The world’s largest auctioneer of Hollywood memorabilia, Profiles in History, announced the customized 1958 Chevrolet Impala Ron Howard’s character, Steve Bolander, owned and loaned to his buddy “Terry the Toad” in American Graffiti will cross the block at Hollywood Auction 74, September 29 through October 1, 2015.
Thanks to Marc Kruskol at MJK Public Relations we were able to speak directly with the owner of the most recognizable ’58 Chevy Impala in the world and find out everything about the car a hardcore Chevy fanatic would like to know.
Profiles in History like other auction companies, keeps the buyer’s, and seller’s names confidential, so we can’t reveal the owner’s name, but we can relate everything he told us right down to the moment he learned the car was for sale.
The year was 1972 and our main character was a 17-year old high school senior in search of his first car. The kid spotted a classified ad in the San Francisco Chronicle with an auction list of movie cars for sale that included a 1958 Chevy Impala for $325.00.
The kid and his dad drove from their home in Vallejo, California, some 40 miles south of Petaluma where a lot of American Graffiti’s filming was done, to Sonoma to check the ’58 out. The only people that showed up were the kid and his dad, so they had the complete attention of Henry Travers, Lucas Films’ transportation captain in charge of selling the cars. The kid offered $275, but Henry turned it down. A little more haggling and the ’58 Impala went for $285.00, cash-draining the kid’s bankbook and requiring an immediate personal loan from his dad to gap the last ten bucks.
As seen in American Graffiti, the ’58 Impala was equipped with a 4-barrel 348, and three-speed manual transmission. The kid had never driven a stick shift before, so combined with the ’58 having bad brakes, the drive home was a little harrowing. Almost home, the brakes failed completely and the kid buzzed right through a stop sign. Pulling into his folk’s driveway, one of the glued on ’59 Cadillac taillight lens fell off, and the 348 coughed and died in a big cloud of dark gray smoke.
To replace the ’58 Chevy Impala’s dead 348 the kid and his older brother dropped in a two-barrel 283 with a Powerglide.
The premier of American Graffiti was on August 1, 1973. Lucas Film’s Henry Travers wouldn’t disclose to the kid which movie the ’58 Impala was in, so the first time he knew was when he spotted his Impala in American Graffiti at his hometown movie theater.
Fortunately the kid tagged and bagged every original part he removed from the ’58 Impala, so it’s completely returnable to American Graffiti specifications. The Tri-Power intake manifold that rode around in the trunk of the car and was found when the kid got it home and is now on a 348 comprised of most of the salvageable parts from the one that powered the ‘58 during filming. In 1974, the kid enlisted in the Marine Corp and stored the American Graffiti ’58 Impala in his parent’s garage until 2004. Thought to be lost, forever, the ’58 Impala resurfaced when his children took an interest in rehabilitating it.
Currently, the American Graffiti ’58 Impala has a TH350 automatic transmission, but the clutch pedal still hangs in place, and the three-speed stick transmission Toad shifted into reverse can go back in. The dents Toad left in the rear trim of the ’58 when he backed into another car are still there. There was only one 1958 Chevy Impala, used to film American Graffiti, this is it. The provenance is all there and Profiles in History estimates the American Graffiti 1958 Chevrolet Impala identified as Lot 1531 will cross the block between $800,000 - $1,200,000.