Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The coupe parked in the Universal Studio's shed circa 1975

Hey, how’s it hangin'? If you're like me than the answer is, "A little to the left." Any whooo, before I head off up to Petaluma, CA this Thursday, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of American Graffiti, I thought I'd post a special article featuring cool pictures of the yellow coupe (now known as Milner's Coupe). In a previous post sub-titled "The Fastest Thing in the Valley" I described the controversy over the size of the '32 Ford Coupe's engine and the rumors that exist as to the motor being swapped sometime after it was first featured in the film. Is it true? Is it not? Do we care? Is the new Pope Catholic? So, in an attempt to clear up the confusion (or add to it) the coupes’ current and longtime owner, Rick Figari sent me some scraps from his scrap book to share with my readers. That would be you. It’s the least we could do for those of you who aren’t able to attend the celebration. The pics featured here are from a short period in the car’s history and are exclusively of the coupe’s engine as it appeared directly after it was featured in the 1973 film up until it was restored in 1982 by the individual who purchased it from Universal Studios after the sequel, More American Graffiti, Steve Fitch.   After looking closely at these pics of the motor over the years, and some logical deduction, I'm pretty convinced that since it was first featured in the 1973 film, the coupe has had the same engine - just worse for wear each year.  Enjoy, and I'll see ya at the finish line.
The engine as appeared around the time it was featured in the film, The California Kid (1974)
A rear shot of the coupe parked at Universal Studios circa 1975.  After filming Graffiti in 1972, Transportation Supervisor, Henry Travers had prepared the car for street use prior to its planned sale.  To make it street legal he added a license plate light (in a lower position) and added a side view mirror.
The engine circa 1976.  Notice the chorme beginning to rust and the carbs and manifold covered in grime and bird droppings from the shed it was housed in.
This pic was taken circa 1979 right before it was put back on display on the Universal Studios Tour. Notice the oil filler cap is missing. It still has the original spark plug wires.
1979 Passenger side view of the engine with a dirty manifold and super cruddy carbs.  Notice the original wires are held together with electrical tape.
This 1980 pic shows how the engine appeared as the coupe was displayed on the Universal Studios Tour. Apparently many folks wanted a little bit of movie history and felt obliged to steal parts from it.  Notice the missing 2 scoops, wingnuts, oil dipstick, & radiator cap.

This pic shows how the engine looked in 1981 after Steve Fitch purchased the car from Universal Studios in a private auction.
A driver's side view of the engine as it looked in 1981 before owner Steve Fitch rebuilt the engine. The pic was taken after pressure washing the engine to remove some of the crud. The original valve covers are gone but it still has the same carbs, wires, plugs, etc. Notice the carbs are stuck in the "open" position. Henry Travers reportedly could never get those two carbs to perform properly when he attempted to prepare the engine for the movie's sequel
This 1982 pic shows how beautiful the engine looked after Fitch rebuilt it. Engine has new carbs, plug wires, oil filler, & radiator cap.  Rick Figari purchased the coupe from Fitch in 1986 and has since replaced the air filters with original movie-period scoops on the carbs.
~ FIN ~

1 comment:

  1. God bless you for this blog man, I just found this film, I watch it 2+ times a day. So nostalgic, and awesome