When John Hughes wanted a symbol of Cameron’s father’s out-of-whack priorities, he had a lot of options. Cameron’s father kept an entire garage full of pristine classic cars in his living room, a sort of in-house car museum.
Hughes could have chosen any car to serve as the lynchpin of the movie, but he wanted something that would really make the audience cringe. Part of what makes watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off an interesting experience is the tension between wanting to like Ferris and wanting to hate him.
Ferris borrows a car without permission (bad) and puts it in grave peril (worse) but later tries to repair the damage he has done (good) only to be the cause of the car’s destruction (bad). This string of events only works if the audience builds a connection to the car. You have to gasp in horror when the car is destroyed, otherwise there’s no point.
Hughes chose a convertible 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB. And judging by audience reaction over the decades, he chose well. Even people who know nothing about cars know that it’s an amazing car. You can tell just by looking at it. (And they are right: one sold for over $10 million at auction.)
Fear not: to film the movie, Hughes destroyed a replica, not the real car. And if you need a replacement Ferrari convertible top because your son’s slacker friend convinced your son to steal your car and accidentally wreck it, we’ve got you covered.