10 June 2016

Call in sick: The cars of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Regardless of your age, occasionally ditching your responsibilities resonates with any audience. But if playing hooky includes an intermittently airborne Ferrari, eating pancreas and a whirlwind tour of Chicago you’ve achieved transcendence. Especially if you avoid the consequences.

While John Hughes’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is not technically a car movie, it certainly includes a few cars that hold our interest. One of which could be considered a co-star – the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder. And, yes, we know that more than a few replicas were used as stand-ins. Doesn’t matter.

In celebration of the movie’s 30th anniversary (tomorrow), let’s take a moment to celebrate the top five cars in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder It all ended with a smoky wreck at the bottom of a small canyon. Against his friend Cameron’s (Alan Ruck) better judgment, Ferris (Matthew Broderick) takes Cameron’s dad’s prized Ferrari 250 GT California for a romp through Chicago. “Father spent three years restoring this car,” Cameron pressed. “He loves this car more than life itself.”

At the end of the day, they attempt running the car in reverse, on a jack, to remove the miles. Predictably, they fail. Ferris suggests cracking open the odometer and rolling it back by hand when Cameron’s pent up frustrations and fear overwhelm him. He decides to own up to the mileage increase but his anger builds, he loses all self-control and kicks the car multiple times, leaving a sizable dent and edging it backwards on its jack. When he finally calms down, he nonchalantly leans on the car. And the jack finally slips. Cameron watches in wide-eyed disbelief as the Ferrari flies out of the garage and into a ravine. Cue the smoldering pile.

1985 Audi 5000 S Turbo C3 – It appeared on Car and Driver’ s top ten list for cars produced in 1984-‘85. A truly hot car for its day, it was powered by a turbocharged 2.1-liter inline-five engine, pretty racy for Ferris’s executive dad (Lyman Ward). Even more ironic is the scene where Ferris is running home and passes the Audi on foot. Not only does Dad not recognize his own son running alongside, but that poor turbo-five was just aching for an opened-throttle.

1985 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country – It was the year before the wagon received a rounded facelift, and thanks to this movie (among several others), this boxy version is an icon of the ‘80s. In all of its fake wood-paneled glory, even the Town & Country beats the Audi 5000 home, with Ferris’ determined younger sister, Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), driving aggressively and her stressed-out mother (Cindy Pickett) in the passenger’s seat.

1985 Plymouth Reliant K – Wrong parking spot Mr. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones). Wrong everything, really. After a series of embarrassing events stemming from his impromptu visit to the Bueller residence, Edward Rooney, the school’s dean, returns to his illegal parking spot to find his Plymouth Reliant hoisted and being towed away, its exhaust scraping the pavement.

1985 Pontiac Fiero SE – The sporty white Fiero is Jeanie Bueller’s car, and it appears in short snippets throughout the movie. The license plate reads “TBC” which stands for The Breakfast Club, another critically acclaimed Hughes high-school movie released the year before.

15 Reader Comments

  • 1
    eric Georgia June 15, 2016 at 13:26
    I read somewhere that an MGB disguised as a Ferrari was used for most of the filming including it's final scene of course.
  • 2
    jim Burbank CA June 15, 2016 at 13:50
    the car in the film was not actually a real Ferrari. The rumor is that it was an MGB modified to look like the coveted Ferrari.
  • 3
    Brakeservo New Mexico June 15, 2016 at 15:42
    The fakes were built by a an outfit near San Diego, California. Custom tube frame chassis, Mustang II front end and Ford rear end. The deck lid is MGB, the doors and windshield was sourced from Fiat 124 as are the seats. Mine had a Ferrari 330 V12 & Ferrari 5-speed with Borrani wire wheels. Most were built with Ford V8s except for the handful built of Ferrari parts, either 250 or 330 sourced.
  • 4
    Dan Carroll Highland MD June 15, 2016 at 15:53
    One of the replicars resides in a garage less than a mile from me, long story, I have an amazing Friend/Neighbor that restores , re-builds, tunes, loves, hates & stores an unbelievably eclectic "mob" (variety?) of Cars, this being one of them, look closely at the taillights of the airborne Car, Volkswagen Squareback !
  • 5
    JohnC Detroit June 15, 2016 at 16:50
    That Ferrari sure looks like it has an MGB boot and tail lights to me.
  • 6
    Mike Brienza Wyckoff, NJ June 15, 2016 at 17:59
    If you dont know every line of this movie by heart youre NOT a real product of the 80's! Of course the pic of the 250s "NRVOUS" plate is an absolute icon. I always wondered what the "TBC" on the Fiero meant and now my 30 year old question has been finally answered (thank you) but you forgot to mention the license plate on Rooneys K Car "4FBDO" was just too obvious to stand for anything else but "For Ferris Buellers Day Off". Whats bothered me after watching this movie dozens of times is I still cant figure out what the VCTN on his moms plate means?
  • 7
    Gary Hendryx Modesto, Ca June 15, 2016 at 19:08
    The car was a "Modena" replica owned by Neil Glassmoyer who was living in Boca Raton Florida. I went to buy a car from Neil who then told me the story. This must have been back in the early 90's. I think you can google the car and find it sold for something over a 100K.
  • 8
    Rilchard St. Louis June 15, 2016 at 11:15
    You forgot to mention the MG-TC which was housed in the same garage as the Ferrari. The TC is marks the start of the American post-war love affair with European sports cars.
  • 9
    BP CA June 15, 2016 at 11:17
    What about Cameron's "POS" car???
  • 10
    alex dorval calgary, alberta June 15, 2016 at 11:23
    The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder is a replica. The only real one is the one in the garage. They couldn't insure the car so they got replicas built (3 of them, I believe). One of them is in Calgary (it was the one used in the day trip scene and caught some air when the parking attendants went on a joy ride). It has a big block american v-8 and has 400hp. It looks identical to the original.
  • 11
    Frank White McPherson, KS June 15, 2016 at 12:14
    You forgot Cameron's Alfetta sedan....
  • 12
    Richard Bookler Newtown Square, PA June 16, 2016 at 09:23
    The car used in Ferris Bueller's Day Off was not a real Ferrari. It was a Modena D & D replicar. It was a prototype built on a Ford chassis with a 4.7 litre Ford engine. It was only built for about one year (1986) and called "Modena Classic GT 250".
  • 13
    Eric East Coast June 17, 2016 at 01:34
    The cars used were never MGs that rumor comes from an old interview with someone who did not know better. The replicas were made by Mark Goyette which pulled the molds from a real 250 GT. Before Ferrari shut them done a few replicas were made under two main companies Modena and Precision Designs, along with a few other names as they tried to carry on production. They are collectible in their own right. The shell is fiberglass with a custom tubular frame. They do use bits and pieces from other cars including Ford, Fiat, MG, etc. I have both variations, they are an absolute blast to drive!
  • 14
    Randy Lioz Irvine, CA June 18, 2016 at 10:09
    Common misconception due to the MGB taillights, which are often used on 250GT replicas. They were actually custom cars built on tube frame chassis (from what I've read).
  • 15
    Joe Elliott Seattle June 18, 2016 at 11:39
    What? No mention of Cameron's Alfetta? Easily the second coolest car in the movie, even if it's only on screen for a fraction of a second.

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