DETROIT — The son of a factory worker is bringing the actual cars used to film “Ford v Ferrari” on the road as part of a three-city tour that begins in Kansas City this weekend, comes to Detroit and then goes on to Chicago.
“The Ford GT40 that we have is an original race car. The Ferrari was fabricated for the movie to specs,” said Peter Toundas, 62, of Oakland Township, Michigan, president of Championship Auto Shows. “People will probably never get a chance to see these again.”
It is a Ford GT40 that snapped Ferrari’s winning streak at the world’s most prestigious endurance sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1966. And the car on tour from the movie is actually one of the cars that raced in France, Toundas explained.
The Oscar-winning blockbuster is based on the true story of the bitter rivalry between Henry “Hank the Deuce” Ford II and Enzo Ferrari, told through the friendship of automotive designer Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon) and British race car engineer and driver Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale).
“The Ferrari P3 is owned by a private collector in Minnesota and the Ford GT40 is owned by the studio,” said Toundas, who produces 14 car shows around North America annually.
He talked to the USA TODAY Network’s Detroit Free Press from the Kansas City Convention Center late Tuesday while setting up the first show. World of Wheels runs Friday through Sunday in Missouri, then the vehicles will be transported to the TCF Center in downtown Detroit for Autorama, which runs from Feb. 28 to March 1.
Featuring iconic cars from Hollywood films has a history of attracting big crowds, especially in Detroit.
The 1968 Mustang GT Fastback featured in the Steve McQueen action film classic “Bullitt” attracted thousands from all over the world to the Detroit auto show in 2018.
And now it’s another Hollywood car for Ford.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone can picture themselves behind the wheel of the car,” Hau Thai-Tang, 53, chief of Ford’s product development, told the Free Press. “The great shape and design. It makes your heart pound. The feeling is timeless.”
Thai-Tang was a race engineer for Mario Andretti and Nigel Mansell on Ford’s Newman-Haas IndyCar team in 1993. His efforts contributed to six victories, according to his official Ford biography.
Fate of the Furious
Two years ago, Toundas brought five cars from “The Fate of the Furious,” the eighth film in the popular “Fast and Furious” franchise, and it drew a huge crowd of young movie fans in addition to custom car collectors and enthusiasts. The street cars on display included a Corvette, a Lamborghini and a Dodge Charger. Crowds mobbed the vehicles to take still pictures and videos to post on Facebook.
“These are basically a lot of millennials, and they want to go fast,” said Toundas, who grew up in Highland Park, Michigan, with a homemaker mother and a father who retired as a UAW worker who took inventory at the Ford Sterling Axle Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
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Dave Dudek, 48, a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles mechanic from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, who has earned a reputation as a car restoration expert, said his wife and kids have seen “Ford v Ferrari” and he can’t believe he’s been invited to be part of an Autorama show featuring those cars.
“I mean, it’s just a great story. Ford wanted to buy Ferrari, (Enzo) Ferrari said no, and Ford thought he’d teach them a lesson. You’ve got these guys with these big egos using their cars to duke it out. There was almost no prize money,” Dudek said. “There just doesn’t seem to be anything more American than that.”
Meanwhile, he’ll be displaying a resto-mod 1971 Charger R/T with a Hellcat engine built for a collector, Peter Swainson of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.
The 68th Annual Autorama at TCF Center in Detroit
12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28
9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 1
General admission at the door: $21
Children 6 to 12: $8
Children 5 and under: Free
Discount tickets, available at O’Reilly Auto Parts, cost $19 for general admission and $7 for children ages 6 to 12.
For more information: 248-373-1700 during business hours or www.autorama.com
Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Phoebe Wall Howard on Twitter@phoebesaid.