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What you need to know about the 'American Graffiti' inspired museum opening in Modesto

The free event is a soft opening for the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum, inspired by George Lucas' "American Graffiti," which was based in Modesto.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It's been a long time coming, but after months — maybe years — of planning, a museum inspired by George Lucas' "American Graffiti" is coming to life. 

Class car lovers and boppers still scanning their radios for rock n’ roll of the 1960s can visit the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum during a soft opening the first weekend of October. 

"It's exciting," Chris Murphy, a member of Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum said. "It's going to be a complete immersive experience. It's not going to be just a line of cars. We're basically going after a Disney-style impression...when you walk into a museum, you're gonna be transported back into the world of a night in 1962."

The group hopes to feature classic radio stations, replicas of 10th and 11th Streets, a drive-in showing "American Graffiti," tributes to rockabilly, rotating classic car collections, a custom car shop, a George Lucas career history exhibit and even a functional diner inside the museum. 

Murphy says the main thing he hopes people who visit the museum take home is the history the museum holds. Not just the history of classic cars and music, but about the history graffiti culture has in California.

"I think if more people knew the history of where they lived, you know, I think that that would be a big help," Murphy said. "And I think it's up to us of this generation to make sure it's fun for the next generation. So that's what I've challenged everyone to do. It's not just about the old guys in the car. It's not just about the class of '62. It's about the class to 2022."

RELATED: George Lucas’ Modesto masterpiece | How American Graffiti got the city ‘right’

The group acquired the 45,000 square foot building and campus located at Coldwell and north 9th Street. While the museum rollout will happen in phases, the first phase is expected to be complete by Summer 2022. Click here to read more about each phase.

It hasn't been smooth cruising for the museum. Murphy says the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the process of making the museum a reality in a positive and negative way. 

"I think had it (COVID-19 pandemic) not happened, we probably would have gone into it with a design that may have not been the right way to go," Murphy said. "So in one hand, we kind of got this little force pause that kind of forced ourselves to relook at this. And we did some soul searching to say, is this really what we want to build?"

The negative side is the pandemic impacted people socially and financially. That being having large events or openings with guidelines to follow may make things difficult and that getting donations for the museum could be hard.

"We've got a line of clothing we're selling already," Murphy said. "And of course our big thing right now is we need to raise $4.2 million. So that's the real issue at hand here is, you know, museums are important, but they take a lot of money."

Those interested in participating or donating can visit graffitiusamuseum.com to learn more on how to help the museum. 

Event details:

  • Where: Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum - 610 N 9th St., Modesto
  • When: Saturday, Oc. 2 & Sunday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cost: Free

Watch more ABC10: 

American Graffiti: Modesto celebrates the 1973 George Lucas directed film