When Robert Miller helped direct the video version of Randy Newman's song "I Love L. A.," in 1983, he featured his own 1955 Buick convertible because "it was the easiest, cheapest one I could find," he said.
Last weekend, when the Sherman Oaks resident heard that a Buick touted as the "I Love L. A." vehicle had been sold at a Northridge car auction, he was surprised and angry, he said.
"I own that car. It's sitting in my garage right now," Miller said.
A spokesman for Dancing Buffalo Inc., the Hollywood company that produced the video, confirmed that Miller owns the car in the short film.
Sharing Miller's anger was a 28-year-old Northridge man who plunked down $7,900 for the car, only to learn it may not be the one in which Randy Newman--along with what the song describes as a "big nasty redhead"--cruised the streets of Los Angeles.
"If it's not the car, I'm not interested," Richard Ardi said, days after he crowed, "I love it!" from behind the wheel of the vintage car.
Officials of Spectrum Vehicle Auction of Northridge, the firm that auctioned off the 1955 Buick on Saturday, said they will return Ardi's money if they find that the car was not the one in the video.
"This is kind of embarrassing for us," said Drew Donen, one of Spectrum's owners.
Donen said the red-and-white Buick auctioned off was consigned to the company by Scott Boses, owner of the Boses Collection, a Hollywood firm that leases vintage cars to the entertainment industry.
Donen said Boses told him the car was the "'I Love L. A.' video car featured in the August, 1985, issue of Playboy." In fact, photos of a 1955 Buick convertible appeared that month in Playboy, but Miller said that car was not the one in the video.
Miller said his 1955 Buick Super Convertible has power windows and four portholes on each front fender.
Donen said the vehicle he auctioned off Saturday had hand-crank windows and three portholes, and is a 1955 Buick Special Convertible, not a Super.
Boses could not be reached for comment Monday.