Corrected entry: In the scene where the cable is being placed around the police car axle, the noise from doing it is drowned out by noise from a nearby railroad. The noise is actually that of a steam locomotive doing switching duties - and steam locomotives disappeared from the railroads that would have gone through Modesto (Santa Fe and Southern Pacific) by the mid-50's.
Corrected entry: When the police car loses its rear end there is a Pinto station wagon parked behind it. Pinto wasn't released until 1971.
Correction: There is no Ford Pinto wagon anywhere in this scene; there is, however a first generation Ford Falcon wagon parked behind the Police car, which was made from 1960 to 1963, and fits right in with the time period of the movie.
Corrected entry: The 1958 Impala Terry the Toad was driving when he picked up Debbie. He told her the car has a 327 Chevy engine. The 327 was not available in the 1958 impala, as it debuted in 1962.
Correction: The 1958 Chevy Impala was available with a 6-cylinder, a 348 V8 or a 283 V8 which was identical to the later 327. If Steve Bolander had the financial wherewithal, he could have bought a new 327 and installed it in his car. The 327 was introduced in the fall of 1961 for the 1962 model year. Since the movie took place at the end of the summer of 1962, the engine would have been available for about a year, meaning it probably had already begun popping up at wrecking yards - another place Steve could have scored a 327. Another tip-off that the car had been modified was Terry the Toad's statement that it had six Stromberg carburetors, an expensive aftermarket upgrade reserved almost exclusively for high-end hot rods. Of course, that could have all been Terry making it up to impress Debbie (like the hunting ponies and his 4x4 Jeep). Interestingly, the real owner of the car confides it never had a 327 in it. It had, and still has, its factory 348 V8.
Corrected entry: At the end of the movie, they have the black Chevy flip over. It was actually very hard to get the Chevy to flip, as the car had been lowered and the suspension had been upgraded. To make matters worse, this shot was always filmed at magic hour, which only gave them a window of an hour to film it. It took almost a month, and 4 or 5 attempts before they could actually flip the Chevy.
Correction: The chevy used in the crash scene is not the same car seen throughout the movie. That car, which was later used in the movie Two Lane Blacktop and others, was not lowered, it was lifted, and you can see from the bottom of the car that was crashed that it has the stock engine and exhaust (still coated with grease and oil). You can find many articles regarding the history of the '55 black chevy. It is at many car shows these days, as is Milners '32 coupe.
The car was used in Two Lane Blacktop before American Graffiti.
Corrected entry: During the film the black 55 Chevy driven by Harrison Ford has nice wide chrome wheels, however after the crash scene at the end of the film when the 55 Chevy is upside down, you can clearly see the wheels are now simply standard steel rims spray painted silver.
Correction: This is common practice when drag racing back then. They had cruising wheels and drag wheels.
Corrected entry: In the first part of the film, when John Milner is cruising he pulls up next to a car and chat to Zuto. When he sits back in the driver's seat after the conversation, you can see Mackenzie Phillips sitting in the passenger seat facing Milner for a split second before cutting to the next scene. She shouldn't have been there.
Correction: Actually, it was only the right ear, and more likely the camera man who shot Milner's view. At first it seems just someone, but upon pausing, the person is sitting sideways with his back against the side of the car.
Corrected entry: When Toad is waiting outside of a liquor store asking people if they will buy him a pint of alcohol, he asks one person the time, and the reply is 11:30; however, in the next scene, Curt is sitting on a car parked in front of a TV store watching "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet." This show was never on so late at night.
Correction: It could have been an old episode in late-night syndication.
Corrected entry: At close examination of Milner's car, you can see it has a dual piston brake master cylinder, with two hydraulic lines coming from it. Dual master cylinders were not used on American cars until 1967. The picture is set in 1962.
Correction: The car is heavily modified. It could have parts sourced from overseas or even home-made added to it.
Corrected entry: The black '55 Chevy changes from a 2 door sedan to a 4 door during the car wreck at the end.
Correction: The Chevy is a '55 two door "post" model, meaning there is a solid post at the junction of the rear of the door and the front of the side back window. To the non "motorhead" it has the appearance of being the frame of a rear door.
Corrected entry: Curt is just graduating from grade 12, and going away to college, but interestingly enough is wearing a wedding ring throughout the movie.
Correction: That's not a wedding band - it appears to be a class ring or some other type of insignia ring.
Corrected entry: For most of the film in the traffic scenes, all of the traffic lights are blinking yellow. This is from the roads being used for filming and blocked off from use by the public.
Correction: In Petaluma, where a lot of the cruising scenes were filmed, the lights automatically go to flashing yellow at night.
Corrected entry: In most of the scenes of the old cars, nearly all are using halogen headights. In the time period represented I don't believe there were any halogen headlights.
Correction: This contributor is mistaken. Halogen headlights weren't legal in the USA in the early 1970s when this film was made. None of the cars in the film were using halogens.
Correction: The railroad sounds heard are diesel, not steam. The horn heard in the scene is from a Nathan p3 air horn, a style found on diesel locomotives, predominately the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe scarcely used them. The sounds are accurate for the time frame represented in the film.