- Sterling is a brilliant businesscar who runs Rust-eze Racing Center—one of the most successful elite training facilities in the country. Despite his dapper appearance and obvious wealth, Sterling comes across as unassuming and laid back. But business is business, and Sterling is driven to ensure all of his investments pay off.
Nathan Fillion described him as a character who does not try to get people to think he is "charming": "Anytime you say something about a quality of a character that's 'charming,' I think a lot of people make the mistake and think of skeevy, but charming is someone who admires you, can disarm you, and gain your trust. He's not being interesting, he's being interested. He's not, 'Hey there, I'm great,' which is not charming. He's 'Hey there, you're great.'"
Sterling is painted silver, and has blue eyes. According to Brian Fee, Sterling's design was inspired by European cars from the 1960s, as he quoted: "They're incredibly stylish, with almost a dainty quality. Small, kind of sporty, extremely confident."
Role in the film
Sterling first appears in the Rust-eze Racing Center, talking about Lightning McQueen's retirement from his racing career, and introduces McQueen to an area with merchandise based on him and his trainer, Cruz Ramirez.
He made a deal that if Lightning cannot win the Florida 500, then he would be forced to retire. By the time the Flordia 500 came, Sterling was offended that Cruz was not only present, but was insisted by McQueen to take his racing spot as long as she wore the same '95' number.
By the time she won, Sterling persuaded Cruz to be a racer that would represent him, but realized that Rust-eze was already bought by Tex Dinoco. What happened to him was worse as he was sentenced by Sheriff to upgrade the road in Radiator Springs for making Lightning retire.
- If viewers look closely enough, Sterling has a picture of the infamous Miles Axlerod in his office. This implies that he had sunk very low as they could have business ties with each other between the first film and the third film.
- Hence, Sterling is Pixar's third villain to be good initially, and yet truly antagonistic.