The 30 year anniversary of the release date of the classic comedy motion picture “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” was recently celebrated a few months ago and the star of that film, Chevy Chase, just celebrated his 70th birthday a few days ago. Certainly a few milestones worth mentioning if you’re a fan of classic comedy and classic comedians. Equally noteworthy of mention, and timely in respect to Vacation & Chevy, is the recent discovery by the folks here at the American Roadtrip of pure Americana in the form of Steve, Lisa, Amber & Brooke Griswold. Yes, the real-life version of the family with the same last name as portrayed by Chase in the Vacation movie series share a few things in common with their on screen counterparts (sans the Rusty character and replace with adorable girl) and American Roadtrip blogger Andy had the pleasure of visiting the Griswold clan to talk about it…
Andy: We are standing in front of your tricked out, honest to goodness Family Truckster in Metallic Pea, and it’s an exact replica of what was in the movie and it’s one of the coolest vehicles I’ve ever seen. Or is it the actual truckster?! What’s the story here?
Steve Griswold: (Laughing) No, no, no…it’s not the actual truckster from the movie but it is pretty close, right?! Well the story is pretty simple really. I was 14 years old when the movie came out. I got teased a bit about the Griswold name and everything (friendly teasing) and just remember thinking how cool that wagon in the movie was at the time and then really didn’t think too much about it after that. Fast forward to January of this year when I seriously started thinking about it, and decided to take action. Being our family business deals with travel (GriswoldFamilyVacations.com), I thought the truckster would make for a nice prop. I had no idea how nice… Anyway, I did a search around and found a brown wagon in Stone Mtn., Georgia with 10,000 miles on it in pretty darn good condition. I piled an exorbitant amount of money into it and next thing you know we’re headed to Disney World within a week after leaving the shop (you can see the eye opening restoration-creation of the Griswold truckster in all its glory here).
Andy: Not Wally World? Kidding of course. Naturally I have to ask this – what kind of response did you receive from folks on the highways and restaurants and gas stations you stopped into on the roadtrip along the way?
Lisa Griswold: (Big smile) It was pretty overwhelming and fun! Lots of honks, thumbs-ups, waves, and people taking pictures. I mean cars would stalk us for miles trying to get good photo’s. I was like, Steve – It’s just a car!! Photo’s of the Griswold Family Truckster had already shown up on Twitter within 24 Hours. I have to say we definitely enjoyed the attention and still do! Oh yeah, about Wally World? We had that painted on the back window of the truckster and then crossed out to show Disney (yes they sure did as photo on left attests)!
Andy: Your website mentions that CNN did a feature on your family. Can you explain what that was like and the effect, if any, it had on your business?
Steve Griswold: It was pretty exciting. They actually followed us around and basically filmed our every move for 48 hours after we arrived at Disney World. They also had cameras of all sizes strategically placed around the inside and outside of the wagon to get some good detail shots and had us do “drive byes.” The funniest thing is that after a few days worth of shooting, the final story that aired was only about 40 seconds long!
Lisa Griswold: Overall the effect on our business has been very positive. The travel agents we deal with who are familiar with the movie always get a kick out of the truckster when they see it – one said they actually peed themselves they were laughing so hard! Funnier are the agents not familiar who give a strange look or obviously try to hide that they don’t believe what they’re seeing… It just doesn’t register with people that a guy with a ’97 Honda with no AC, would turn around and buy this as a replacement – what kind of priorities does this man have? Of course we explain. What’s not to love about the Griswold Family Truckster (aside from the water pump blowing the first day on the road)?!
Andy: I especially love the attention to detail like the gas tank. How’s the mileage on this baby anyway?
Lisa Griswold: I hate to spoil this for you, but the gas tank is not really a gas tank – just the flip up part for effect to match the movie version. Surprisingly the gas mileage is pretty decent for a wagon this size – 18 Mpg.
Andy: I thought she might have to take Diesel! Aside from CNN and the attention while on the road, any other crazy or exciting experiences come your way via Griswold name & vehicle? Ever hear from the folks who made and/or starred in the movie?
Steve Griswold: One of our favorite experiences was when we were asked to appear on “Atlanta Live.” We had to be at the studio by 5am in the morning (that wasn’t the favorite part!). Our youngest daughter Brooke was instantly fascinated with the roughly 20 or so TV monitors spread across the set and when she saw my face on all the monitors at once, her eyes just widened up and she couldn’t stop yelling “Mommy look – Daddy-Daddy-Daddy!!,” over and over and over… I guess seeing 20 of me at once can do that to a person!
As of today we haven’t heard from any of the actors from the movie. We really don’t expect to, and we’re fine with that but it definitely would be a pleasant surprise if it ever does happen.
Andy: I have strong suspicion it will. Thanks so much for letting me step into your Griswold World (and truckster!) for a few minutes and you can be sure the American Roadtrip will be following you on all of yours!
American Roadtrip highly endorses the Griswold family business! If you’re looking for some seriously good vacation deals, please check them out and find out even more about their adventures from the road at Griswoldfamilyvacations.com and Pixievacations.com