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						Renucci Ferrari Cal Spyder 6

The Cal Spyder is a rare and faithful Ferrari replica

Text and photos by Joe Greeves

As the Four Seasons wailed in falsetto in the song of the same name, this Sheri Baby—owned by Sheri Clark—looks so fine with her red dress on. No wonder the California Spyder was the real star of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Who can forget that scene where it smashes through a plate glass window of the garage? The car shown here is thought to be one of Modena Spyder replicas used in the film (but many others were built after filming was completed).

When the kid named Ferris took a day off from school, he probably created more publicity for the Cal Spyder than Burt Reynolds did with a Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit, or the General Lee Charger in The Dukes of Hazzard.

The sleek lines of the Cal Spyder command a strong following. As a case in point, Matt and Sheri Clark have been intrigued by this model for many years. Active automotive enthusiasts, they locate and ship custom cars to clients around the world as part of their Shermatt International service. They also build two or three cool customs each year from their Florida Street Machine headquarters. Matt initially had the idea of finding the molds to the car and producing replicas, until he realized that Classic Cars by Renucci was already producing the CalSpyder. 

Shortly thereafter, an Internet item caught Matt’s eye, listing a fiberglass California Spyder replica for sale, 90 percent complete, with a fully independent rearend, Wilwood brakes, and a bargain price. Matt and Sheri flew to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to look at the car, a rolling chassis with a body painted in what Matt describes as an orangey-red. Although the project still needed a lot of work, Matt could see the potential so he bought the car on the spot and had it shipped to their home in Oldsmar, Florida. 

The rectangular steel-tube chassis was sound so the build process began with redoing both the front and rear suspension, updating the Mustang II front suspension and installing the Heidts independent 9-inch Posi rear with 3.50 gears. Wilwood inboard discs brakes at the rear and SSBC Force 10 vented and cross-drilled rotors up front guaranteed modern stopping power.

Instead of an Italian V12, Sheri’s baby runs a 351 Windsor punched out to 408 cubes. The ported-and-polished mill benefits from considerable aftermarket upgrades that include Edelbrock heads, a high-rise Performer intake, and a 750cfm four-barrel carb with MSD ignition lighting the fire. 

The mandrel-bent headers had to be carefully squeezed into the available space in the compact engine bay, with just a few notches needed in the frame to accommodate the power steering pump and headers. Power steering was one of the mandatory additions, solved with the use of a modified Chevrolet power steering unit and a custom-fabricated March Performance pulley system. A Hot Rod City radiator keeps the engine cool while the Vintage Air does the same for the occupants in the closed cockpit. 

Hand-formed aluminum trim in the engine bay showcases the 410hp motor, soon to be upgraded with an eight-stack fuel injection system. A Tremec T5, 5-speed transmits the power and the car rolls on 8-inch wide, wire knock-off wheels and Michelin 60-series XGT rubber.

With the power train was complete, the interior was next, beginning with authentic looking seats, originally from a Fiat and recovered in tan leather. Door panels and matching carpet add to the look. Sheri did her own interior work. Period-correct gauges, labeled in Italian, keep track of all the underhood activity, and a Flaming River column is capped with an authentic Nardi wheel. 

The car is equipped with an elaborate stereo system from Sound Design in Australia which supplied a Jensen AM/FM/CD head unit to control the trunk-mounted Power Bass 9-Band Equalizer Pre Amp and 2.4 Farad capacitor. Power Bass component sets are mounted in the center console for the mids and highs with their 8-inch, trunk-mounted subs providing the bass. The trunk also holds an Optima red top battery in a ball-milled, billet tray.

Changes to the body were minimal, consisting of eliminating the front bumper and removing the center section of the rear bumper. All new window glass was added along with 7-inch halogen sealed beam headlights, a LeMans gas cap, and traditional swan neck mirrors that provided a classic touch. The body was primed and painted in a more appropriate Dupont Bright Red by Spikes Performance in Plant City, Florida. 

Sheri and Matt began working part time on the car in July 2013, completing the build by July 2014. The “Sick Day” license plate was Sheri’s idea and is fitting for the car, considering the movie plot that made it famous.

For those looking to create a similar but much improved Spyder of their own, you’d don’t have to scrounge up one of the stunt cars from the film. Classic Cars By Renucci is producing his version of the CalSpyder (sans any prancing horse logos, though). Historical sources suggest that the three Modena Spyders used in the film were not exacting in the details, and also had some mechanical issues. On the other hand, Renucci, a veteran automotive engineer, has revamped the chassis and body substantially. Either way, nobody would ever ignore these Ferris wheels. 

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