NEED FOR SPEED
The Need for Muscle Cars and Super Cars
Casting requisites on "Need for Speed" extended far beyond the principal
actors. The filmmakers needed to
select and locate cars that would deliver the right look, attitude and
performance on screen.
For decades, cars have been a vital part of American culture. There is a
strong association between drivers and
their vehicles and they are often seen as an extension of ourselves,
representing who a person is and what they
"As a teenager you define yourself not by when you can vote, but by when you
can drive," says Waugh.
In the end, a variety of classic '70s muscle cars and pricey European super cars
were chosen. The film starts off
in Mt. Kisco, New York, which is a blue-collar town with hard-working Americans
and the sort of culture that has
always gravitated toward muscle cars, and many of the super cars have been
featured in the video games.
"Whether you like muscle cars, super cars or anything in between, this movie
will satisfy 'Need for Speed' fans,"
The Mustang that Tobey and Julia drive en route to The De Leon was designated
the film's hero car. The "it" car
of 1964 symbolizing freedom, romance and America, the Mustang launched the
American muscle car movement
and went on to become a worldwide icon.
Once Ford Motors heard about the film
and the significance of the Mustang
to the story, they were eager to get
involved. The company worked with
production to design a special "Need
for Speed" Mustang based on the 2013
Shelby GT500. Carroll Shelby, a legendary
American racer turned car designer who
created the performance-based Mustang
for Ford in 1965, had been working on the 50th anniversary edition when he
passed away in 2012.
Ford was intrigued by the premise and collaborated with the filmmakers to
style a car they hoped was similar to
what Shelby would have created. Both parties wanted to respect the vision Shelby
might have made without making
it look too futuristic, but they did keep two of Shelby's signature design
elements, the blue stripes and chrome.
According to Waugh, "If you wanted a Mustang you always wanted the Shelby
Mustang because it was an
The frame was altered by celebrated Ford designer Melvin Betancourt and built
by Techno Sports in Detroit.
Some of the alterations made to the "Need for Speed" Mustang include: a wider
body, 20-inch alloy wheels (to
help facilitate easier stunts for the stunt drivers), and a V8 engine topping
out at 190 miles per hour. The interior
console was adapted to accommodate an iPad for Tobey to use when communicating
with his crew and when
monitoring the Monarch, and the futuristic side-view mirrors were turned into
Seven different Mustangs were eventually built, each serving specific
purposes ranging from beauty shots, stunts
and driving shots to a model that could be lifted by and hang from a helicopter.
In addition to the Mustang, other iconic American muscle cars featured in the
film were the '69 Ford Gran Torino,
'68 Chevy Camaro and '66 Pontiac GTO.
One of the focal points in both the crucial race between
Tobey, Dino and Little Pete and the climactic showdown
at The De Leon are the European super cars. They
include a Swedish Koenigsegg Agera R, a Lamborghini
Sesto Elemento, a GTA Spano, a Bugatti Veyron and
McLaren P1, all of which were featured in the video
games, and a Saleen S7.
Multiples of each super car were needed for use when
shooting as well, each one serving specific purposes as
well and each one getting rigged to accept camera platforms. But due to their
exorbitant price tags (over $1
million apiece) and the fact that they could not be placed in situations where
damage was possible, the cars
would have to be built.
"There are only a few super cars in the world and they're not really
camera-friendly," explains Waugh. "You're
not going to drill into the side of a two-and-a-half-million-dollar car ...
they're art pieces, that's what everyone
forgets. You're going to replicate it to wreck it so the real one is still
Luckily the manufacturers were enthusiastic to get involved and shared
confidential CAD specs with Reel
Industries in Los Angeles who then created 15 chasses and fiberglass shells for
each make and model which
could then be swapped out.
The Koenigsegg, Bugatti and McLaren all had 105-inch wheel bases, the
Lamborghini a 101-inch wheel base, and
the Spano a 100-inch wheel base; and with the Koenigsegg, a high-performance
mid-engine two-seater which
can reach speeds up to 270 miles per hour, 10 cars were needed.
Three camera cars were also used during principal photography for unique
moves the script called for, which
were a Mercedes Benz with a 24-foot telescopic Russian arm, a Porsche Cayenne
used to push or pull a picture
car, and a Saleen-supercharged Mustang.
The sidekick to Tobey's Mustang in the film, The Beast, is driven by Joe Peck
(Rodriquez) and Finn (Malek) on the
cross-country trip. The Beast, along with the helicopter flown by Benny (Mescudi),
are Tobey's eyes and ears as
he races towards The De Leon starting line. Picture Car Coordinator Steve Mann
and his crew constructed it from
a Ford F-450 truck raising it seven inches and outfitting it with giant 37-inch
tires, a utility bed, and new front
and back bumpers.
Mann and his team of mechanics had to complete restorations on a number of
vehicles prior to and during
production and in short amounts of time when the cars
were damaged. One day they were restoring Tobey's Gran
Torino from the ground up and on another day taking
apart a crashed GTO and putting it on another frame.
"It's unheard of what these guys can do," says Mann,
"but they are great mechanics who feed off adrenaline
and thrive under this kind of pressure."
Pod cars, which are duplicates of the race cars designed
so the actors can sit behind the wheel and deliver
dialogue while a stunt driver steers remotely, were also
used during production. The portion of the pod with the stunt driver's seat and
controls is a cage mounted
outside the body of the car that places the stunt driver above and behind the
actor. The pod cars were driven
by famed precision drivers Tanner Foust, the most successful driver in X Games
history and a world record
holder for the longest jump in a car, and Rhys Millen, a Formula D champion and
two-time world record holder
for speed. They were joined by professional high-performance drivers Rich
Rutherford, Tony Brakohiapa, Brent
Fletcher and Paul Dallenbach. The six drivers drove the super cars in The De
Leon as well.
According to Foust, who races cars for Ford and Rock Star and is a host of
"Top Gear USA," "The pods are scary.
You have a very fast car but with a pod mounted on the back, so it's like
strapping yourself to the ski rack of a
sports car and driving it from that position."
He continues, "The steering can be rather challenging too, especially when
you're going door-to-door with a bunch
of other cars at 100 miles per hour and you have an actor inside the car with
you as well. There's a lot of pressure."
It was scary for the actors as well, but on a different level, as they were
racing in cars reaching high speeds but
with someone else sitting behind them doing the driving.
Cooper explains, "At first it is absolute terror, particularly if you're
someone who enjoys driving as much as I do.
The first time around I had my foot slammed against the brake pedal purely on
instinct hoping it would help but
knowing it did nothing. But you know the guys in the pod are a billion times
better drivers than you, so eventually
you begin to let go and trust."
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