By Pedro F.
Westworld’s third season just ended a few days ago, having set itself as a huge shift in the show’s focus, permanently breaking the confinement of Delos’ gritty amusement parks and bringing Dolores Abernathy’s bloody robot revolution to the human world. Westworld’s third chapter, despite visually great and at times still pretty damn compelling, was by far the less cohesive one of the series, although the finale managed to stick the landing, mainly thanks to the efforts of Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores Abernathy) and Thandie Newton (Maeve Millay)’s talents, charm and charisma.
In the past it would have been pointless to do any sort of car review regarding this show because, well…there simply wouldn’t have been anything to talk about. However there is plenty we can dive into for season 3, with lots of interesting rides popping up throughout the eight episodes, some relevant to the action, others just as background pieces. So today we’re going for an episode by episode review of the cars of Westworld and what they meant for the plot and for the characters who used them. And of course, this being Westworld after all, some tags and ID numbers on the vehicles might not be random, so whenever possible they’ll be included in this post as well so that perhaps someone can ponder them later on.
Naturally, major spoilers ahead.
Note: All screencaps of Westworld and Westworld Behind the Scenes are copyrighted HBO, Inc. 2020 materials, added to this post for limited use under the spirit of the fair use doctrine for research and commentary purposes.
Episode 1 – Parce Domine
The first episode of Westworld’s third season shows us a reality which we’ve only had a few glimpses of up until this point. It is a dramatic change from the western background that dominated seasons 1 and 2 and, with the vast majority of the action being set in the real world, there’s certainly some very interesting car spotting to be enjoyed. Episode 1 introduces us to the most predominant car presence in season 3, the “rideshare”, an electric, autonomous, self driving cab-like vehicle which will be seen numerous times in several episodes. The “rideshare” (a designation given by the production team) has a U shaped row of seats and suicide glass doors. Two of them were built and they’re original to the show; however they do have a few similarities to General Motor’s Origin concept presented earlier this year. Now, obviously they didn’t use actual driverless vehicles during filming, so there was someone controlling the car from a small compartment at the front.
The first car from an actual manufacturer that we come across in season 3 is the Audi Aicon. Audi is no stranger to product placement, the most notable of which is the Avengers connection via the Tony Stark character. You’ll be able to spot the Aicon a few times during episode 1, first and foremost as the car Dolores uses to get to her pretend boyfriend’s – Liam Dempsey Jr. – fancy party and also, later on, when she’s tailing his Porsche on the road and again when they reach their destination. This Aicon is an electric, fully autonomous (meant to be anyway) concept car which debuted in 2017 ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show. It’s powered by 4 motors, adding up to about 350bhp; it has a kind of 2+2 configuration without B-pillars and, like the “rideshare”, the doors are suicide as well. Being autonomous, it’s also deprived of a wheel and pedals so there’s quite a lot of room in there. The inclusion of the Aicon feels pretty appropriate for the context, giving out the vibe of a luxury personal car that wouldn’t be at all out of place in the sort of event we find it at.
We mentioned Liam’s Porsche earlier; it is a 918 Spyder, a very interesting choice for the character. Being the symbolic leader of a massive company and a multi billionaire, Liam could be shown driving just about anything, but the production team chose a 918, a modern car by today’s standards but a classic in the show’s timeline, since this season is set in 2052. It’s interesting to see how Liam is simultaneously charmed by the peak of modern technology, Dolores (although not aware of the fact that she is artificial) and by vintage tech as well.
Turning our attention to Caleb, Dolores’s passion project for the season. Their paths cross because of a job he takes through the RICO app, a hub of organized criminal activity. He meets up with a man in a parking garage who hands him a package to deliver; this package contains items that Martin Connells, Liam’s glorified babysitter, intends to use to murder Dolores after having found out that she isn’t exactly who she claimed to be. There is a lot to go through in the garage where the handoff takes place. At a distance we can see a blue Aston Martin, unclear if a late DB9 or DBS; in the left row we can also spot a 1971-1973 Mustang Mach 1, a 1967 Pontiac GTO and some sort of Porsche 997, along with another black car that is simply too far to id for sure. On the right, there’s a 70’s G or SC Porsche and a red car which is also difficult to make out, perhaps a classic Mustang CS? It’s unclear.
Unsurprisingly, the show hints at either a possible fuel crisis or simply at a society in the process of terminating large volume fossil fuel production. The guy handing Caleb the package which will eventually put him in Dolores’ radar asks if he ever drove “one of those things”, meaning the Range Rover L405 Caleb will eventually ride out in (tag “6577”). As pointed out, the garage is full of classic and sports cars, but most of them are covered up (the Range Rover was as well), suggesting they are not driven often. This could indeed be a fuel related issue or simply the predominance of autonomous electric cars as common means of daily transportation. Later on in the season, during episode 7, Bernard, Stubbs and William find themselves at a gas station where there are signs warning that the place does not sell fossil fuels anymore; again, this may suggest a simple lack of fuel altogether or just the dismantling of the large scale infrastructure which makes operating gas stations possible. Maybe in Westworld’s future everyone who still has an internal combustion engine car just gets their fuel from “AmazonGas Prime” or something like that.
Considering the plot for this season hinges on a giant A.I. mapping out and enforcing its own plan for humanity’s future, the most likely scenario is that gas powered cars are being sidelined for environmental concerns. However, season 3 also explores a number of issues concerning human nature, such as the exercise of free will and the liberty of choice, so all these interesting cars being left undriven may be a metaphor for the A.I.’s interference with human individuality and personal expressions in favor of the promotion of conformity and control.
Getting back to the plot of the episode, after Caleb drops off the Range Rover along with the nefarious bric-a-brac, Connells’ security team drives off with a seemingly unconscious Dolores in the back. Of course that with her being her, eventually the whole situation is revealed to be a setup on Dolores’ part and she ends up taking the SUV, running over a guy and chasing after Connells who escapes in a Jaguar I-Pace through some eerily traffic free streets. The Range Rover is one of only two non-autonomous vehicles that Dolores uses throughout the season and there’s something to be said of the fact that she takes a machine that, much like the Westworld hosts, was in sort of its own cold storage and uses it as a weapon against people, much like she did with the hosts as well. Wonder where and why our blonde Bender B. Rodriguez was taught/programmed to drive? Maybe some kind of scenario in Park 5?
The inclusion of the I-Pace is the first car related option that feels a bit off this season. Unlike the Range Rover, we get no indication that the Jaguar might be some sort of leisure, seldom used vehicle. Connells’ security guys ride around in it and, as mentioned, this season takes place in the early 2050’s, making the I-Pace (at least) a 32 year old vehicle. It would be like if some tech mogul’s security team was driving around today in 1988 Crown Vics. In this instance, the futuristic looking SUV things we see later on in the season might have been a better choice.
Still noteworthy in this first episode, a Toyota Land cruiser J50 (FJ55), an early one (1967-1974) as we can tell by the square tail lights. The Land Cruiser appears very briefly in an establishing shot of the meat plant/farm where Bernard has been working since things at Westworld went all Jurassic Park-ish. The inclusion of the Land Cruiser is a great little detail because this thing would be pushing 80 years old and still hard at work, which is not completely unrealistic since the J50 isn’t really problematic in a lot of significant ways other than they’ll absolutely rust and rot away into nothingness if not cared for properly (and even then it’s an uphill battle). Known as the “iron pig”, the FJ55 which shows up in this episode is actually a pretty significant and fairly rare variant because it has the so called barn doors (or ambulance doors), a feature which was not available for the U.S. models.
Episode 2 – The Winter Line
Episode 2 gives us what we were all here to see this season: Maeve kicking ass. Undoubtedly one of the best episodes of Westworld’s third installment, The Winter Line does little as far as advancing the plot, but who cares. The episode finds Maeve stuck in the so called Warworld, a recreation of a small southern European town during WWII. There, a memory-deprived Hector teams up with Maeve’s character “Isabella” in order to help in the fight against nazis. In this episode Hector drives an MG, something which immediately struck me as odd because a British car in nazi occupied Europe? After initially crying foul, the episode reveals that the Warworld we’re being shown isn’t actually Delos’ Park 3, but a computer simulation made by order of the season’s antagonist, Engerraund Serac. Maeve figures this out pretty quickly and ends up exploring the simulation’s weaknesses to crash it. So the fact that the car is wrong for the scenario actually ends up playing beautifully into the plot. If done on purpose, it was A+ planning by the production team. If you play along with the fact that the addition of the MG was just another botched part of an already imperfect simulation, all sorts of other mistakes play into that narrative as well. For instance, the fact that the MG TC model featured in the episode only began production in 1945 at the end of WWII, goes right towards that list of things that are off, but which can be blamed on the weak simulation narrative. Also, because there were some sequences filmed in Spain and others in California, two different TCs were used, so from one scene to another you’ll be able to spot differences between the two cars, stuff which would usually constitute simple continuity errors, for this episode in particular, it all becomes explainable. For instance, when Maeve and Hector escape from the town, the car has a license plate (“FR 4826” [?]) but by the time they arrive at an airfield shortly after, it does not.
Other than the MG, the episode also features a neat Mercedes-Benz W136 (tag “RTY-5660”), seemingly a 170V which is indeed period correct (1936-1942) and of course, being a WWII scenario, there is a mandatory Kubelwagen appearance (tag “SS 654 584”). A curious Krupp-Protze 6X4 personnel carrier also shows up, but the most interesting of the German vehicles – not being exactly a car but it has 4 tires, so I’ll allow it – in episode 2 is a Leichter Panzerspähwagen (armored reconnaissance vehicle) Sd. Kfz 222.
And why is it particularly interesting? Because again, if intentional, this is an absolutely brilliant nod to the beloved classic Allo’ Allo’ in which the iconic character of Lt. Gruber would ride around the small town of Nouvion in his famous “little tank”, driven by the à la Maris Crane, frequently mentioned but never seen Clarence. Lt. Gruber’s little tank was a replica Sd. Kfz 222 with some alterations, making the appearance of this particular armored vehicle in Westworld a highly satisfying though most likely completely accidental easter egg. However, just like in Allo’ Allo’, in this episode there is a café right on the corner left side of the town square, exactly like the Café René in the classic British comedy, so I’ll choose to believe it was all intentional.
Episode 3 – The Absence of Field
In the aftermath of Dolores chasing Connells and replacing him with one her Ctrl+C / Ctrl+Vs, our favorite homicidal robot gets injured. Caleb comes to her rescue and calls an ambulance. The ambulance (“EV 506”) is a pretty neat vehicle. Basically just a cube with a wraparound LED strip featuring the words “emergency response unit”, the ambulance is autonomous and it only has one big upward opening side door.
On the way to the hospital, while a couple of befuddled paramedics try to patch up Dolores, the ambulance is ordered by the police to stop. Unsurprisingly these cops aren’t on the up and up, especially since Dolores showed up on the RICO app earlier as a high value target. Despite the damage, Dolores manages to get up and dispose of the crooked cops, stealing their ride afterwards. This episode is the first one to give us a good look at the SUV-like cars which end up playing different roles throughout the season. This particular example (tag “12211”) is a police unit, but we’ll see them again later on as civilian vehicles.
At the end of episode 3, we see a “rideshare” again as it drives fake Charlotte Hale to Serac’s house in order to discuss a Delos takeover. At this point, the audience knows Hale is a host, so we’re also aware that she’s far from helpless, but she is the boss of one of the most influential companies in the world, so it feels a bit odd that Charlotte uses a “rideshare” and does not have security or even a private car to ride around. Perhaps the show could have even gone with the Aicon again for her as well. However, it’s relevant to remember that the meeting was covert so maybe fake Charlotte did have some sort of Delos provided personal luxury vehicle (other than the helicopter-like thing we do see her use) and she simply didn’t want to risk being tracked to Serac’s house.
Episode 4 – The Mother of Exiles
An almost completely car-deprived episode, except for the appearance of an emergency, “risques technologiques” response vehicle seen in Serac’s memory of the Paris nuclear attack, a van which resembles a first generation Mercedes Sprinter. However, it’s only seen for a couple of seconds, both the real vehicle and a reproduction of it in a cgi shot, so it’s difficult to identify for sure. If actually intended to be a Sprinter, although certainly not unheard of as an emergency vehicle in France, perhaps something like a Renault Master would have been a more adequate choice. Also, given that the incident depicted took place in 2025, although still not technically an antique, something more modern should have really been available in that scenario.
Episode 5 – Genre
Serac flies down to Brazil to twist the President’s arm into doing what he wants; the two men meet on a runway and, on each side of it, we see a couple W463 Geländewagens (unclear which spec., but seemingly second generation). They’re official government cars, even carrying the little flags up front and all. Disappointingly, two of the G-Wagens on that scene are cgi.
The inclusion of G-Wagens in this futuristic world becomes a bit of an inside joke for car enthusiasts, making me wonder once again if it was intentionally set up that way by someone in the production team. As we know, the Geländewagen hasn’t changed its appearance that much since it was launched way back in 1979, so it’s not a stretch to imagine that the 2050’s models wouldn’t be all that different from the 2020’s ones; certainly they would have had a few changes, but it’s very unlikely that they would be downright unrecognizable. So the Gs we see in this episode work, either if they’re meant to be perceived as classic or newer models. And they fit nicely within the narrative as well because of the context in which they show up; essentially, what Westworld is saying is that rich folks are gonna be buying these things forever.
Later on in the episode, a Lamborghini Urus shows up as Serac’s personal ride. Now, this is a bit of an iffy choice for the character because on the one hand, it’s not inconceivable that like Liam with his 918, a very wealthy man would choose to drive around in (considering the show’s timeline) a classic car; but on the other, Serac is a tech guy, he certainly has no love for the old world or, to the audience’s knowledge, old things, so a 2019 or 2020 Lamborghini being used in 2052 by a guy who’s all about modernity and progress seems…off.
Episode 5’s main set piece is a car chase; if someone had told me that about a Westworld episode a couple of years ago, I would have laughed for sure, but here we are. Dolores, Caleb and Liam are on a “rideshare” being chased by Serac’s men. Caleb is high off his butt, but that doesn’t stop Dolores from entrusting him with a rocket launcher, which seems a tad unwise, but OK.
During the chase we get a second appearance from the SUV-like model which shows up as the police cruiser on episode 3. Two variations of this SUV (tags “6743” and “2315”) carry the attackers that shoot up Dolores, Caleb and Liam’s “rideshare”. These are backed up by a couple of Chevy Tahoes as well. Again, as with the I-Pace, seems weird for the hired guns to be driving around in what are, in the show, considerably old cars. This becomes especially noticeable and bothersome when they’re mixed in the same sequence as the purpose built futuristic SUVs.
During the chase we get another quick appearance of the Audi Aicon. Caleb kind of, sort of takes out one of the Tahoes by willy-nillingly shooting a rocket which, thankfully, is smart enough to lock up on target and turn around; and the pet-like relationship Dolores has with her motorcycle comes to a fiery end when she has the thing kill itself to destroy the second Tahoe.
Later on in the episode we can also briefly spot the exact same ambulance (“EV506”) from episode 3.
Episode 6 – Decoherence
For episode 6 we come back to Warworld in order to enjoy Maeve beating up and putting down some nazis again. In a few of the scenes we can see most of the same vehicles we had already spotted during episode 3.
The main car moment of Decoherence comes when fake Charlotte tries to get the real Charlotte Hale’s family out of danger after getting a bit murdery at a Delos board meeting and downloading the company’s whole IP catalogue. In San Francisco, at her ex-husband Jake’s house, she picks up their son Nathan and the three leave in what we assume to be Jake’s car, a black SUV (tag “23140”), same model as the police cruiser on episode 3 and Serac’s hitmen rides on episode 5.
Despite not being able to confirm, I believe production had two of these because when “6743” and “2315” show up together on episode 5, we can see that the two cars have different rims, but “6743” has the exact same enormous ones that “23140” also has, so they probably just painted “23140” black for this sequence. In the context of the show, it makes perfect sense for a well to do young dad to have a very modern SUV dressed up with some fancy rims.
As fake Charlotte is driving away, the car suddenly goes up in flames as one of Serac’s men observes. Jake and Nathan are killed but she crawls away from the wreck. Filming the explosion sequence did not involve blowing up “23140”; the effect was achieved by exploding a JK Wrangler instead, the basis upon which the Westworld SUVs were built. Then, the yellow Wrangler was swapped in post production with a cgi version of “23140”.
These vehicles, although incorporating many other different elements, still have a very pronounced Rezvani Tank vibe about them; the rear quarter panel section especially is very similar to the one in the hyper-expensive luxury SUV.
Episode 7 – Passed Pawn
Episode 7 finally gives some clarity to Caleb’s hazy memories. We find out he killed his buddy Francis before the guy had the chance to take Caleb out instead. The scene has a good setup, not because the audience is surprised by the fact that Caleb killed the guy he spent the whole season mourning, I feel that’s been fairly obvious from the start, but because in the fake memories, Caleb believes the events took place in Russian territory but, in reality, everything happened in the U.S. and if you pay attention to the background, you’ll see the scenario is the same except the graffiti which changes accordingly to the geographical change in the memory as well. Neat stuff.
When Caleb, his supposed friend Francis and an unknown man walk into a warehouse, at first we see a truck, but then later on in the real memory, we see a W463 G-Wagen (likely a G63, 2012 update; tag “78021”) in its place. Funny enough, in the altered memory sequence, the truck meant to be representative of a Russian territory setting isn’t Russian at all, but a Stewart & Stevenson M1078 LMTV (tag “J1N4GP29” [?]). Stewart & Stevenson is an American company which began manufacturing vehicles for the army based on the Austrian Steyr 12M 18 platform. The fact that this model in particular is featured in Caleb’s fake memory is pretty interesting because, as was the case with the slightly off details of Warworld in episode 3, this may be interpreted as a flaw in another simulated setting. This may not be obvious to the audience who’s understandably not composed of military trucks experts, but to Caleb’s character it should have been a massive red flag.
As mentioned, in the real events, a G-Wagen was parked in that spot and not the M1078. It isn’t clear if this was Whitman’s car, the man Caleb and Francis are about to kill under false pretenses or if it’s just a random vehicle choice. Precisely because of that, its inclusion in the scene feels more disconnected than when the G-Wagens appeared in episode 5. Whitman was a pharmaceutical rep., likely a successful one since his questions regarding the disks people keep popping this season were directed high enough to get him assassinated, so this particular ride probably wouldn’t be out of his reach, but we can only speculate.
Also noteworthy in this episode, when Caleb is going through his supposed memories of Crimea, a Fiat 600 Multipla is visible deep in the background . I can’t speak much towards the coherence of a Multipla’s inclusion in that particular geographic context, but it’s a fun detail nonetheless. And of course, given the fact that Caleb’s memories were altered, we can ponder the Fiat’s appearance in exactly the same terms we used for the M1078 LMTV earlier.
Later on, episode 7 finds Bernard, Stubbs and William coming across an old gas station/repair shop. The first car we can spot is 1971 or 72 Dodge Coronet, the significance of which I’ll go into detail when looking at episode 8.
As the characters move around, a VW T1, 1963 Ford Galaxie sedan and a Toyota Land Cruiser J40 can also be seen. But why were those cars there? Well, the sign reads “classic cars and charge”, but some people were quick to complain that the vehicles aren’t exactly top tier “classics”. However, I feel those comments don’t take the show’s timeline into account at all. Again, throughout this season we’re looking at events taking place in the 2050’s; if you think the classics market is rough now, imagine what it could be like in 30 something years. So an early 70’s Coronet sedan for instance might not be the hottest thing in existence right now, but at the time of Westworld’s events, both it and the other cars in that scene may well be very desirable classics because all else, especially the fancy sporty stuff, has likely been snatched up by the super rich.
Episode 8 – Crisis Theory
The season’s finale picks up where episode 7 left off, with William holding Bernard and Stubbs at gunpoint. He ends up shooting Stubbs and doing quite a bit of damage to the Galaxie while trying to get Bernard as well.
However, William has to bolt when a Dolores copy shows up in an enormous MRAP. This is the first of at least three of these silly things in episode 8; the other two can be seen during Dolores and Maeve’s fight.
Bernard ends up taking the Coronet and a badly injured Stubbs to see original Dolores; or so he thinks. In reality he ends up at Arnold Weber’s wife Lauren’s house. In this particular context, the significance of the Coronet goes well beyond just being some random old car that Bernard just happens to steal. Arnold, the person whom Bernard is modeled after, was the co-creator of Westworld and its hosts. He was apparently in his mid to late 40’s in 2017, the date in which he set himself to be executed by Dolores Abernathy. The fact that the Coronet is a 1971 or 1972 model makes the car 45 or 46 years old, very likely around the age Arnold was when he died. So in this episode, Bernard is driving a car which is about as old as his human counterpart was when he passed away, a parallel to Bernard continuing to move forward with Arnold’s existence after his death.
But that’s not the only aspect we can read into. The fact that Bernard drives an old car to confront and come to terms with a part of Arnold’s old life is likely to be pretty significant as well. Bernard discusses the loss of the Weber’s son, Charlie, with Lauren. The tragedy is something which at that point is well in the past, yet it still moves Bernard in the present. Plus, the Coronet being a big 4 door sedan/family car only asserts the Weber’s tragic collapse as a family. In fact, when Bernard parks in front of Lauren’s home, the scene feels like a sort of snapshot or postcard of vintage Americana: the big car outside the big house meant for an equally big, happy family.
Back in L.A., during the riot scenes, as well as during Maeve and Dolores’ fight, we can spot a number of destroyed and or burning cars, the most notable of which are an XJ Jeep, an L322 Range Rover and a 6th generation Dodge Charger. At first, it seems not to make a whole lot of sense for these to be just out and about waiting to be torched because of the many reasons we looked at before; however, if one were to argue that the cars might have been taken by protesters from the kind of garage we see in episode 1, driven out and crashed/burned during the uprising on purpose…it wouldn’t be something out of the realm of possibility.
Lastly in this Westworld season 3 car analysis, let’s look at the events that took place in Park 5. We find out that the previously unseen Park 5 has been used for military training; in it, there’s a sort of small town U.S.A. set where soldiers run combat drills. One of those drills involves a hostage situation. We see Caleb and other soldiers go through the scenario, killing the hostage takers. Now, in the previous episode we had seen a flashback with a couple of seconds or so of this event and in it, a 1962 Corvette and American flags could be spotted, suggesting that there was definitely something relevant in Caleb’s past we still didn’t know about. The town in Park 5 is set up convincingly enough; a fifth generation Ford F-Series (F-350?) and a couple of other pickups can be seen, as well as a Chrysler minivan and a Ford Bronco, all well adapted stuff to the scenario.
The aforementioned Corvette (Wyoming tag, “007G97”) fits the setting as well of course, but it gains more significance than that when it serves as backdrop for one of the most significant scenes of the episode. Unsurprisingly, in the group of soldiers there’s an a-hole who suggests taking advantage of the hosts who played hostages in the simulation; Caleb steps up in defense of basic decency and reason, putting an end to the idea. Then, the camera reveals that one of the hostages was played by Dolores. During season 3 she takes Caleb under her wing not just because he came to her aid when she got injured in the real world, but also because she remembered him from the park and knew that he was, at the very least, already basically decent before that one act of kindness towards her.
Car-wise, the season had its hits and misses. Mostly hits in my opinion, but still, there are a couple of aspects which could have been rounded out a bit more. Although the use of stuff like the G-Wagens was a nice touch and the appearance of the 918 can be easily attributed to rich guys enjoying vintage rides, the I-Pace and the Tahoes felt especially off. If they weren’t so prominently shown maybe it wouldn’t have bugged me, but it’s one thing for billionaires to ride around in classic cars themselves and another altogether for security forces to use them as well. For consistency sake, I’d have preferred to see something equally futuristic just to match the overall feel of the season. The stuff specifically created for the show, the “rideshares”, the ambulance and the SUVs were pretty neat; would have loved to see more variety, but not complaining too much either. Overall, it was just really fun to keep an eye out for this stuff during the season and I’ll be looking forward to the next one which, as teased by episode 8’s first post credit scene, should be mainly set in the real world again, so more interesting cars will pop up then for sure. However, we’ll have to wait at least until 2023 for that.
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