Hollywood magic raises love and attention for cars shown on the big screen

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A replica Ford GT40 similar to those used in 'Ford v Ferrari' | Le Mans Coupes

The biggest Hollywood car story of 2019 was, of course, the continuing saga of the 1968 Ford Mustang GT from Bullitt, which resurfaced in January 2018 after being missing for decades and, this past August, was announced by Mecum as being consigned to its January auction in Kissimmee, Florida.

But there were others as several new films featuring classic cars came out during 2019.

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James Bond Aston Martin DB5 at RM Sotheby’s auction in August | Andy Reid

Hollywood films often have an impact on collector cars, whether by accident or design, with such memorable classics as American Graffiti and The Italian Job adding to their allure.  And once again came recognition from a recent British survey that the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger reigns as the most famed movie car of all time, with some heated dispute coming from this side of the pond.

Another blast from Hollywood’s past came with the auction of a faux Ferrari made famous in the popular teen film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.   Three replica 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Californias were used in the making of the film – one of which got kicked out of a glass-walled garage and into a ravine.  Whichever of the three this one was, it’s now totally restored and went to Mecum’s August auction in Monterey.

The faux Ferrari from ‘Ferris Bueller’s’ Day Off’ | Bob Golfen

Getting back to the present, an acclaimed film of 2019 was Ford v Ferrari, the story of how Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles fought to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Ford GT40s.  The big-budget blockbuster also is a video love letter to the GT40, the British-built, Ford-powered race car that Shelby and Miles developed into the champion competitors that beat Ferrari at Le Mans.

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But aside from the GT40s – which collectors would most-likely seek these days in replica form rather than the rare and fabulously expensive originals – another Ford-powered British sports car was prominently featured in the film: the Shelby Cobra.  These are evergreen favorites, either the 7-figure originals or the many replica versions, that undoubtedly received yet another boost from this movie.

Also during 2019 has been the relentless Hollywood hype for the next entry in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, number 9 to be exact, that’s due to arrive next spring.  These films have been responsible for lifting the Japanese tuner hobby to new heights, as well as building interest in the classic American muscle cars driven in the films by Vin Diesel. 

BMW M3s from the Paul Walker collection | Bob Golfen

The late, lamented star of most of those movies, Paul Walker, was recalled in October as Barrett-Jackson previewed a collection of 21 vintage cars that belonged to the actor, including 5 BMW M3 E35 Lightweights, and a few special motorcycles.

Another 2019 movie of less popular acclaim was the motorsport film The Art of Racing in the Rain, which included many race cars shown in action, up to and including Formula 1, as well as loving segments featuring a Ferrari 250 GT Testarossa.  Although, the most loving shots were those that included the unlikely narrator, the race driver’s pet dog named Enzo whose observant thoughts are voiced by Kevin Costner. 

While racing in general and some of the terrific cars shown in the film undoubtedly got renewed attention, they probably did not receive anywhere near the heightened appreciation for golden retrievers everywhere.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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