Year
1986

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” released; features 1961 Ferrari

The hit John Hughes-directed teen comedy “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” released on this day in 1986, stars a young Matthew Broderick as a popular high school student in suburban Illinois who fakes an illness in order to score a day off from school, then leads his best friend and his girlfriend on a whirlwind day through Chicago. The movie’s cast also included Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones and Jennifer Grey. However, the most memorable performer may have been an automobile: the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California, a custom-built car revered by auto collectors.

In the movie, the restored Ferrari—bearing the license plate NRVOUS—belongs to the strict father of Ferris’ depressive best friend, Cameron (Ruck), whom Ferris convinces to liberate the car from its museum-like home and drive it to Chicago. The three teenagers leave the car with a pair of garage attendants, who are later seen taking it for a high-speed joyride. On the drive home, Cameron goes into shock when Ferris notices that hundreds of miles have been added to the odometer. As they attempt, unsuccessfully, to remove the miles by running the Ferrari backwards, Cameron starts venting his anger at his father by kicking the front end of the coddled car. His tantrum dislodges the blocks holding it in place, sending the Ferrari through the glass wall of the garage and into the ravine behind the house.

According to Motor Trend, the first Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California—colloquially known as the “Cal Spyder”—was produced in 1957 and the last was built in early 1963. In addition to the long-wheelbase (LWB) Spyder, Ferrari also produced a sportier, short-wheelbase (SWB) model. Though estimates vary as to exactly how many were made—Cameron says “less than a hundred” in the film—approximately 46 LWB and between 50 and 57 SWB Spyders were produced in all. For “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the filmmakers used a modified MGB roadster with a fiberglass body as a stand-in for the Ferrari. The filmmakers reportedly received angry letters from car enthusiasts who believed that a real Ferrari had been damaged.

One 1961 250 GT SWB Spyder California, with chassis number GT 2377GT, belonged to the actor James Coburn (“The Magnificent Seven”), who died in 2002. On May 18, 2008, at the second annual Ferrari Leggenda e Passione event at Maranello, Italy, the British deejay Chris Evans bought that car at auction for 6.4 million Euros, or $10,894,400 (including fees), the highest price ever paid for an automobile at auction.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

University of Alabama desegregated

Facing federalized Alabama National Guard troops, Alabama Governor George Wallace ends his blockade of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and allows two African American students to enroll.George Wallace, one of the most controversial politicians in U.S. history, was elected ...read more

Six-Day War ends

The Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors ends with a United Nations-brokered cease-fire. The outnumbered Israel Defense Forces achieved a swift and decisive victory in the brief war, rolling over the Arab coalition that threatened the Jewish state and more than ...read more

Jeannette Rankin born

Jeannette Pickering Rankin, the first woman ever elected to Congress, is born on a ranch near Missoula, Montana Territory.Rankin was a social worker in the states of Montana and Washington before joining the women’s suffrage movement in 1910. Working with various suffrage groups, ...read more

Henry VIII marries first wife

King Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon, the first of six wives he will have in his lifetime. When Catherine failed to produce a male heir, Henry divorced her against the will of the Roman Catholic Church, thus precipitating the Protestant Reformation in ...read more

D-Day landing forces converge

Five days after the D-Day landing, the five Allied landing groups, made up of some 330,000 troops, link up in Normandy to form a single solid front across northwestern France.On June 6, 1944, after a year of meticulous planning conducted in secrecy by a joint Anglo-American ...read more

John Wayne dies

On this day in 1979, John Wayne, an iconic American film actor famous for starring in countless westerns, dies at age 72 after battling cancer for more than a decade.The actor was born Marion Morrison on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, and moved as a child to Glendale, ...read more

Buddhist immolates himself in protest

Buddhist monk Quang Duc publicly burns himself to death in a plea for President Ngo Dinh Diem to show “charity and compassion” to all religions. Diem, a Catholic who had been oppressing the Buddhist majority, remained stubborn despite continued Buddhist protests and repeated U.S. ...read more

JFK faces down defiant governor

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy issues presidential proclamation 3542, forcing Alabama Governor George Wallace to comply with federal court orders allowing two African-American students to register for the summer session at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. ...read more

William Styron is born

Novelist William Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice and other critically acclaimed novels, is born on this day in Newport News, Virginia.Growing up in the segregated south troubled Styron, whose father’s family had once owned slaves. An only child, Styron became a voracious reader ...read more

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial released

Then 34-year-old director Steven Spielberg reportedly drew on his own experiences as an unusually imaginative, often-lonely child of divorce for his science-fiction classic E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which is released on this day in 1982.For Spielberg, E.T. marked a return to ...read more

Tragedy at Le Mans

On this day in 1955, a racing car in Le Mans, France, goes out of control and crashes into stands filled with spectators, killing 82 people. The tragedy in the famous 24-hour race leads to a ban on racing in several nations. The Le Mans race, organized by France’s Automobile Club ...read more

China issues warrant for Tiananmen dissident

In the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, China issues a warrant for a leading Chinese dissident who had taken refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing. The diplomatic standoff lasted for a year, and the refusal of the United States to hand the dissident over to ...read more