The car featured in the film is a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, with a 440 cubic-inch V-8, and not a 426 Hemi V-8 (as is often believed). Eight white Challengers loaned from the Chrysler Corporation were used during the filming.
A 1967 Camaro shell (ie with no engine) loaded with explosives was used for the final crash. You can see the "Camaro" fender nameplate upside-down in the lower left corner of the screen after the crash.
It is stated in trivia above that "Jim" is the character's first name because "Jake" his drug dealer calls him "Jim". This is incorrect. African-Americans often called white males "Jim" during the 1970's. In the 1978 film "Superman" in the scene where Kent changes to Superman, the African-American pimp says,"Say, Jim, whoo!" And in Live and Let Die when the black taxi driver "captures" James Bond and, without knowing his name, says, "well hello, Jim!"
British rock band Primal Scream released their 1997 'Vanishing Point' album, which features several dialogs sampled directly from the movie and was reportedly conceived as "an alternate soundtrack to the movie".
Charlotte Rampling had a role as a hitchhiker whom Kowalski met while en route, but her scenes were deleted before the US release. The scenes were re-inserted for the UK release. The DVD release includes both the US and UK versions.
The 2004 music video for Audioslave's "Show Me How to Live" is an homage to, and follows the plot of, this film. It features clips from the film intercut with scenes of the band in a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T replicating scenes of Kowalski.
According to Sarafian on the commentary, he made the film on a budget of 1.3 million. Sarafian also admitted that he had surpassed the allotted budget by $80k due to executive producer Richard Zanuck taking a liking to the film. Zanuck then hired eight different teams of Dolby artists to bring a visceral aesthetic to the Challenger. In the end, Sarafian lost 2.5 points which he joked were "Vanishing Points!"
When Sandy (Kowalski's supervisor) is being interviewed by the media, various bikers are seen. Sarafian states that they moved from location to location in tandem with the crew. Even partying together with the crew. Sarafian is visible in the scene as the dark haired man in a beige ten gallon hat.
The distance from Denver to San Francisco via Hwy 50 (mostly and approximately) is approximately 1214 miles. Divide this by the 15 hours Kowalski is trying to achieve averages 81 miles per hour. This is not impossible across the straight desert roads depicted in the film. If Kowalski had held it down somewhat going through the mountains, he may have been able to make it.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The hitchhiker in the uncut version is Charlotte Rampling was "Death" as she tells Kowalski that he's slipped her grasp a few times over the years and that he is expected soon to meet her for the final time. On the DVD there are two versions of the film