American Graffiti Tribute? 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe

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One of my favorite movies is the 1970s classic American Graffiti. It was a high-risk venture for its producers, bringing together a cast of young and unknown actors. However, Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, and Cindy Williams would all carve out successful careers on the large and small screens due to the cult classic’s success. The humans weren’t the only stars because many of the featured cars achieved icon status. None is more instantly recognizable than John Milner’s Yellow 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe. If you have always dreamed of owning that gem but have never had the money, our feature ’32 could make the dream a reality.

The seller confirms that this Ford is a case of “what you see is what you get.” The buyer won’t receive fenders and a few other body components, but the glass and some trim pieces are present. They haven’t chopped this classic, meaning replacement parts should be readily available. However, dropping the top to achieve the “Milner” look would be straightforward. There are rust issues requiring attention, with a couple of patchable areas in the lower body. The seller includes new floors and an original radiator with a fiberglass shell. They admit the body requires shims to improve the alignment before the bodyshell restoration proceeds any further, but that is a straightforward process. The photos reveal other items the new owner will welcome during the build.

Potential buyers should consider this Coupe a roller because the original engine and transmission are distant memories. The new owner could slot whatever takes their fancy into the engine bay, from a flathead to a more modern powerplant as part of a restomod approach. Interestingly, the movie car featured a 327ci Chevrolet V8, and with the ready availability of those motors, it is an option that many potential builders might consider. I haven’t been able to establish what type of manual transmission that car utilized, but since it still exists, finding the truth might be an email away.

The interior of this Ford could be the most complete part of this classic. The seat frame and springs are intact, as are the gauge cluster and the pedal assembly. There is no upholstery, carpet, wheel, or column. Once again, genuine and faithful reproduction parts are available. The buyer could throw caution to the wind and trim the interior in custom Black, as seen in the movie.

I’ll be candid here and admit that this 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe isn’t a cheap project candidate. The seller listed it here on eBay in Pickerington, Ohio, for $19,999. They are firm on that figure, which is the tip of the iceberg. The new owner faces a long shopping list of parts, from body panels to mechanical components. Some readers may question the financial viability of this undertaking, and it is worth remembering that cars of this type will only ever be worth what someone is willing to pay. However, creating an American Graffiti Tribute might realize a dream for the new owner, and you can’t place a price on that.

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  1. HoA HoAMember

    Oy, well, about as square one as you’re going to get. American Grafitti was the movie of the century, in that, it was spot on. Not superheroes disemboweling robot zombies in an apocalyptic future, just good old fashioned fun. Stuff we could relate to. And the real beauty, we didn’t have squat into these. Cobbled together on a paperboys salary, that’s the point that will be missed here, regardless what happens to it. Hot rods like this, done to the nines, rarely cross the auction block, and when they do, sell for a mere shred of what was put into it. I do believe, however, someone will ignore that, spend a ton of money on this, and do it “their” way, and nothing wrong with that, I suppose.

    Like 12
    • Jasieu

      Right on all counts, HoA…

      I wanted to use my “paperboy’s salary” to buy a ’40 Ford convertible from a buddy, but Mommy and Daddy said no, that money has to go toward your college education, which it did, and I got, and I’m glad…but I still have a mental picture of that ’40…it was red, too…

      Like 4
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Did use my “32 for delivering papers.

      Like 3
  2. Driveinstile DriveinstileMember

    This was a great write up. American Graffiti just had its 50th anniversary ( came out in 73) One of my all time favorite movies. I had read that George Lucas filmed all the scenes in sequence so that the actors would look more tired as the night wore on. ( basically because they were more tired) Also the lighting eas a challenge too because of the movie taking place at night, but they came up with some ingenious work arounds for that too.
    It seems Im writing more about the movie than this car. Thats an awful lot of money for a roller needing everything. But it is all Henry Ford steel. But its going to be a tough road ahead to get this thing together and a lot more money to boot.

    Like 3
  3. Rw

    Top 3 movies from bay in the day for me, American Graffiti,Two lane Blacktop,and Pray for the Wildcats, with Andy Griffith and Bill Shatner

    Like 1
    • Russ

      Right on

      Like 0
  4. Prince Valiant

    “If you have always dreamed of owning that gem but have never had the money, our feature ’32 could make the dream a reality.” Nope! It’s still just a dream with the price, parts and work needed to finish. This is one of those that would have to be a labor of love.

    Like 3
    • Bunky

      Yeah. $20k is just the ante.

      Like 2
  5. Roger Kershaw Stanps

    Build it up to as left factory, this site of the pond originality is where the money is. Once its chopped it should not quality for the historic tax concession that we have here. I m always amazed how cheap some British classics are stateside any one feeling charitable can pop one over to me MGB Roadster please doesn’t have to be immaculate. On a different subjected the whole world had a project the world would be a better place.

    Like 0
  6. Ed Tarkowski

    Toooooooo Much $$$&$

    Like 1
  7. Archie

    20K for that shell is insane. I think 5K might be reasonable.

    Like 6
  8. geomechs geomechsMember

    These are definitely what hot rods should be started from; something that is grossly incomplete that can be molded into a masterpiece. Over the years I’ve seen too many complete cars butchered and that is wrong. However, this is a great beginning. Unfortunately for me it’s so far beyond my means that even pictures of it are impossible to realize.

    They say that copying is the best form of flattery. Every once in a while you see something that is an icon and when you see copies of it you know that it had a significant impact on others as well. It’s a few years ago now but a local enthusiast came out with his version. I’ve never been a fan of running a blower on the street but I’ve seen this one in action and it’s just fine…

    Like 6
  9. geomechs geomechsMember

    This is a little bit off the topic (in that it’s something other than a Ford) but it shows what can be done with leftover parts from a complete restoration. Two ’29 Essex coupes, the second of which was a body shell in the alley a couple of blocks away from the hot-rodder’s shop. He got the body, fixed it and mounted it on a custom chassis. I have to say that both are great jobs. I might add that the yellow one sports a BBC under that hood…

    Like 1
  10. Joe Haska

    I loved the movie American Graffiti ,didn’t like the Millner coupe so much. If you know the history of THE CAR you would understand, It was a movie car it wasn’t much more than a prop. When the movie was over they almost had to give it away. Nobody knew what an iconic movie it would become. I was just starting college and didn’t know anything about the movie before I saw it. I was in shock that they had just made a movie about my senior year in High School. Who would want to watch that, except ME. As for this 32 it is way over priced and the last thing I would do with is make a clone of the A/G car. It’s been done. I would build a chopped top Highboy that looks like it is going to BVille.

    Like 1
  11. "Edsel" Al leonardMember

    Had then pleasure of bringing my 1958 Edsel Corsair- the car Cindi Williams drove in American Graffiti- to Iola for the 50th anniversary of the movie..She was a wonderful person, signed my visor and took lots of pics with her in the car..she was tickled pink to sit in the same car 50 years later…who would have thought she would die 6 months later. RIP Cindi..

    Like 3
  12. "Edsel" Al leonardMember

    Here she is…..

    Like 4
  13. Frenchy Dampier

    You can buy a new all steel body needing nothing as far as repairs or rust for a 32 Ford and build it your way for less than that.
    Me? I’ve thought about their roadster pickup or maybe woodie.
    I wouldn’t buy the floorboards since I’d want to channel it over the frame. I’d stay with a Flathead because modern engines just look wrong to me. You can buy a complete runner from H&H out in California but there are plenty of those sitting around collecting dust for a lot less. The mechanicals are all readily available. Including new cranks rods and pistons.

    Like 1
  14. "Edsel" Al leonardMember

    Milner’s ’32 at Iola…..and Harrison Ford’s ’55..and Suzanne Somers T’bird…Ronnie Howards “58 Impala behind the pumps

    Like 1
  15. Charles Jenkins

    Well, seems like I’ve been reading a copy of Variety magazine, whole lot of information about American Graffiti. All that aside, this shell is not worth more than maybe 2 or 3 thousand. I happen to know a couple of hot rod builders and they would both much prefer to start with a reproduction body. Original steel just isn’t that important anymore.

    Like 2
    • rabadooMember

      To some, Charley. To some….

      Like 0
  16. randall kenney

    Am i understanding you correctly —-Are you expecting a person from Florida/Maine/South Dakota/Utah/Arizona/Nevada/California to purchase this car they must come to OHIO to sign the title. ??????????

    Like 0

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