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Early story development from the 1998 Yellow Car draft.

Pre-Cars

  • The movie was originally going to be called The Yellow Car when it started development back in 1998. The main car was a foreign yellow electric car trying to win approval from the gas-guzzling small-town folks in the movie by entering a local Grand Prix race after traveling through the countryside when forcibly getting tossed on a train by some of the townsfolks wanting to get rid of him. Also, in this version of the film, there would have been humans but they would serve as mainly background characters and have very little story purpose.

Cars

  • The animation was apparently going to be more rubbery and cartoony.
  • Lightning McQueen's racing number was originally going to be 57 (a reference to 1957, Lasseter's birth year), but was changed to 95 (a reference to 1995, the year Pixar's first film Toy Story was released).
  • Mater's name was originally Zebb. John Lasseter changed the name after visiting Charlotte Motor Speedway and meeting an employee there whose nickname was Mater. He was also originally a much more minor character, but John Lasseter loved Larry the Cable Guy's performance so much that he wrote new scenes for him.
  • As shown in the deleted scenes for an early 2002 version of the story, rather than Lightning being forced to fix the road, Doc and Sheriff would have forced Lightning to be a part of a local Grand Prix in an attempt to lure travelers back to their town.
  • Deleted scenes for the first movie included on the DVD show some scrapped plot elements from the final plot:
    • Originally, Mack and Lightning did stop at the truck stop they pass by on the way to California. There, Lightning meets his two fans Mia and Tia and the two cars that would become two of the spokescars for Rust-Eze, who evidently were One-Scene Wonder characters at this point. Lightning is inadvertently left when Mack forgets to make sure Lightning is still in his trailer before leaving.
    • While trying to find Mack, Lightning stumbles upon a junkyard full of broken down cars and gets scared out of his mind. This scene was likely cut for being a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment in the context of the story.
    • Lightning originally voluntarily chose community service instead of racing Doc, only to have an Opinion Changing Nightmare where his engine (and consciousness) is transferred to a steamroller while Mater's is transferred into Lightning's. Mater winds up assuming Lightning's life-style while Lightning is forced to repave all of Route 66. After waking up, Lightning insists on doing the race. In the final film, this Nightmare Sequence isn't used, and the circumstances leading to Lightning racing with Doc are different. Additionally, this scene seems to imply that Lightning was either traveling with another racecar or Mack picked up the wrong racecar at some point in the story-making process. When Mack shows up in the dream, another racecar is seen in Mack's trailer who tells Mater "sorry about the mix-up". Mater is also depicted in a much more malicious light during the dream, showing him having purposefully had his engine placed in Lightning's body and giving Lightning a sinister grin and saying "I always wanted to be a race car..." as he takes Lightning's place in Mack's trailer. It isn't apparent if this was part of an intended characterization overall or simply Lightning imagining Mater as more sinister than he is during his dream.
    • There was a scene detailing how Ramone and Flo met. (Namely, Flo was originally traveling with a troupe of flappers that stopped in Radiator Springs, but left the group to stay in town after she and Ramone fell in love.) Likely cut for time.
  • The film was announced to be released after A Bug's Life in 1999 (most likely by June 4) but the idea was scrapped to focus on Toy Story 2 by saving it from Sequelitis and later took the 1999 release date.
  • Originally, Fillmore was to be named Waldmire, after Route 66 resident Robert "Bob" Waldmire, but Waldmire, a vegan, didn't want his name to be used because Fillmore was one of the characters featured in the McDonald's Happy Meal tie-in.
  • In the December 2005 workprint, Shifty Drug driver Kevin Racingtire could've likely been a replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr., had Pixar not secured the licensing for him and his company, Dale Earnhardt Inc., to be in the film.
    • This becomes Hilarious in Hindsight, since the Diecast-only Next-Generation Shifty Drug racer is an Expy of former JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports driver, William Byron.

Cars 2

  • Doc Hudson was supposed to have a major role for this film. The death of his voice actor reduced these plans.
  • Even after Newman's death, Lasseter had considered a recurring subplot focusing on how Doc's passing affected both Lightning and Mater, though in the finished film this is relegated to one scene between the two in Hudson's museum and is never brought up again. The creators later decided to revisit this subplot in the next film.
  • In early development, Rip Clutchgoneski was killed instead of spinning out when hit by the Lemons' radiation beam. Hence his name, Rip (R.I.P) Clutchgoneski (Clutch gone to the sky).
  • Originally, the main antagonist was going to be Zil. His model was based on a racecar that did poorly in the Soviet Union, which would indicate that he was meant to be Russian.
  • There was also a character named Giulia, who was a double agent that might have later pulled a Heel–Face Turn. She wound up getting replaced by Holley Shiftwell.
  • Tomber the three-wheeled car was originally envisioned as one of the lemons judging from a storyboard for a deleted scene.
  • The race in Tokyo was originally intended to be much longer, feature Francesco winning by overtaking Lightning right before the finish line, and would not have been intercut with scenes featuring Mater and the spies.
  • France and Germany would have originally been two extra locations for the World Grand Prix. They were cut as the movie was becoming too long. Some video games like the DS version of the movie features these locations to race on though.

Cars 3

  • Cruz would have been male, and a rookie racer similar to Lightning in the original film, further bringing parallels between Lightning and Doc. These details were changed as the writers were worried that this was retreading too much familiar ground.
  • The final race at Florida 500 went through several revisions.
    • In one version, Lightning chose not to race at all, and introduced Cruz as the new 95 racer in his place. This ending was scrapped when the creators felt that the McQueen's arc had already concluded, meaning the race lost all tension.
    • Another version had Cruz and Lightning racing separately. This was scrapped as the two would therefore be racing against one another, which the writers worried would split viewers regarding which character should win.
    • One draft had a variant of the below-mentioned "More Than New Paint" scene, which reveals that Cruz was a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing seeking to learn Lightning's secrets and then steal his spotlight. This was scrapped because it made Cruz no different from Jackson Storm, and was also a Shoot the Shaggy Dog scenario that essentially threw Lightning away.
    • In another draft, McQueen ran the whole race himself, won it, and then chose to mentor Cruz. Director Brian Fee felt this made the ending feel unsatisfying and "hollow", as McQueen's Character Development revolved entirely around him realizing Cruz's potential.
    • Storyboards of this version showed Lightning was the one who did Doc's acrobatic flip to overtake Jackson and win, but in the completed version, he was replaced with Cruz.
    • Several storyboards also implied that Lightning would have worn his "Fabulous Lightning McQueen" paintjob during the final race, rather than at the very end of the film.
  • Before settling on the film's final story, a scene was written involving McQueen attending a high-profile party in California filled with celebrity cameos, including The Ecto-1 and Disney's very own Herbie. At one point, anthropomorphized versions of the original and modern Batmobiles (who may or may not have been voiced by their actors) would be seen talking to one another.

Other films:

  • A fifth episode of Tales from Radiator Springs titled To Protect and Serve was planned and has released merchandise, but never got released.
  • At least two other films beyond the Planes films were in development at Disneytoon Studios prior to its closure:
    • One untitled film would have concerned space travel titled Beyond the Sky. The film was announced at D23 2017, but was canceled in part due to the closure and Lassiter’s departure.
    • Another film, Metro, would have been an urban set film directed by Kim Possible veteran Steve Lotor, composed by Raphael Saadiq, and featuring Jermaine Fowler as the lead. While the film was never finished, Lotor incorporated a number of design elements from the film into the animated series Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2023), where he would again collaborate with Saadiq and Fowler.

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