The new film Need For Speed rolls into theaters across the country tomorrow, and for car enthusiasts, this is set to be a big premiere. We’ve dug deep finding out all we can about NFS before the rest of the country sees it. We’ve showcased the cars, interviewed the director, and even sat down with the film’s star, Aaron Paul. But Ford might think that Paul is a supporting actor to the automaker’s own custom Mustang GT.
A Mustang GT– even a custom one, typically would not be able to hold its own against the Koenigseggs, Bugattis and McLarens of the world, but Ford build a one-of-a-kind ride that looks the part on screen. The writers of the film also worked the plot so that the Mustang never has to directly battle with the hypercars. Rather, the custom Mustang GT is Aaron Paul’s chariot in a cross-country race against time.
It is pretty clear that this is no ordinary Mustang, so to learn more, we spoke with Mary Ellen Abraham, the experimental marketing manager at Ford. “This was obviously a one-of-a-kind car,” said Abraham, “It is a ’14, but there are obvious nods to the new 2015 Mustang. There are also elements like the wide body kit, revised front and rear from the GT500, twin-snort hood, larger air intakes, and big 22-inch wheels. The result is a strong, athletic stance.”
In certain sections of the film, we learn bits about the car. In a type of reveal event, like at the auto shows, it is claimed that the car has 900 horsepower, but the actual vehicle may have differed. “You can get 900 horse from a 5.4-liter Ford racing crate engine and a supercharger,” said Abraham, “but we had to build several stunt vehicles and make them unique for their intended use, so the actual cars that we have different drivetrains based on filming.”
Strangely, the director, hero car, and decision to do practical stunts may have come down to one very unlikely car– the Ford Taurus.
“Scott had done some commercials for us including some Taurus videos,” said Abraham, “We decided we wanted to stay connected with Scott. About a year and a half to two years ago, he thought there was a good chance he would be tapped to direct, and came back to us.”
Once Scott was in, so was Ford and with the new 2015 Mustang on the way, you might think the synergy and product placement was too good to pass up.
“Well, the official reveal [of the ’15 Mustang] was coveted.” Explained Abraham, “There was a ton of risk in using the new vehicle in the film during the filming process. Mary Ellen said the ideal solution was to have a modified ’14 Mustang GT, and feature the ’15 in a very select moment (it makes a cameo in the final scene).
In the film, Aaron Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a car builder and racer. When he gets framed for a crime he didn’t commit, he is sent to prison. Once out, he is bent on confronting those who set him up, by entering a race called De Leon. Marshall must make it cross country in record time, and the machine that will get him there is the Mustang.
To make the cross country journey, the Mustang was fitted with some very special equipment, including an advanced head-up display, and a center touch screen so well connected that it would make an Apple Genius Bar employee blush. According to Abraham, the HUD and digital screen are computer graphic effects. Director Scott Waugh put an emphasis on practical stunt scenes, and so the CG for those elements are scarce, though the communications equipment in the vehicle plays a big role throughout the film.
According to Ford, the custom Mustang has “dynamic proportions,” and the “thrilling engine sounds have given Mustang an enduring, nearly universal appeal.” The car is pretty impressive, and the design team worked cues of the 2015 model into the design, especially in the lower front fascia.
It is a very unique car, and one that plays a very fun setting for Tobey Marshall’s journey across the country. You may have played as some cooler cars in Need for Speed, but the Mustang is like a cousin or uncle– you’re just used to it being there. Perhaps its ubiquity is what makes it a terrific setting for many of the scenes in Need For Speed.