Field Car No More: Ray Evernham Restored the ’58 Chevy Impala via American Graffiti
“When I was growing up, in which was about in which car,” said Ray Evernham of the 1958 Chevrolet Impala owned by graduating senior Steve Bolander [Ron Howard] as well as memorably driven by Charles Martin Smith’s Terry the Toad character in American Graffiti. “I don’t know if in which’s in which I see myself as more of a Steve or a Toad than a Bob Falfa [Harrison Ford] or a John Milner [Paul Le Mat], yet there’s just something about in which. In its 22 minutes of screen time, all the characters interact with in which. Even Bob sits on the fender at the end of the movie.”
Evernham had pestered your vehicle’s owner to sell the Impala to him for years, as well as when the Chevy was finally set to go up for auction in 2015, the NASCAR legend as well as TV host managed to acquire in which through negotiations. Parked since 1974, when its owner enlisted within the Marine Corps, the Impala was in pretty sad shape when in which was finally sold. The lacquer paint was literally falling off your vehicle. The original 348-cubic-inch engine had been replaced by a 283 smaller-block which has a four-barrel carb. The Indoor had faded appreciably. in which was, as Milner said of Falfa’s ’55 Chevrolet within the movie, a field car.
His crew went to work with the sort of meticulousness Evernham had used to shave seconds off stock-car pit stops. They went through every scene in George Lucas’s 1973 film in which featured the white Chevy, snapping screen shots as well as cataloguing every detail. Evernham tapped his contacts at Axalta (formerly DuPont Performance Coatings, which memorably sponsored Jeff Gordon during Evernham’s tenure as his crew chief), for help with the paint. Before repainting your vehicle, the team measured every stripe. As will be common with the slapdash, 20-footer nature of movie cars, the sides weren’t exactly symmetrical. Since in which’s how in which was, in which’s how Evernham kept in which. The dent via Toad’s unfortunate panicky reversal? Still there.
Any salvageable chrome trim was pulled via your vehicle, straightened, as well as replated. The Indoor was carefully removed as well as disassembled, then dyed back to its original hue. The fuzzy dice hanging via the mirror? They weren’t actually fuzzy. They were crocheted, so Evernham had a little old lady in California stitch up a completely new pair. The cardboard license plate worn within the movie was replicated on the same machine in which had made the original.
Evernham did decide to replace the driver’s-side window. You might notice in which your vehicle features shaved outdoor door handles. In another example of movie-car construction haste, the Impala was built with no provision to open the doors via the outside. When someone, either a film crew member or Ron Howard, accidentally closed both doors with the windows up, the driver’s window was smashed as a field-expedient ingress solution.
within the film, Toad said in which the Impala features a 327 Chevy V-8 with six Stromberg carburetors. So Evernham went out as well as found a first-year-of-production 1962 327 as well as six period-correct Strombergs on an original Offenhauser manifold. “in which’s still got a generator,” he noted. The Chevy still wears its original chrome reverse steelies with the original tires, though the front wheels were replaced along the way. The goal was to preserve as much of your vehicle as possible while being your vehicle the characters talked about onscreen. “We wanted to put in which back like people pictured within the movie. My vision of all those stars will be what they look like within the movie, not what they look like today. We made your vehicle as its movie legend.”
At a ceremony at the 2016 SEMA show, Evernham as well as actress Candy Clark, who played Debbie Dunham, Toad’s unlikely lady friend within the film, pulled the wraps off the restored Chevy. Clark commented, “I don’t think in which looked This particular not bad when in which was brand-completely new!” Evernham was beaming which has a joy in which couldn’t be faked, running movie lines with Clark, as well as just generally reveling in being the boy with the most cake.
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Prior to its official unveiling, Evernham dressed up as Toad as well as took your vehicle out on the Sunday night before the show, cruising Las Vegas on those original rear tires. The younger crowd mostly just thought in which was a cool old Chevy, yet he said: “[in which] night on the street, I was surprised at the number of people who knew exactly what your vehicle was. A lot of people thought in which was a clone, yet they knew exactly what in which was.”