American Graffiti’s Transportation Supervisor, Henry Travers first saw the ‘51 Mercury coupe; in its original form, in the spectator's lot at a stock car track near the Northern-California town of Sonoma. It had the same wheel-covers and tires that appeared in the film. However, after it was purchased it was taken to Close and Orlandi's body shop where it was prepared for the movie in a slap-dash manner.
|The Merc as it appeared while on display at Universal Studios.|
Finally, after the hood, trunk and doors were shaved, the car was painted Cimarron red. All the modifications were done within the span of about 2 weeks. The stock 255.5, V-8 flathead engine topped with a Ford-Holley two barrel carburetor was left untouched.
|Rick Dreyfuss peers out the back where the side-rear quarter glass had been removed.|
|This snapshot of the interior, with a torn seat, was taken in the '70s while being stored at Universal Studios lot.|
The Pharaoh's car remained on display at Universal Studios Tours for several years after the film’s release before it was parked and stored in a shed on the lot.
|The '51 as it looked in the 1980s when it was owned by Stray Cat, Brian Setzer.|
|When he sold the Merc to Setzer, Big Daddy Roth added a personal touch on the left rear quarter, which reads: RUNAWAY BOYS. A nice tribute to one of the Stray Cats' incredibly smokin' tunes.|
In a 2001 interview Setzer said, "Graffiti or no Graffiti! [laughing] I had to get rid of it at a really embarrassing price, it was just a big pile of junk." Although the Merc was a "pile of junk," its appearance has spawned a lot of copycats that look and run much better than the submarine-like original ever has.
|This pic of the Merc was most likely taken after Setzer had sold the car.|
|Graffiti Transportation Mgr., Henry Travers. (circa 1972)|
|The original Merc rusted & busted in New York.|
|Is this the fate of the star car???|
|TRIBUTE TEAM GRAFFITI replica cars along with the original '58 Impala featured in the film.|
|Damn, those Pharaoh gang members are nothing without their car.|
- Ganahl, Pat. (May 1976). The American Graffiti cars. Street Rodder. vol 5. no. 5. USA. TRM Publications.
- Howard. (1976) [Photographer] Car Interior. The Universal Studio's Era-American Graffiti Film Cars. Jeff's All Graffiti All The Time Website. Retrieved 6/21/2012: http://jeffsallgraffitiallthetime.blogspot.com/2012/02/universal-studios-era-american-graffiti.html
- Shimmin, Glenn (Personal communication, May 2008).
- Stray Cats page. (1987-88). Street Machine. Retrieved 10/11/2010 http://www.rockabillyhall.com/StrayCats.html
- Setzer, Brian (May 7, 2001). [Quote re: Merc being a pile of junk] Retrieved 1/06/2011 http://briansetzer.com/home.