Saturday, July 9, 2016

Martin's Brush with The Wichita Kid....Steve Fitch

I get lots of email and it's really great how many people will take time to share personal American Graffiti stories with me. Most are something small or private. After reading Martins story I begged him to let me share it. In his email Martin paints a nice picture of his day with Steve Fitch.

Thing is I have been looking at these pictures for years. I found them on the net or got them from the  Graffiti underground, but I never knew the story behind them. After talking with Martin the only bummer for me is that Martin said he had a bunch more pictures from that day but he couldn't find them.

Hey Martin I'd still love to see them if you ever find them.


From Martin
The way I found out about Steve Fitch having the cars was he had an ad in the back of Hot Rod magazine selling the 55. I called him up and told him there was no way I could come up with the $20,000 price he was asking back then. That was in the 80's, forget what year, that was more than what my house was worth at the time LOL. Anyway, I explained that I would really like to see the car and told him my story. He said sure, come on up! I have the '32 also! Man I was blown away!

He was really nice, my brother and my cousin who lived in Wichita at the time went to his house to look at the '55 first. He lived in a typical 1960's era house. Had a tiny one car garage that housed the '55. There was nothing in there but the car (in AG trim) and the wheels and tires used on the car when it was a TLB car, they, the TLB tires and wheels were sitting by the door that led to the kitchen of the house. He pulled the car out and my brother took several pictures as Steve and I discussed the the history of the car.

After we talked and took the pics he invited us inside and we had a look at all of his AG memorabilia, it was excellent! He had posters, magazines, you name it!

The '32 was at his mom and dad's house just around the corner. Same style house, single car garage. The deuce fired right up and we talked about it, took a bunch of pics....By this time I felt as though I was imposing, not a serious buyer. He was ready to take me and the deuce for a ride as it needed a wash. I turned him down, can you believe it! On my way back to Guthrie I said to myself why did you do that? LOLOLOLOL

Martin with his butt parked in Milner's Coupe.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Street Rodder - 1991 Audio Talk by Wolfman Jack

I'm dedicating this weeks post to Mark (Kip Pullman) Grosbeck. Mark is a giant Graffiti fan who absolutely loves Wolfman Jack. I recently questioned Mark on a Graffiti factoid and It looks like I was incorrect. (But I'm still for hunting my facts Mark!! LOL) So to thank Mark for keeping me honest and always testing my Graffiti knowledge Here's Audio Talk by Wolfman Jack... Baby!!

                                       Enjoy Mark.  




Saturday, April 30, 2016

Street Rodder - 1976 November - Jeffs Coupe

Look it's Jeff's Coupe... No not mine the other Jeff

I was surprised to find out that Mr Beck was such a car guy. And not just a car guy he does most of his own work. Being bit by the Graffiti bug in the early days Beck built his own Graffiti Coupe. 

Jeff Beck's Milner Coupe was one of the earliest clones I have seen.

I have been following Jeff Beck's Coupe for years, and it's nice to see that since this 1976 article he has continually refined his coupe making it more and more like the original car from American Graffiti that he fell in love with so many years ago.   

Jeff Beck and the Owner of the Coupe Rick Figari 

Beck has visited the original coupe a few times and judging by the shape of his car now a days he pays attention to the details.

It definitely has the "LooK'

Ever wonder if Jeff is a die hard Graffiti fan?? Well he still has his Milner Coupe after 40 plus years.

Makes me wonder if I will still have my coupe in forty years?? Some times I wonder if I will have it done by then!!! Jeez!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Preview - 1979 I Dont Want To Be A Public Idol. Harrison Ford

A few years after the hit movie American Graffiti Harrison Ford was in another George Lucas film, you may have heard of..... It was called Star Wars

No, no chopped Land Speeders or Rocket Skates on Car Hops but still a pretty good movie. In this article Harrison talks about Star Wars but seems more concerned with his personal space.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Andy Warhol's Interview - 1974 Introducing Mackenzie Phillips

It's November Tenth that means It's Carol's.... Ummm Sorry It's Mackenzie Phillips Birthday!!!! In honor of  Mack's special day I am setting the Time Machine to Vintage 1974

Now kick back and enjoy one of the earliest interviews I could find on Milner's Steady.

This is an odd shaped 40 year old newspaper and due to the paper quality and Google Blog limitations to make it readable I had to do large scans so it will require a bit of scrolling.... I'm shore finding out about Mackenzie's Big Sex Scene with Toad will make it worth it. Enjoy JH


Friday, November 6, 2015

Well Good Evening.... Good Evening..

How are you?.... This is a really a beautiful car.. You know that??.. Of course you know it.. You know what I'd like to give you for this car??... I'd like to give you eight hundred thousand dollars... I can't give ya that... but I not give ya a whole line... I'm gonna tell ya what I can give ya.

I have not confirmed the new owner yet ,but if it is who I think it is the car won't disappear. I heard early on they had a lot of interest from outside the United States. I was afraid we may loose a national treasure but it sounds like she is just headed east.

I'm pretty shore this is not the last time we will see Bolander's ride.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Steve Fitch ,Milner's Coupe and the Waffle House Effect

Recently on social media I noticed a post in the vast sea of "hey what size tires does the coupe have and whats the radial equivalent"??? questions. It seems that after viewing some old pictures of the Piss Yellow / Puke Green Coupe a guy was questioning what happened to the original parts from the car as he noticed that some parts had been changed. Well someone fires out an answer of how they were thrown away. I know this is not true but hey it's a good reason to contact my old buddy Steve and talk Graffiti.

Ever have someone mention something and it all clicks. Well Steve Fitch had one of those moments in one of our recent communications. I can remember years ago Steve telling me the day he sold the coupe he included all of the original parts with it. Granted I didn't get an inventory list from him at the time but I already knew what was in the box.

I said Steve "The Waffle House Box". Steve said "I do remember a box" "you know I have not thought about that in years"  "I thought I threw that box away"  "I don't know why I would have, I tend to hang on to things"

Steve confirmed that a box went with the coupe and that it contained

4 Carburetors
2 Carburetor Scoops (there were only two on the car when he got it)
2 Front Shocks
Master Cylinder
Slave Cylinder
Distributor Cap and Spark plug wires

Other items included (but not in that box) were the firewall insert and the shifter. He also remembers  other miscellaneous parts?? Possibly the electric fuel pump as he had replaced it. Remember we are talking about things he did over 30 years ago. I was amazed at how many details he remembered when we were chatting.

The day the coupe left for California included in with all the paperwork was the American Graffiti Bumper Sticker and For Sale Sign that he had found inside the coupes door. I asked about the For Sale sign again and Steve said it had two ,three or possibly even four different phone numbers on it and a price of thirteen hundred dollars. He said he tried calling all of the numbers back then but was never able to get any answer. 

In a conversation I had with Gary Kurtz he told me they had paid thirteen hundred for the coupe when they bought it. Since the Coupe went up for sale after filming for fifteen hundred dollars I am guessing the sign was from an earlier owner.

We talked about my theory of how and when the bumper sticker got into the door. Steve agreed that is probably where it came from.
While we were on the topic I asked Steve why did he have the door panel off the car in the first place? He explained that he is very meticulous with the appearance of his cars and that he had removed the panels to touch up the black dye job that had been done on the coupe back in 1972. By 1981 a lot of the original white and red was showing. I asked about the red carpet that the coupe had during filming and he said it was already gone when he first saw the car.

I wondered how he ended up up with both cars? Steve said he had acquired Falfa's 55 and that he had been calling Universal Studio's a couple times a year asking about the coupe. He said it would depend on the persons mood as to how far he got with his calls. In time his persistence would pay off and he was even able to see the coupe in in person in 1979 after it's use in More American Graffiti. The car was complete and even got to heard the car run. At that time the Coupe was kept in a smaller locked garage inside of the larger transportation building. 

When Universal was ready to part with the aging film star Steve dealt with Jesse Sperry who had just joined Universal in 1981 as the Director of Transportation. Jesse would work for Universal Studios for 19 years before retiring and passing away in 2013. Steve said when he showed up to pick up the car is when he thought he may have made a mistake due to the condition of the car and missing parts. Remember Steve had not seen the car in two to three years. Luckily for us Fitch may have been discouraged but he didn't give up.

Steve said back then he would receive and answer fan mail. In the early days he would even go as far giving fans old parts from the cars. He remembers sending parts to fans as far away as Sweden.

Simple things like running to the gas station could turn into an all day affair when people spotted the Bitchiness Car In The Valley. Steve embraced the fans and was a great ambassador for the cars but admits it did get old after a while.

Believe it or not Falfa's 55 could fly below the radar. Steve told me that in 1978 he took it to the drive in movies and sat in that Wicked 55 Chevy as the sun went down and watched American Graffiti on the big screen with no one the wiser. Talk about a once in a lifetime moment!

Back then he was so busy he still doesn't know how he did it. Steve explained he was in Collage,Working full time, Restoring the 55 Chevy and the 32 Coupe from American Graffiti and somehow still found time to buy a house and spend some time working on his Corvette and a few other cars he had at the time.

Steve was lucky that his new house was a short distance from his parents house and he would rotate the graffiti cars between garages while working on them. Times were tight ,by the time the movie bookends were finished Steve had sold off all but one of his cars (a driver) to help finance the restorations.

While bouncing back and forth between stories I asked Steve Whats up with the yellow wires? Classic, Steve comes back with "I felt this way then and I feel this way now". "A yellow car should not have red spark plug wires"

Steve also said that one of the coolest things was watching fuel lines fill with fuel when you turn on the fuel pump. The downside was that the fuel lines were hard and cracked and occasionally sprung leaks.

Since the motor was a fresh rebuild and he only had two of the scoops installing air filters was a no brainier. The old gal looks pretty good considering magazine reports have her rotting behind a barn. I had to ask... and No Steve doesn't have a barn.

Interesting factoid. When Steve was selling the cars he had a offer to trade from the man who owned the 1955 Oldsmobile that Burt Reynolds drove in W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings.

I think I am a super fan of the movie but Steve makes me look like a rookie. Steve even found the right girl who would tolerate his Graffiti obsession. When they eloped to Reno in 1987 for their honeymoon they continued on to Dixon California and visited Sam Crawford's house and got to see a white shirt and cowboy hat that came with the Falfa's 55 when Sam bought it from Universal.

They went and met Rob Marcheese and saw his coupe creation.

Then they ended up meeting Figari on Frates road at 6 am. Steve said at that time of the morning the place still had that Graffiti vibe. They stayed at Ricks while in San Fransisco. By 1987 Mel's Drive In was long gone but Rick located Milner's spot and parked the Coupe there and let Steve do his best Milner impersonation.

I asked Mr Fitch when was he was infected by the Graffiti Bug. He said that he got it on Christmas night 1973. Seems his little brother came home and said you must see this movie. It's an old movie but Ron Howard is grown up in it? Steve had no idea at that time how going to the movies would change his life forever. Cool thing was that the theater showing American Graffiti was giving away a black 1955 Chevrolet if you could guess the mileage. Steve narrowed it down to with in 50 miles of the odometer reading but didn't win the car. Personally I am glad he didn't win! If he did he may not have gone on the wildest Graffiti Quest to date.

Many Thanks to Steve for setting the record straight and sharing his American Graffiti with all of us.