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Grease Lightning

During our recent visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Corvette, we took a look in their Hollywood Cars exhibit, which consistently features a variety of famous movie and movie-inspired cars, from classic to exotic. While we’re at the Petersen every couple of months and have seen many movie cars over the years, this was our first time to see a Grease Lightning promotional vehicle on display…


The Petersen, as usual, provides interesting detail about this custom legend:


“This 1946 Ford was customized for the 1978 musical Grease, the biggest grossing movie musical of all time.


Featured in the film’s final scene in which Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) ride off into the clouds, the car was transformed from a stock two-door sedan into a convertible by renowned Hollywood customizer George Barris.


Its enormous fins, clear plastic hood, and wild paint scheme distinguish it as one of the most striking fantasy vehicles ever featured in a movie about teenage life during the 1950s.”


Research by one of our readers (thanks, Walt!) identified that this version of the famous Grease Lightning car, while similar to the one used in the film, is in fact, a replica built years later by George Barris.  Side-by-side screenshot comparisons of this car to the film do yield noticeable differences in body, paint and interior details.  Copies of movie cars were often built to be used as promotional vehicles, and this version of Grease Lightning was frequently used for a variety of Grease-related events.  Real or replica, if you’re a fan of the film, you’ll enjoy seeing this car in person.

If you’re ever in L.A. and have a few spare hours to visit the Petersen, you won’t be disappointed. There are always “star cars” on display, some famous from films, others famous for their unusual styling or prowess on the road. Either way, unique cars like this one are what make the Petersen’s collection so eclectic and fascinating. This is one museum you won’t want to miss.

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