The iconic-but-fake 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder from Ferris Bueller's Day Off is back in the limelight.
You can always guess the age of any person who quotes 80s movies. The 1986 smash hit Ferris Bueller's Day Off brought us gems like "Bueller, Bueller, anyone, Bueller," and "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
But the movie also cemented one of our childhood fascinations with an Italian classic, the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder. Only the Rosso red V12 masterpiece was replaced on set with a kit car stunt double, unlike the real Ferrari SF90 Stradale used in the remake of C'etait Un Rendez-Vous. (For the film nerds, Claude Lelouch used a Mercedes to film Rendezvous and later dubbed a Ferrari soundtrack over the recorded footage.)
Due to the value and collectibility of a genuine '61 Ferrari 250 GT California, it only made sense for the studio not to use the real car. And considering the car was jumped, did power-slides, and was eventually destroyed, using three 1985 Modena Spyder V8 clones was the plan. Now, fans of the movie can see one of the infamous kit cars in person at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan.
"Starting this month, the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation welcomes a rotating selection from the National Historic Vehicle Register's prestigious group of culturally significant automobiles," a statement from the museum said. "This special pop-up will showcase a new vehicle from the Register every six months, beginning with the 1985 Modena Spyder, better known as the 'Ferris Bueller car.'"
Being one of the most famous 1980s movie cars, the 1985 kit car does have historical significance and pop-culture provenance. The writer and director of the film, John Hughes, decided to integrate the "Ferrari" into some vehicular abuse in the screenplay, the most memorable of which was the car's demise at the hands of a young but brilliant Alan Ruck.
Although three of the Modena Spyders had different roles in the movie, the car displayed at the Henry Ford Museum was stolen by the parking lot attendants for a joyride. In addition to doing a few wide shots, the car is also famous for jumping through the air in downtown Chicago to the unmistakable soundtrack of the Star Wars scroller intro.
After production wrapped, the car was sold, and the next owner did several modifications and upgrades to the vehicle. But in 2010, the kit car was restored to the original movie car specifications.
And for a good reason. This faux Ferrari has been inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register, US Department of the Interior, National Park Service, and Historic American Engineering Record. Images of the vehicle, engineering drawings, specs, and detailed history of this vehicle have also been added to the Library of Congress.
In the movie, Ferris (Matthew Broderick) coaxes his friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) to take the day off. The clue is right there in the name. Instead of spending the day in school, the three cruise around the streets in the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder, owned by Cameron's father.
The Ferrari isn't just eye candy. It's the physical manifestation of several themes the movie touches on. Most importantly, it's the root of Cameron's fear and anxiety, so watching it get snuffed at the end is so satisfying.
Genuine or not, this California-built car is thoroughly convincing to the untrained eye. Of course, Ferrari is territorial about its brand and logo, so the 5.0-liter Ford V8 under the lid has "Modena" valve covers instead of the usual "Ferrari" nomenclature. The real car has a prancing horse affixed on the grille, while this knock-off is equipped with spotlights. The Ferrari letter badge is also missing from the trunk lid. The biggest telltale of all is the Nardi steering wheel instead of the iconic stallion.