Friday, February 17, 2012

You Got The Same Secret Dream - American Graffiti Merc

Go ahead, you can admit it. You Want to be a Pharaoh ~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you build a Clone or Tribute car what ever you call it that's great. What burns me up is guys who say they have an original car when don't. What is even worse than that is trying to sell it as original when it's not.

Well we have all seen the 55's being passed off as Falfa's Wicked Chev. There has been more than a few Super Fine Machines who claim to be Bolanders 58 Impala that have came up for sale. Well seems it happening yet again but this time it's not Milners Coupe that has been found behind a barn its the Pharaoh's 51 Merc.

Buyer Beware -1-24-2012
A guy on the west coast has been telling people for years that he has the original Merc. He shows the car telling everyone who will listen that ya that's it. Bo Hopkins has used the car as a backdrop for autograph signings furthering the "real car" story. I am not going to waste time arguing about this. Just remember this date and remember where you heard it from. Here at Graffiti Central I pride myself on the facts.
I just love the wording on the display. Lots of wiggle room.
Check out his display photo's He has a picture of Glen Shemin's American Graffiti Merc copy as his before photo. Take a close look at the picture and you can see Bolander's 58 Impala (owned by Mike Famalette since filming) in the back ground. That photo was taken at a Petaluma show.

Since this guy is telling stories Now let me tell you a little story.

The 1951 Mercury was found in the parking lot of a race track and purchased by Universal Studio's. Henry Travers and some friends did a quickie chop on the car. From what I have been told they didn't even weld the roof sections together they used sheet metal screws to piece it back together. There was little time and even less budget for altering the cars so they didn't even bother cutting glass for the car. The rear window was slid down into the trunk and I hear that they mixed a 5 gallon bucket of bondo up poured it onto the center of the roof and a couple guys troweled it out.

The drive train and suspension were left stock. Keep in mind they only modified what would be seen on screen and since the Merc did not see a ton of screen time it was built as such. I think they did a great job. Hey it looked good on film to me and Like Milner's Coupe it got more than just a few guys into the customs.
 (above) Henry Travers posing with the completed car. The Original Pharaoh Merc was put up for sale after filming wrapped. No one bought the low rider. The Merc laid around at Universal Studio and ended up in a display on a Universal tour.
Sometime in the mid 80's the Merc was sold. There are several stories of who bought the car. The story's range from Front man David Lee Roth of Van Halen owning the car to two different guys in California claiming to have bought it. There has never been any documentation to prove these facts.
 We do know that Brian Setzer owned the car for a short time. (Brian in the Merc circa 1987) That story is that he bought the car sight unseen and was not happy when he did. The Merc was sent to Ed Roth for body and paint. Ed also added twin spot lights and his unique one of a kind stripes to the car.
Setzer is quoted as saying after that the car looked OK but drove poorly and was always breaking down. Brian sold the car to a friend in New York. The man who bought the car passed away. In respect for the family I am not going in to the that story. I will say his death was accidental and it was not in the car. I know if you have read this far you have heard the story about the death Merc
Fast foward more than a few years and here is the Merc being moved around in a storage lot. The old beauty has seen her time out in the elements and looks to be in rough shape but she is still wearing some of Ed Roth stripes. I am glad to see that the Roth installed spotlights have been removed.         

 01-24-2012 there is a guy who says he has the original movie car. Says he bought it from the owners brother. That's where the house of cards folds. The original owners brother still has the Merc.
This picture is from my  G.S.S. Graffiti Surveillance Satellite. Well OK Google. I know it's hard to see but believe me it is it. Note the black 57 Chevy parked in front of it. Does seeing the Merc rust away in the back of a storage lot makes you sad? Well you won't be sad for long then. The Merc has recently made it way inside and is being worked on. No the car is not for sale. No I am not handing out the mans information. I respect his privacy. Don't worry the day he want me to tell his story I will!!!!!

This is not the first time and I and I know it wont be the last. Back in 1978 Someone was trying to pass off this Mercury as not only the American Graffiti Merc but he says it was also used in Happy Days. Makes me wonder if this is the same guy???? Be Safe out there folks. Double check your facts


  1. Well done Jeff-
    That guy can just get a wheelchair and roll himself home!

  2. Yes he can and I don't care if he knows Toby Warez or not.

  3. Great article. I wasn't aware the Merc had been moved inside out of the elements. That's good to know. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of the original. In regards to the fake car owner, I really would like to see the guy claiming to have the original exposed in public for the fraud and phony he truly is. Maybe on some live TV show in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers. "This is your life, you LOSER!" LOL


    1. Hey Chris glad you enjoy the site. It's a labor of love for me. I also hope to see the Merc back in the spotlight someday but I fear we may not. Keep the faith

  5. hey there, after reading your article i would have to lean towards this truth for the moment... i do know this particular merc and owner, goes to same church... when talking with this guy ya anyone would say "this is the car" but for me, this is just another mans hot rod... if it was "the car" i as a major car fan would expect nothing other than it to be rebuild as close to original in the movie... will talk with guy some more and get to the bottom of it...facts are the only way to go with movie cars...

  6. I know this is an old comment, but did you end up talking to the guy? I'm really curious about its current status..

    1. Hey Shorty Last I heard is that the car has not moved. I had heard it was inside but I have since had a new report that it is still sitting the the same place it has for years. If I hear anything new I post about it. Stay Tuned.