Posts Tagged ‘gt40

04
Jan
20

Ford vs. Ferrari

Ford GT40 from Ford v Ferrari

Ford GT40 from Ford v Ferrari

by Jim Suva

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The movie Ford v Ferrari opened in November, 2019. It stars Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles. The movie tells the story of how Ford beat Ferrari in the 1966 “24 Hours of Le Mans” road race in France.

This story is about one of the screen-used Ford GT40s from the movie, and how Volo Auto Museum got ownership of it.

Opportunity Comes Calling

Brian Grams, Museum Director at Volo, was in his office chatting with his father, Greg Grams, Founder and CEO of Volo Auto Museum and Auto Sales. Greg had seen Ford v Ferrari the night before and was commenting about how great it was, and how Brian had to go and see it. Ironically, at that exact moment Brian received a text message from one of his contacts who works in the Entertainment industry. He was asking if Volo Auto Museum wanted any cars from the movie. Brian knew they would not be bargain autos by any means, and he figured there would be little interest on Volo’s behalf, considering they did not have any space to display an additional movie car at that moment. But he still brought it up to his father, whose eyes lit up with excitement. Brian thinks the adrenaline from seeing the movie was still racing in his veins, because Greg was definitely interested.

The offer was pretty wide open as far as the pick of the litter. They had their choice of cars, from the Ken Miles family’s woody wagon, to partially assembled Ford Falcons from the Ford factory scene, to Corvettes, Porches, Ferraris and of course, the GT40s. Not having seen the movie, Brian gravitated to the Ferraris, whereas his dad loved both the Ferraris and GT40s. They knew there was a limited window on this opportunity, because the cars were released that day, and were offered up to museums and collectors. They knew that the best ones would be the ones to disappear first. Brian and Greg narrowed their choices down to the #21 Ferrari or the Green #95 GT40. Greg suggested Brian and his brother Jay, go to see the movie. This would help them to decide which would be the right car. They could then make a more informed decision the following morning. Jay went to see the movie, but Brian was unable to go.

The next morning Jay said, “Get the GT before its gone! The whole movie is about the GT40!” Brian tried calling his father, but could not reach him. He called his mother and asked her to get in touch with Greg, but she had no luck either. Not wanting to miss out on the car, Brian decided to pull the trigger on the green #95 GT40. The purchase was done sight-unseen, and with little to no information about the car. He knew it had an LS3 engine and he had seen a few photos of the car, sandwiched between other cars, and it showed a lot of scrapes and scratches. Brian at this point had no idea how the car was built. Was it built quickly, just so that it would look good on film, like so many Movie/TV cars? Was the car built with quality in mind? What was he going to get for the premium price he was about to pay? He also knew in the back of his mind, that no matter the car’s condition, it would be timeless. Ford v Ferrari is the first true car movie to have been released for many years. Even the Fast and Furious franchise, that features a lot of cars is not a true car lovers movie. So here he had a real car from a true car movie.

After making the commitment to purchase the car, Greg reached out to Brian (the adrenaline of the movie having since left his veins), and decided that Volo did not need the car, did not have the space, and felt the funds could be better used elsewhere. When Brian told him he already bought the car, Greg was angry that Brian did not wait to discuss the purchase with him, but Brian also thinks he was secretly pretty happy and excited.

Inspection and History of Volo’s Ford GT40

The deal was completed and the car picked up. Upon delivery Brian noticed that the many scrapes and scratches that were on the car were actually studio effects! They were painted on, including dirt and brake dust, to give the car that race-track-used look. There was no actual damage to the car! He was happy to learn the car was not the typical movie car that was cheaply built just to look good on screen. It was an incredible build.

This is where Brian’s research began, which wasn’t too difficult, because the movie’s recent release. The first thing he did was a Google search, and picked bits and pieces out of articles. During that process he learned that two companies, Superformance and Race Car Replicas had supplied a majority of the cars to the film. Brian reached out to both Superformance and RCR. RCR replied that it was one of the cars they had built. They supplied the production company with over 100 cars, from the Ferraris to Porsches, GT40s, etc. All the cars used the same driveline per request by the production company. All the cars were powered by LS3, for ease of repairs and maintenance on the set. This was much easier than having a variety of different drivelines. There were a total of twelve GT40s and RCR supplied 10 of them. Superformance supplied the other two.

The cars all featured an RCR custom built aluminum chassis, designed after the original GT40 chassis. The body is made of fiberglass from a mold that was taken off an original GT40. It is a very close replica to an original GT40, unlike other replicas that have mis-proportioned bodies and use existing chassis, from a Fiero, for example. The RCR GT40 has the same chassis design, but is a few hundred pounds lighter because of its use of aluminum instead of steel. It handles and performs much like an original GT40. RCR sent the cars to the production company complete, with exception of one thing, the paint. All the cars were sent in bare gel coat, ready to be painted by the production company.

Another discovery Brian made was a few sheets of paper in the car, which depicted the Daytona race scene. This was an outline so the drivers knew where they needed to be positioned and when. It was essentially the race choreography. There was also a GPS transponder likely to be used by production to monitor everyone’s position and speed. One last thing he found in the car was a tag labeled Paul Dallenbach. With a Google search he discovered that Paul is a professional stunt and race car driver. Paul is the one who drove this GT40 in the movie. Paul said the car handled great, like a true race car, with the exception of the tires, which were chosen for looks instead of performance. They had a hard time sticking. Paul drove the car on average 130 mph for filming. Ironically, the #95 car that Paul was driving was in the 24 Hours of Daytona race scene, where car #95 had come in 2nd place. In real life, Paul actually raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona race, and placed 2nd in his racing career!

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In the movie there are far more than twelve GT40s shown. Since the production company had only twelve cars, how was that possible? The cars were recycled and painted to look like different cars for different scenes. Through a friend, Brian was able to get a few images from the production “key list” of cars. He learned before Volo’s car was the green #95, it was the red #3 Dan Gurney car, that was used in the Le Mans race scene, as well as a yellow #8 car that was used in one of the pit scenes of the Le Mans race.

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In addition, the key list showed a scene where the green #95 car hits a 66 Mustang, in which the Mustang ends up exploding. Unfortunately this scene must have ended up on the cutting room floor.

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One last discovery was the paint scheme of the #95 car, the real Moody and Holman #95 car that raced the 24 hours of Daytona was white with some green accents. So why was this car not painted the same? The production company did this intentionally, to help the audience more easily identify cars that would otherwise look too similar and could be confusing to movie goers.

Final comment

I went to see this movie and I can’t wait for it to come out in digital format. In my opinion, it is one of the best racing movies ever made. If you get a chance, go see the movie and then come to the Volo Auto Museum to see this piece of movie history. You will not be disappointed!

GT40Volo1



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