After reading and article in an old hot rod magazine I figured for the best place for correct coupe information was to go to the source. I started digging to find the man who bought the coupe from Universal Studio's. I figured if anyone could answer coupe questions correctly it would be him. I turned up a name and number. Steve Fitch. Oddly enough he like Rick was also located in Kansas. Rick took the helm and pushed the buttons to make the Fitch connection. This contact opened a door to the star cars circa 1981-84
"Season of the Fitch"
Steve could not have been any nicer. Providing what facts he could remember over the phone. Rick being the tenacious graffiti fan that he is did it one better and as a birthday present to himself he loaded up and went to visit Mr Fitch in person. Rick said he had a great time. During that visit Steve dug out an old photo album and shared these pictures with Mr Blevins.
Steve bought the 1932 Ford 5 window Coupe better know as "Milner's Coupe" on August 19 1981.
I had to laugh when I heard that the first thing Steve did when he saw the coupe in person was to rifle through the "Ticket Pouch" to see if any were still there. Sadly None of the "CS" tickets were found.
I wonder if that was done for safety or to match the coupe's color scheme at an earlier point in it's life. Remember this was not always a movie prop. From the looks of the underside of the car and it's oddball mix of parts it lived a full life in it's first 40 years.
Always questioning the 32's pedigree. I was able to locate Gary Kurtz'sKurtz said he thought they had purchased the deuce out of Compton California in 1970/71.
Anyone remember a red full fendered 5 window coupe in that area??? Let me know.
Steve said the original carburetors were froze so he installed a different quartet of Rochester 2GC's. Don't worry Steve did not scrap the originals. They went into the trunk the day the coupe sold so as to not to split up the originals from their home.
I questioned Steve about some of the facts given in the 1984 issue of Hot Rodding. Steve talks about the work it took to save the original 1966 327 block. He said it took a .060 overbore to clean the cylinder walls. Then he mentions the lift and duration of the cam? I ask him how do you know this?? Thinking did he measure the camshaft??? Steve giggles and says no I know the spec's because that is the camshaft I bought for it. Fitch said the cam that had came out of the motor appeared to be stock and nothing special.
The early (pre 1981) magazines always described the coupe as having a 283. Fitch confirms that in 81 when he bought the car it had a 327. OK no biggie it's all small block easy mistake to make. Even I can't see cubes!!! From recent facts and pictures shared with me looks like the early reports were wrong. Milner's Coupe is still twisting the same mill it had during filming. 327. 327. 327. That's for the guys who just scan the article for facts! 327. Oh and it's Borg Warner T-10 NOT a Super T-10.
Look at Steve. "Ain't He Neat"
Poster: Graeme Oliver
"Steve Fitch of Wichita, Kansas, owned the Graffiti cars back in the 80's, and sent me this photo.
After he had done a rebuild on Milner's coupe, he sent me one of the original tappet-cover studs from the engine. In hot rodding terms, this is like having a holy relic and I keep it in a glass case in my living room."
I thought that was a really cool story when I read it. I often wondered if they were friends or if the guy was just lucky? Thanks to a bunch of HAMBers I found out that Steve spent hours of his time to answer the countless envelopes that jammed his mailbox once graffiti fans found out that he owned the cars. Here are a few of the personal story's I was giving the green light to share.
"Here's the two pics Steve sent me back in the 80's, actually he sent a postcard with the pics thanking me for my interest"
I was in Wichita back in the late 80's with a buddy of mine (Mike aka Coop), cruising around in his 70 440+6 roadrunner. We happened into a parts store and a really cool guy strikes up a conversation. Here we are talking to Steve Fitch! He tells us to follow him to his house where he proceeds to show us these pics, he had just recently sold the cars. (said the 55 would've easily won the race by the way!Lol) He tells us to follow him on foot around the corner from his house and there thru the windows of a garage of a buddy of his is the black and gold car from W.W. and the Dixie dance kings! His buddy wasn't home so we didn't get in the garage but what a day! The 6 pack tended to leave a little "residue" on the back bumper of my buddies runner so when we leave town to head back home he writes in the soot "I JUST MET STEVE FITCH". It was a while before he washed that bumper! Steve is a VERY cool guy! Memories!
I know Rick can't agree more.
Like that is not cool enough during the visit Rick stumbled into Steve's garage (doing his best Harrison Ford in the temple of doom imitation) scanning for any relics left behind.
Keeping up that good Graffiti karma Rick split his score with his long time friend Doug "The Guru" Bjorn (no relation to Anna Bjorn you know Milner's girl friend in More American Graffiti)
Rick and Doug are true Graffiti brothers that usually have something in the works over at their web site http://www.projectthx138.com/
The for sale sign had a phone number. Seizing this enchanted moment Steve called the number on the sign. Unfortunately he said there was no answer or that the number was out of service. Lots of guys would like to know the cars history before it became a film icon. "A lot of guys try" "Seems like there is more now than there has ever been" For now it remains a mystery.
Years after that conversation with Fitch. I was on one of my many Graffiti quests and I found this picture that may explain where that bumper sticker in the passengers door came from. Jeff