Sunday, September 18, 2016

The 1958 American Graffiti Impala has a new owner. Ray Evernham

Pretty exciting Graffiti kinda day. I got to sit down with Ray Evernham. You may have heard of him?? He's the new owner of the 1958 Impala from American Graffiti!!! Really nice guy, really passionate about cars. AND!! Turn's out he's a fan of my web site....

With all of the Nascar racing going on at Chicagoland Speedway this week I figured I would give it a shot. So I asked if he would be in town over the weekend and turns out he was. I gotta say I was pleasantly surprised when Ray graciously agreed to meet with me.

I won't lie it was a bit of a stressful day. Logistics! First I had to borrow a car to go to Chicago as my extended cab work truck complete with a pipe rack on the roof doesn't fit in most parking structures. My only car is my Coupe and we all know!! It's still not finished!! So save the comments! (big grin)  Luckily one of my Boss's slide me the keys...or should I say FOB for his newer Caddy. I am so old school. I felt like I was piloting the U.S.S. Enterprise. That car has more controls/knobs/switches....and lights and buzzers than any video game I have ever played. 

I never figured out the stereo or climate controls but did get to spend some quality time trying to find the most comfortable seat settings as Saturday afternoon traffic on the 290 didn't disappoint and was good for better than an hour of my day on the way into the city.

 I figured parking would be fun. No surprise that there were no street parking available so you know what that means......

Parking Garage!!!!!

After driving the concrete corkscrew for five levels I find a space. Whew I finally made it!

Running close to the time of our meeting I found myself wondering around inside a downtown hotel completely lost. With the clock ticking I quickly grab the first hotel staffer I can find and get some directions. Turns out I was on the wrong floor. Good thing was a quick escalator ride would put me to where I needed to be.

As I am riding up the escalator to my destination I begin to feel a bit under dressed.

I was immediately reevaluating what seemed to be such good wardrobe choice just a few short hours before... the black T-shirt emblazoned with a yellow 56 California plate on the front felt just a little out of place in this grand room mixed in with a flood of Suits and Gowns.

I spotted Ray and quickly made my way over. He was texting or dialing someone on his phone so I didn't want to interrupt him so I stopped short to give him his privacy during his call. He glanced up and looked at me and then went back to his phone not knowing who I was. (turns out he was texting me) I stood there for a few moments more and Ray looked up again and it wasn't like I was Waldo I was pretty easy to spot he stood and said you must be Jeff.

We shook hands and grabbed a seat. I said wow nice place! Looking up at the ceiling... Stay here often? Ray said he doesn't come to Chicago much anymore and this was his first time at this hotel. I figured since it was his first stay there that I wouldn't mention that when I was checking the place out online that I had read reports of it being haunted.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to gather info for a story for the site. Gotta keep up with the new owners you know. Meeting a Nascar legend was just an added bonus. So I sit down and wheel out my note pad and two pens (just in case!) Well we ended up talking for over an hour and I never wrote down a word. We ended up talking about racing...(more mine than his) We talked about our Dads. We did get talk about music and American Graffiti...a little before we got swarmed with suits and Ray had to move along to his next commitment.

Before the crowds rushed in Ray did show me some progress pictures of the Impala on his phone. Looks to be done or real close to it. I have never had a chance to see the Impala in person before, but after seeing the job that Ray and Axalta have done and hearing the lengths they have gone to on this car I know I am looking forward to seeing it in the future. The car looks like 1972 again.

Don't worry Impala fans before I lost Ray to a sea of people he did say that he would answer questions and float me some photos of the car for an article later.

So I skip out of the hotel feeling like I stepped through  a worm hole in time. It felt like I had just spent five minutes talking to Mr E when it had been a lot longer than that?? Didn't talk about much but we talked the whole time?? Felt more like two old friends just catching up.

After a short walk and an elevator ride I locate the Batmobile right where I left it in slot 572... After I set the turbines to speed I descended down four levels before returning to the concrete corkscrew dumping me of at the dreaded pay box.

I dig my ticket out and insert it. GIGGITY! 29.00$ Ahhh it's not just that I'm broke...I'm cheap to! I must say I did get over the sticker shock of parking in Chicago relatively quickly as the navigation screen lite up and informed me that traffic was going to make me glad I hit the bathroom on my way out of the hotel

It was right! Took me over an hour to get back home. Thing is I'd do it again tomorrow. Jeff

Graffiti Alert!!!!!     Graffiti Alert!!!!!     Graffiti Alert!!!!!     Graffiti Alert!!!!!

If you have ever wanted to see the Impala in person Ray and Axalta Coating Systems will unveil it in Axalta’s booth #22391 at the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas on November 1-4.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Guitar World - 1985 May. One Gone Rockabilly Cat Brian Setzer

Good Luck finding anyone on the planet who doesn't know Brian Setzer plays guitar, but I'll bet far less know he is into cars and even less would guess that at one time Mr S owned the Pharaoh's Merc.  
Not a Copy,Clone or a Tribute the Real Deal
I have read that he said it was the worst car he had ever owned. It was constantly breaking down. 
Brian had a bunch of work done to the car. Ed Roth is credited for the fresh paint and stripes at the time and even the hand lettered Runaway-Boy on the quarter panel.
Stories have circulated for years that Setzer bought or sold the famous low rider to or from the lead singer of Van Halen. Years of research point to it being just that ..A Story. Diamond Dave has had his share of Merc's.. just not this one.
Fact is that Brian sold the car to a man in New York and it's still there.
If your into the Mercury you've probably also hear the "Death Merc" story. Once again "Story" Nobody died in the car!! Wrong movie....that was in Christine. 
Silly side note I have over 200 posts on this site but as I was labeling this I noticed that I had never posted an article from 1985 before. Put that in the done column! Then I started looking and all I need to cover the years 1972 to present is articles from 1988 2014-15 and 16. Looks like I need to pry the door off the graffiti vault and see if I can fill in the blanks. Till then enjoy... Jeff

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