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Modesto's "American Graffiti" classic car museum plans to expand

Modesto classic car museum aims to cruise into the future
Modesto classic car museum aims to cruise into the future 02:04

MODESTO — The city of Modesto may be best known as the home of the movie "American Graffiti." In fact, there's a museum there dedicated to preserving that history.

"American Graffiti" is the movie that put Modesto on the map, and Chris Murphy wants the culture around it and what it stands for to stay there.

"I think when, you know, you live in a cool place, I think it builds a lot of civic pride, and that's another goal for us," said Murphy, who sits on the board of the Graffiti USA Museum.

The Graffiti USA Museum is a place that takes you back to the '60s, the days of cruising, drive-ins and rock 'n' roll.

"People can have an experience and have a walk down 1962 street and kind of take them back to that time," Murphy said.

The museum has big plans. Currently, they're in the process of a huge makeover.

"The interior is going to be a mini Disneyland. It'll be a walk down a 1962 street with little stores," Murphy said. "We'll have a radio museum. We'll have a museum inside of a museum with a radio as a nod to the rock and roll of the day. We'll have a functional record store. We'll have an event center that seats 500 people."

The $8 million project will also be an official California welcome center. Murphy said they want a place that screams "This is the home of 'American Graffiti' and its director, George Lucas. You know, the guy who created Star Wars."

"We wanted a place for people to come see because they're coming," he said. "We have Star Wars fans coming. We have graffiti fans coming, and it's like we need someplace where they can all meet."

At the same time, they want to educate a younger generation about a time when the focus was cars and music—not screens and social media.

"It's organically continuing but it's up to us to make sure it continues," Murphy said. "We're trying to think big. We did think big, and now we just have to build it."

There are also plans for a classic diner at the museum. The hope is to be up and running in 2025.

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