Designers of a Kiwi supercar believe film giant Disney copied their model for a character in animated blockbuster Cars 2.

They believe the $1.2 million Hulme CanAm Spyder is very similar to Rip Clutchgoneski.

Managing director Jock Freemantle said they were seeking an explanation from Disney before considering legal action.

"Everybody is telling us, 'it's your car'. I have had emails from around the world saying it looks like our car. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

About 100 Kiwis worked on the Spyder, which was unveiled in 2005 and has been exhibited around the world.

Head designer Tony Parker said the cars were "remarkably similar", but acknowledged taking Disney to court would be an arduous task.

"Disney would have incredible resources and experience in that area and I think there's probably other areas for us to be involved with them in some way.

"I am being positive in thinking they haven't just knocked this off. But it's a weird coincidence that the car is called Rip."

Cars 2 is the much-awaited sequel to the 2006 Disney/Pixar movie, which made $572m worldwide.

It features the voices of Michael Caine and Owen Wilson, and opens in cinemas on Thursday.

Motoring expert Clive Matthew-Wilson, from car review website, said he believed the Disney character was partly based on the supercar.

"It's common for one car manufacturer to pinch the styling of another, usually not much is done about it.

"However, in recent years there have been a number of successful court actions to prevent Chinese copy cars being sold in Europe.

"It's also worth noting that the movie industry is all about image: if that image is too close to another recognisable image, legal action is possible."

An Australian-based Disney spokeswoman said they had been unable to reach the Pixar team in the US for comment. "The makers of the car are welcome to contact us directly if they have any questions."