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.
In the Dodie Smith novel, Cruella's car is black and white, much like her hair. However, Mr. Dearly compares this to a moving zebra crossing. Cruella also notes that her horn is the loudest motor car horn in the country. She is shown to have a chauffeur who drives her car for her on some occasions.
As the Dalmatians make their way through the country, they see Cruella standing on the roof of the car, warming herself via a bakery on fire. When sneaking aboard the van, the Dalmatians need to cover their eyes, so that the car's headlights do not get reflected from their eyes.
In One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Cruella's car is red with black 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.
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 Horace and Jasper'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.
The car is briefly seen at the start of Patch's London Adventure, where it is in a condition to where it's nearly falling apart. As Cruella drives down the road, more and more pieces fall off, until it's just the wheels, seat and engine.
In 101 Dalmatians, Cruella's car is shown to be black and white again, like in the novel, in the model of a Panther Deville. It is shown to have a license plate that reads: "DEV IL" to match with Cruella's name.
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. 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.
At the start of 102 Dalmatians, Alonzo meets Cruella when she is released on parole with the car. 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, 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.
Cruella's car in 101 Dalmatians: The Series is shown to be red, like it is in the animated films. Cruella's driving in it is shown to more 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).
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 is set to appear in the second half of the fourth season of the ABC fairy tale fanstasy 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 licence plate that reads: "DEV IL"; however, the only difference is that it has red fury seating and left hand drive.
Behind the Scenes
Back in the '60s, 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. The current status of the original model of Cruella's car remains in storage, mostly fully intact.
- 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, LA.