C’était un rendez-vous – Story of the 1976 street racing film

C’était un rendez-vous – Story of the 1976 street racing film

C’était un rendez-vous (“It was a date” in english) is one of the first real street racing films.

At around 5:30 am on a Sunday morning in August of 1976 Claude Lelouch raced through the streets of Paris for exactly 8 minutes and 5 seconds at speeds of up to 140 mph (225 km/h) in his Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 with Eclair Caméflex (gyro-stabilized camera) attached to the front bumper. A big heavy Mercedes doesn’t seem like the best choice for such a movie, however there are reasons why it was chosen. It had special hydropneumatic suspension that helped to make the image smooth (not shaky). And although it didn’t handle all that well, it still had 286 horsepower and did 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) in 7.1 seconds which at the time was very fast. For example 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB did 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds.

The reason why we mentioned Ferrari 275 GTB is because soundtrack was dubbed with the sound of Lelouch’s Ferrari 275 GTB. In his opinion the Mercedes sounded too boring. Although not perfect, audio is pretty well synchronizated. Because of this there are people who believe that the car driven in this movie was Ferrari 275 GTB, but that’s not the case.

After the first public showing of the movie Lelouch got in some trouble with police but it all ended well for him and ultimately he didn’t suffer any consequences. For a while he claimed it wasn’t him, but a Formula 1 driver instead who drove the Mercedes in the movie.

Claude Lelouch performed multiple dangerous stunts during this video:

  • He ran through 18 red lights
  • At 3:35 in the video you can see Claude exiting Louvre Rue de Rivoli through archway tunnel. It wasn’t supposed to be a dangerous stunt because there was a spotter that was supposed to warn Claude through walkie-talkie if there was any traffic or pedestrians he could hit when leaving the tunnel which he couldn’t have seen himself. The problem is the walkie-talkie broke and the spotter couldn’t have warned Claude if there was any danger when he approached, thankfully, just by sheer luck, there wasn’t any.
  • At 4:56 Claude Lelouch is flashed by another driver for driving the opposite way
  • At 5:18 Claude Lelouch drives on the sidewalk to pass a lorry
  • At 6:04 pedestrian is forced to run across the street to avoid being hit by the fast approaching car

At the end of movie Claude Lelouch approaches Montmartre where he meets his girlfriend at the time Gunilla Friden. Lelouch said: “A guy who is going to meet a girl can take unnecessary risks because he doesn’t want to make her wait”. Ultimately C’était un rendez-vous is a love story – a love for cars and love for a very special girl.

C’était un rendez-vous route
Route of the of the C’était un rendez-vous

Who is Claude Lelouch?

Claude Barruck Joseph Lelouch, born in Paris on 30th October of 1937, is a French director and screenwriter. He is most well known for directing 1966 movie Un homme et une femme (“A man and a Women” in english) with whom he won “Palme d’Or” award at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival and two Oscars

Snow Patrol – Open Your Eyes

Alternative rock band Snow Patrol used footage from “C’était un rendez-vous” in music video for their song “Open Your Eyes”. The song was released in 12th February of 2007 and was the first time Lelouch allowed anyone to use footage from C’était un rendez-vous.

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