Project Car Hell, Repo Man Edition: J. Frank or Bud?

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For the first time in Project Car Hell history, yesterday saw a Porsche lose a challenge against a non-Porsche! For today, I was going to reach into the PCH Mailbag and pull out one of the excellent tips y'all have been sending in, but then it happened: I was walking down Howard Street in San Francisco earlier today and I was thinking about how my Civic is due for a new timing belt, and how I should probably do the job this weekend, and then I started this internal mental debate about timing chains versus belts and that reminded me of my friend Andrew and how he got stranded in the middle of rural Alabama when the timing chain in his '66 Malibu ate all the teeth on the crank sprocket... and then I stopped at the crosswalk and a vintage Malibu drove past: Plate O' Shrimp Moment! So, you see, it goes without saying that we must now have a Repo Man-themed Project Car Hell.


When you're talking cars from Repo Man, you're more or less required by law to start the discussion by bringing up J. Frank Parnell's '64 Chevy Malibu, with its trunkload of deadly cargo. Fortunately for those wishing to build their own replica of this car, J. Frank's Malibu was a four-door six-cylinder machine, which means you can get them pretty cheaply. For example, this 1964 Chevrolet Malibu 4-door (go here if the ad disappears) for just $900. Give it a paint job, put some pecan pies in the back and a bright light in the trunk, don your single-lensed sunglasses, and you'll be paying heavy-duty homage to one of the best car movies of all time! This one probably needs a fair bit of mechanical work to get to that point (the seller claims it's just a distributor cap), and we can assume there's rust, but it's cheap and simple- how bad can it be?

You figure everyone and his brother is going to go for the Malibu when putting together a Repo Man homage car, but maybe you want to be a little different. You could go with Duke's 1978 Corolla, or maybe the Government Agents' 1971 Matador, but: Harry Dean Stanton! Not only did Stanton play Bud in Repo Man, he played a hitchhiker in Two Lane Blacktop (which may well be the best car movie of all time), plus there's his unforgettable "AVENGE ME!" line from the ultimate Cheezy 80s Flick, Red Dawn. Thus, you need to pick up this here 1971 Chevrolet Impala 4-door (go here if the ad disappears) and recreate Bud's ride from Repo Man! Asking price is $1500... or maybe it's $2100 (depending on whether you go by the headline or the description), but either way you'll be able to do some negotiatin' with this motivated seller. The car runs, seems to look reasonably intact, and its Arizona locale is a likely indicator that you won't find much rust. Just give it a dark blue paint job, put a big whip antenna on it, and get ready for some fast driving in the L.A. River.

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I voted for the Impala. Reminds me of the Caprices my mother and grandmother drove. Nana had a green one with vinyl top and fender skirts with soft velur seats, probably a 400 or 454. I was too young to be interested in cars with engines. I remember my grandfather removed the shoulder part of the seatbelt for some odd reason, worried about decapitation maybe? My mother's Caprice was blue with a vinyl top and had seats that felt like sun dried frayed nylon rope. Back to the color discussion from the other day, the green car had a green interior and the blue car had a blue inteior. None of this black, tan, or gray crap.