When 12-year-old Derek Garvie saw the movie Christine with his newly adoptive father, Jim, he wasn’t scared of the red ’58 Plymouth Belvedere as most kids were – he was hooked. It was 1987 and Jim, a high-school head football coach, always took the team out for a movie the night before a game. Derek tagged along sometimes, and after this movie, he asked, “Dad! Can we get one of those cars?”
Jim’s answer wasn’t the usual “We’ll see” you would hear as a kid. Instead, he answered, “We can sure try.”
And 16 years later in July 2003, Jim got a call from John in Simi Valley, Calif., offering to sell his Christine to Jim “for Derek,” as he had read a story about his son and his search for the car via the Internet. She arrived eight days later to Oklahoma... “What a look on Derek's face as it came into town all red, white, mostly shiny and menacing,” says Jim.
The 1958 Plymouth Belvedere was modified to the movie’s Fury specs, and the car still gets more attention than a string of cars at a car show. Today only five of the original 23 used in the blockbuster hit exist. History indicates that the Garvie’s Christine was used in the Camaro chase and impact scenes of the movie.
To prove this car is one of the originals, Jim has documented and verbal history from the previous owner in Simi Valley, along with the physical aspects and receipts from Bill & Ed’s Auto Wrecking in Fontana, Calif. where all of the crashed Christines were taken after production wrapped.
“This Christine was revamped with a usable front end, movie and salvage parts, and stored from 1984 until we purchased her in July 2003,” explained Garvie.
The Garvies had to get back to England in March 2004 so Jim could teach and coach at Lakenheath Air Base for the school year. But then a special thing happened. Some folks in their town of Grove, Oklahoma, got together, took Christine and for the next 10 months brought her exterior and interior back to movie-spec life – and also added options including a motion detector for speakers, lights, etc.
What a sight for Derek to see when we returned to Oklahoma in June. The garage opened, Christine’s engine started with rumbling dual exhausts and she was driven outside for all to see. The moment, of course, belonged to Derek, as his 18-year dream had come true.
Christine has been a very big part of the Garvie family. But she was recently sold. Derek was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in 2002, and with his deteriorating health, the family needed the money for bills and so forth.
It’s quite humbling to see how our hobby and the love of a good car can really add to a family, bringing together joy for a father and son. We wish the Garvies all the best.
“A special boy was added to our family in 1987,” says Jim. “Even though I have personally experienced great success as a coach on the high school and collegiate level and have met or worked with many great people including Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Osborn, Joe Carter, Mack Brown, Bobby Bowden and more... Derek is and always will be my hero.”