Five decades ago the world was brought to a halt when a young man, a symbol of rebellious and coolness, has lost his life in a car accident at very young age. James Dean, which at that time was pictured with good looks with rebellious spirits, posing beside his Porsche roadster near a roadside American diner. His promising career in Hollywood was cut short when he crashed his Porsche 550 Spyder on Route 466, ending his life in the process. At the age of 24, he is an example of a man who has gone too fast, too soon.
Flash forward to 2001, there is a low-budget movie where in one of the earlier scenes, a confident young man was seen pushing the limits of a green Mitsubishi Ellipse. The other unforgettable scene on that same movie where Dominic, portrayed by Vin Diesel, driving an American muscle car to challenge this man, by the name of Brian O’Conner, in a Toyota Supra in a drag race has made many young men mesmerized with cars that never seen before. That movie, the Fast and the Furious, was a worldwide success and propelled the interest of cars like never seen before among many young men. That movie has also turned Paul Walker, the actor who played Brain O’Conner, into a Hollywood icon.
To understand why the rise of Japanese performance cars has risen into unprecedented levels, it was due to movie goers getting caught gripping on to their seats, watching Brian O’Conner driving fast, chasing and defeating bad guys or cops in various cars throughout the Fast and Furious movie sequels, from the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Ford Escort, Subaru Impreza, to the iconic Nissan GT-R. The reason how movie goers can feel the need of speed from Brian is because after all, Paul Walker was a true gear head himself. He is known to be big fans of Japanese sport cars, having owned a few Nissan GT-Rs adds testament to that. Throughout the years despite his fame in Hollywood, he remained humble and was well-loved among the motoring community.
Fitting his role in the Fast and Furious movies, he is known for possessing superb driving skills, having to perform the majority of the car stunts in the Fast and the Furious movies, as well as having participated in Redline Time Attack events in a BMW M3 E92. He is also a philanthropist, having formed the Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW) Charity to help people in natural disasters. He was reportedly leaving from a charity event for ROWW, raising money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan during that faithful day. Unfortunately what happened on November 30 this year did somehow reflect the earlier metaphor on this article. It is quite a travesty to see Paul Walker, who frequently defied the laws of physics in many of the car stunts throughout the Fast & Furious series as Brian O’Connor, was bitten by those same laws of physics on that fateful day. This just serves a poignant reminder that nothing, not even Hollywood, can defy the laws of nature.
Nevertheless he will always been remembered as a man, who just looked like an ordinary petrol head, wears a simple T-shirt and jeans, posing with a Nissan GT-R with unpretentious pride on a streets of LA. Having said that, he has inspired many young men and women to become petrol heads, hoping one day they will feel the thrill of the Skyline GT-R just as Brian did in the movies.
At the age of 40 and at his peak of his career, just like James Dean, he is gone too fast, too soon. While pop culture associated James Dean with a Porsche Spyder, pop culture of today will embed the image of Paul standing beside a Nissan Skyline GT-R, into everyone’s mind. He will be terribly missed, knowing that perhaps he is smiling in Heaven.