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Behind the scenes of Hollywood's hottest cars

February 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
While special cars are rarely seen in Oscar-nominated films, they do play big roles in many blockbusters.

The inventory of Cinema Vehicle Services in North Hollywood looks like someone's ultimate private car collection.

Movie studios routinely call to rent the various rolling stock kept on hand.

But when producers need something really special, the company's lead designer, known as "Fireball" Tim Lawrence, goes to work.

Educated at the Art Center College of Design, he has made a career out of creating ultimate movie cars.

"Cars are my passion and movies are my secondary passion," Lawrence said.

Lawrence works with directors and producers to come up with just the right look and create a car the audience will remember.

"Vehicles exemplify passion and stories," Lawrence said. "Cars in films are basically characters."

In "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," star Nicholas Cage actually drove his own vintage Rolls-Royce in some scenes.

But the script called for some wild stunts, too much for a valuable classic, so an exact duplicate was built on a modern pick-up truck chassis.

Some car-savvy audience members may have spotted a giveaway.

"If you look at the steering wheel, you see it's kind of thick because it's not the original steering wheel, it's actually the one that's built on a Dodger Ram," Lawrence said.

Another inside trick is to have at least two of any featured vehicle. For an action flick like "Gone in 60 Seconds," car after car might be built.

It's all part of how cars help movie magic get created.