The Great Race is a 1965 American slapstick comedy Technicolor film starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Natalie Wood, directed by Blake Edwards, written by Blake Edwards and Arthur A. Ross. “The Great Race” was a parody of the historically significant 1908 New York to Paris automobile race, which was won by the American manufacturer Thomas Flyer. In the movie, the Leslie Special is driven by Tony Curtis while his archrival Professor Fate, portrayed by Jack Lemmon, competes in the Hannibal 8.
For the shooting of the movie, four Hannibal Eights were built-each being slightly different than the other. The Hannibal 8s were true fantasy cars that were built to do a variety of destructive tasks. Much like the James Bond 007 Aston Martin, the Hannibal 8s could raise and lower themselves, shoot a cannon and provide smoke screens so their competitors could not complete the race. The Hannibal 8s fictional persona was that of a rocket propelled car built like an elevator that contained hidden devices of sabotage that would allow its villain driver to beat his heroic competitor. After Warner Brothers decided to let the vehicles go, they became one of the prime attractions at the world famous Movie World Cars of the Stars Museum in Buena Park, California, owned by the father and son team of Jim Brucker Sr. and Jr. and were displayed until the museum closed its doors in the late ‘70’s.
The 1964 Hannibal 8 was custom built by Warner Bros at a cost of $150,000 ($150,000 in 1964 is equivalent to over $1 million today). All hand constructed, it is a true work of movie magic art and is powered by a Corvair 6-cylinder, air-cooled engine with a 3-speed manual transmission and four chain driven rear wheels. While each of the Hannibal Eights looked virtually identical, there were small differences between each version.