Its time in the spotlight wasn’t done after filming.
All kind of people are inspired by the cars featured in movies, even if they’re not gearheads. It’s only natural to wonder where famous movie cars have ended up, like the red 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu which was driven by John Travolta in the 1994 hit film Pulp Fiction.
While watching the movie for the first time, you were probably charmed by that red paint, shiny chrome, and the absolute mesmerizing mystique of the classic Chevelle. It’s not hard to imagine why it caught the eye of Quentin Tarantino and he had to own it. That’s right, the classic Chevy was the movie director’s personal vehicle.
The director purchased the car from a friend back in 1989 after selling the script for True Romance, but he kept it in storage and never drove it. That’s not where this tale ends.
What else most people don’t know about this movie star is that it was stolen right off the Pulp Fiction movie set back in 1994. It was a brazen crime considering there surely had to be security present. Not only that, the 1964 Chevelle was well-documented, so when it wasn’t located several years later, some concluded it must have been chopped up and the parts sold.
In 2013 news broke that the famous Chevelle Malibu had been found after it was missing for 19 long years. Initial reports detailed out how the car had been located by a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy on April 18 in Victorville, California. Two men were reported stripping it when the deputy ran the VIN and found it was registered to a different vehicle in Oakland. A conflicting report claims the deputy just saw the car in a driveway. Either way, the fact it was located just like that is pretty amazing.
An investigation found the VIN on the dash was cloned, matching a car registered in Oakland. That’s when they looked at the VIN stamped into the Victorville car’s frame and authorities learned the Chevrolet was Tarantino’s.
While the car was found, the mystery of what happened to it during those 19 years still needed to be answered. Police were able to determine the man who had the car wasn’t involved with the theft in any way. Unfortunately, he lost a vehicle which wasn’t legally his after spending thousands of dollars sprucing it up, repainting it, installing a new top, redoing the upholstery, etc. That’s the thing with crimes like VIN cloning is usually there’s more than one victim.
The guy who had Tarantino’s Chevelle Malibu, Bill Hemenez, wasn’t exactly trying to hide the vehicle. He drove it around to different car shows in California, proudly displaying it for anyone to admire. Originally, the man bought it from a private seller in 2001, so to find out the car had been stolen was a shock.
According to Hemenez, the Malibu was in sad shape when he bought it. There’s a strong possibility it had passed through a few different hands after it was stolen, but the ride obviously hadn’t received the kind of care it deserved.
Adding insult to injury, even though Hemenez had the car for 12 years and lovingly restored it, he not only lost the Chevy, he also wasn’t provided any compensation for the vehicle, any of the restoration costs, or the insurance paid on it. That’s an unfortunate truth of buying a stolen car, but even more insulting was the fact he said Tarantino never reached out to him in any way. Of course, the famous Hollywood movie director is under no legal obligation to even thank the man for taking good care of his vehicle, but some feel he morally should at least send a kind note. Considering that was over 7 years ago, it seems like if Tarantino was going to do that it would’ve already happened.