Production designers on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” searched high and low for the most ridiculously nerdy car to feature in the show’s pilot episode.
Designed by French engineers, an air car uses a motor powered by compressed air, is driven by a joy stick, and only has three wheels.
But alas, Toyon says, “at the last minute, we couldn’t get the air car, so we ended up getting the car we did use and it was still really funny anyway.”
The car was used in a scene in which the Peter Gregory character gets into his vehicle after being pitched by start-up founders following his Ted Talk.
Production ended up putting the billionaire venture capitalist character into a rare T600 All Electric Tango car, intended as a commuter vehicle to increase freeway lane capacity. The small but mighty speedster can do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds all under electric power.
“The very narrow design can split lanes and fit in narrower spaces than some motorcycles,” according to one YouTube video about the car. “Seats are set up like an F-14 fighter jet in a tandem arrangement. This is one tiny Tesla competitor.”
“It was such a funny sight gag,” Toyon previously told Silicon Valley Business Journal. “We were so glad to get it. There were only two in the nation, and one owned by George Clooney. We were unable to wrestle the one from George Clooney. But we were able to get one from Seattle.”
While Vulture called the car “the best sight gag in the episode,” Toyon explains that “even with that car there was another gag that was intended: the valet was going to open the door and reveal that it was only one seat wide but we never did that — it was funny enough because when he got into the car it spoke a lot about him when you saw him on the edge.”
Toyon tells us “there were a few other gags and things that were requested” throughout the show’s first season, “but generally speaking from a production design standpoint, you try not to be too gaggy because you want the comedy to come from the dialogue.”
But the Tango car is actually part of a very insider joke, dating back to a 1986 April Fool’s prank in which employees at Sun Microsystems in Mountain View replaced boss Eric Schmidt’s office furniture with a Volkswagen Beetle. In 2008, Google employees tried the prank again — this time putting a Tango car in the chairman’s office.
Schmidt explains the epic prank below:
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