American Graffiti, George Lucas’s nostalgic coming-of-age tale, spotlights the cruising culture of the late 50s and early 60s. Set in Modesto, California, the film unfolds over a single night. Backed by a soundtrack filled with golden oldies, it follows a group of high school graduates aimlessly driving the strip. Led by a cast including Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss, the teens navigate the uncertainty of their futures before entering the adult world. It only stands to reason that the cars in the film would become iconic in their own right.
Milner’s 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Hands down the star hot rod of American Graffiti is the 1932 Ford Coupe that John Milner (Paul Le Mat) cruises around in. The vibrant yellow “Deuce Coupe” is an outward representation of Milner: Rebellious, with a need for speed. He calls himself the “King of the Strip,” and it’s clear he spends a lot of time on his beloved hot rod. The Coupe has one of the marquee moments of the film when Milner drag races against a local rival (played by a pre-Star Wars Harrison Ford).
Falfa’s 1955 Chevrolet 150
Speaking of Ford’s character, his ride (seen above) is also pretty sweet. Bob Falfa (Ford) drives an imposing black 1955 Chevrolet 150. Falfa is confident in his hot rod, traveling from out of town to goad Milner into a race. It’s clear that Falfa means business: His Chevy 150 features a roll cage.
‘American Graffiti’s Out of Left Field Car: Curt’s 1967 Citroën 2CV
Seemingly an odd choice, Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) is seen driving a 1967 Citroën 2CV in American Graffiti. However, the “Deux Chevaux” was first introduced in 1948 and changed very little after, so Curt having the ’67 model in 1962 isn’t a huge technical issue. The nickname “Deux Chevaux” is derived from the car’s two-horsepower tax rating, which was used for European auto taxation purposes. George Lucas himself drove an Autobianchi Bianchina convertible in high school. The teen Lucas crashed it, resulting in him ditching racing for filmmaking.
Steve’s 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala, Another ‘American Graffiti’s Coolest Cars
Ron Howard’s character Steve is seen in the film driving a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala. The hot rod is a customized masterpiece with a powerful engine and sleek sides adorned with flames. It represents Steve’s desire to break free from his small-town life. He yearns to fully embrace the excitement and adventures that await beyond Modesto. A tribute restoration of the iconic car recently when up for option (see it below). Of course, cars like Steve’s helped revive an interest in hotrods and car culture when American Graffiti was released in 1973. The film will likely inspire car lovers in future generations to come.
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