If you’re into car movies you must have seen Need for Speed. The 2014 Dreamworks action picture stars Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. It's a must-watch for all muscle car fans. If you haven’t seen the film you may have played the blockbuster computer video game from Electronic Arts, which carries the same name.
Aaron plays the lead character in the high-octane car action movie as a former racing driver and struggling speed shop owner who’s trying to save his business through illegal street racing. The storyline has him embarking on a race across country to avenge the death of a friend. And the hero car in the movie, the one that he gets to drive, is a Ford Mustang.
The ‘Need For Speed’ Ford Mustang
The movie depicts the Mustang that Paul drives as the last car that Caroll Shelby was building when he died. A car that packs 900 horsepower and one that's capable of reaching a whopping 234 mph. And, if you’ve seen the film, you’ll know that the stunning muscle car, which steals the show, exchanges hands for a cool $3 million.
Scott Waugh, the director of the movie, was the man that chose the car. He grew up watching '60s and '70s car movies such as Bullitt, Smokey and the Bandit, Grand Prix, and The French Connection. And being a lifelong fan of Shelby Mustangs, the fast Ford was the obvious choice.
He enlisted the help of Ford designer Melvin Betancourt to help him fulfill his vision for the movie car. Which included giving the standard GT car a much more aggressive look. So he commissioned Technosports Creative and Steeda to build the film cars.
Waugh managed to get hold of eight cars for the production, six of them came from Ford. And seven of the cars were 2014 GT models, one was a 2015 fastback model. The 2015 car was actually a prototype. Ford had to pull out all the stops to get the brand-spanking new tester, a GT500, over to the film-set in Nevada to hit filming deadlines. This was six months before the car was due to have its official debut.
Each of the eight cars were custom-prepped for the movie. Technosports replaced all the body panels, installed larger cooling ducts, bolted on bigger spoilers, added dual hood scoops, put in new custom side vents to replace the rear quarter windows, and then re-painted all the cars silver with dual Kona blue stripes.
Steeda then put in heavy-duty suspension systems, installed roll bars, added 22” wheels, bigger tires, and lowered each of the cars to have them ready for filming. The movie script has the hero car packing 900 horsepower, but in reality all the film cars and stunt cars in the movie ran with stock engines.
The 2014 GT models performed most of the heavy road action, barring two that they used as promo cars. The 2015 car briefly makes an appearance in the closing sequences of the film. And for most of the close-up shots, the crew used a real Shelby GT500.
Filming The Mustangs In Action
Waugh was a stickler for authenticity. He took the decision to shoot the majority of the movie with traditional methods, using good old car-to-car action filming. As opposed to the extremely popular CGI method, which uses computer-generated images to generate exciting film sequences.
This was a hefty decision to take, as CGI is a more time-saving, risk-free, and less expensive production approach. During filming, he said, “Doing practical stunts with cars takes more up-front preparation to set up the shots and ensure safety, but the end result is worth it."
Scott, a former stuntman himself, wanted to keep the car action scenes as visceral as possible. So in the tradition of his favorite childhood movies, he mounted cameras on cars, inside cars, and used camera cars to capture the majority of the action.
“It’s really complicated to shoot in a car,” said Waugh. “You’re so confined. So we made sure all the camera angles would convince the audience the actors were really driving."
Other Four-Wheeled Cast Members
The Need for Speed Mustang has a bunch of really cool co-stars, such as exotic supercars that do their bit to add to the drama. The movie actually commissioned the build of fifteen supercar replicas, and the build crew had to work flat out for six months to have all the cars ready for filming.
Some of the supercar replicas that they used in the movie are: a Koenigsegg Regera, a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, a Saleen S7, a McLaren E1, and a Bugatto Veyron. Each car was then given a performance boost to ensure that it was at peak fitness for the movie's explosive action scenes.
Scott also drafted in champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. to provide assistance with the more technically challenging muscle car action scenes.
The majority of the 2014 Mustang film cars got destroyed during filming. Out of the seven wide-bodied cars, only three managed to survive: the two promo cars (not surprisingly) and the 2015 prototype. The 2015 car went back to Ford once filming had wrapped up, and the other 2014 cars went straight to auction.
Need for Speed grossed $203.3 million at the box office, and although it's probably not one of the best car action movies out there, it is a fitting tribute to Carroll Shelby and the legend that is the Ford Mustang. And as far as illegal street-racers go, we couldn’t have chosen a better car for the job.