Some people go to the movies because of their favorite actor. Others because the previews look amazing. One thing is for sure, any movie with a good car chase scene or two is worth seeing. Although there have been some great movies created in the last 10 years with exciting car chase scenes, nothing compares to the classics. Transcontinental road races were a popular theme among films in the 70’s and 80’s. According to blogger Matthew Lang at www.drivecult.com, “The most famous of these [films] is the series of three Cannonball Run movies, based on the actual Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy road races that took place in the mid-seventies.”
You can’t beat the thrill of a grip-the-edge-of-your-seat road race scene, and the third movie in the Cannonball Run series, The Gumball Rally, had some pretty sweet European autos vying for position. Although the 1976 film received lackluster reviews from movie critics and was dubbed a “forgettable movie”, the European cars it featured were anything but forgettable.
Whether you’ve seen The Gumball Rally and it’s been a while, or you’ve never heard of it, put it on your to-watch list for the next time you’re in the mood for a movie. The Gumball Rally is about a motley group of auto enthusiasts who partake in a secret and illegal coast-to-coast road race across America. Prompted by a phone call from their mysterious leader and race coordinator, a bored but wealthy candymaker played by Michael Sarrazin, the race teams leap into action at his mention of the code word “gumball.” The race has one rule, “there are no rules.” The plot is wrought with unfortunately funny mishaps as the characters dodge the cops and engage innocent bystanders, deal with the crazy antics of their teammates, and maneuver through carefully coordinated stunts and chase scenes as they attempt to reach the finish line. It’s precisely these chase scenes that put The Gumball Rally on the map, pun intended.
One of the chase scenes features an early 1970’s Ferrari Daytona Spider. Actually, it features two; the first, a 1972 (SN16467), the 71st of only 121 factory-built Daytona Spiders, which crashed during filming, was rebuilt, and went on to be used in the movie A Star is Born where it was heavily crashed again and later rebodied in a new style, a “NART Spyder”; and the second, a 1971 (SN14829), which replaced the first Daytona Spider and is still alive and well today. It was recently sold at auction in 2013.
Just like how a mediocre film can be transformed into a classic by virtue of its chase scenes, can the cars in those chase scenes become representations of our wildest fantasies of strength, freedom...and felony speed. An excerpt from the famous Daytona Spider’s auction listing posted on www.finecars.cc described the transformative properties of the European vehicle perfectly:
“Owning a Daytona Spider meant something. Out of the 1,406 Daytonas produced between 1968 and 1973, only 121 were spiders; they were the official factory-built convertible versions of the car that a Cavallino article describes as a sight to behold, mean looking and muscled, weaving dramatically on its overworked suspension, shaking and darting under heavy braking in a corner, literally pushing air and dirt aside, leaving a wake and making its own weather, loud as hell and scattering birds to the four winds. Add the feeling of an open roof, the wind whipping one's hair, the sun casting upon one's face, and you had a car that was the Enzo of the 1970s—an ultimate Prancing Horse status symbol.”
Once owned by Mel Blanc, the Man of a Thousand Voices (including the voice of Bugs Bunny), and his son Noel Blanc, the 1971 (SN14829) Ferrari Daytona Spider’s last known whereabouts are that it was purchased for $1.65 million by an unknown buyer at the August 16-17, 2013 RM Auctions in Monterey, CA. And if you remember the movie - yes, the rear view mirror has been replaced.