By: Nunben Dixon, Head of Autos
Ford v Ferrari opened at the South African box office on the 22nd of November, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. It’s based on one of the greatest true stories in motorsports. Henry Ford II tried to buy Ferrari in the mid-1960s, hoping to bolster the brand’s flagging sales by entering motorsports. Enzo Ferrari rebuffed him, prompting him to hire a team of engineers with one goal in mind: beating Ferrari at the gruelling 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“While critics have praised the performances of the leading men, the real stars are the 460 classic cars that were sourced over the better part of a year by vehicle director Rob Johnson, including a Ford GT40, a Triumph, vintage Ferraris and Porsches,” says Gumtree Head of Autos, Nunben Dixon
- Replica Cobras
Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, so needless to say there a few of his legendary AC Cobras featured in the film. Shelby’s shop is on display, showing various Cobras in production. Miles and Shelby worked together on the 289 Cobra, which were in production in the 1964 season, but as the car couldn’t be lightened it couldn’t surpass the 385 hp mark. The shells for the replicas were imported from South Africa where Shelby kits are a favourite project for car enthusiasts, says Dixon.
- The Ford GT40 Mk II
The Ford GT40 that wins the Le Mans in the movie was on loan from a private Shelby collector for the shoot. The GT40 was thus named because it stood a full 40 inches off the ground. The car has two wide door sills that double as fuel tanks, which apparently misted the interior with the smell of gasoline while driving. In the 1960s, the Ford GT40 sold for about R150,000 but today originals are worth millions, according to Dixon.
- Ferrari 250 GTO
At the start of the Le Mans race in the film, a Ferrari dramatically crashes and flies through the air. The Ferraris were a favourite at Le Mans and was named eighth on a list of the greatest sports cars of all time. The crash was very real – but the shells were replicas. Less than 40s of the Ferrari 250 were made in the early sixties.
Before driving through the streets of Los Angelos in his Shelby, Damon can be seen behind the wheel of a Porsche 356. This was apparently factually inaccurate – Texas-born Shelby would not have been seen dead in a German car, preferring Aston Martin. However, vintage Aston Martins could not hold up for more than 30 miles an hour, so they settled for a replica 356. The movie also features a Porsche 904 and 906.
- 1960 Ford Country Squire
When asked what his biggest challenge was, Johnson named a surprising candidate: Miles’ wood-paneled station wagon. Finding one in running order is a challenge – finding two (required for filming from different angles) was nearly impossible.