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Thursday, 02 June 2016 22:55

Ray Evernham Leads Preservation of Iconic American Graffiti Impala With Axalta Coatings

Ray Evernham Leads Preservation of Iconic American Graffiti Impala With Axalta Coatings


For Ray Evernham, the 1958 Chevy Impala used in the film American Graffiti is the holy grail of hot rods, a car that inspired his life-long passion for cars. Now, after pursuing the car for most of his adult life and finally buying it, he faces an even bigger challenge: preserving it in its original movie condition for generations to come.

Evernham has partnered with Axalta Coating Systems, a global manufacturer of liquid and powder coatings, to bring this piece of movie history and Americana back to life. The car will go through a tedious forensic preservation and be unveiled in Axalta’s booth #22391 at the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas during the first week of November.


“For me, American Graffiti was an incredible movie about an exciting time in America,” said Evernham. “It brought back hot rods and rock and roll and launched the careers of dozens of stars. George Lucas did such an exacting job creating the set, building the cars and telling the story that you were truly transported back to a time when horsepower was king, you and your friends ruled the drive-in and the world was a simpler place.”


American Graffiti, a film about four long-time high-school friends set in Modesto, CA, in 1962, featured several classic cars throughout the movie, with the 1958 Chevy Impala being one of the most iconic.


After it was used in the film, Mike Famalette, only 17 at the time, purchased the car directly from Lucas Films for $285 in 1972. Famalette held onto the car from that time until 2015 when Evernham acquired it.


“To save this car for future generations, we have to go back 42 years to its original movie condition,” noted Evernham. “It really is a forensic preservation. We have to take it apart piece by piece, catalog every piece and then repair those pieces. Every piece of chrome is being straightened and re-chromed. The emblems are being re-chromed. The nuts and bolts are being re-plated. The interior has been entirely disassembled and will be restored back to its movie condition. Everything we took off is going back in it. Even the tires are original and the air in them came directly from the movie set.”


The only element Evernham is replacing is the engine, which was destroyed long before he purchased the car. As seen in American Graffiti, the ’58 Impala was equipped with a four-barrel 348, and three-speed manual transmission. Evernham found a 1960 327 Chevy engine with six-barrel Stromberg carburetor to power the classic machine.


With partner Axalta Coating Systems, Evernham will replace the exact paint and pinstripes on the vehicle.


“Paint technology has come a long way since 1958,” noted Harry Christman, North American Cromax® Brand Manager for Axalta. “Regardless, the paint scheme still represents the most recognizable aspect of this iconic car. Axalta’s goal with this restoration is to precisely match the original colors using Cromax® ChromaPremier® to preserve the vehicle’s heritage and protect this unique piece of history for years to come.”


Evernham said the complexity of the restoration is daunting, and the time required will far exceed any project his team that has built award-winning, best-in-class cars for SEMA, Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and the Pinehurst d’Elegance.

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