Famous fake cars in movies and TV

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 favorite big- and small-screen fakes:

  1. “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.
  2. “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.
  3. “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.
  4. “Top Gun,” 1958 Porsche Speedster: Kelly McGillis’ 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, Canada, turning out extremely high-quality vintage Porsche replicas.
  5. “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.
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