Thursday, March 24, 2011

59' Ford

From the 2010 "Behind- The- Scenes - The L.A.P.D 
Homicide Experience" held at The Palms Casino in N.V.  
The 1959 Ford the Family used as their murder mode of transportation.  What I would like to know is-
where the hell has this car been since 1969?  
Who had it, how did they acquire it and 
where do they keep it the rest of the year?
Did Juan Swartz make any money off the sale?


GrumpFromPahrump said...

According to Helter Skelter, that car belonged to Ranch Hand John Swartz, not Juan...

leary7 said...

damn, I was just thinking about the car and wondering what became of it. This is why you are the best Liz. Ownership and the chain of possession would be fascinating to know.

louis365 said...

This car is a fake - the original was destroyed.

MrPoirot said...

Tires don't last 40 years. Those aren't the tires the killers rode on. God only knows what else is origonal. That car is in immaculate condition. Who maintained it for 4 decades? Why is the paint in such good condition? No wonder California is in dire financial condition. That car is a monument to government opulance.

starship said...

I heard that the they used the actual car in the first helter Skelter movie...

eviliz said...

GrumpFromPahrump said...
According to Helter Skelter, that car belonged to Ranch Hand John Swartz, not Juan...

i did know that, mixed them up. you know me.

louis3655 said...
This car is a fake - the original was destroyed.
really? how did you know that?

Pristash said...
I heard that the they used the actual car in the first helter Skelter movie...

no kidding. how did you find out that info?

Mr. P - good point with the tires.

Jonathan Davis the lead singer of Korn owns Ted Bundys VW. i think i will make that a post. there is a good article about it. there is a pic of him with the car and it looks about the same as the Ford, rust wise and such.

bobot420 said...

I totally understand why the tires are new, they had to roll that sucker in there somehow. I wish I wouldve known about this in advance, I would have gone for SURE!!

eviliz said...

bobot420- it was very advertised.
i wish i could of went too.

orwhut said...

The car was said to have been yellow. It's difficult to tell on my computer but, that one looks white to me.
Wouldn't it have been impounded and either auctioned off when no longer of value as evidence or released to Johnny Swartz? I'd think that one of the companies that exhibits infamous autos, would have tried to have bought it.

sbuch113 said...

The car is actually two tone yellow/white. The lighting makes it impossible to see it.
After the August 16, 1969 raid on the ranch the car was impounded to a lot in Canoga Park.
Who knows who ended up with it.

The original California plates GYY 435.
Have been replaced by California Historical Vehicle plates.

The items on display by LAPD in Las Vegas March 2nd-5th, at the 2010 Annual Conference of California Homicide Investigastors Association were authentic artifacts.
The car in this photo was among them.
The authenticity was never in question when relatives and friends protested the exhibition.
In fact the actual bloody shirt worn by Senator Robert Kennedy was pulled from the show.

I remember seeing pictures in a magazine of the Farlaine,as part of a story on the Vegas show.
The lighting was right and the car is definatly yellow.

daniel said...

@MrPoirot I wouldn't call that "immaculate condition". it was probably in a garage with a cover over it. to track down a '59 ford of that specific color seems like more work than it is worth.

as far as the tires go, would you display a car atop cinder blocks with bear rims?

Stacey L. said...

If you go to and go to the page about Sharon Tate, you will see pics of the inside of the car. It's by far from good condition. Also on display at this exhibition were the fork found in Leno and the gun used to shoot Jay...there are pics of both there.

orwhut said...

Thank you sbuch113. The two tone paint scheme jives with my memory, but when I did a search to confirm what I remembered, someone said it was yellow so I decided I was wrong and went with that.

Ken619 said...

It was yellow. After 40 yrs, paint fades. Yellow is one of the worst next to red.

sbuch113 said...

I got to searching around for more info on the car.

I took StaceyL's direction to In addition to the picture it says the car was discovered in 2010.

On another site I found this.
Going back to the raid, Vin search at the time said it wasn't in DMV records.
Then continued.....

Vehicle impound under authority 22651(H)CVC Arrested Swartz,John Harold Jr. for grand theft (auto) 487.3P.C. DMV shows the license plate to be registered to a John Kidd of 517 1/2 Washington St. Venice California and to a 1962 2 Dr ID# 2R41L123678. Booked at Malibu station.

So the plates on the car at the time of the August 16th raid (435 GYY) belonged to another car.
Which would explain why John Swartz didn't retrieve it.

Here's a picture with better lighting.

And here's a picture of the car at the impound lot which seems to proove the car on display in Las Vegas is in fact the real McCoy.

louis365 said...

eviliz, I think that because I had once talked to Mark Turner about what had happened to this car, and he told me that the best he knew of it was that it had been destroyed.

ockie ditchbank said...

How about all you bloggers STOP your wild rumors! Want to learn the facts about the car from a witness who has followed the cars over the years?

In 1971 I lived in Woodland Hills. The Aug. 16, 1969 raid at Spahn Ranch by LAPD netted 19 vehicles. One was a 1959 Ford Galaxie Town Victoria, VIN #
B9LS141622, with Lic.# GYY435 on the REAR. It was Inca Gold ("yellow") with a black/gold interior, 332 V8, and Cruisomatic transmission. It had a white deck lid from a 1959 Custom 300. This was the car used in the T/LB murders of Aug. 8 & 9, 1969.

An Oxford Blue 1962 Fairlane Club Sedan was also impounded, with lic. # GYY435 on the FRONT.

Manson took the rear plate off the 1962 and placed it on the 1959 because it was not currently registered.

The LAPD never did catch the same lic. # on two cars.

The vehicles were impounded by Howard Sommers Towing on Deering Ave., in Canoga Park. There was a hold on the '59, so it remained in impound throughout the trial, which ended in 1971.

Because there were death sentences handed down, appeals in California are automatic, and all evidence is retained throughout the appeals process.

There was no hold on the 1962 Fairlane and it went to lien sale on Feb. 14, 1970 and was sold to Aadlen Bros. Auto Wrecking and junked under Dismantler # 101472.

In 1975 Howard Sommers gained title to the 1959 through lien sale and he attempted to sell it at a classic car auction in Orange County. It received a high bid of $3,000 but was declared a no sale.

Shortly after, I had my mother go into the Howard Sommers facility and photograph the car. Normally he doesn't let casual visitors in, but because he was unsuccessful at the auction, she convinced him her story for a major car magazine would probably net him a good price for the car. Greedy Sommers went for the bait and she came away with several good shots of the car.

It had reportedly been in Sommer's possession until the mid-2000s when it was sold and registered under a new license #, 5KWX349. That plate was surrendered in 2013 and replaced with Historical Vehicle plate #281P.

The whitewalls you are all yakking about are what's known as Porta-walls, a rubber insert that is mounted on the tire to look like a true whitewall.

The paint on the car is the original Inca Gold.

The car was used in the movie Helter Skelter, and a cardboard studio plate replicating GYY435 was attached to the car for the movie and was left on the car when it was returned to Howard Sommers at the conclusion of filming.

Another movie, called The Family, used a 1962 Falcon as the murder car, but in reality no 1962 Falcon was ever a part of the crime spree.

Other 'Family' vehicles included a 1957 Rambler station wagon, a blue 1953 Ford Country Squire and a black 1956 Cadillac El Dorado hardtop. These remained at Spahn Ranch after the raid, arrests and the Family's subsequent departure to Death Valley.

These cars and the entire Spahn Ranch were destroyed in a 1971 wildfire that raged through the area.

The truck at Ballarat is not, and was never a part of The Family, but the drunks who hang out at Ballarat would like all the tourists to think it was - just in case someone might want to buy it.

ockie ditchbank said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DebS said...

Ockie I did a little bit of searching on the information in your comment.

First, please read the Spahn Ranch Raid police report here-

I do not believe that the people who made comments to this post were spreading rumors but perhaps it is you that is misinformed, at least regarding whether or not LAPD knew that the license plate # GYY435 was on two different vehicles.

The highlights in the Spahn Ranch Raid report to resource my contention are as follows but please read the entire report.

Page 8 about the middle of the page- Swartz is arrested for having stolen plates on his vehicle.

Page 21- gives the list of vehicles impounded with the 1959 Ford listed. Also a little further down on that page gives the registered owners name of the 1962 Ford with the license plate # of GYY435 but it does not say that the 1962 Ford was impounded. (apparently this is the vehicle the GYY435 plate was stolen from)

Page 22- details the impound of the 1959 Ford saying the Vin. # can not be found in the files but that would make sense if the car was registered in Colorado and not California. (Swartz's vehicle was registered in Colorado, (though the registration may not have been current) according to Deemer's list of Family members.

I can find no documentation that the 1962 Ford, where the stolen plates were taken from, was ever impounded. If you could please provide documentation for that it would be appreciated. Or if you can link the registered owners of the 1962 Ford to the Manson Family, other than their license plate was stolen and it turned up on the 1959 Ford owned by Swartz, I would appreciate that as well.

ockie ditchbank said...

Hello, DebS:

Thank you for your valuable input and commentary.

I am trying to download that page you referenced, but it is difficult: I'm on dial-up and Internet Explorer won't read the page at all. Right now, I've got it on Firefox and it seems like it's coming in, but it's probably gonna take all night.

Meanwhile... in 1973 I personally researched the license and VINS for the two Fords. I made the '59 VIN inquiry on 10/12/73 and got "VIN RECORD NOT ON FILE".

In Calif. DMV parlance, this means the car has not been registered in California within the last four years (counting back from 1973).

That would square with your info the '59 was reg. in another state.

I did a license check on GYY435 on 10/10/73 and got the abbreviated print-out, indicating the car had been sold. The current registered owner's name and address had been redacted.

On 10/29/73 I filed a license inquiry requesting full info on 1962 Ford, GYY435, and got the car's entire history going back to 1970. It indicates Howard Sommers came into possession of the car on 16 Aug. 69. If the report you cited doesn't list it, then there's one more reason (among several) the report contained defects.

The GYY was last reg. in 1968. So, why someone (Manson or anyone else) would take a 1968 plate and use it in 1969 doesn't make much sense - unless you understand that it was common among street types to swipe a current '69 sticker off some other car. Thus, putting an updated GYY plate on a car with expired Colorado plates makes a lot more sense.

Manson was stopped in 1968 by the CHP in Oceanside and cited for expired registration, but available info does not indicate what he was driving.

The reg. owner of GYY was one Orville T. Kidd, of Venice, Calif. and the l/o was Universal CIT Credit Corp. in Panorama City.

I am not aware if Kidd was a member of The Family, but if not, then he was the one who sold it to whoever took it to Spahn.

If you Google images "spahn ranch" you can find a picture of the 1962 parked out in front. This pic would have been taken on, or just prior to, August 16, 1969.

In my earlier submission, I inadvertently omitted the following:

"By September 27, 1973, the court had released the 1959 Galaxie and it went up for lien sale for towing and storage. Howard Sommers sold it to himself, then ran an ad in the Van Nuys News to sell it for “make offer”. He received no offers.

In 1975, at the height of the Bonny & Clyde Death Car feeding frenzy, Sommers attempted to sell it at a classic car auction in Orange County. It received a high bid of $3,000 but was declared a no sale."

ockie ditchbank said...

UPDATE for DebS:

Most (but not all) of your 'Spahn Ranch Raid' page has downloaded.

The 1962 Ford GYY435 IS listed in your report as taken with the other cars on August 16, 1969.

While the news reports of the day said 19 vehicles were impounded, your report shows a total of 8 "impounded" and 1 "stored". Why is does not say there were 9 vehicles "stored" or "impounded" is a semantical mystery; the two terms have identical meanings, and calling one "stored" and the rest "impounded" serves no useful purpose, except to confuse the reader.

The report also says Swartz was "arrested for having stolen plates on his vehicle", but no further info is provided to indicate which vehicle or what plates.

But if we assume they're referring to GYY435 on the 1959 Galaxie, then it's reasonable to assume the charge is a typical police BS charge: a simple charge for the purpose of detaining the suspect while a search is performed for other outstanding warrants, etc.

Obviously, since both vehicles were at the same place at the same time, it's pretty much a stretch of the imagination to think the drug-laden r/o of the 1962 Fairlane would bother the police to tell them his plates were stolen, especially with 1 plate still on his car.

Finally, the impound report gives the name & address of the Fairlane's owner, and this info squares with the 1973 report on the car I received from Sacramento DMV.

Hope this helps... it's still a fascinating study!

Britishrider said...

Ockie Ditchbank have you ever tracked any of the motorcycles? Specifically #4 Unknown Make Motorcycle.

Britishrider said...

ockie ditchbank, Have you ever tracked any of the motorcycles? Specifically #4 Unknown Make Motorcycle, Purple from the 8-16-69 Booking Sheet. I am going to DebS suggested site. I am curious if the Sheriff's Department has a clearer copy of LIC#.

Jason Houston said...

No, I have not traced motorcycles. I did run VIN searches on the other cars but they all came back "NO RECORD ON FILE", meaning they're out of the California DMV computer system.

Trent said...

Dose anyone know the whereabouts of the 1959 Ford that was on display in 2010 in Las Vegas??? I would like very much to see it if it is on display somewhere. Thanks!!

Trent said...

Hello. Dose anyone know where the Manson 59 Ford Fairlane is today?? Is it on display anywhere or who to contact to see it?? Thanks!!

Matt said...

Trent, I would contact The Palms Casino and see if they know. It's worth a shot.

Trent said...

Matt. I did this morning before posting this. No luck. They have no idea as it was there for only a very short time. I am doing a tv show this fall on historical antique cars with famous stories behind them and wanted to do an episode on this car if I can locate it.

Matt said...

If you find it, let us know. We'll help get eyeballs to your show.

Matt said...

Try posting the question in the most recent post so everyone can see it. Maybe one of the regulars will know.

charles said...

From Feb to July 1969 I lived a 15 minute walk from Spahn thanks to George himself who sold a load of horse manure to my landlord on a weekly basis.I used a payphone at the Spahn corral almost daily.I saw a 1950? Cupcake truckvan that was registered and in use at Spahn.There was a 1955-56 Cadillac in bad shape behind the buildings.Ruth Ann Morehouse (pretty)had owned a 1950-51 Studebaker that was given to her by some admirer.I saw photos of it only.I know i saw Manson in the cupcake-bread truck that was there. It was a big place.I just want to say that George Spahn was a nice well-spoken man who loved his horses.My Dad knew him during WW2 in downtown LA.when he hired for supplying the movie industry.He bought the movie ranch after the War.He had 30 horses if he had one.For $3 you could ride the high country and part of the Santa Susannah stage trail. It was an era of mass hitch hiking.I remember the '59 Ford with a mismatch hood.George and Shorty warned us about giving rides to the ranch girls because they might shoplift.

Kevin Seattle said...

What a wonderful story of your times on the Ranch Charles! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Kevin Seattle said...

Anyone know where the car in the picture is located at now? Would love to go see it.

Ockie Ditchbank said...

The Manson 1959 Ford Galaxie has been in private ownership for approximately ten years. Judging by the sequence of license plates, it would appear Howard Sommers (the original impounding agency) had it since 1969. Today it is registered to an address of a high-rise office building in West Los Angeles. The owner sporadically rents it out to select law enforcement conventions, but otherwise is not available to be observed by the public.

The car today is in deplorable condition, and the current owner has not done it any good, either. When it arrived at Sommers in 1969, except for a replaced trunk lid from a white '59 Ford Custom 300 and missing the wheel covers, the car was in perfect condition. But decades of being moved, pushed, banged, towed, backed into and bumped, it looked like it was driven in a demolition derby when the current owner acquired it.

And for those who are interested, the Bronco used in OJ Simpson's famous freeway chase is also in private ownership in central California.

Jason Houston said...

Trent, the Manson murder car was a 1959 Ford Galaxie. The car that belonged to the GYY435 plates was a 1962 Ford Fairlane. They are not the same car.

Ockie Ditchbank said...

I don't know who screwed up, but that last comment - to Brent - was mine, Ockie Ditchbank

Unknown said...

Most Fords were two-tone so it was probably yellow and white

Jason Houston said...

Most, but not all. The Manson car left the Long Beach Assembly Plant painted Inca Gold, a dark mustard-type yellow. Somewhere in its life, before it arrived in California from Colorado, the trunk lid was replaced with a Colonial White lid from a '59 Ford Custom 300. That deck lid is still in place on the car today. For more info see:

Jason Houston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yourhutch said...

Trial testimony says the car did not have a back seat, dies this one?

Jason Houston said...

The back seat was eventually located by Sommers prior to when the ranch burned, September 25, 1970, but apparently never reunited with the car until Sommers sold it decades later. All the times I saw and photographed the car in the 1970s the seat was always missing. I was shocked out of my mind when I saw pictures with the seat in place.

Back seats do not "die".

Jason Houston said...

Does anyone here know where the instructions for deleting or editing a comment hidden?

Edward Kent said...

Original car exists.

Jason Houston said...

To clarify this sometimes-confusing record: I am Jason Houston, aka Ockie Ditchbank, one and the same person.

I erred in an earlier comment when I observed the Spahn Ranch was destroyed by fire in 1971. The correct date of that fire was September 25, 1970.

I also erred when I said the LASO missed the switched rear license plate GYY435 from the 1962 Ford onto the 1959 Ford. The plate switch was the main reason they spent all day at Spahn on August 16, 1969, looking for outstanding warrants among Spahn's residents.

I have attempted to correct these mistakes, but apparently editing is not permitted in this forum.

As it turned out, nobody had any warrants. Worse, the search warrant for the nine vehicles (not nineteen as they reported) was misdated by one day.

And to clarify the confusion for those not familiar with Ford's use of the name "Fairlane", the word came from the name of the estate of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company. The name was used for many years on various types and styles of Ford vehicles. In 1959, the full-sized Ford was called the Fairlane 500 Galaxie. In 1962, the new mid-sized Ford was simply call the Fairlane, which meant larger than the compact Falcon, but smaller than the full-size Galaxie.

There are pictures of the 1962 Fairlane. It is plainly visible parked in front of the main ranch building, jacked up with the clutch assembly removed.

I hope this helps clear any misunderstandings.

PaulH said...

You said you saw a photo or Ruth Ann Moorehouse's Studebaker?
Could you send me a link to the photo?
Paul Hart

Jason Houston said...

Paul H:

Please be specific. What is it you're after, a photo or a Studebaker?? Your question doesn't make any sense!

Thank you.

Jason Houston