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What Arizona Town Was Radiator Springs (Disney’s “Cars”) Based On?

Suny Errot

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Let’s ride a time machine back to 2006. Back in your childhood days, were you also amazed and intrigued by the anthropomorphic cars and other cool vehicles that appeared in the hit “Cars” movie? Well, you’re not alone. Here’s a cool fact. Did you know that the fictional town of Radiator Springs in the movie was inspired by Route 66 in Arizona? If you’re a fan, you can even get the full “Cars” experience by visiting these places:

Where Radiator Springs Was Born

John Lasseter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer was a certified car junkie. All his life, he’s dreamed up the idea for what will eventually be known as the “Cars” movie.

The dream was born after a simple family road trip along Route 66.

And years later, he made sure to make that dream a reality. Before even making the Cars film, he sent over about fifteen artists together with the Carburetor County sheriff and Oklahoma historian Michael Wallis. The artists who also acted as researchers took photos, talked to Route 66 people, and learned the history of the towns along the 1200 miles of road through different states. I don’t think this was a petty task because the Pixar team took it very seriously. At one event, they ordered every item on the menu in one restaurant and spent a good four hours talking to the owner. They were really absorbing all the information so they can properly rebuild the historic byway to its neon-lit heyday.

After the movie’s booming popularity, Lasseter told Joe Williams (film critic) that much of the story is indeed based on the recollections of a barber in Arizona. According to him, the barber named Angel Delgadillo lived in the town of Seligman, Arizona. He claimed that the businesses there withered slowly soon after the opening of I-40, a famous interstate highway.

Cars Movie References to Route 66 Landmarks

Wigwam Motel

You already know about Cars’ Cozy Cone Motel. But did you know that its design is based on two Wigwam motels along Route 66, including the one in Holbrook, Arizona? The Wigwam Motel’s defining characteristics are the individual cabins shaped like teepees.

Hackberry General Store

Who can ever forget Lizzie’s Curio Shop in Radiator Springs? This place is based on Hackberry General Store in Hackberry, Arizona, which is known for its jumble of memorabilia and other knick-knacks. But that’s not all. Remember the curio shop’s bright yellow sign? It also has a “Here it is” signage. That one’s based on the Jack Rabbit Trading Post signage located in Joseph City, Arizona. For the Cars Land version, they replaced the rabbit icon with a jalopy.

Diablo Canyon Bridge

In the movie, there is a part where McQueen sees Sally driving on, and it resembles several bridges, including the now-closed bridge over Diablo Canyon at Two Guns, Arizona. Note: Two Guns is considered a ghost town already.

Monument Valley

Ornament is a big valley part of Route 66 just before reaching Radiator Springs. The name is a nod to Monument Valley. It’s not located along Route 66 but is a side trip you can take in northern Arizona.

Additional Fact: The Cars movie also showed a part of the map of the area of Arizona around Radiator Springs. It is similar to Peach Springs on Arizona State Route 66.

In Arizona, you can enter Route 66 within Holbrook, Flagstaff, and Winslow. What are you waiting for? Take on a real joy ride now and experience the ultimate Cars experience, but this one, in real life!

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