Monday, September 29, 2014

Cruising: the cars of "American Graffiti"

I know I look like Toad.

A gift.
Given the popularity of the film's cars with customizers and hot rodders in the years since its release, their fate immediately after the film is ironic. All were offered for sale in San Francisco newspaper ads; only the '58 Impala (driven by Ron Howard [and Charles Martin Smith]) attracted a buyer, selling for only a few hundred dollars. The yellow Deuce and the white T-bird went unsold, despite being priced as low as US$3,000. The registration plate on Milner's yellow, deuce coupe is THX 138 on a yellow California license plate, slightly altered, reflecting Lucas's earlier science-fiction film.
— From here

Steve (Ronny Howard's character) must have had rather rich parents to be driving and customizing a relatively new high-end car. Part of the movie's background: California car culture was possible because the country was in a boom, so many teenagers had lots of spending money, to buy records, for example. But not all: most hot-rodders were like Milner, self-taught engineers making do with '30s-early '50s cars, cheap and very used. Rat rods, Frankenstein's monster cars from junkyard parts. I'm about nostalgia so I love stock. That Impala, thank God, is still around!

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