Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man.
His role as the iconic fictional character Tony Stark and his superhero alter ego the Iron Man most likely saved his career. A critically claimed comedic actor in the 1980s, personal problems and moderate success in the movies and TV in the late 90s and early 2000s had Downey following a path to mediocrity.
However, his performance in the 2008 Iron Man film received surprising raves by fans and critics alike. Roger Ebert commented: “At the end of the day it’s Robert Downey Jr. who powers the lift-off separating this from most other superhero movies…You hire an actor for his strengths, and Downey […] is strong because he is smart, quick and funny, and because we sense his public persona masks deep private wounds.”
In just a few years, he became the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, and one of the most recognized around the globe.
After the success of Iron Man, Downey repeated his role in Iron Man 2 (2010), Marvel's The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
The first Iron Man movie earned over $580 million at the worldwide box office, and each of the sequels was even more successful.
It was clear from the very first film that the cinematic Iron Man was passionate about cars, and Robert Downey Jr. shares the same passion.
Here are ten cars hiding in Robert Downey's garage and ten in Iron Man's lair.
Robert Downey Jr. is zealous about expensive, luxurious, and high-performance cars, but one brand, in particular, suits his taste: Audi.
In the U.S. he promotes Audi products, and when seen in a car in public it is usually an Audi. In one commercial he gets into an Audi and drives off: “It’s never a bad day at work when the commute looks like this: Audi, engineered for Iron Man.”
Here he is seen leaving his R8 with the valet at a gala event. He is probably telling the young man, “Take it directly to the parking space. No laying rubber, testing the car’s acceleration or spinning donuts in the parking lot!”
Most successful celebrities who collect cars have a Rolls Royce or a Bentley in their collection. Robert Downey Jr. is no different.
The Bentley Continental was awarded to Downey in lieu of a back-end payment for Iron Man 3. Although the matte green color is distinctive, it deteriorates the sophistication and style of the luxury automobile. Perhaps the green represents the money he would have received had been paid in cash.
Powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 aluminum engine, the Continental GT produces a maximum power of 500 Bhp at 6,000 rpm and 660 Nm of peak torque at 1,700 rpm. The luxurious vehicle includes an 8-speed automatic transmission and a cylinder deactivation feature which shuts down four cylinders making the car more fuel-efficient.
Celebrities, like Robert Downey Jr., occasionally need to do some grocery shopping, head to the beach, or drive through a fast-food restaurant for a quick lunch, without being discovered by the paparazzi or hordes of adoring fans.
When Robert Downey Jr. wants some peace and quiet out of the house, he leaves his supercars in the garage and takes out his Mercedes G-Wagen.
Although it is a Mercedes (with a huge badge mounted on the front end), the silver-colored SUV blends well with the other vehicles driven by the average citizen. The G-Wagen is powered by a bi-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces a maximum of 245 Bhp and 600 Nm of torque, plenty of power and performance to get to the neighborhood store.
Although Robert Downey Jr. favors the Audi brand of supercars, he has added some variety to his collection. One of them is a car that sells for well under $100,000 but outperforms sports cars like Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini costing many times more.
The 2010 Nissan GT-R with its excellent performance features is a hard-to-resist vehicle, even for the Iron Man. The sports car is powered by 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 engine and six-speed twin-clutch transmission that produces a maximum of 528 Bhp. The beast accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5-seconds and comes to a complete stop using the racing-derived 15-inch Brembo brakes.
Although Robert Downey Jr. loves Audi sportscars, he owns a blue colored Ferrari California T. He commented: “In real life, any Ferrari is more exciting than Tony Stark's Audi R8.”
The grand touring sports car Ferrari California is a two-door 2+2 hardtop convertible. The first-generation California featured a rear wheel drive with a front-mid mounted, naturally aspirated 4.3-liter V8. In 2014, Ferrari introduced the second-generation model, named California T powered by a new twin-turbo 3.9-liter V8 that produces 553 Bhp and 755 Nm of peak torque.
Standing next to the blue California T Downey borrowed some lyrics from the Mamas and Papa’s song when he said, “California dreamin’ on such a (summers) day.” The lyrics are “winter’s day,” but his misquote was no doubt intentional.
The Audi A8 is the brand’s flagship saloon, redesigned in 2012 to better compete with the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans. At the time it was the largest and longest offering from Audi, and it featured several of the latest advances in weight saving and high-tech engineering.
Safety gadgets included Audi’s blind spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and lane assist. Inside the technological gadgetry featured a touchpad that responds to handwritten commands controlling various functions including climate control and the navigation system.
Although Robert Downey Jr. loves driving his cars, when he is in the mood to be chauffeured, the Audi A8 is his choice.
Modern vehicles are made from lightweight materials like Carbon Fiber, Aluminum, and Titanium that are robust and help reduce fuel consumption. The Corvette, since its inception in 1953 has been made with a fiberglass body. The sportscar was way ahead of its time.
Robert Downey Jr. thinks so as well. He is often seen driving his vintage Corvette Stingray convertible on weekends.
If any work has been done on the car, it was to restore it to the original specifications and condition. The narrow 7.75 x 15″ gold line tires look like those fitted on the car from the factory. The Glen Green paint is also a factory original, and most likely the vehicle is powered by a small block Chevy under the hood.
Most of the space in Robert Downey’s garage is occupied by Audi vehicles, and one of his favorite models is the R8. Here he is seen in a red 2014 model.
He orders vanity license plates for all his cars with the name, “Stark” on them followed by a number. On this Audi, he has “Stark 16.” However, it is not clear what the number means.
The possibilities include: the age of the vehicle with higher numbers on the most recently acquired cars, his favorite cars ordered from least favorite with low numbers and most favorite with high numbers, the date he bought the car, or most likely, the number of speeding tickets he expects to average per week with that particular vehicle.
The Cadillac brand has a long history of producing luxury cars, always at or near the top of the best U.S. made vehicles. The Escalade is a full-size SUV that offers the extra passenger and cargo space its buyers seek while providing the size in a luxury package.
The Cadillac Escalade is a popular choice for politicians and celebrities including Adam Sandler, Ben Affleck, Kendall Jenner, David Beckham, and many more. It was one of the first vehicles Downey purchased when he started accumulating his collection of luxury and high-performance cars. His second-generation 2003 Cadillac Escalade has the 5.3-liter V8 that generated a maximum power of 285 Bhp.
According to Wealthy Gorilla, Robert Downey Jr. has an estimated net worth of $300 million, most of it gained from playing Iron Man. On the first film, he made a mere $500,000. However, prior to Iron Man 2, Downey signed a six-film deal, raising his basic salary to $10m for each film plus incentives which earned him much more.
As if the salary and incentives were not enough, Downey also received the Audi R8 Spyder featured in Iron Man 2 for his private car collection. Built on Audi’s spaceframe chassis, the convertible is powered by 5.2-liter V10 engine that generates 525 Bhp.
In the first Iron Man movie, director Jon Favreau had planned a final scene involving a dramatic collision between the Audi R8 and Iron Man's wicked adversary. Several attempts were made to flip the Audi over. However, the scene was cut from the film when the R8 wouldn’t cooperate. Favreau explains: "The crash just wasn't spectacular enough! Our stunt specialists did their best to turn the R8 over onto its roof, which would have given us a dramatic final scene, but they failed -- the car clung to the road too well!"
A new R8 had an MSRP of $116,000 in 2008. Unless replicas were used, that is an expensive investment for a scene that ended up on the editing room floor.
In the 2008 Iron Man film, inventor and billionaire industrialist inventor Tony Stark, falls on top of a 1965 Shelby Cobra while testing a prototype of the Iron Man mechanized suit.
According to the Marvel website, the armored suit weighs about 225 pounds making the total with Stark inside nearly 425 pounds. That is plenty of weight to damage any vehicle. The Cobra used in the film was a replica valued at $75,000. Although the car was not inexpensive, the alternative, an original Cobra would have cost much more. At a recent auction, a ’65 Shelby Cobra sold for $1,595,000.00. The damaged replica currently resides at the Hall of Heroes Super Hero Museum in Elkhart, Indiana.
The Saleen S7 plays a minor role in the movie Iron Man. It can be seen in Tony Stark’s garage as he fixes the engine of his 1932 Ford Flathead Roadster, and later when Tony asks Pepper to change the Arc Reactor in his chest.
Debuted in 2000 and updated in 2005, the S7 was equipped with two Garrett turbochargers that produced an obscene 750 horsepower. The added power, revised look, and improved aerodynamics produced performance numbers were nothing short of ridiculous.
The S7 accelerated to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds—remarkable for a street-legal car in 2005. Saleen claimed that the S7 Twin-Turbo could hit a top speed of 248 mph, which would have made it the second fastest road car ever produced, behind the then-new Bugatti Veyron 16.4.
The Tesla Roadster was not in production when the first Iron Man movie was being filmed in 2007. The producers decided to include it at the request of Robert Downey Jr.
During the filming, which occurred in hangars that once belonged to Hughes Aircraft Company, Downey became aware of Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. The hangers were only 10 miles away from the SpaceX headquarters and Musk scheduled a personal tour for Downey.
Impressed with Musk, Downey arranged for the Tesla Roadster to be one of the cars parked in Tony Stark’s garage. It was the only electric vehicle in Stark’s inventory of supercars.
Tony Stark’s passion for technology was not limited to the latest scientific developments and science fiction-based processes. He was also a vintage car enthusiast.
Early one morning in the first Iron Man movie, Tony goes to his workshop and works on his 1932 Ford Flathead Roadster. When he asks JARVIS to help him fix the engine, the robot promptly shows Tony a scenario of how the engine might explode.
The Roadster used in the film that displays the plate number Stark 5, belonged to Director Jon Favreau. In this scene Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) chats with her boss no doubt to suggest he spend less time on his toys and more time at the office.
Compared to the Audi R8 coupe, the $165,000 convertible Spyder suffers some penalties typical of a car with its top removed. However, for the Audi the excessive weight, floppier chassis, cramped luggage space, and reduced performance, are minor.
Both the coupe and convertible are equipped with a 5.2-liter V-10 that produces 525 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. Audi estimates the added weight in the convertible adds a mere 0.2 seconds to the 0-to-60 mph acceleration. Car and Driver tests indicate a 0-to-60-mph time of about 3.7 seconds. The top speed drops slightly to a mere 195 mph in the convertible.
The 2010 Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Type 42 is seen parked in Tony Stark’s garage in Iron Man 2.
One of the most successful Iron Man movies was the third release; Iron Man 3 that grossed $409 million in North America and $805.8 million in the rest of the world for a total of $1.215 billion. The film outperformed both of its predecessors combined.
It seems only appropriate that the film feature some of the most expensive supercars made including the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport that initially sold for nearly $2 million.
Seen in Tony Stark’s garage, the high-performance sports car, one of the fastest production cars in the world, was destroyed along with the white Audi R8 e-Tron when the Mandarin's forces attacked Tony's Malibu Mansion.
As one might expect from a man who embraces new technology, Tony Stark, in the movie Iron Man 3 moves from an emphasis on horsepower to torque with his selection of cars. He drives an Audi R8 e-Tron. Four electric motors, one mounted on each wheel, produce nearly 900 lb-ft of torque and around 80 bhp each.
At a weight of about 1700kg, the same as a Porsche 918 Spyder, the e-Tron accelerates Stark from 0 to 62mph in 4.8 seconds on its way to a limited top speed 124mph (the restriction protects the battery charge). Although the e-Tron is two-tenths of a second slower than the R8 equipped with a V8 it is emissions-free.
In the movie with the same name, the Avengers meet in the city after the battle of New York. The group bids farewell to Thor as he uses the Tesseract's power for teleporting to Asgard with his captive, Loki.
After Thor’s departure, the Avengers disband, and Tony Stark leaves together with Bruce Banner in Tony's Acura NSX. It is not clear where the two are going, but perhaps they are hungry and will make a stop at the closest MacDonald’s drive-through for a burger and fries.
The NSX driven by Stark is a unique one-off concept car that is visually similar to the 2015 version NSX, but it does not match any real-life production car.
At the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Audi said the innovative Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., matches the profile of a typical R8 owner, and the Iron Man movies are the perfect medium to showcase Audi supercars.
Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America, said in a statement: “After eight years of successful partnerships with Marvel, Audi aligns with the evolving narrative of the Tony Stark character to showcase the all-new, redesigned 2016 R8. Having been part of the character’s storyline for the past three Iron Man films, it is a perfect fit for Audi to return in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron with Tony Stark driving the iconic supercar in its next generation.”
Sources - cartoq.com, dupontregistry.com, corvetteblogger.com, roadandtrack.com, caranddriver.com