The dream is always the same. In the mid-1990s, Lewis Johnsen began searching the internet for pictures of the 928 used in Tom Cruise’s breakout film, Risky Business. Johnsen, who talked his older sister into taking him to see the film when he was but 14 years old, had always dreamed of owning the shark-nosed Porsche from the film.
Talking with Johnsen today, it’s obvious that the film left a lasting impression on him. Says Johnsen: “Among other things, the movie inspired me to strive for college.” Johnsen would go on to earn a degree in Communication Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder and then land an internship at the local NBC affiliate. Later, he hosted and produced a home-improvement show in Denver for the now defunct PAX network. Eventually, Johnsen ended up in corporate marketing, but a certain silver 928 was always on his mind: “Being a car enthusiast, I always wondered what happened to the 928 from Risky Business.
“I assumed it was in a car museum somewhere,” continues Johnsen. “But I couldn’t find anything related to the car on the web.” After ten years of periodic online searches, Johnsen got serious and set out to find the Risky Business 928 in late 2005 — once and for all. He also considered the search an excellent oppor-tunity to produce a documentary, something he’d always wanted to do. John-sen’s first move was tracking down Risky Business producer Jon Avnet.
“After a few phone calls and e-mails, Jon accepted my request for an on-camera interview for the documentary,” says Johnsen. Shortly thereafter, Johnsen was on a plane to Los Angeles. “I was in awe at first, being in Avnet’s office. It took a while before I felt normal around him.” After the interview, Avnet offered to help with the documentary, giving Johnsen the green light to go through the film’s production records, wardrobe, and raw cuts. “I was given access to the movie’s production files, which took a lot of trust on Avnet’s end.” Avnet even helped Johnsen attain interviews with several of the cast and crew members from the film.
Johnsen spoke with the film’s writer and director, Paul Brickman, next. Brick-man said he chose Porsche’s 928 as the film’s luminary in lieu of other high-end GTs initially considered because he felt a Ferrari or Lamborghini would be far too exotic for the main character’s father to drive as a daily car. Brickman initially considered Porsche’s iconic 911, but ultimately dubbed it “too mundane.” He saw the 928, on the other hand, as exactly the type of car a successful Windy City businessman would drive to work every day. The 928 was one of the most contemporary cars available at the time Brickman wrote the script. It was fresh, different, and exotic — yet in a subtle way.
Through his conversations with Avnet and Brickman, Johnsen learned that he wasn’t after one 928, but several 928s. The idea that one 928 would have been used for filming, ultimately being totaled after being dumped into Lake Michigan for the sinking Porsche scene after every other scene was in the can, might make sense. But, through his research, Johnsen found there were four different 928s used for filming, as well as two more cars used in the film’s post-production phase.
What’s more, none of the four 928s used for the production of Risky Busi-ness exactly match the car as it is actually portrayed on film. The cars present a mix of years, wheels, transmissions, and original colors — all similar yet slightly different from one another. RB 928, as portrayed in the film, is a 1981 Platinmetallic 928 with a five-speed manual transmission, offset “Phone-Dial” cast alloy wheels, a gold interior, and Illinois State license plate tag number N2Z 264. And the primary 928 used for filming in real life was a Platinum Metallic 1981 928, but with an automatic transmission, flat-face 15-inch “Phone-Dial” wheels, a brown dash, gold seats, and a non-reflective prop Illinois license plate, number N2Z 264.