Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mystery of the Vanished Phantasm Cuda SOLVED!!!

A thirty-seven year old mystery has finally been solved, at least partially. After production wrapped on the original Phantasm, its 1971 Cuda vanished in a transaction to an unknown buyer. Although reportedly not the most reliable vehicle, this muscle car was said to still run okay and, of course, looked terrific. No one involved in the first film ever heard of it again and a new 'Cuda had to be acquired for Phantasm II a decade later. See the following text from the official Phantasm website verifying that Jody's original ride indeed disappeared.

I tried multiple times while researching Phantasm Exhumed to locate this original car or at least learn of its fate, all to no avail. I spoke to more than a dozen production folks and no one had so much as a lead on it. Thanks a social media post that landed on my radar a short while ago, we now know what happened to the 'Cuda.... it was sold to real estate broker and car enthusiast James Baker by the film's art director, David Gavin Brown

Earlier in a public post on his Facebook page, James wrote: "I could probably write a book about that car! I had more than my share of fun in it, too! And I never got a ticket or in an accident the whole time I had her. In 1980, I bought it from the Art Director of the movie for $2500. It said "440 6-Pack" on the hood, but it was really a 340 custom-built by Ed Pink in the SFV! It had a Carter 1000 cfm Thermoquad Carb, Pistol-grip 4-Speed Stick, Rally Dash and Bucket Seats. Also, it was customized with leaded and flared rear fender wells and an over-sized custom sunroof with dark tinting. There were even the original marks on the one fender where the floor jack handle hit it in the movie, as well as the mark on the sunroof when they kicked it out with the shotgun butt!"

Regarding the car's custom sunroof, James had this to say: "One day I was on my work at about 6 am, and I had just banged it into 3rd Gear at 90 mph when there was a big WHOOSH! I had failed to latch the sunroof down all the way the night before, and I looked up and saw it about 30 feet in the air! I pulled over and started running back for it - got there just in time to watch a 16-wheeler run over it, breaking it into little pieces...all that was left were the latches. So I called the art director and asked if they made extra sunroofs for the shotgun scene...he was not sure. So I offered a small fortune of $300 if he happened to find one...and he did."

So where is it now??? Does he still own it?? He addressed that too: "I ended up trading it to a guy who saw it on the road and said "I want your car!" I said "It's not for sale." He was like check it out, and showed me all the magazine covers his custom van had been in, the hooker headers, custom hood scoop, teardrop windows, captain's package, quad stereo, bar, TV, bed, etc...I said I would have to keep my rims and tires, and he said deal! We shook hands, went to the Shell station on the corner of Devonshire and Reseda, and swapped out the rims and tires, signed the pinks - it took about 20 minutes! I saw the guy about 6 months later as I was leaving a bar...we recognized each other at about 30 feet, and we never broke stride...I said "Still like the car?" and he said "Yup" and He said "Still like the van?" and I said "Yep!" and I never saw him again. Some might say it was a stupid trade, in retrospect, because that car is probably worth over $100,000 today. But I spent a lot of time at the beach, and there were drive-ins back then...some things are worth more than money."

So that solves the great mystery of where the first Phantasm Cuda went to. I guess this means we have a new mystery to solve in where it went after James sold it? New mystery challenge accepted.


  1. I have a comment Nothing personal to James but what a dumb ass move, I would have told the guy with the van to go pound sand, hmmm trade a Original Cuda' used in first Phantasm movie for a custom van? NO FRIGGIN WAY!!!!

    1. im gonna agree with ya on that. have to be some sort of cheese pod to even consider it. ok i get the 80s van thing but you dont see old custom piles of shi on the road. they got crushed long ago. find the cuda and get it back. and the next great car you stumble upon you keep it the hell with some stupid van. get a room....

    2. when i was 17 i remember going to see the first phant. at the movie theater here in conway s.c. it was a double feature it followed with the FOG, 30 yrs. later @ it was still big, so i took it on myself to find the first CUDA, in the picture its a 71 with two headlites@ crager wheels [chrome] so,

  2. Hey just saw this today. Not sure If you were the guy I talked to years ago about this car. We discussed its (original color) hmu and Ill send you my phone number.Id like to talk to ya. HOpe the search is goin well!

  3. In the early 1980's my friend and I actually saw this car for sale in SFV Recycler. The car was a stock 1971 340 Cuda, with headers, and custom installed sunroof. Not sure if the motor was a custom Ed Pink because the seller only wanted $2500.00 for the car! We didn’t buy the car because we just graduated from High school and didn’t have the money. :-(

  4. I am building a 1974 Barracuda in Destroyer Grey. I would like for it to be in the next Phantasm sequel if you guys want to use it!

  5. I am thankful for this blog to gave me much knowledge regarding my area of work. I also want to make some addition on this platform which must be in knowledge of people who really in need. Thanks.

  6. It was 1979, I lived in Simi Valley, I was a very naive 17 at the time, the neighbor across the street came home with a 1971 black cuda, gun handle shifter, 6 pak, rather rough plexiglass sunroof, craiger rimed, rather rough bodyworked (movie type car) ( camera mounts) that most definitely looked like the car from Phantasm. Had supporting documentation for confirmation, and I believe even now that that was "the" car from the first movie. I had the opportunity to own that car, and screwed it up. Been kicking my own ass ever since.

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