Tollcross Drift: Fast & Furious 9 in Edinburgh

With production of Fast & Furious 9 soon to descend on Edinburgh, we consider how Auld Reekie's vertiginous inclines, narrow streets and wonky cobbles will effect Vin Diesel and co’s driving styles

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 28 Aug 2019
  • Michelle Rodriguez (as Letty) and Vin Diesel (as Dom) in Fast & Furious

There’s a reason why race tracks don’t generally take their design inspiration from MC Escher. Flat, wide and even blacktop is what you’re after when you’re driving at 135mph in a souped-up Dodge Challenger; not an ancient street on a 60-degree incline with a road surface so haphazard you can’t cross in heels. But that’s exactly the situation the gang from the Fast and the Furious franchise are going to have to contend with next month when Fast & Furious 9 starts shooting in Edinburgh, a city whose Old Town of skew-whiff streets, helter-skelter alleyways and comically steep staircases seem like a labyrinthian practical joke designed to confound tourists. 

There’s one thing we do know about the month-long Fast & Furious 9 shoot: it’s sure to make Edinburgh commuters slower and even more furious. The question is, what will it mean for Vin Diesel's street racing don Dominic Toretto and his motorhead "family" of criminals, hackers and turn-coat cops. We've taken a peek at the proposed shooting schedule, and ranked the key thoroughfares in order from least to most suitable for sweet, sweet Tokyo Drifting.

The streets on this list are ranked on three metrics – fastness (how fast can the squad go?), furiosity (what's the potential for chaos?), and sweet drifting potential (wheeeeeeeeeee!). Our judge has seen every one of the Fast and Furious films (fastness), is a regular cyclist around Edinburgh (furiousness), and sits on a swivel chair, which is the driftiest of all office equipment. Let's roll.

West College Street (6-23 Sep)

Is this tight squeeze between the National Museum and the Talbot Rice Gallery even a road? Yes! And if it's a road, one can be both fast *and* furious upon it.

Potential for fastness: Dom will be lucky if he gets it past second gear. 1/5 
Potential for furiosity: The only traffic we’ve seen on this road is Majestic Wine dropping off copious crates of sparkling wine for the latest gallery opening at the TRC. 0/5 
Potential for an Auld Reekie Drift: If Dom doesn’t want to career down the stairs to Cowgate if he’s driving northbound or get wedged in the underpass at Potterrow if he’s heading south, some form of sweet drifting is essential. 5/5
Total: 6

Victoria Street (11 Sep)

Aka the best street in Edinburgh, and the worst possible place for cool illegal street racing.

Potential for fastness: Steep and winding – best take this one in second gear, Dom. 1 
Potential for Furiosity: Between the old boys stumbling out of Bow Bar, the Harry Potter nuts congregating outside the wizard shop and the clubbers staggering out of The Liquid Rooms, there’s plenty of opportunity for carnage. 4 
Potential for an Auld Reekie Drift: This is more of a gentle bend, really. Plus, look at that hill! Nothing says 'I'm a cool street racer' like stalling your motor halfway up a quaint old street then rolling back down again. 1
Total: 6

Cockburn Street (12-15 Sep)

Basically Victoria Street again, but a bit more insane. 

Potential for fastness: Going down? You bet. It's a 5. Going up? Has Dom ever considered a Range Rover? 1
Potential for Furiosity: Does Mr Toretto know what Auld Reekie's quicksilver cobbles are going to do to the suspension on his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner? He’s about to find out. 4
Potential for an Auld Reekie Drift: As mentioned above, the physics of drifting on cobbles haven’t been tested yet. We assume it won't go well. 0 
Total: Somewhere between 5 and 9, depending on which direction you're going

Guthrie Street (11-17 Sep)

Aka that bit you stumble out onto from the Mash House if your legs decide to send you up the stairs, not down.

Potential for fastness: This is basically a right-angle chicane with a recycling hub on one corner. 1
Potential for furiosity: Only if you avoid those aforementioned Mash House patrons and lovingly restored homewares. 3
Potential for an Auld Reekie Drift: Can a double drift be done? Might be the only way of getting through to Cowgate with any velocity at all. Our Food Editor distinctly remembers pulling such a move on his Scalextric set as a kid, so we reckon it's doable. Your move, Fast & Furious 9 production team. 3
Total: 7

Waterloo Place (2-12 Sep)

This wide, straight stretch of road would be ideal for a drag race, if it weren’t for the pesky fact it’s one of the most chaotic junctions in town, where the Scottish capital’s main shopping thoroughfare collides with the roads connecting Leith to the Southside. Dom et al will need to look out for tired commuters coming out of Waverly Station (probably enraged at another ScotRail delay), Lothian Bus-driving mavericks taking very wide left turns on to North Bridge, and about half a dozen pedestrian refuge islands. 

Potential for fastness: There are three Lothian Buses destined for Ocean Terminal in your way at all times. AT ALL TIMES. 2
Potential for furiosity: You’ll take ages getting through this scrum, and the nearest petrol station is miles away, so get ready for Fast and Furious (now with added coasting!). 4
Potential for an Auld Reekie Drift: We recommend Dom drifts on to Leith Street in style, and the curved fence at the never-ending St James Centre construction site will make a decent cushion if he overshoots it. 4
Total: 10

Cowgate (21 Sep)

When Dom is on Cowgate, however, that’s when he can really let rip. 

Potential for fastness: If Dom's driving at 2pm, 5; if Dom's driving at 2am, good luck making it past the snogging couples and the drunks wondering down the centre of the road cradling kebabs. 1
Potential for furiosity: Stag parties and hen dos? Everywhere. Blind junctions? We've got 'em! Cops? You betcha! 5
Potential for an Auld Reekie Drift: If Dom wants to make it on to Victoria Street without doing an extremely slow and proper right turn, he better drift. 5
Total: At least 11, higher in the hours of daylight

High Street (8-10 Sep)

Looks like Dom and co might be swinging past the Castle...

Potential for fastness: This is one of the few long, straight streets in the Old Town – take advantage of that and crack out the nitrous. 5
Potential for furiosity: The Royal Mile is almost always heaving with tourists and cashmere enthusiasts – they’re going to have to move out the way pretty quickly. 5
Potential for an Auld Reekie Drift: Let's hope so, as there’s shooting planned on Parliament Square and that’s a pretty tight turn at 100mph. 1
Total: 11

Calton Road (2-12 Sep)

Now we’re talking. If the family can avoid the patrons stumbling out of the Black Bull, this narrow but quiet street should make for a fun ride given it’s basically just one big left turn and then a straight shot down to Holyrood. The downside is it's on the narrow side, the visibility isn’t great as you go under Waterloo Place past the back of the station and there’s potential to get distracted by the wild, discombobulating sight that is the Scottish Parlament.

Potential for fastness: Burn rubber and live your life a quarter-mile at a time, Dom. 5
Potential for furiosity: This is a driver's dream – unless you’ve any oncoming traffic on that blind corner by Waverley Gate. 3
Potential for an Auld Reekie Drift: Hit this at speed, and it’s one long drift from Leith Street to Waverly Gate. 4
Total: 12