While watching Cars 2 (again) with my son yesterday, I was struck by the scene in which Mater meets a 'headlight seller' in the Parisian marketplace.

In the scene, he approaches a car which appears to be sleeping, and when he questions it, she awakes, opening her eyes which are in her headlight position and not, as is with every other car in the film, on her windshield.

This freaks Mater out and he drives off in alarm.

I am curious to know if this gag, which seems redundant and/or out of place, is in reference to any other animated films - or whether it is a Pixar inside joke. Does anyone have any insight into this?

  • I wondered the same thing, and found the answer here: pixar.wikia.com/Celine_Dephare
    – user4355
    Mar 14, 2013 at 18:05
  • From my child, I never understand why the eyes are the headlights, I see a moustache on the front and I imagine the heads on the windshield. Mar 14, 2013 at 19:19
  • I thought it was to show deformities gang leaders give to kidnapped "sellers" who make money for them by selling black market goods or begging
    – user5559
    Jul 26, 2013 at 0:59
  • I thought it was to show us how incredibly strange the characters would have looked if they had done them all that way.
    – user5809
    Aug 16, 2013 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


I believe it was meant as a joke to those who were expecting the eyes on the vehicle in Cars 1 to be at the headlights position. In earlier Disney films, for example Herbie, there was an anthropomorphic 1963 Volkswagen Beetle.

Though in case of Herbie, a real live action movie there was no need to animate the eyes where as in Pixar Cars much emphasis was placed.

If one were to relocate the "eyes" for Herbie,

Herbie with Pixar styled eyes

You can see that we will lost the view of the actor inside of which there was none for Cars.

In the end, to me, it felt as an ill-intentioned attempt to be funny (but not) about why Pixar chose their location for the character's eyes.

It can even boil down to any show which places a scene which is extremely different from normally expected just for the sake of doing it

e.g. A small Simpsons scene in Family guy

  • Yep - you're spot on about Herbie, phwd, and that's a nice observation. I recall watching a special feature on the first film that showed the original inspiration for the looks of these cars as being a cartoon from the 50's called 'Susie, the Little Blue Coupe', but hadn't considered the Herbie angle.
    – Nobby
    Mar 6, 2012 at 20:01
  • One detail to add, most earlier depictions of animated cars had the eyes in the headlights too. I think particularly of the taxi in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which also had the problem of blocking the actors. That design was common for all animated cars though. In Pixar's world, there are no other life forms other than forms of transportation, so it makes sense to use the windshield for more expressive range. And eyebrows! It's really hard to relate to a character that can't show surprise or concern or frustration.
    – vastra360
    Feb 24, 2014 at 20:54

I honestly thought it was a pun on the while black market thing you know like a botched surgery but in this case a botched headlight , windshield replacement, like maybe she was having eye problems and got ' eye surgery' and they offered to replace the head lights as a nice gesture.

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