<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3

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Lot 518
1964 Leslie Special

Sold for US$ 112,000 inc. premium
1964 Leslie Special
Chassis no. CAR 3

*The legendary hero car from The Great Race
*One of four Leslie Specials built for the movie
*Constructed from scratch in Warner Brothers' prop shop
*A proven winner in cinematic of round-the-world races and in getting the girl
*Rare opportunity to always be the hero


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

In the pantheon of motoring movies, the 1965 big budget comedy The Great Race certainly ranks highly for its vehicular focus and slap-stick reinvention of the legendary 1908 New York to Paris Race. Loosely based on that event, The Great Race was directed by Black Edwards (of Breakfast at Tiffany's and Pink Panther—and later "10" fame) and featured a star-studded cast including Tony Kurtis as the hero Leslie "The Great Leslie" Gallant III, Jack Lemmon as the villainous Professor Fate, and Natalie Wood as fellow competitor/love interest Maggie DuBois.

The original New York to Paris Race was started by six cars representing Germany (Protos), France (De Dion-Bouton, Motobloc, and Sizaire-Naudin), Italy (Zust), and the United States (Thomas-Flyer) and was the most grueling test any motorcar or operator had endeavored to complete. The race would cross thousands of miles of rugged terrain with largely unpaved and unmarked roads. The Thomas helmed by George Schuster ultimately won the event by 26 days—a record that still stands for the largest margin of victory in motorsports event (the Protos—which had arrived four days before the Thomas—was penalized 30 days for skipping the entirety of Alaska and shipping the car via railcar part of the way. The Zust came in arrived third in over a month after the Thomas). The vaguely related film adaptation stuck to the theme of the event but was largely divergent from there.

Lesile (Kurtis) and Professor Fate (Lemmon) are presented as daredevils competing at the turn of the 20th century—Leslie is the quintessential handsome-dressed-in-white hero while Fate is the mustachioed-dressed-in-black melodramatic villain. They both enter a New York to Paris race in cars of their own design and build—Leslie driving "The Leslie Special" and Fate driving the "Hannibal Twin-8". Maggie (Wood), a beautiful photojournalist and vocal suffragette, is driving a Stanley Steamer entered by a prominent newspaper covering the event.

Through many twists and turns, the racers cross the globe encountering hilarious challenges in the American West, Alaska, and the tiny kingdom of Carpania—with the largest pie fight in movie history taking place in that last destination. All the while, Fate deploys several hidden devices within his car to sabotage Leslie and his machine. Along the way, Maggie's car runs out of steam, putting her into the passenger seat of Leslie's machine.

The movie ended up being the most expensive comedy ever made at the time, with a final cost of $12 million (equivalent to nearly $100 million in 2019)—double its original budget. For the production, the hero and villain cars were entirely built in house in Warner Brother's prop workshops. Five Hannibal Twin-8s were produced—some specifically for various scenes demonstrating the various hidden devices—and four Leslie Specials were produced.

Taking its inspiration from the original New York to Paris-winning Thomas-Flyer, the Leslie Special was built to look for-all-the-world like a Brass-Era monster but was in fact, as is often the case in film, not quite as it seems. Starting with four 1957 Ford F100 Pickups that had outlived their useful lives as work trucks on the Warner Brother's lot, the trucks were stripped to their frames and fitted with contemporary Ford 260ci V8s mated to automatic transmission (apparently, Kurtis couldn't drive a manual). All of the bodywork was fashioned from fiberglass and PVC while all of the lighting and trim was custom made in house for the car. While inspiration for many of the pieces may have come from what one might find on the fields of the Hershey Swap Meet—none of the actual items were so sourced.

After completion of filming, the various Leslies found useful lives in other movies. One was featured in the 1969 film The Good Guys and the Bad Guys where it met the unfortunate fate of being hit by a train. Another was repainted green and used for the last half hour of the 1970 move The Ballad of Cable Hogue.

This Leslie Special, car number 3, joined the Tupelo Automobile Museum's collection in January 1994. Sold from the collection of Bob McRae and Corky Rice in Sherman Oak, California, it is an incredible piece of movie prop-shop work. The lot is complete with a hand painted movie sign, an original film copy of the preview of The Great Race, copies of an article in the April 1956 issue of Rod & Custom magazine about the prop shop that built the car, and original purchase paperwork from when Frank Spain acquired the car.

Few cars have as much visual wallop—or recognition—as the Leslie Special. Don't miss this unique opportunity to vanquish the Professor Fate underbidding you and win the day—and car!

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, this vehicle is titled under chassis no. SBF64L, a figure not found on the vehicle itself.
Contacts
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
<b>1964 Leslie Special</b><br />Chassis no. CAR 3
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