The Minis in 2003’s ‘The Italian Job’ Were Electric Because LA Didn’t Want Fumes in Its Subway Tunnels


Almost 20 years before Mini started selling all-electric Cooper SEs or developing John Cooper Works EVs, a trio of electric Minis had already existed. 

Remember the Italian Job remake from 2003? The one with Marky Mark and Charlize Theron? Fun fact: to film that movie’s underground car scenes, the production team had to make its three R53 Cooper S star cars electric because the city of Los Angeles didn’t like the idea of getting fumes all up in its subway tunnels. 

As @DrivinTheater on Twitter points out:

According to director F. Gary Gray, a dude who perhaps not-so-coincidentally went on to direct the eighth Fast & Furious movie years later, “They wouldn’t allow us to shoot in the tunnels with cars that had combustion engines. So I said, ‘Okay, great, we’ll just get electric Minis and that’ll be fine.’ We called BMW and he said there aren’t any electric Minis, they don’t exist.”

Gray continued, “John Carpenter, my transportation coordinator, did a great job at figuring out, engineering, and building a trio of electric Minis. The only electric Minis that existed on the planet Earth. It’s one of my favorite moments with the Minis because of the size. I mean, you can’t imagine any other car doing this stunt except the Minis.”

And, thanks to the magic of the internet, here’s the stunt in question.

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