'Ford v Ferrari' roars to four Oscar nominations

Matt Damon and Christian Bale relive epic Le Mans battle driving SA-built cars

15 January 2020 - 11:33 By Phuti Mpyane
'Ford v Ferrari' features cars made in Port Elizabeth.
'Ford v Ferrari' features cars made in Port Elizabeth.
Image: Supplied

The much-vaunted movie Ford v Ferrari illustrates the fierce rivalry between the two vehicle manufacturers during the heyday of Le Mans racing, culminating in the underdog US brand winning the 1966 Le Mans endurance race ahead of the domineering Italians.

The film - starring Matt Damon as Ford’s Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles - has earned no less than four nominations for the upcoming 92nd Academy Awards on February 9. It will compete for achievements in sound editing, sound mixing, film editing and one of the biggest awards of the night, best motion picture of the year.  

It’s no surprise that it was chosen among the best in the sound editing, mixing and film editing categories. As any motor enthusiast would attest, a film laced with footage of close racing soundtracked by roaring Ford V8s and Ferrari V12s is a major part of the magic.

There is also a South African connection to the film, which was released here in November last year: the cars used in the movie were built in Port Elizabeth by Jimmy Price at his world-renowned Hi-Tech Automotive facility, where he manufactures continuation models of the GT40 and high-quality replicas of the Shelby Cobra.

Most of the vehicles, which are produced under licence to Shelby American and get entered into the Shelby registry, are exported to the US and the UK.

To commemorate the release of Ford v Ferrari, Shelby SA auctioned a very special Ford GT40 Mk II replica car autographed by Damon, Bale, director James Mangold and Aaron Shelby. The proceeds of the auction went towards a bursary for youngsters wanting to study automotive engineering.

Painted in the same blue-and-orange livery as Miles’ famous Le Mans-winning car of 1966, this near-identical continuation car has a 5.4l Ford V8 engine and five-speed Quaife transaxle gearbox.

Regular GT40 replicas built by Price at his Hi-Tech Automotive factory are valued at R2.4m. The autographed car is expected to fetch more.