Here's What Happened To The Porsche 928 From 'Risky Business'

Working in Hollywood is, for lack of a better term, a risky business. For every Tom Cruise, thousands of outsiders fail to reach any level of success in Tinseltown. Even if someone is lucky enough to have all the right moves, chances are they'll end up slinging a cocktail or two at some dive bar in Van Nuys, only to fade into oblivion. One could say that trying to become a movie star is indeed an impossible mission. Whether or not you like the man, Tom Cruise is a top gun in the industry ... a true legend, if you will.

Terrible movie title puns aside, Cruise has 50 acting credits (and counting) to his name, many of which have become iconic cinema. But his first big hit happened in 1983 with "Risky Business," where he slides into our collective pop culture-addled brains, wearing tidy whities and tube socks. Cruise plays Joel, a Chicago high school senior who goes wild when his parents leave on vacation. A significant part of the storyline involves him "borrowing" his father's metallic platinum 928 Porsche.

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should, because its eerily reminiscent of the shenanigans we see two years later in the 1985 John Hughes film, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." That car was a Ferrari, though. Hey, who says Hollywood is derivative?

Cruise has gone on to make several films where he is behind the controls of some mechanical beast, whether it be piloting jet fighters (or riding motorcycles) in the "Top Gun" films, to driving the numerous cars laced throughout his "Mission: Impossible" movies. But, according to the documentary "The Quest for the RB928" by Lewis Johnsen, the Porsche 928 is the car in which Tom Cruise first learned to drive a stick shift (aka manual transmission).

Tom Cruise has always felt the need for speed

As it turns out, there wasn't just one Porsche used for the movie, but a total of six. It's not uncommon to use several different cars while filming a movie. In this case, four were used during principal shooting, with two more used in post-production. But none of them were the same, boasting an array of different model years, wheels, transmissions, and in some cases, different original colors. Odder still, none of the four used for filming matched the 928 seen in the film. Say what now?

The film is supposed to portray a 1981 Platinum Metallic 928 with a five-speed manual transmission, offset "Phone-Dial" cast alloy wheels, and gold interior. The primary one used on set was the same model year but had an automatic transmission, flat 15-inch "Phone-Dial" wheels, a brown dash, and gold seats. Editing is a magical thing.

During the making of his documentary, Johnsen spoke at length with "Risky Business" producer Jon Avnet and writer/director Paul Brickman. They used the 928 because it was a "contemporary car" available at the time, one Joel's father — a successful Chicago businessman — would drive as a daily commute car. They almost went with the highly recognizable Porsche 911, but it was considered "too mundane" compared to the "fresh, different, and exotic" look of the 928.

Brickman allowed Johnsen to dig through the film's production records and raw cuts. Through meticulous research, he discovered the "primary driver" 928 had been rented (for $500 a day) from a local stock broker named Ted Kohl, one of only two people in the area who had the exact make, model, and color they needed. It was rented for 12 days and used for all the driving scenes, the famous final chase scenes, and most of the cast's actual "seat time."

The many faces of the 'Risky Business' Porsche 928

The second 928 (the "fill car") was used for additional driving scenes, but this one was from 1979. It had a five-speed manual transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, all-gold interior, but it had to be repainted with the factory Platinum Metallic paint job. According to Avnet, it was the actual car Cruise used to learn his stick-shifting ways. The third 928, also a 1979 five-speed, was used for just one scene with co-star Rebecca DeMornay and had a cream-colored interior (via Excellence Magazine).

The fourth 928 (the "dump car") was rented from a California props broker for the infamous scene where the car goes swimming in Lake Michigan. Initially, it was a brown 1979 automatic with 16-inch "Phone Dial" wheels that had to be painted factory Platinum Metallic. This one literally had the engine, drivetrain, and electronics removed to comply with Illinois state pollution laws and keep from getting ruined by the water. When they finished the scene, the car was pulled from the lake, put back together, and shipped back to the prop broker (via Excellence Magazine).

According to Johnsen, car five was either a model year '78 or '79, but records are unclear. What made it unique was that it had a sunroof and wasn't used in any of the scenes. Still, it played a big part in the publicity of the film. Look at the official movie poster, past DeMornay's seductive hood pose, and you can barely see the sunroof's outline. The sixth car — an undocumented and unknown 928 from California — was only used for sound dubs.

Investing in cars can be risky business

Johnsen wanted to purchase the primary car, but after hiring a private investigator discovered that it got shipped out of the country to an unknown foreign buyer. With that one lost, he and his PI went after the "fill car." They found it sitting in a garage — now painted white — in Cathedral City, California. After some back and forth, he bought it from the owner, who claimed he bought it three years prior from someone who had kept it in storage for twelve years.

The odometer read 102,580 miles, the fuel tank was leaking, and it needed some bodywork. Still, Johnsen fixed it up, took it to Maaco for a fresh coat of Platinum Metallic, and put it on display at Denver's Forney Museum of Transportation (via Excellence Magazine). Since then, the 928 has visited Porsche Cars North America and sat in Petersen Automotive Museum's Porsche Effect Exhibit (via Barrett-Jackson).

In July 2007, it sold for $49,200 at Profiles in History's Hollywood Treasures from the Vault auction, which was in the low range of what the auction house expected. However, in September 2021, the last known "Risky Business" 928 sold at Barrett-Jackson's Houston auction house in Houston for a staggering $1.98 million, a world-shattering record price for any Porsche, from any year, in any condition. According to Hagerty, a comparable price for the best condition 928 possible should only fetch $79,500.

Someone made a "Risky Business" decision, while another definitely saw "The Color of Money." Ok, we'll stop now.