickname of "Thunder" comes from him always placing after Lightning McQueen. After his surge in popularity after McQueen's disappearance however, he takes the nickname and runs with it.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Played with. While he does win the race and Piston Cup by ramming into the King and knocking him off the track, damaging him badly (in a very similar fashion to what happened with Doc years ago) he receives absolutely no praise or cheering after his victory, but rather a series of boos, his own merchandise being pelted at him and likely a permanently ruined reputation as a racecar.
- Big Bad: The main antagonist of the first film. He competes with The King and Lightning to be Dinoco's new face and in the last race he pushes The King off the tracks causing a devastating accident similar to Doc Hudson's.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: "Ka-chicka! Ka-chicka!" (Lightning: Hey, that's ''MY bit!!'')
- The Bus Came Back: He was completely absent after being robbed of his victory in the tie-breaker race until Cars 3, where it's revealed that he hosts a racing talk show.
- Color-Coded Characters: Shocking green with hints of white and neon yellow.
- Classic Villain: He's practically envy and pride incarnate.
- Depending on the Artist: Whether Chick has his thunderbolt sticker varies depending on the media: he wears it in the PSP version of the first game, the game based on Cars 2, Cars 3 and Cars 3: Driven to Win, but he doesn't wear it in the console or DS versions of the first game, Cars Race O Rama or Cars: Fast as Lightning.
- Dude, Where's My Reward?: Subverted: Even though he wins the Piston Cup, it isn't accompanied by a cheering crowd; justified when the audience decides to boo him instead for shoving Strip Weathers off the track and displaying poor sportsmanship.
- Evil Counterpart: To Lightning McQueen. Both are portrayed as mean and arrogant racecars who cared about nothing but themselves and made fun of other cars. What makes them different is that at the end of the film, McQueen ends up losing the final race but is now respected by the other cars since he actually now learned to accept defeat by helping another racecar, Strip "The King" Weathers, cross the finish line after he was crashed by Chick, while Chick ended up winning the same race but is ultimately betrayed by everyone else since they found out about what he did to The King, and that doing such is actually against the racing code.
- Glory Days: Slightly touched upon in the third movie, he always has his Piston Cup trophy by his side during his show just to let the audience know he won it...despite the fact that he was known to have done it through dirty means.
- Green and Mean: Green paint and the dirtiest racer of the Piston Cup.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Chick is deeply envious of The King's status as Dinoco's golden boy. Plus he's green to boot.
- Hate Sink: He's an utterly egotistical jerkass who's willing to cheat and harm anyone who gets in his way, he causes a multi-car pileup solely to get ahead in the first race and later forces The King to crash so badly he would have been unable to finish his final race had Lightning not sacrificed his victory to help him. To top it all off, he has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and even gaining his own talk show in Cars 3 has done nothing to humble him. This is to make his eventual failure to get the Dinoco sponsorship all the more satisfying.
- Jacob Marley Warning: Basically he represents what Lightning would've become if he hadn't redeemed himself.
- Jerkass: Even more than Lightning was at first due to him being the Big Bad of the first film. He caused The King's wreck. By the third movie, he's somehow was able to gain his own sports talk show where he does nothing but rip into Lightning for his continued loses against Storm.
- Karma Houdini: The fact that by Cars 3, instead of being punished for what is essentially attempted murder of The King for his ill-gotten Piston Cup, Chick instead became host of a popular television show that's watched by millions really leaves a sour taste in one's mouth.
- Laser-Guided Karma: While he does unfortunately win the Piston Cup, it's still easily quite satisfying when his former fans turn on him and throw his merchandise at him, expelling him from racing permanently.
- Laughably Evil: A few of the scenes with him can be quite funny.Chick: "You know that was some pretty darn good moves out there BY ME!"Chick: "I know that must have been really embarrassing, but I wouldn't worry about it BECAUSE I DIDN'T DO IT!"
- His "Ka-Chigga" catchphrase never gets old.
- Meaningless Villain Victory: He wins the Piston Cup only because Lightning forfeited his own chance, stopping just short of the finish line to go back and help The King after Chick rammed him off the track. This, combined with his gloating, results in him being denied the opportunity to represent Dinoco and booed off the stage at the cup presentation, rendering his victory hollow and meaningless.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: He wins the Piston Cup, but only because he caused The King to crash horribly and Lightning went back to help him. Chick doesn't get his Dinoco sponsor like he dreamed and is booed off the stage at the cup presentation.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: He fled the stage when the audience jeered him at the cup presentation.
- Shadow Archetype: To Lightning McQueen. While McQueen gradually becomes a better racecar, Chick Hicks only gets worse.
- Shoddy Knockoff Product: Becomes this after Lightning vanishes, not only ripping off his trademark Lightning Bolt sticker with a Thunderbolt sticker but also knocking off McQueen's "Ka-chow!" Catchphrase with a much more forced "Ka-chicka!"
The founder and owner of Dinoco. With The King's retirement, Tex intends to make whoever wins the Piston Cup into Dinoco's new spokes-car.
- Badass Mustache: A longhorn horns hood-ornament.
- Benevolent Boss: Seems to be a good guy to work for. In Cars 3, he buys Rust-eze to get Lightning and Cruz to work for him.
- Cool Old Guy: Old, rich, powerful, but still pretty nice.
- Determinator: He's still trying to get Lightning to come work for him years later in Cars 3. He finally buys out Rust-eze in order to get it.
- Fiction 500: Runs the largest oil empire in the world.
- Graceful Loser: Lightning turns down his offer to become Dinoco's "new face", choosing to remain with the Rust-eze team instead. Tex is disappointed, but respects his decision and still offers him a favor.
- Rags to Riches: Maybe not "rags" exactly, but it is stated he started out with one tiny oil well and built that into the world's largest oil company.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Although Chick wins the Piston Cup, Tex refuses to make him Dinoco's "new face" on account of how he won it. He offers the position to Lightning instead.Lightning: But, I didn't win.
Tex: Son, there's more to racin' than winnin'.
- Sweet Home Alabama: Or Texas, rather. "Oo-ee!"
A quartet of troublemaking cars who distract Mack, causing Lightning to roll out of the back of his trailer and get lost.
- All There in the Manual: Of the four, only Boost's name is never mentioned on-screen.
- Character Tic: Whenever Snot Rod sneezes, his exhaust pipes gush up and he rockets forward uncontrollably.
- Embarrassing First Name: DJ's full name is Devon Montegomery Johnston the Third.
- For Want of a Nail: If they didnt mess with Mack on the highway when they did, Lightning wouldnt have gotten lost in the first place.
- Laser-Guided Karma: During the end credits, they make the mistake of speeding in Radiator Springs, and they are forced to use Bessy as a result.
- Meaningful Name:
- Boost runs on boost tanks, and his licence plate says he's from "Nitropolis".
- DJ likes to play music on his built-in system.
- Wingo has an upturned spoiler that looks like a wing.
- Snot Rod has a habit of sneezing from time to time.
- Rice Burner: Three of them have utterly ridiculous-looking spoilers, and Snot Rod has large exhaust pipes. They also have garish paint schemes.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Them playing around with Mac is what really caused the disappearance of Lightning McQueen.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: When they messed with Mack on the highway, they set off a sequence of events that caused McQueen to get lost in Radiator Springs: DJ puts Mack to sleep, the tuners bump Mack into a bumpy part of the road, one of McQueen's bobble-heads falls on the trailer-opening button, Lightning falls out, Snot Rod accidentally wakes Mack up, Mack closes the trailer and drives off without McQueen.
- Stealth Pun: Cow Tipping, Mater's favorite prank to play.
A pair of twin Mazda Miatas who are huge fans of Lightning.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Lightning raced past them, they started blinking their headlights. They flashed him.
- I'm Your Biggest Fan: To McQueen. They briefly followed Chick when McQueen disappeared, but switch back by the end. They're also this to Mater in the Tall Tales, for some reason.
A married couple who wander into Radiator Springs whilst looking for the freeway, but are terrified by the clingy and pushy townsfolk. Van is a Ford Winstar and Minny is a Dodge Caravan.
- The Cameo: They appear at the end of the second film in Radiator Springs, listening to Mater's spy adventure in Europe.
- Directionless Driver: Van refuses to ask for directions while the two of them are looking for an on-ramp, claiming that he can use the GPS. Unsurprisingly, they end up getting lost in the desert.
Lightning's sponsors who got him his big break.