It’s a lucky thing that ‘Cash for Clunkers’ was enacted after any of these movies were made.
These films would each have been a bit less amusing without their “star” cars.
*Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca.
Bad things often happen to good cars in the movies.
Here are five that make car lovers squirm.
1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)
This scene is perhaps the most famous bit of classic car mayhem in all of moviedom. In it, the Ferrari is seen placed on jack stands running in reverse in a hilariously stupid attempt to remove the miles that had been put on the car during the day’s class-cutting good fun in Chicago. In a fit of frustration directed at his misplaced-priorities jerk of a father, Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) accidentally kicks the car off the jack stands and it sails out of its glass enclosure into the woods below. Happily, as you’ll read with the Miura and the Aston below, it wasn’t a real California Spyder.
1970 Dodge Challenger (Vanishing Point)
The ’70 Dodge Challenger (one of about five used for the film) meets a fiery end when the protagonist of the film (played by Barry Newman) drives it into a bulldozer being used as a police road block.
1967 Lamborghini Miura P400 (The Italian Job)
The Miura is probably the most beautiful mid-engine sports cars of all time. And that’s what makes this scene so hard to watch. In the opening scene of the movie, mobsters destroy heist-plotter Roger Beckerman’s (Rossano Brazzi) Miura with a backhoe and push it over a cliff. A small consolation is the fact that an actual intact Miura wasn’t destroyed. Just body panels over an empty accident-bent chassis. Interestingly, when the producers went to clean up the mess the next day, the remains had disappeared. Neither the chassis tag nor any of the pieces have surfaced to this day.
1979 Porsche 930 (Caddyshack)
This scene is an object lesson as to why you should never park your car with the sunroof open within a half-mile radius of where alcohol is being served: Young Spalding Smails, suffering from a case of ‘affluenza’ combined with Johnny Walker, staggers up to Dr. Beeper’s parked 930 and empties the contents of his upper GI tract into the open sunroof. The squishy sound-effect of Beeper sliding into the seat never fails to make one cringe.
1979 Porsche 928 (Risky Business)
This scene reminds us all why we should use the hand brake. Those of us who are old enough to have seen this in theatres didn’t see this one coming: Tom Cruise is enjoying a night out with the typical Pretty Woman-like, non-drug addicted hooker (played by Rebecca de Mornay) of which Hollywood is so fond. Her handbag strap pulls the gear shifter into neutral as she’s exiting the car. It rolls down a hill heading toward Lake Michigan with Cruise on the hood in a futile attempt to arrest the forward motion of the 3,800-pound 928. It ultimately comes to a stop at the edge of a wooden pier. Just as Cruise breathes a sigh of relief and starts to make his way to the driver’s door, the entire pier collapses, taking Cruise and the car for a swim in the lake. Audiences everywhere gasped audibly. The scene at the dealership where the service manager enters the waiting rooms and asks, “Which one of you is the U-Boat commander?” is priceless.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca and you can email rsass [at] hagerty [dot] com
The Ferris Bueller Ferrari is probably the best-known big screen fake…
Hollywood loves to incorporate hot classic cars into movies and television shows. Producers and insurers are also notoriously risk-averse, preferring to use replicas rather than the hyper-valuable real deal whenever possible.
Here are some of our favourite big- and small-screen fakes:
Nash Bridges – 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
The San Francisco cop show revived Don Johnson’s career, pairing him with Cheech Marin (half of the stoner comedy team of Cheech and Chong).
The yellow car that appeared to be an ultra-rare Hemi ‘Cuda convertible was actually what is known as a “clone” or a car that started out as a lesser model but was restored to appear as a top shelf ‘Cuda.
The difference in price is staggering — around $50 grand for the fake, more than $1 million for the real deal.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – 1960 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder
The Ferris Bueller Ferrari is probably the best-known big screen fake.
From a distance, it appears reasonably accurate, but Ferrari aficionados can spot the differences in their sleep, from the Triumph-sourced gauges to the MGB taillights. And don’t get them talking about the bogus Italian Borrani wire wheels.
A real California Spyder is a $12 million car today.
Miami Vice – 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona
Don Johnson appears to be a bit of a magnet for fake cars.
His black Daytona Spyder was actually a fake built on a Corvette chassis, and few Ferrari fans shed tears when the car was blown up in sight of Johnson’s character, Sonny Crockett, and his pet alligator, Elvis.
Afterward, Crockett took to driving a white Ferrari Testarossa – a real one this time.
Top Gun – 1958 Porsche Speedster
Kelly McGillis’s character drove this one around San Diego in the classic ’80s movie.
Porsche Speedsters are among the most replicated cars ever — most are convincing fiberglass bodies slapped on top of a VW Beetle platform. The replica featured in Top Gun appears to have been one of the good ones, built by longtime Speedster replica-maker Intermeccanica.
They’re still in business in British Columbia, turning out extremely high-quality vintage Porsche replicas.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – 1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster
Indy’s sidekick Short Round still holds the record for the best automotive chase involving a pre-teen driver.
With blocks tied to the pedals, Short Round takes Jones and a lounge singer on a wild ride through pre-war Shanghai.
The car was, of course, a complete fake, and not a particularly convincing one at that.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at Hagerty.ca.