How did they make the Toyota Tundra 'Killer Heat' commercial?

Killer Heat Preproduction

Construction of the "corkscrew" road nears completion.
Construction of the "corkscrew" road nears completion.
Courtesy Toyota


­Toyota was faced with a challenge when plotting how to best demonstrate the Tundra transmission's heat capacities. The ad needed to convince viewers by showing a real-life example of the kind of extreme environment the Tundra can take. At its core, "Killer Heat" had to prove that the Tundra's automatic transmission could stand the heat, literally. So what did the creatives cook up? Try an 80-foot (24-meter) climb up a narrow corkscrew "road" in the middle of a desert, towing a 10,000-pound (4,535-kilogram) load. Now add a 170-foot (51.8-meter) tunnel of fire. Now start your engine, and drive through it.

The effectiveness of a real-life demonstration is powerful because it can't be argued. Saatchi LA Creative Director Erich Funke says it best, "We wanted to go back to a classic demonstration where the camera couldn't tell any lies." Director Andrew Douglas wanted to make sure that the viewer "knew that it was real." To ensure that everything was on the up-and-up, the set had notaries and witnesses on hand to verify that there was no slight of hand or camera tricks involved.

The shoot took place at Pisgah Crater in the searing 107-degrees-Fahrenheit (41.6-degrees-Celsius) summer heat of the Mojave Desert, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. The design crew had quite a task -- build an 80-foot-tall corkscrew "road" out of 740,000 pounds (335,658 kilograms) of steel, then top it with a tunnel rigged with burning fuel. Construction of the tower began in June 2008, when temperatures averaged 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius), and took two full months to complete. Once the tower was finished and everything was tested and retested for safety, the production team needed to find a driver talented (and crazy) enough to pull off the stunt. Enter Matt McBride, who's been working as a stunt man and precision driver since the 1994 film "Speed."