Cruella's car is a vehicle owned by Cruella De Vil in the 101 Dalmatians franchise. In the books, it is black and white (like a moving zebra crossing), but in the animated films and TV series it is red. In the live-action film and its sequel, however, it is black and white like in the books. It should be noted that in the films, Cruella does not have a chauffeur (like in the books), but drives it herself. It crashes at the end of the first film.
Back in the 1960s, Disney animators were using Xerox camera technology to translate pencil drawings on paper into line work on cels, which replaced the beautiful, traditional hand-painted cels in order to save money on creating animated films. During the production of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the studio came up with an idea on how to animate Cruella's Car, the animators built an actual white model of her car out of cardboard with bold black lines on the edges.
To make the wheels articulate, the animators took a long piece of cloth, taped little pieces of wooden dowling underneath it and then put the car on top of the cloth suspended from a kite string, and then they would pull this long piece of fabric with all these pieces of wooden dowling underneath the wheels and they would shoot a take of that. To give it the look that the car had suspension they put in springs so it would have this little bouncy effect. The footage would then be run through the same Xerox process that was being used to transfer pencil line work onto cels and then painted to what was seen in the final film. When Cruella is seen driving her car up the hill of snow, a sand-like substance was used for it to drive through and shot it all in slow motion.
The process of shooting models with those black outlines worked very successful when making One Hundred and One Dalmatians and it was a clever idea to save money. This process was also used in later animated films, such as The Aristocats. The current status of the original model of Cruella's car remains in storage, mostly fully intact.
Cruella's car is red with black fenders trim. The headlights and front bumper look like a scowling face, and the hubcaps have a stylized "CD" on them. When Perdita hears the horn, she immediately recognizes it as belonging to Cruella. The car has a V8 engine and a manual transmission. It is shown in 101 Dalmatians II to have a radio, which Cruella destroys in a fit of rage after Roger's song about her comes on when she starts the car. The car is completely destroyed and torn apart after Jasper and Horace crash their van into it at the end of One Hundred and One Dalmatians. At the beginning of the 101 Dalmatians II the car is shown to be largely intact, albeit heavily damaged, from the wreck at the end of the first film. The car falls apart as Cruella drives away after being denied entry to a furrier's shop, until there is nothing left but the engine, the frame and a seat; It is not seen again after she abandons it.
Cruella herself is shown to be pretty reckless when it comes to driving said car, such as making drifting turns in the streets, driving extremely fast in snowy conditions, and sometimes running other cars off the road. However, she always blames a near accident on whoever is on the receiving side of the near motor accident. The car is shown to be very resistant to damage. It survives Cruella's reckless driving, smashing into a fence on the side of the road, crashing through a wooden barrier, falling into a ditch, and crashing through another fence with no visible damage. It only begins to break apart when Cruella jumps it through a grove of trees. At this point, the roof and bonnet of the car come off, showing the motor, which has flames in it. The car falls apart even more as it spins through the air after being rammed by Jasper and Horace's van.
When the Dalmatian pups reach Dimsford, Cruella drives her car around the village looking for them, before spotting the Dalmatians on the back of a moving truck. She chases after the van, trying to ram it off the road. Cruella's car eventually gets lodged onto the rear bumper of the van, before Horace and Jasper crash their own van into her, resulting in both of the villains' vehicles falling into a ditch and getting destroyed.
The car is briefly seen at the start of Patch's London Adventure, where it is shown to have been poorly put back together. As Cruella drives down the road, more and more pieces fall off, until it's just the wheels, seat and engine and it stops working.
Cruella's driving in this car is shown to be even more chaotic than before; however, that could come from the car itself as it has shown to be quite erratical whoever's driving it (e.g. like Anita or the Dalmatian puppies themselves) with the exception of Jasper and Horace.
The car has been damaged a lot in The Series, such as being crushed into a cube via a harvester or crashing into the swamp (the latter having it be repaired by Swamp Rat). On some occasions, the car is shown to give off fire trails, which sometimes sets fire to the pavement or bridges which it crosses. When Cruella opens her Cruella World amusement park, the "Coup Go Round" has a design similar to "Dumbo the Flying Elephant" ride at Disneyland, only with Cruella's car instead of an elephant.
Cruella's car returns alongside an elderly Cruella in 101 Dalmatian Street. Since the series is a continuation of the animated films, it is reasonable to assume that Cruella had her car repaired. Even after many decades, Cruella's reckless driving remains the same. This is shown when Cruella arriving in London leads to a major accident in the city, forcing Delilah & Doug to head there. Cruella also uses her car to knock out the electricity in Dalmatian Street. After capturing Delilah and Doug, she drove them chaotically through the streets of London to the docks where the puppies were being taken to a ship to be killed and skinned. Dolly and Dylan pursued Cruella on P.C. Pearl. While Cruella was driving to the docks, Clarisa Corgi was able to leap on to the Back of the car and was able to open the trunk, where Doug was tied up, where they were noticed by a human, who in turn phones the police, which in turn leads to Cruella getting arrested, before any harm comes to the Dalmatians. The car was later abandoned in the docks.
In the film, Cruella drives a black and white Panther Deville, similar to the car in the original novel. It's the presence of this car that makes Anita know Cruella is visiting them, after she and Perdita return home from the doctor's/vet's. Cruella then drives to Devil Manor in Suffolk where, unaware to her knowledge, a skunk sneaks onto the passenger's seat of her car, which she later mistakes for her purse. Cruella later leaves the car in the barn prior to her arrest. Roger later installs the car into his game demo, where the player Dalmatians (Patches and Whizzer) throw an explosive barrel at Cruella in the car. Cruella's car in the 1961 animated film is clearly shown to have a manual transmission, while the Panther in the 1996 remake clearly has an automatic transmission. The Panther Deville was originally fitted with a Jaguar V8.
At the start of the film, Alonzo meets Cruella with the car when she is released on parole. However, Ella (as the reformed Cruella insists to be called) insists on driving them back. When Cruella and Le Pelt take the Dalmatians to France the car goes with them on the train, so Oddball and Waddlesworth stow away in the car, so as not to be caught. Cruella then drives insanely through the streets of Paris, including being on the wrong side of the road and going down the wrong direction of a one-way street.
When Cruella is later arrested, Alonzo arrives at "Second Chance Shelter" in Cruella's car, which at first makes Chloe concerned Cruella has been released again. However, Alonzo claims that he wanted the honor to hand the check of Cruella's estate to the shelter. It can be assumed that Alonzo became the de facto owner of the car, either as the result of legal proceedings, or because Cruella was forced to sell it to him due to her fortune being taken away by the court.
In the film, the car's engine was replaced with a Chevy 350 V8 which can allow Cruella to perform a power steer.
Cruella's car appears in the second half of the fourth season of the ABC fairy tale fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time. The model in the series is a modified 1980s Zimmer Golden Spirit and like in the novel and in the live-action films, the car is black and white with a license plate that reads: "DEV IL"; however, the only difference is that it has red fury seating, automatic transmission and left hand drive.
Cruella's husband and source of income is arrested by the FBI and she scarcely manages to snatch away one of her priceless fur coats before they take everything, just as Rumplestiltskin and Ursula approach her in order to strike a bargain - she aids in their plan, and she shall receive her happy ending. Cruella is enticed by the idea and agrees to drive the three of them in her vintage car to a quaint little town called Storybrooke, where magic is present. Once they get into the town, the two lady villainesses drive and meet up with Snow White and Prince Charming, who threaten to kill them should they reveal what happened all those years ago.
When Regina tries to spy on Cruella's ranks to test her, Cruella drives the car onto the middle of the train tracks, just as a train is coming. There, they play a game of chicken (in the first game, they use their magic to save themselves), where Regina uses her magic to lift the car onto the road, just as the train is about to hit them.
In "Sympathy for the De Vil", it is revealed that the car originally belonged to Isaac, the author, who gave it to Cruella. Because of the author's powers, he seems to have enchanted it, letting it drive on its own. Cruella also seems to have a car just like hers in the underworld version of Storybrooke.
Some remote controlled versions of Cruella's car appear in 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue as a toy line, which Cruella tries to sell. She later uses them in her attempt to abduct the Dalmatian pups, although Domino and Oddball are usually able to counter them. The toys tend to drive around and sometimes play the sound of Cruella's laughter from the 1961 film.
In the Disney Villains Challenge game, there are two challenges involving Cruella's car. One of which is where you need to use your finger to pin down Cruella's car, and the other where you need to give the car a makeover. In the game, it is referred to as a "roadster."
Cruella's car is also a playable vehicle with use of a Power Disc in Disney INFINITY. The car itself has higher speed and abilities than normal cars used in the game.
- In 101 Dalmatians, when Cruella storms out of the Dearlys' house, and after she gets in the car and Jasper closes the door, her coat is shown to be stuck in said door.
- The Internet automotive blog Jalopnik ranked Cruella's Car as #10 of the "greatest animated cars."
- Madame Medusa, the main antagonist of The Rescuers, can be seen driving a car quite similar to Cruella's during the scene where Miss Bianca and Bernard see her leaving her pawn shop in New York City and follow her to the airport for her flight back to Devil's Bayou, Louisiana.
- All live-action iterations of Cruella's car to date have her last name spelled as "DEV IL" on the license plate, instead of the correct spelling, "DE VIL".
- In Disney Villains: The Essential Guide, the car is stated to be a custom model of Rolls-Royce.