Three decades have passed since Ferris, Cameron and Sloane had their day out of school. We’ve put together a list of ten things you probably didn’t know about the movie, mostly centered around the cars.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off debuted on June 11, 1986, and remains a modern classic. It may not have won tons of awards — Matthew Broderick was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in 1986 — but it’s been nominated in tons of “Things To See Before You Die” lists, like Entertainment Weekly’s list of 50 Best High School Movies.
No matter how many times you’ve seen it, though, there are probably a few things you didn’t know about it, and specifically about the cars that were prominently featured. To celebrate the movie’s 30th anniversary, here are some things to look for the next time you watch it:
10. All of the major locations are real places in and around Chicago
With the exception of a few locations shot in California, the bulk of the movie is shot in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, and they’re all easily reachable in a day’s worth of skipping school, adding to the movies authenticity.
We put an infographic together so you can hit them all the next time you’re in town.
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9. The car isn’t a Ferrari, but the common history is wrong, too
The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California borrowed from Cameron’s dad’s garage isn’t a Ferrari at all. It’s a replica. What’s interesting is that there are a million stories about what kind of replica, and about 99 percent of those stories are wrong.
IMDB suggests that it’s a replica based on an MG, but that’s false. When Mecum Auctions sold one of the replicas in 2013, it listed it as the construction of Modena Design, but that’s not accurate either.
All three cars were built by Mark Goyette, who now operates a world-class, Pebble Beach Concours-winning restoration shop in Bennington, Vermont. David Traver Adolphus got the whole story of the three cars and how they came to be in an interview with Goyette in 2009.
The confusion stems from the fact that Goyette called his cars “Modena Spyder.” The cars were obviously constructed prior to the film’s June 11, 1986 release date, but Modena Design wasn’t up and running until 1987.
Goyette restored this 1932 Daimler Double Six that won Best In Show in 1999 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. That car sold for $2.9 million at the Gooding and Co. auction in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2009.
8. One of the “Ferraris” went missing
Two of the “Ferraris” used in the movie have surfaced from time to time, but there was a third that Goyette told Adolphus “disappeared after the film was completed. Mark thinks he once heard it was eventually completed and sold off, but it could also still be in a back lot at Paramount.”
7. In this wrecker lies the history of a brief, but memorable character
If you look closely at the wrecker that hauls Ed Rooney’s 1985 Plymouth Reliant SE out from in front of a fireplug, the sign on the wrecker body says “Volbeck’s Wrecker Service.”
There’s an entire backstory that never made it to film where where Ferris’s mom — a real estate agent — was showing houses to the Volbeck family.
The kicker? Charlie Sheen’s character’s name — never discussed in the movie — was “Garth Volbeck”.
In a deleted part of the original script Ferris talks about hanging out with him as a kid. “He’s lost. It’s over for him. He’s eighteen. Gone from school. Gone from life. His legacy is a gas station.”
6. All but one of the vanity plates correspond to other John Hughes movies
A lot of the license plates in the movie are vanity plates, and most of them are abbreviated titles of other movies written and/or directed by John Hughes:
Ferris’s Mom Katie Bueller’s 1985 Audi 5000: MMOM – Mr. Mom (1983)
Ferris’s Dad Tom Bueller’s 1985 Chrysler Town & Country: VCTN – National Lampoon’s Vacation (1985)
Ferris’s Sister Jeanie Bueller’s 1985 Pontiac Fiero: TBC – The Breakfast Club (1985)
Ed Rooney’s 1985 Plymouth Reliant SE: 4FBDO Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
The only visible vanity plate that doesn’t have a John Hughes movie connection is the Ferrari, with the tag NRVOUS.
5. Ferris’s synthesizer cost almost as much as a Fiero
In the movie, Ferris complains about his sister Jeanie getting a Fiero, but the synthesizer he uses to get himself out of school — an E-mu Emulator II — had a list price of $7,995 in 1986. A base Fiero’s MSRP was $8,499.
4. Cameron’s dad had another vintage car
It’s an MG J2, built prior to 1933, as indicated by the cycle fenders, rather than the full, sweeping fenders that all MGs would sport until the 1950s.
3. The Ferrari isn’t the only Italian car in the Frye household
Cameron himself drives something that in 1986 wouldn’t have attracted a lot of interest, but these days is pretty rare. It’s a 1979 Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan 2000, which was known elsewhere as an Alfetta.
2. The gauges on the “Ferrari” are a tipoff that you’re not really looking at a Ferrari
Smiths clocks were commonly used in British cars from the 1930s to the 1970s, and thanks to a partnership with Lucas, became the dominant British car and motorcycle instrument supplier. These gauges make at least two appearances in the movie.
An actual Ferrari 250GT California would’ve had much larger Veglia gauges, the primary supplier for the Italian motorcycle and automotive industry.
1. Cameron’s father’s garage is a masterpiece
Chicago Magazine did a great profile of the property in 2013, when it languished on the real estate market for quite some time. The house is located in the Highland Park suburb of Chicago, which has several significant landmark structures, including the Willits House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One house that wasn’t listed on the prominent register was Cameron’s dad’s house. When the house first came on the market in 2009, it was listed at $2.3 million. The property actually contains two structures, both of which featured in the movie. The first is the house itself, designed by A. James Speyer, and was built in 1953. The second is the glass and steel garage, and it was built later by one of Speyer’s students, David Haid. Both buildings were commissioned by the original owners, Ben and Francis Rose.
The “Pavillion” — the structure from the film in which the Ferrari is stored — was originally built as a garage, to show off the Rose’s collection of cars. Ben Rose was a textile designer whose designs appeared in museum exhibits in the 1980s. Along with music and creative arts, he had a passion for European sports cars, according to the memorial that appeared in the Chicago Tribune after his death at age 88 in 2004. Throughout his life, the Pavillion was known as the “Ben Rose Auto Museum.”
When the house was offered for sale, the New York Times Arts Beat interviewed Ben and Fran Rose’s niece, Carol Inkellis. “My aunt and uncle really enjoyed the experience of having The Pavilion used for the movie,” she told the paper. “The windows were replaced with whatever it is that filmmakers use to crash through ‘glass’; the original windows were put back in afterwards.”
Hulu is currently streaming Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, so grab some popcorn and get your Ferris fix.