This is the Alpha One GTO that was driven by Tom Cruise in the 2001 film Vanilla Sky, directed by Cameron Crowe, also starring Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, and Kurt Russell.
The car is a replica of the Ferrari 250 GTO based on a 1976 Datsun 280Z. It’s powered by a small block 350 cubic inch Chevrolet V8, it rides on independent four wheel suspension with coilovers, and it’s being sold out of Concord, California.
Fast Facts – The “Vanilla Sky” Alpha One GTO
- Barry Goldstein designed a Datsun Z-based Ferrari 250 GTO replica that used fiberglass body molds but maintained the original underlying unibody structure. This made the build process easier, and it also streamlined the licensing process.
- Due to legal pressure exerted by Ferrari, Goldstein sold the project to Joe Alphabet, a Southern California exotic car dealer, who refined the designs, rebranding them “Alpha One GTO.”
- The low cost of Datsun Z donor cars (at the time) meant that the Alpha One GTO was a popular kit car and it sold well by the standards of the industry. Customers could opt for either a kit they would assemble themselves, or a turnkey car that would be built by Alphabet and his team.
- The most famous Alpha One GTO is the example that was used in the 2001 film “Vanilla Sky.” The use of a real GTO was prohibitively expensive, and so Paramount Pictures opted for a replica. The car has been significantly refurbished in the years after the film’s release, and it’s now being offered for sale out of California with Montana registration.
Joe Alphabet and the Alpha One GTO
The story of Joe Alphabet and the Alpha One GTO is well-known in kit car circles. At the time Ferrari was in the midst of cracking down on the roaring trade in replicas based on their vehicles, most commonly using the Ferrari 250 GTO based on the Datsun Z platform, the Ferrari 365 GTB Daytona based on the C3 Corvette, and later the Ferrari F40 based on the Pontiac Fiero.
Above Video: This is the original theatrical trailer for “Vanilla Sky,” the car shown in this article appears in the film in some of the more memorable scenes.
A Corvette-based Ferrari Daytona was famously used for the first two seasons of Miami Vice before Ferrari took notice and filed suit. This resulted in a model of the car being blown up at the beginning of season 3 to be replaced by a white Ferrari Testarossa, two of which were donated by Ferrari for use in the series.
The film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off also used a replica Ferrari that had been built in the United States – a Modena GT California Spyder that managed to survive the famous scene at the end of the film showing the faux-rrari flying backwards out of a building through plate glass windows used a cheap rolling chassis dressed up to look like the “real” replica.
The Datsun Z-based Ferrari 250 GTO replica was first dreamt up and built by Barry Goldstein of Eagle Engineering in California. He used a series of bespoke fiberglass moulds to create the body but kept the Datsun unibody intact underneath, uprated engines and other parts could be fitted, and most cars were completed by home builders.
Due to legal pressure from Ferrari, Goldstein sold the moulds and rights to Joe Alphabet who modified them slightly for use on the car he called the Alpha One GTO. A number of cars were produced before the Ferrari lawyers came knocking, the quality of the Alphabet cars are generally considered superior, as many were built in the factory rather than by home builders.
Joe Alphabet sold the moulds and rights which then moved through a number of other hands, at present it’s believed they’re in the ownership of a company called ZTrix in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Alpha One GTO From Vanilla Sky
As mentioned above, the car you see here is the original used in the 2001 film Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise at the wheel. It now comes with a copy of the original Paramount Pictures title as well as a file of other information relating to the film.
Under the hood this car is fitted with a 350 cubic inch Chevrolet V8 mated to a GM 3-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is made to look like a manual from inside the car, however it is missing the characteristic chromed shifter gate used on the real Ferrari 250 GTOs.
Between 2007 and 2008 the vehicle was given a refurbishment, it’s finished in dark blue over black vinyl upholstery, it’s had a paint correction, and an Artdeshine Nano Graphene coating has been applied. Much to the presumed dismay of Ferrari, the car is fitted with Ferrari badging and Scuderia fender decals, and from 20 paces the car likely does fool many non-car people into believing it’s the real deal.
Although replicas are often shunned or looked down upon in many sectors of the classic car community I suspect that this one would get a pass thanks to its A-list Hollywood heritage – much like the Modena GT California Spyder that was used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and now has a value well into the six figures.
Given the Datsun underpinnings of the car and the small block Chevrolet V8 under the hood, the maintenance bills are going to be multiple orders of magnitude less than a real 250 GTO, or even a more common 250 GT variant like the GTE.
The car is now being offered for sale out of Concord, California with Montana registration on Bring a Trailer. It comes with a copy of the previous California title in the name of Paramount Pictures, a promotional photo signed by Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz, a Vanilla Sky press kit, and a Hot Wheels Elite 1:18-scale model of the car.
If you’d like to read more about it or place a bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.