Ferrari's Leclerc recreates iconic film on Monaco streets

27th May 2020
Bob Murray

F1 ace Charles Leclerc shall speed round the Monaco Grand Prix circuit this year, and he will be behind the wheel of a Ferrari. But not the one you may expect…

In place of the cancelled street race, Maranello has let their young star loose around the famed circuit in its new SF90 Stradale supercar for a one-off hot lap. You can watch the onboard film of this when Ferrari releases it on 13 June.


The film will undoubtedly stir something in all of us, for there is nothing quite like driving a good road car fast through deserted but otherwise familiar city streets. As a guilty pleasure it has an allure all its own. Sharing the experience by filming it serves only to heighten the thrills.

No-one did that better in the 1970s than French film director Claude Lelouch whose short film of driving through Paris, fast, very early one Sunday morning has become a cult classic. Decades before GoPros and the on-boards we now taken for granted, his 1976 eight-minute film was shot in one take with only the engine noise – a Ferrari V12 – for accompaniment.

Flat out down the Champs Elysees and grand boulevards of the French capital, dodging Peugeot 504 taxis and dithering 2CVs, the car we assume to be a Ferrari blasts through red lights, across squares and down narrow lanes, missing cars, and a garbage truck, by inches.

The film, C’était un Rendez-vous, was – no surprise – utterly irresponsible and completely illegal. But just try not watching it…

Jump forward five decades and the same director, Claude Lelouch, now in his 80s, has been recruited by Ferrari to make the (totally responsible, entirely legal) sequel… using Charles Leclerc in the 1000 horsepower hybrid Stradale and the closed-off early-morning streets of Monaco. It was filmed at dawn on 24 May, the day the circuit would have seen the grand prix were it not for the coronavirus pandemic.

Charles hits 150mph for his hot lap, with onlookers cheering him on from the balconies. Like his original Rendezvous, Lelouch’s latest film uses only the noise of the engine for its soundtrack. Will it sound as good as the V12 in the original film?


We do know that sounds absolutely magnificent as the driver heads to Sacre Coeur and a date with his girlfriend. What we don’t know is how fast the car actually went through Paris…or indeed whether it was actually a Ferrari, because we never see either the driver or the car. Among the many myths that have built up around the film is that the driver was Jacques Lafitte and the car a 275 GTB.

And the reality? As Claude Lelouch has himself confirmed, he drove the car… which was not a Ferrari at all but his own Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9.

Only the engine noise belonged to a 275 GTB and that was dubbed in later. That’s something that Ferrari won’t be needing to do in its remake then…

  • Ferrari

  • Monaco

  • Monaco Grand Prix

  • Claude Lelouch

  • Charles Leclerc

  • SF90 Stradale

  • supercar

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