14 February 2014

The cars of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

The Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street” chronicles the late 1980s through early 1990s rise and fall of penny stock swindler Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). If one surmises that a film that runs three hours — and features copious Quaalude popping and coke snorting plus roller skating chimps—has something to do with wretched excess, one might be correct. Not surprisingly, there are some interesting cars in the film.  Here are five of our favorites:

  1. 1989 Lamborghini Countach: Few things say over-the-top late 80s excess like a white with white leather Countach. Many wound up in the Middle East, where their color scheme (if not their cooling systems and air con) were appropriate for the climate. The rest seem to have been bought by “get rich or die trying” types like Mr. Belfort. In the film, Belfort attempt to pilot the Lambo in a, shall we say, slightly compromised state. While the car’s color scheme may have been monochromatic, Belfort’s choice of drugs was decidedly not — a mix of alcohol, Quaaludes and cocaine. Predictably, the car and much shrubbery came to a bad end. The realism-obsessed producers insisted on using a real Countach for the scene. Prior to the 1991 crash in classic car prices (for which Belfort was not responsible), dealers were asking up to $300,000 for a 25th Anniversary Countach. Today, they’re around half that.

  2. 1992 Ferrari 512 TR: The Countach's main rival was the Ferrari Testarossa. Seemingly as wide as an AMC Pacer with odd cheese grater-like grilles covering the side radiator intakes, many collectors today find them hopelessly dated, while allowing that they’ll eventually find favor when Gen-Xers take over the hobby. Currently, it’ll cost you about $60,000 to $75,000 to look like Sonny Crockett from “Miami Vice.”  Like the Countach, these cars went for considerably more than that at the height of the market in 1989-90.

    [Do you have a classic car story to share? Click here to tell the world why life’s better in a classic.]

  3. 1987 Alfa Romeo Spider Quadrifoglio: This car had a quick bit part breezing past the front of the 120 Broadway Building in New York City. The Quadrifoglio was a fancied up version of the venerable 1966 vintage Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider that included a removable hardtop, different bumpers and rocker panel extensions. As an aside, the owner of the car used in the film tried to capitalize on its 15 seconds of fame by asking $30,000 for it on eBay. Not surprisingly, there were no takers for what in actuality is today about a $15,000 car. As a slightly used car when the film was set, it cost about the same as it's worth now.

  4. Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140:  S-Class Mercs were all over the film. In their day, these were awesome cars, and they were as over-engineered and imposing as the battleship Bismarck, which the car rivaled in gross tonnage. Sporting features like dual-pane glass and little probes that extended from the rear fenders to assist in parking (using active sonar no less), the few left on the road confound mechanics with their complexity. Sadly, the car will always be remembered best for its use by the Hotel Ritz in Paris and the part it played in the tragic death of the Princess of Wales.  The top-of-the-line 389hp 600 SEL cost more than $100,000 new. Much like Belfort himself, it’s a case of how the mighty have fallen. You can pick one up for under 7 grand today.

  5. 1964 Jaguar E-type 3.8 convertible: One of the few things in the film truly in good taste was Belfort’s yellow Series 1 E-Type convertible. Spotted by Jonah Hill’s equally amoral character Donnie Azoff parked outside of a New York City Greek restaurant, it led to the conversation that resulted in Azoff’s employment with Belfort  and — ultimately — a conviction for securities fraud. Ah, the power of an E-Type. About $45,000 in the “Wolf of Wall Street” days, perfect examples can bring more than $200,000 today.

12 Reader Comments

  • 1
    brent ny February 18, 2014 at 14:15
    Yeah......Ok. So you are saying that this Alfa Romeo in this major hit movie is worth LESS than a 2005 Chrysler Sedan....is THAT what you are saying???????????? Good Grief.......
  • 2
    Glenn B.C. Canada February 19, 2014 at 17:52
    Well I have had the Alpha it handled well but mechanically it was awful and needed constant attention just to run reasonably, your Chrysler would be a better and more reliable ride, no doubt in my mind! !
  • 3
    Todd Boston February 19, 2014 at 12:58
    This writer doesn't know what on earth he is talking about. Not every car equates to some stupid pre-disposed and ridiculous market pricing. Cars are for "enthusiasts" and people who can see their industrial beauty. When you see one you love, it is worth to you what it is worth to you. I agree 100% with Brent: is this writer saying that this Alfa is worth 15k? That puts in on-par with a 2005 Chrysler Sedan - - what is he joking or something????? Insane.....actually.
  • 4
    Earl Seattle February 20, 2014 at 14:31
    @Glenn - pssst, its ALFA not Alpha. Its an acronym, not a Greek letter :-). Fun cars, I've owned 7 of them and they put a smile on my face when driving. But they can require a little more maintenance than other cars. Probably the case with most classic cars though these days. But thats part of the fun (unless you're paying someone else to fix it).
  • 5
    brent ny February 20, 2014 at 14:52
    @Mark: Todd and my postings are alluding to the statement made by this writer about the Alfa Romeo. To say that this owner is "capitalizing" on it being in the movies is BIZARRE. Of course they are - - because as any collector (of anything) knows - - there is a premium to be had for a "one-of-a-kind" edition of something. Was your car in this worldwide smash hit movie and various promotional pieces by a major movie studio?? If you go on Ebay, you will see the ad they have up - - and IMHO it is VERY IMPRESSIVE. So, how can this writer claim that its worth is still the same as some rusted-out old Alfa at the Tulsa Italian Car Club Sunday gathering? Ridiculous......
  • 6
    Russell MS February 20, 2014 at 09:06
    I love my W140s. Have two S500 that are wonderful low mileage examples. Great cars that, if maintained properly, last forever.
  • 7
    Mark baltimore February 20, 2014 at 11:30
    Readers like Todd perplex me. Here we are receiving free, informative, entertaining commentary and he thinks "the writer doesn't know what on earth he's talking about" because his [informed] opinion about the value of a classic car doesn't jive with the reader's emotional idea of what it's worth. If there's one thing Hagerty knows, it's valuation, even if that figure doesn't make us comfortable.
  • 8
    Rob Michigan February 25, 2014 at 14:09
    Actually, the rusted out Alfa in Tulsa is probably sadly a $1,500 car. Crazy as it seems for what is a very pretty and fun to drive Italian sports car, they just don't seem to bring much money unless it's the Duetto model from 1966-67 and the similar 1750 Spider from 1969. Spiders from the 1980s are a particularly good deal. $15,000 is the price for a really nice Quadrifoglio per the Hagerty Price Guide. Ordinary Spiders sell in the $7,000 to $10,000 range. Makes no sense, but that's the way it is. A few seconds on screen in the movie in reality is a nice story to tell, but it doesn't add much to the value of the car.
  • 9
    M Pittsburgh February 27, 2014 at 11:15
    The point the author is making is completely accurate. Of the five cars mentioned it's funny all the comments are arguing that the loser of the group is somehow not the loser. Jaguar, Mercedes, Ferrari, Lamborghini, does anyone realistically feel any model Alfa measures up to the models mentioned from these classic marques? Like what you like, but realize because you like it doesn't mean it's more than it is.
  • 10
    Gianni Seattle March 5, 2014 at 13:43
    Brent seems to be the seller of the Alfa. He goes around sites that have the car on it and tries to justify the crazy asking price, and hurls childish insults at anyone who dares to question the sanity of the asking price. Sorry, its just a run of the mill S3 Spider that had a walk on part in a movie. Not like it was owned by one of the actors or the director or anything (like that would make it worth more). As such, it's worth no more than any other S3 Spider, which unfortunately is the least desirable of all the Spiders.
  • 11
    87alfa charlotte May 11, 2014 at 13:38
    For the fact that you spelled it Alpha is enough proof that you never owned one of these cars. These cars are as reliable as any car today, it's just uneducated people making false claims. I own one and drive it everyday. ------------------- "Glenn B.C. Canada February 19, 2014 at 17:52 Well I have had the Alpha it handled well but mechanically it was awful and needed constant attention just to run reasonably, your Chrysler would be a better and more reliable ride, no doubt in my mind! !"
  • 12
    Brim88 NYC August 8, 2014 at 20:06
    @Gianni: not sure if you will get this message now, but I was the owner of pathetic Alfa in The Wolf of Wall Street. Shoot me an email and I'll tell you what it went for. You are not gonna like it pal....

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