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If you saw the Quentin Tarantino movie Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, you saw that creepy 1959 Ford slowly chug up the hill with the Manson family inside. Though a work of fiction, there were real depictions in the movie, including Spahn Ranch and the notorious Ford. The Manson family used a 1959 Ford Galaxie to get to Sharon Tate’s house, murdering everyone inside in August 1969. While Tarantino went for accuracy, he could have used the actual car. Yes, the real Manson family creepy Ford Galaxie murder car exists.

At the time of the killings, the Galaxie was owned by ranch hand John Swartz. In a raid of Spahn Ranch on August 16, 1969, 19 vehicles were confiscated. One of them was a 1959 Ford Galaxie. All of the vehicles were impounded by Howard Sommers Towing in Canoga Park, California. The “hold” placed on the Galaxie lasted through the trial, which concluded in 1971. Spahn Ranch was destroyed by a wildfire, also in 1971. 

It wasn’t until 1973 that Sommers acquired a title to the Ford Galaxie

A white 1959 Ford Galaxie is shown parked in right front angle view, the same car used in the Manson family murders.
1959 Ford Galaxie | Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Due to appeals, all related evidence is held until case activity is concluded. So it wasn’t until 1973 that Sommers, through a lien sale, acquired a title to the car. He essentially sold it to himself. Soon after, he tried to sell it through the Van Nuys News want ads but found no takers. 

By 1975 Sommers again tried to sell it. This time it appeared at a classic car auction in Orange County, California. The highest bid was a “no sale” at $3,000. Sommers kept the car until he sold it in the mid-2000s. That buyer is the current owner.

In 1976, the Galaxie was used in the movie Helter Skelter. You could see the replaced truck lid, done before it was driven from Colorado to the Spahn Ranch. Over the years, it has deteriorated, probably due to being trailered, towed, and pushed around by hand. The car was originally Inca Gold and white two-tone. 

The Galaxie made an appearance at the Annual Conference of California Homicide Investigators Association

In 2010, the Galaxie made an appearance at the Annual Conference of California Homicide Investigators Association in Las Vegas. In 2018, a new Historical Vehicle plate was registered to the Ford. It is what is currently on the car. 

The current owner of the Ford contacted Picture Car Coordinator Stephen Butcher before shooting of Once Upon a Time… had started, according to The Manson Family Blog. He offered it to the movie company to rent. Tarantino turned down the offer thinking it would be too “creepy” to have on the set. 

The Galaxie is loaned out occasionally for law enforcement confabs but otherwise is not available for viewing by the general public. For whatever reason, these cars involved in famous crimes do bring out the curious. A case in point is the Bonnie and Clyde 1934 Ford death car.