Laying Some Rumors To Rest - An
Everyone pretty much knows the story of why George Lucas made the movie American Graffiti. One of the biggest stars of the movie was the little yellow deuce coupe. If you don’t know this by now, you wouldn’t be here reading this.
As you all know, Steve Fitch was the original guy to own the Coupe after the movie was finished. However, Steve didn’t own the coupe right after the movie, because the studio just didn’t want to sell it. In fact, it wasn’t until 1981 that Steve was able to buy the coupe, and then it was a fluke. Funny thing is that the only reason Steve wanted the coupe was because he already owned the ’55; he didn’t really desire the coupe. But he wanted a matching set. It took him a long to acquire it, and then he had to bid on it. He put in a first bid that he thought would win the car – and the only reason that he was able to bid was because he owned the ’55, which in 1979 he bought from Sam Crawford.
Steve acquired the ’32, but actually had put in a second bid because he had gotten wind from someone in the studio that there were others at the studio interested in the coupe. He was told that if he really wanted it, he might want to up his bid. In the end, he won by the total sum of only $200.
After Steve got the motor back, he started in on a
not-so-much restoration, but more of a clean-up job, making sure the car
was street worthy and clean after its neglect.
There was some polishing, painting, etc.
He had to replace the electric fuel pump, the clutch, new shifter
– the original shifter used during the filming was so loose that you
could never find a gear in it.
In fact, if you go back and listen to interviews with Paul, he
comments that it was difficult to drive because the gear shifter was so
sloppy; you just couldn’t find a gear.
Steve put in the
Steve also had to replace the valve covers, because they had been stolen off the car, along with the door handles and cranks. He had to replace the carbs, because the originals were ruined and unusable. He replaced them with the carbs that are on the Coupe today.
Special note: The difference in a 2G and a 2GC is that a 2GC carb has a provision on the right side of the carb to attach an electric choke, hence the “C” in 2GC stands for Choke. The 2G does not have this provision, and is a manual choke carb.
Steve also changed the spark plug wire looms, both front and rear. The original front were a set of ’57-’58 Corvette stock wire looms that had been modified by being straightened out. These were replaced with the Mr. Gasket wire looms that are on the car to this day, and are available in my parts store.
The rear wire looms were a set of original Cal Custom wire looms, and Steve also replaced these with a set of Mr. Gasket wire looms. These wire looms that are on the car today can be bought at any auto parts store.
Steve also changed the Cal Custom carb scoops. He replaced these scoops because when he bought the car, it only had two of them on it, and they were in pretty bad shape. He just put a matching set of carb scoops on, which are still on the car today.
Now we will fast forward to October 4, 2008, the day of my 39th birthday. I had made arrangements with Mr. Steve Fitch a few weeks prior to this date to visit him and sit down and talk to him about our beloved coupe.
The VIN number on the title was wrong! When Steve purchased the Coupe, he was given a title with a VIN number that they told him was for the car. However, this VIN number turned out to be for a 1930 model A. VIN number: ______. Steve went ahead and titled it under that, but Rick Figari corrected this and has it currently titled under a ’32 VIN number in CA.
He also noted that he did have the firewall insert replaced, because the original, which was made out of stainless, was so scratched up that it could not be polished out. So he had a new insert made for the car; the difference is that the new one is made out of aluminum, and it has a half-moon cut in the top as opposed to the square notch, and the original firewall had two notches on the side of the insert to allow for a tight fit. The insert today does not have these notches on the side.
Steve had replaced the front shocks because the
originals were wasted and did not absorb anything.
He replaced them with a
Just for future note to all you Coupe fanatics, Steve has told me everything possible that he can remember on this coupe, so there is really no need to contact him- you can contact me since I asked him everything. Since it’s been so long since he owned this car, and it wasn’t his original baby (his true love was the ’55), he has forgotten a lot of stuff. It has, after all, been 24 years since he owned it.
At the time Steve won the Coupe, he really didn’t
have the money to spend on it, so he had to sell a couple of his cars to
have the cash to finish the deal.
So, if anyone thought that he was a rich man and had the extra
money laying around to do this - he didn’t.
He was just like all of us, and had to sell a couple of old cars
to help finance the purchase of the original coupe.
Then, when he got it home, his house only had a one-car garage.
He kept one car at his dad’s house, and one at his house. His dad
asked him if he was crazy for buying the coupe, because it really didn’t
look that great when he got it home – he wondered just what he had
gotten himself into.
Steve said that the car had a very distinct smell inside the cab, and if you watch Hot Rods Across America Part 2, you will see Steve at the Dallas World of Wheels talking to Rick Figari, and Steve mentions this smell as he sits in this car again for the first time since he sold it.
Needless to say, I was very giddy and my emotions were running very high, as I knew that I was holding a piece of history in my hands. (A present update on these parts is that I have given 1 wire loom and 1 nut to my good friend, Doug Bjorn – the Guru – for his Graffiti car. See? I’m not so selfish!
To end the day off on a very good note, when I got home my wife was smoking bbq ribs for my birthday, and I found out that my white trash neighbor was moving out that day! (I know!!! I should have headed out to the river boats for some gambling, as I don’t think I could have done wrong!)
(To see the Steve Fitch photos, click on the Wicked Photos tab in the Mafia site)
Chasing Down A Dream
I was married 10 years ago this year and not too
long after the wedding I bartered with my wife. You see my wife
wanted to start a family and I wanted John Milner's 1932 Ford coupe,
so we made a deal. The deal was we would start trying to have a baby
and I would start on a mission that would soon take over my life.
Un-corking the "Headers"
This site is dedicated to the original American Graffiti Coupe, and all of its followers. This site has been designed to show various photos of the original coupe, coupe products, and to be as complete a resource as possible for information on how to build your own version. We have special pages dedicated to showing pictures of our site fan's clones of this famous coupe. We don't care what kind of car you have. We just all enjoy a love for this coupe.
There is another site out there that is also a big follower of the coupe, but they believe that unless you have a steel body, your car is second-rate. We do not care what your car is made of, as long as you enjoy it. It really doesn't matter what other people think.
There are also a few hotrod sites (or a particular site), H.A.M.B. (which stands for Hokey Ass Message Board), of which most of the members are dead set against the American Graffiti Coupe - they don't like it, don't believe anyone else should have one, and don't want to see another one. To them, we would like to say "**** OFF". I know that a lot of HAMB members don't feel this way, as we have a lot of fans that are members, and I myself am a member of HAMB. It's just that a lot of the cars they like have white walls, and they don't really know what cars from this era really looked like.
My point is that the original Graffiti Coupe WAS NOT a movie prop. This car was built as a hot rod by somebody (probably on their first attempt), with parts that were either laying around or that they had access to - as most of the cars from that day were. The only thing that the studio did was to paint the car so it would show up better at night, added the Man-A-Fre (which was an actual 1957 item), threw on some chrome reverse, and sectioned the grill shell to give the car more of a raked look.
Every time I hear somebody say "Oh, it is just a movie prop," I laugh to myself and think that these people would not know a real hot rod if it fell from the sky and landed on them. Which brings me to another point. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY should EVER tell anyone else what to build or how to build it. It's pretty much "keep your opinions to yourself." It's like if someone said "Oh, great! Another model A - I haven't seen enough of those!" These cars that they are so in love with are more "a dime a dozen" than our Graffiti Coupe. I guarantee you that if you go to a car show, you will see more of their cars than you will ever see of the American Graffiti Coupe. Which means that in today's time, no one is going to build a hot rod that someone else has not already built in the past. It's all been done. Unless you are going to do something freaky, like drop a Ferarri engine in it or do something like that - it's all been done a million times over.
So, when somebody says that they are going to build an American Graffiti Coupe, they ought to be saying "man, that's cool - another old hot rod getting back on the street," just as we say its cool when another old hot rod like a Chevy is getting back on the road. It doesn't matter what you're driving, so long as it's getting back on the road.
Many years ago, I grew frustrated when there was just nothing out there on this car, or it was so scattered that it took literally forever to learn anything - and then you would find confusing information from different sites. Once I started putting it all together and started combing over every picture I could get my hands on of the original coupe. My friend, Trapper, suggested we put out a site of our own, which would share all of this hard-gained information. After almost a year of painstaking design, figuring out what we wanted to include and how to show it, Projectthx138.com was born.
We worked with our Project THX 138 brother, Doug "The Guru" Bjorn, and many other people to figure out what parts were on the car. It's not that we did this all ourselves - we worked with others for countless hours for countless years to figure this out. We have also had the pleasure to work with Ed and Chris Ostresky at New Age Motorsports to replicate this car. For some, this car is a hobby - for us, it's almost a way of life. We consider ourselves very passionate about this little coupe, and we are willing to help out anyone with any question or any concern they have about this car - all you have to do is ask. We'll be more than glad to help you out - member or non-member.
We dedicate our site to the love of hot rodding, and especially to the American Graffiti Coupe. We love this car - and it don't matter to us if it’s steel or fiberglass. The whole spirit of hot rodding isn't about making your car look like it came off the show-room floor - it is about the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making it the way you want it.
Traction Bar Setup
As all of you out there know the Original American Graffiti Coupe has certain things on it that just really make it the American Graffiti Coupe. If it did not have these things then people would NEVER suspect our little hot rods to be a replica of the famous coupe. These things that REALLY stand out are the color, open engine bay, 4x2 intake, chrome reverse wheels, bobbed rear fenders, front cycle fenders, headers sticking out, firewall insert, and what I feel is the most important thing is the STANCE. There is just something about this little coupes stance! It just has the BEST rake as I have ever seen on any other hot rod. I mean when you look at this coupe from any angle it always looks like the nose is down and the rear is up like a good hunting dog (yip, I'm from the country). The one real tale of this sign is the traction bars, as they are ALWAYS running down hill to the front doors. Well after GREAT PAINS on building these coupes Myself and the guys over at New Age Motorsports have figured out how this is done the proper way and wait till you hear how this is done............ TO FIND OUT HOW THESE STORY ENDS LOG ON TO THE MILNER'S MAFIA WEBSITE!!!!!!
As many of you out there know, Doug Bjorn a few years ago created a VERY nice Milner horn cap/button for all of us Graffiti Coupe Junkies. This horn cap/button was done by looking at photos of the original graffiti coupes steering wheel photos. The horn cap/button was put into a homemade press a pressed out to look like Milner's. The horn cap/button was (and still is) fully functional. Now here is the thing, this year Doug was lucky enough to actually win an actual Ansen horn cap/button. With this being said, the first thing Doug found out is that his horn cap/button was actually a little bigger than the real Ansen horn cap/button (you could actually take the Ansen cap and place it in the first one Doug made and move it around). The reason for this is the actual Ansen horn cap/button is for a NON-FUNCTIONAL horn! That's right boys and girls this cap is for a car with no horn! Of course Doug and myself already knew this because we have an old Ansen catalog showing the horn cap/button. The thing we didn't know was how small the actual Ansen horn cap/button really was until Doug bought one! Well, with all this being said, Doug set right out to duplicate this Ansen horn cap/button and within a couple of weeks Doug had recreated this original Ansen horn cap/button to a spiting image! So now for all you graffiti coupe freaks out there (like me) you now can get your hands on a 100% DEAD ON CLONE of the Ansen horn cap/button! For those of you wanting to purchase this copy of the Ansen horn cap/button, contact Doug Bjorn at THX138FAN@yahoo.com . TRUST ME, YOU'LL BE GLAD YOU DID!!!! Below is a picture of the two differnt types of horn caps/buttons that Doug can make for you. They are pictured with the Original Ansen horn cap/button. Can you tell the which one is the fake and which one is the real one?????