Volkswagen with Speed Racer cast
I’ve never done a car commercial up to this point for my blog, so I decided to do one that is fun to talk about. Cause while average car commercials are gimmicky, there’s also the kind that just showcase the car and nothing else. For today I will be doing an article on a mid-90’s Volkswagen commercial with the Speed Racer gang. It’s one of the fewest Speed Racer commercials I know of in existence and when it comes to Speed Racer it’s the most commercially known anime in America. Even more commercially known than in Japan cause despite the series being a hit back in the 60’s, it didn’t do much in its native land compared to it other Tatsunoko counterparts. Not to mention there’s more spin-offs of the series in America than over in Japan. The only one I recalled enjoying was the 2008 live action film by the Walchowski Bros.(or Walchowski Siblings ever since Larry Walchowski became a woman). Those who enjoyed the anime would also enjoy that movie cause it captures the essence of the original series more than the Speed Racer: Next Generation cartoon series which I must confess was a let down for a sequel to the original series. But for someone like me to have seen all 52 episodes of the original anime, I could go on for hours on why it rocks. So let’s talk about the commercial.
The commercial opens up with a title card reading “Sabotage” in front of the tires of the Mach 5 being in motion. Strangely this isn’t the same fashion as how the title cards were down for the show itself. But I’ll let that detail slide just this once. We then cut to Speed, Trixie, Sparky, Pops, Spritle, and Chim-Chim observing the sabotaged Mach 5 with the hood up cause the radiator is over heated. Speed exclaims “Oh no the Mach 5 has been sabotaged!”. By whom you may asked, it was never revealed and they never mention this throughout the rest of the commercial. With the huge list of enemies Speed has made over the years, I could say just about anybody would want to try to sabotage the Mach 5 in order to ruin Speed’s reputation. Pops Racer is throwing a tantrum and demands to his son with “Speed! If you don’t win we’ll lose everything!” Then Inspector Detector shows up and hands Speed with a pair of car keys which Speed is introduced to the Volkswagen GT-I and even acknowledges the car itself when the Inspector is kindly letting him race with the GT-I as the Mach 5’s substitute. Either for temporary purposes or the Inspector is actually giving the Racer family a new Volkswagen as a gift. I’m not certain which is the right answer, but Speed now has a car to race in. So Speed is now racing in the GT-I along with Trixie who resides on the passenger’s side. While strangely Pops & Sparky are also residing in the back row of the car. After wining the race Speed comments – “The GT-I is amazing!” His dad then says – “And it’s got room for four!” Only to be corrected by Spritle who says “Make that six!” who is sitting in the very back with Chim Chim. Rather than scolding towards the troublemaker and chimp they all laughed. The ad concludes with Speed doing his trademark pose with a closing tagline that goes “On the road of life there are passengers and there are drivers”.
Billy West did the voices of Speed, Pops, and Inspector Detector for this commercial. I’m not sure who did Trixie and Spritle though it could be Corrine Orrs who is the original actress for the two characters. But that wouldn’t make sense when I’m sure Peter Fernenaz and Jack Grimes would have provided the voices of their own characters for this ad. Though other than his laugh, Sparky said nothing in this ad so Jack Grimes spending a couple of seconds of recording one laugh would have been pointless unless they just grab an archive clip of him laughing from whatever episode of Speed Racer had Sparky laughing. Anyways besides the ad not officially containing anyone we know from the original English dub of the show, it was still a fun ad to watch. I’m even satisfied with the job Billy West gave as the voices of most of the male characters for this ad. And this is the same guy who provided various voice work for Ren & Stimpy, Doug, and Futurama. And also turn down the chance to reprise his role as Doug for Brand Spanking New Doug and Stimpy for Ren and Stimpy Adult Party just to save his career as an actor. We all salute you Mr. West for not accepting either of those opportunities.
On my next article I will discuss the woman who couldn’t find the beef from Wendy’s.