The main character in “Cars” is a speedy race car who learns to slow down and admire the beauty of those around him. As they say, “life is a highway”, so buckle in as we take Route 66 to find the best Lighting McQueen quotes!
The Best Lightning McQueen Quotes from “Cars”
“Okay, here we go. Focus. Speed. I am speed. One winner, 42 losers. I eat losers for breakfast. Breakfast. Wait, maybe I should have had breakfast. A little breck-y could be good for me. No, no, no, stay focused. Speed. I’m faster than fast. Quicker than quick. I am Lightning!”
These words kick off the film, with Lightning McQueen giving himself a pep talk before the big Piston Cup race. The fact that he’s talking to himself about himself introduces us to our egocentric main character.
This quote brings back memories of a toy Lighting McQueen car that I had. As it was rolled back and forth, it would say, “Speed. I am speed!” I know some of you had that same toy! Man, Pixar really nailed the design and personality of Lightning, didn’t they?
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“Am I sorry I don’t have a crew chief? No, I’m not. ‘Cause I’m a one-man show.”
Lightning McQueen begins the movie with a very selfish nature. He seems to think he can do it all himself, and he’s not much of a team player.
In this scene, we learn that he’s already gone through three crew chiefs…and this is his rookie season! Thankfully, he learns to rely on others by the end of the film, but at this point, he’s all about himself.
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“All you have to do now is stand there and let me look at you. Listen, I’m gonna cut to the chase. Me, you, dinner. Pi-cha-kow!”
Lightning McQueen immediately turns on the charm when he first meets Sally. He is so cocky and self-confident that he assumes that she would instantly swoon for any line he gives her, like the twin cars we saw earlier at the Piston Cup race.
However, Sally is not McQueen’s lawyer…she is actually representing the town of Radiator Springs against Lightning! The fact that his cheap pickup line was directed at someone who was actually there to sue him makes this a funny moment!
“I create feelings in others that they themselves don’t understand.”
This quote is also from McQueen’s first conversation with Sally. It turns out to be important, because at the end of the film Sally repeats it back to him. It’s a great way to bookmark the 180-degree turn his personality takes…although for now, he’s being totally conceited when he says this!
“I shouldn’t have to put up with this. I am a precision instrument of speed and aerodynamics.”
Here, Lightning McQueen is complaining about having to repair the road he destroyed the night before. In his opinion, he shouldn’t have to work hard because he’s “famous”. Even as a kid watching this, I knew that he was wrong here.
He damaged the road, so he should be the one to fix it. Fame or status should never make anyone feel like they are exempt from hard work, or the consequences of their actions. Also, anytime Lighting and Mater have an exchange is just pure fun: “You hurt your what?”
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“Float like a Cadillac, sting like a Beemer.”
One thing I have always appreciated about Pixar is their ability to stick to a theme. Fish movies use underwater lingo, toy movies use toy lingo, etc. Cars is no exception, which brings us to possibly on of the best Lighting McQueen quotes.
I love how they applied a car theme to a very famous Muhammad Ali quote. Unfortunately, even though he’s trying to pump himself before racing Doc Hudson, his overconfidence will be his downfall, as McQueen is out of his element, and Doc knows it!
“You know, thanks for letting me stay here. It’s nice to be out of the impound, and this is … It’s great.”
Lightning McQueen…saying thank you?! Yeah, Sally is just as surprised when she hears it! She had been in the process of driving away, but upon hearing words of gratitude coming from this once-selfish race car, she proceeds to do the car version of a double take, driving backwards in a way that would make Mater proud!
This moment reminds us that even just the slightest amount of gratitude can really move someone. Halfway through the film, McQueen’s personality is truly beginning to change.
“Wow. What is this place?”
Owen Wilson, the voice of Lightning McQueen, is famously known for saying “wow” in most of his films, and thankfully Cars makes the list! Out of all 6 times the line is uttered throughout the film, this one gives us that iconic, drawn out delivery that only Owen Wilson can pull off.
In this scene, McQueen is in amazement when he first sees the Wheel Well Motel, a place that Sally says one used to be the most popular stops on Route 66.
“Yeah. I mean… really?”
For just a brief moment, McQueen empathizes with Sally as she recounts how she wasn’t truly happy, even at a time in her life when it felt like she had it all. Watching the scene as an adult, I picked up on how Lightning is briefly agreeing with Sally, before he catches himself and tries to shrug it off his comment.
It gives us a deeper look under the hood of McQueen’s true nature. Maybe, deep down, he’s searching for more meaning, wanting more than the popularity he seems to crave so much. This is a side of himself that he gets to explore as he spends more time with Sally and the other residents of Radiator Springs.
“Look, they’re drivin’ right by and they don’t even know what they’re missing!”
It wasn’t that long ago that Lightning McQueen found himself “stuck” in the forgotten town of Radiator Springs. But over time, he came to fall in love with the beautiful scenery of Route 66.
Radiator Springs has grown on him to the point that he is now offended that people are driving right by…like how he and Mack did at the beginning of the film! You can really see his personality developing, as he’s gradually learning to slow down and appreciate what’s around him.
“Mack, thanks for being my pit crew today.”
Over the years, Mack has certainly done many things to help out McQueen with his racing career. Given how self-centered Lighting is at the start of the film, it would be safe to say that Mack has hardly ever received a thank you for his services. But today is a new day, and a new Lightning McQueen.
Even during all the madness of prepping for a big race, Lightning slows himself down and takes the time to sincerely thank the leader of his crew. This scene impressed upon my young mind that no matter how fast life can get, I need to slow down and remember to thank those who have supported me along the way.
“Ah. This grumpy old racecar I know once told me something. It’s just an empty cup.”
This is perhaps one of the most touching scenes of the whole film. McQueen has made an impressive comeback in the race thanks to an impossibly fast pit stop. He is seconds away from a first place finish…then he spots The King, badly injured after a dirty hit from Chick Hicks.
Without much thought, he slams the brakes, turns around, and helps The King finish, thus putting himself in last place. By his words and actions it’s like McQueen is also helping Doc too, perfectly illustrating his newfound appreciation for both the advice and legacy of the generation of racecars that came before him.
“Thank you Mr. Tex, but these Rust-eze guys over there gave me my big break. I’m gonna stick with them.
McQueen now truly understands loyalty. He decides to forgo changing sponsors in order to stick to the Rust-eze crew that had gotten him this far.
Not only do I appreciate the lesson being taught here, but I’m really glad that I didn’t have to see Lightning McQueen ditch his classic red paint job for Dinoco blue! (Unfortunately, I didn’t have a say in the matter when it came to the end of the 3rd film…car spoiler alert!)
“Yeah, there’s some rumor floating around that some hotshot Piston Cup race car is setting up his big racing headquarters here.”
Sally and Lightning’s relationship has really blossomed by the end of the film. The depth of meaning in their conversations grows with each interaction, and at this point you can really see how much of an impact she has had on his character development.
No longer wanting to be a one-man-show, McQueen wants to settle down and establish his home base in Radiator Springs, an obvious sign that he wants to get closer to Sally. We get to see their relationship develop even further across the next two films.
A list of Lightning McQueen quotes would not be complete with one of his catchiest quips! This quote comes from basically the last line of the whole movie. For months after watching the film, Kachow became a way that me and my siblings would greeted each other and start and finish our sentences.
Given that kids are prone to repeat their favorite line in a movie nonstop, the makers of Cars certainly picked a great catch phrase here. For me personally, it’s right up there with the likes of “to infinity, and beyond” and “Hakuna Matata” as one of the most recognizable Disney/Pixar quotes!
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This article was written by Marcus and edited by Michael.