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Pop Culture Drag Race: John Wick versus Dominic Toretto – Who Would Win?

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On this installment of pop culture drag race we’re looking at two iconic action franchises that both feature insane stunts, incredible driving, and amazing cars. Choosing John Wick to line up at the starting line was an obvious choice, but we picked Dominic Toretto to represent the Fast & Furious franchise not only because he’s arguably the most central character (aside from Brian O’Conner played by the late Paul Walker), but also because his taste in vehicles seems to match up pretty well with Wick’s own. Both men have a taste for classic American muscle cars and both are extremely gifted drivers. So when they line up to race, who’s going to win?

Overall Driving Skill

First let’s look at overall skill behind the wheel. As we mentioned both Wick and Toretto favor classic American muscle cars, and as we’re about to see in some cases, their choice in vehicle is actually fairly comparable, but who can really handle themselves behind the wheel best?

In a straight up drag race, it’s hard to see an argument against Toretto coming out on top. At the end of the day it just comes down to experience, and one thing we know for sure about Vin Diesel’s character in the Fast & Furious franchise is that he knows how to race, especially down the quarter mile. But what about on a more complicated road course?

John Wick is obviously no slouch behind the wheel. Throughout the many car chase sequences in the Wick franchise, we’ve seen Keanu Reeves’s character take down scads of henchmen with his driving abilities. There’s no question he knows how to handle cars in close quarters and on tight tracks. But on the other hand, we’ve seen Dominic do this kind of driving lots of times too, not least of all pulling off the heists he and his crew are undertaking in the original Fast and the Furious Film. On top of that, we’ve seen him win races that call for a little more finesse, like when he beats Sean Bosworth, played by Lucas Black, in a drift race in Tokyo. When it comes right down to it, John Wick specializes in getaways and causing mayhem behind the wheel, but Toretto has him beat when it comes down to all-around experience, especially in terms of races. It’s not a massive disparity, but we think Dom would have a slight advantage in terms of pure driving experience.

Edge: Toretto

The real question is: knowing what we know about the stable of vehicles driven by Toretto and Wick, whose car would perform better? We compared three somewhat similar models driven by each action hero and tried to gauge how they would perform in a drag race as well as a road racecourse. We know Dominic would probably have made all kinds of aftermarket modifications to his cars but, in order to compare apples to apples, we’ll assume stock versions of each car. Here’s how we think the two would compare.

Dominic Toretto’s 1970 Dodge Charger R/T versus John Wick’s 1969 Mustang Boss 429

The action of the John Wick franchise begins with his dog getting killed and his Mustang Boss 429 getting stolen. Meanwhile Dominic Toretto races his Dodge Charger R/T against Brian in The Fast and the Furious—one of the most iconic drag races of the franchise. With each driver behind the wheel of a car that gets to their roots, who would have the edge?

The 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, equipped with the 426 Hemi engine, could produce up to 425 horsepower. The 1969 Mustang Boss 429, designed to meet NASCAR homologation requirements, was officially rated at 375 horsepower, although it’s widely believed that the actual figure was closer to 500 horsepower in practice, blowing the Charger R/T out of the water. A MotorTrend article from 1998 contradicts this figure somewhat using a dynojet test, but we can’t account for all the variables involved in such a test here.

Despite the Mustang’s potentially higher actual power output, the Charger R/T’s 426 Hemi was a formidable engine known for its incredible performance in straight-line acceleration, which could give it a slight edge in a quarter-mile race. Furthermore, the Charger’s high torque could also play a crucial role in getting a faster start.

Considering these factors, the race could be very close, but the Dodge Charger R/T would very possibly edge out the Mustang Boss 429 by a small margin in a quarter-mile drag race.

On a road course, the dynamics of the race between a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T and a 1969 Mustang Boss 429 change significantly compared to a straight-line drag race. Road courses require vehicles to have good handling, braking, and agility to navigate tight turns, elevation changes, and complex track layouts effectively.

The 1969 Mustang Boss 429—initially designed with NASCAR in mind, which emphasizes power over handling—received several modifications to accommodate its large engine that also improved its handling characteristics to some extent. It had a better weight distribution and a suspension system that could potentially offer superior handling compared to typical muscle cars of its era.

The 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, particularly with the 426 Hemi engine, was a powerhouse in terms of straight-line performance but was also a larger and heavier vehicle. Its size and weight could be a disadvantage on a road course, where nimble handling and the ability to quickly change direction are crucial.

Given these considerations, the Mustang Boss 429 would have a slight advantage on a road course due to its potentially better handling characteristics. In scenarios where handling and agility trump raw power, the Boss 429’s design and performance tweaks aimed at improving its road-holding capabilities could give it the edge over the Charger R/T, and in the drag race scenario it’s simply too close to call. We’d give the edge to John Wick.

Edge: Wick

Dominic Toretto’s 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6 454 versus John Wick’s 1970 Chevelle SS 396

Both Wick and Toretto’s Chevelle’s were seemingly more utilitarian than sentimental—both cars end up getting destroyed in service of a task that needed handling—but because both cars are different versions of the same model, we couldn’t help but compare them.

In a quarter-mile drag race between a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6 454 and a 1970 Chevelle SS 396, the Chevelle SS LS6 454 would likely come out ahead. The LS6 454 engine was renowned for its power, featuring a 450 horsepower rating, which was the highest factory horsepower rating for any muscle car of that era. In contrast, the SS 396, while powerful in its own right, offered a maximum of 375 horsepower. The superior horsepower and torque of the LS6 454 would give it a distinct advantage in acceleration and overall performance in a straight-line race like the quarter mile. This outcome assumes both cars are in similar condition and modifications. We already know Toretto holds the edge when it comes to drag races, so that plus the raw power and higher performance capabilities of the LS6 454 engine would generally lead it to cross the finish line first.

On a road course, where handling, braking, and agility are as important as raw power, the race between Toretto’s Chevelle SS LS6 454 and Wick’s SS 396 would be closer than in a straight-line drag race. However, both cars, being heavy and powerful muscle cars, are not ideally suited for the tight turns and complex layouts typical of road courses. They were designed more for straight-line speed than for cornering performance.

The LS6 454 boasts more power, which would give it an advantage on straight sections of the course. However, that extra power might not translate into a significant advantage on a technical road course where the ability to quickly navigate turns is crucial. The weight and handling characteristics of both cars are quite similar, as they are based on the same platform.

For the road course, we see this one coming down to driver skill, in which we’ve already mentioned we’d give Toretto a slight edge. And if that wasn’t enough to win it, we know he’d have more raw power to work with on straightaways, so we think this one would be close, but Toretto takes it.

Edge: Toretto

Dominic Toretto’s 1970 Plymouth Road Runner versus John Wick’s 1971 Plymouth Cuda

Once again great minds think, if not alike, then at least similarly. Both Toretto and Wick drove Plymouth’s later in their respective franchises (although Dom’s shows up in Tokyo Drift, with the time jump that’s technically set around Furious 7), and both cars had the same engine options available at the high end.

The outcome of a quarter-mile drag race between a 1971 Plymouth Cuda and a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner would depend heavily on the specific engine configurations of each car, as both models were available with a range of engines from relatively modest V8s to the powerful 426 Hemi and the 440 Six Pack options. We have good reason to believe that both drivers would opt for the spec that gets them the most raw power possible. If you need a citation for that, go re-watch the films.

If both cars were equipped with their most potent engine options—the 426 Hemi—the race would be very close. The 426 Hemi engine, available in both cars, produced 425 horsepower, offering incredible performance and acceleration capabilities. The 440 Six Pack was slightly less powerful on paper but still provided formidable performance.

Assuming both cars are in similar condition, with optimal tuning and driven with equal skill, the race could be determined by factors such as the weight of the cars, the efficiency of their transmissions, and their traction off the line. The Cuda, being slightly newer, might have had minor improvements in aerodynamics or weight distribution, but these would likely have a minimal impact over a quarter-mile distance. We’re saying on a drag race, this one would come down to skill. Toretto holds the slight edge there, but it’s narrow enough that any number of factors could offset it.

Given the similarities in their potential engine options and performance capabilities, the race would likely be too close to call without knowing the exact specifications and condition of each vehicle. In scenarios where both cars are equipped with the 426 Hemi, it might very well come down to the specific setup of each car (e.g., gear ratios, tire choice) rather than a clear mechanical advantage.

On a road course, where handling, braking, and agility are critical for success, the competition between a 1971 Plymouth Cuda and a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner takes on a different dimension compared to a straight-line drag race. Both vehicles are quintessential American muscle cars, designed primarily for powerful straight-line acceleration, which means neither was specifically engineered with road course racing as a primary focus. However, subtle differences in their design, weight distribution, and suspension setup could influence their performance on a road course.

The 1971 Plymouth Cuda, part of the E-body platform, was known for its slightly more compact dimensions and potentially better handling characteristics compared to some of its muscle car contemporaries. With various suspension options available, a well-equipped Cuda could have an advantage in terms of cornering and agility, which are crucial on a road course filled with tight turns and varying elevations.

The 1970 Plymouth Road Runner, meanwhile, was built on the B-body platform, which was larger and perhaps not as agile as the E-body. However, the Road Runner was still a performance-oriented vehicle, and with the right setup, including the optional Super Track Pak with a more robust suspension and better brakes, it could hold its own on a road course. We also know that Toretto used it to win a drift race in a Tokyo parking garage so it seems more than likely that Dominic could correctly tune this ride for a road race.

The Cuda might have a slight edge in a road course setting due to its potential for better handling and agility, but a lot would depend on the specific configurations of each car, including engine choice, suspension setup, and the skill of the driver. Ultimately, while neither car was designed as a road racing specialist, both could be competitive, with a slight advantage possibly going to the Cuda for its design characteristics more conducive to the demands of road course racing. Could Toretto’s tuning and driving abilities be enough to make him competitive in a road race scenario?

Edge: Too Close To Call