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The Ferris Bueller ‘Ferrari’ Was the First of Several Classic Cars on Display on the Mall This Month

The Ferris Bueller ‘Ferrari’ Was the First of Several Classic Cars on Display on the Mall This Month

What better way to honor America’s love affair with cars than to place the replica Ferrari from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on the Mall? “This is not an exhibition for car guys, it’s an exhibition for the American people,” said Mark Gessler, president of the Historic Vehicle Association, an organization that organized this year’s Cars at the Capital exhibition and aims to preserve and promote interest in the United States’ rich automotive heritage.  

The Bueller car (which, fun fact, wasn’t actually a Ferrari) left the grounds Tuesday. This year’s lineup also includes: the 1968 Ford Mustang Steve McQueen used to tear up San Francisco’s hills in Bullitt; a 1927 Ford Model T that Edsel and Henry Ford drove off the production line; a 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan that established a nationwide trend; and a 1918 Cadillac Type 57 that was used in the World War I effort and whose passengers included Eleanor Roosevelt.

The event is part of a partnership between HVA and the US Department of the Interior to document and recognize historically and culturally significant cars in a way that’s similar to programs created to preserve historic buildings and landmarks. The register is preserved in the Library of Congress and so far 24 vehicles have been added, including President Ronald Reagan‘s 1962 Willys Jeep.

So how did the car that most movie-goers remember hurtling through a glass garage at Cameron Frye’s house end up in a glass display case? Through a survey the organization sent to a group made up of a lot of people born after Ferris Bueller was released—millennials.

“We asked what vehicle do you know from movies and it was the top of their list,” Gessler says. “Throughout the day, I just couldn’t believe the range of people who would walk up and say, ‘Oh wow.’ That was so cool.”

The car is modeled off a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California.

Director John Hughes commissioned this car and two others to be built for filming.


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Helen joined Washingtonian in January 2018. She studied Journalism and International Relations at the University of Southern California. She recently won an Online News Award for her work on a project about the effects of the Salton Sea, California’s greatest burgeoning environmental disaster, on a Native American tribe whose ancestral lands are on its shores. Before joining the magazine, Helen worked in Memphis covering education for Chalkbeat. Her work has appeared in USA Today, The Desert Sun, Chalkbeat Tennessee, Sunset Magazine, Indiewire, and others.