1932 Ford Coupe Milner’s Deuce American Graffiti Apparel and Accessories by Legend Lines
The 1973 George Lucas breakout film American Graffiti featured an entire cast of future Hollywood stars: Paul Le Mat, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, Suzanne Somers, Ron Howard, and more. But gearheads could be forgiven for deciding that the main characters of the movie were the cars, and the humans walking around on the set were just the extras. Car people instantly got what this movie was really about, In their minds, anyway. Yes, American Graffiti was, among other things, an on-the-money portrayal of California teen car culture in the early ’60s. The players included a ’55 Chevy, a ’56 Thunderbird, a ’51 Mercury kustom, a ’58 Impala Sport Coupe, a ’58 Edsel, and even a Citroen 2CV in feature roles. But the absolute star of the show was a bright yellow 1932 Ford Standard Coupe, the car now known as Milner’s Coupe. In the movie, it was “the fastest thing in the valley.” Milner’s Coupe may be famous today, but when Lucas cast the ’32 five-window for his movie, it was no high-dollar hot rod. It was a rag, that the producer had grabbed from a used-car lot for $1300. The coupe was a very different car than the one seen in the movie. It was a full-fendered street rod with a three-inch top chop. It was only partly finished in primer gray with red fenders, and the interior was upholstered in red and white plastic. Lucas, who had spent his teen years cruising the streets of Modesto, California, knew exactly the look he wanted for the Milner coupe: a down-and-dirty street racer. So he had the stock fenders removed to create a traditional Deuce highboy look, with minimal cycle-type fenders bolted on to skirt the era’s anti-hot rod vehicle laws. The exterior was treated to a quick-and-dirty yellow lacquer paint job, and the interior was dyed black for a competition look. Cheap chrome-reverse wheels, and skinny blackwall tires. The small-block Chevy V8 was either a 283 or a 327, accounts differ, got a set of chrome sprint-car headers, no-name finned valve covers, and a rare Man-A-Fre intake setup, which used four two-barrel carbs on an aluminum manifold. A set of detachable camera platforms were constructed so that Lucas and his crew could film the in-car scenes. And that was pretty much it. The coupe was no thing of beauty, and it wasn’t meant to be. Car people got it. Milner’s coupe wasn’t a show queen. It was the real deal. Of all the famous ’32 Fords known around the hot rodding community, Milner’s coupe is far from the nicest. According to the hot-rodding fashion police, many of its features are downright odd: the tacky aluminum firewall cover, the stunted grille shell, the awkward fenders. But these only add to the car’s character. The original movie car is still around in the hands of a California collector, but meanwhile, despite all its quirks, Milner’s coupe is easily the most duplicated ’32 Ford in the hot rod world. There are tributes and replicas everywhere. At any decent-sized hot rod show, you will probably find at least one American Graffiti coupe.