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This Impeccably Built Ferrari 250 GTO Replica Was Driven by Tom Cruise in 'Vanilla Sky'

Tom Cruise is one of the Hollywood actors who like to do all of the stunts themselves, which means he is often seen maneuvering fancy cars, motorcycles, and even planes on screen. During his prolific career, he has had the opportunity to drive niche cars such as the Bugatti Veyron, Shelby GT 350H, or Porsche 928, but perhaps the most iconic one is the Ferrari 250 GTO, one of the rarest and most expensive sports cars ever produced.
Ferrari 250 GTO replica driven by Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky 28 photos
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A dark blue Ferrari 250 GTO is seen roaming through the streets of New York in the memorable opening scene of the 2001 fantasy thriller Vanilla Sky, in which Tom Cruise is starring alongside Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz. It really looks the part, and almost everyone who's seen the movie thought it was a real Ferrari with the Prancing Horse shields on the guards, sliding Lexan windows, and distinctive air intakes on the nose. In reality, the car Tom Cruise's character David Aames drives in his lucid dream at the beginning of the movie is just a replica of the iconic Ferrari 250 GTO.

The meticulously crafted movie prop is based on a 1976 Datsun 280Z that received a fiberglass Alpha 1 GTO bodywork and a robust small-block 350 cubic inch Chevrolet V8 engine before being purchased by Paramount Pictures for Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky movie. For those wondering why the movie production company didn't use a real GTO, know that the iconic Ferrari model was produced in only 36 units, so it could not be easily found, and more importantly, it was prohibitively expensive.

The impeccable Datsun Z-based Ferrari replica was originally conceived by Barry Goldstein of Eagle Engineering in California using the base car's original underlying unibody structure and fiberglass body molds. It maintains the right proportions, with the length, width, height, and wheelbase all within a few inches of the original Ferrari 250 GTO, so to the untrained eye, the replica looks just right at first glance.

Ferrari 250 GTO replica driven by Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky
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Now, we all know Ferrari is not very keen on third-party replicas of its cars, so legal pressure from the Maranello company determined Goldstein to sell the project to Italian car specialist Joe Alphabet, who refined it and rebranded it as "Alpha One GTO." The low cost made the Alpha One GTO a popular car, with customers able to choose a kit car they could assemble themselves at home or a turnkey vehicle built by Alphabet's team.

The Alpha One GTO pictured here is arguably the most famous unit, thanks to its appearance in the dream sequence of Vanilla Sky. The car benefitted from a comprehensive refurbishment in the years following its cinematic debut and is now being offered for sale.

The car boasts a fiberglass bodywork produced by Alpha Design & Engineering of Huntington Beach, California, and is finished in dark blue. Adorned with Ferrari badging and Scuderia fender decals, the exterior is strikingly similar to the original GTO 250 it imitates. Fog lights, plexiglass headlight covers, fender vents, a rear hatch, and a Le Mans-style fuel filler cap complete the exterior styling.

Ferrari 250 GTO replica driven by Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky
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The beating heart of this vehicle is a 350 cubic inch Chevrolet V8 paired with a GM three-speed automatic transmission. From inside the car, the gearbox looks like a manual but is missing the distinctive chromed shifter gate of the genuine Ferrari 250 GTO. The car rides on 15″ chrome wire wheels with red and yellow prancing horse center caps and wrapped in 215/60 front and 235/60 rear BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires. Stopping power is ensured by power-assisted front discs and finned rear drums.

Inside the Alpha One GTO, the bucket seats are trimmed in black vinyl upholstery and are complemented by color-matching door panels and carpets. There is also a wood-rimmed steering wheel, a B&M shifter with a wooden shift knob, and a JVC cassette player.

As mentioned, the car was given a significant refurbishment between 2007 and 2008. Most recently, it benefitted from a paint correction and the application of an Artdeshine nanographene coating in December 2023, increasing its visual appeal. Additionally, service performed around the same time included the installation of an MSD Atomic electronic fuel-injection system and replacement brake master cylinder and booster.

Ferrari 250 GTO replica driven by Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky
Photo: Bring a Trailer
Tom Cruise is one of Hollywood's biggest action stars, and the cars and bikes he drives in his high-profile movies instantly become symbols of his cinematic legacy. The association with the actor's speed-loving on-screen persona makes this Alpha One GTO more than an automobile. Though it's not a real Ferrari, it is a piece of automotive and cinematic history that any car lover would want in their collection.

Those who have been fantasizing about driving such a unique car, just like Tom Cruise's character does in Vanilla Sky, have a unique opportunity to turn their dream into reality for what seems to be a very reasonable price. This particular Alpha One GTO is being offered for sale out of Concord, California, and the current bid stands at $41,250. The car is offered with Montana registration and a copy of the original Paramount Pictures title, as well as a promotional photo signed by Tome Cruise and Penelope Cruz and other memorabilia from the film.

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About the author: Ancuta Iosub
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After spending a few years as a copy editor, Ancuta decided to put down the eraser and pick up the writer's pencil. Her favorites subjects are unusual car designs, travel trailers and everything related to the great outdoors.
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