The 1988 Oscar-winning film Rain Man tells the story of Charlie Babbitt, played by Tom Cruise, who discovers that his late-father’s $3 million fortune is being left to the mental institution that cares for his brother, Raymond ‘Rain Man’ Babbitt. In the movie, the two make a cross-country trip from Cincinnati back to Los Angeles, and they do so in a 1949 Buick Roadmaster.
There were originally two Roadmasters used in the making of the film; one was kept for studio work and the other was modified to support to weight of cameras and cameramen. The latter was actually used during the filming of the movie, thus it is the more important one that was chosen to be restored. Levinson had bought the car two years ago at an auction.
After going to multiple restoration workshops, Levinson settled with the Conneticut-based F40 Motorports shop, led by Wayne Carini – the star of the Chasing Classic Cars TV show. Levinson told Carini that he wanted to preserve the interior since so many famous names had sat in it. So, all rust was repaired, the engine was pulled, chrome was added, and the car was painted.
Carini stated that working on this car had sentimental value to him because the movie had been released around the same time his daughter was born, who was diagnosed with autism.
Needless to say this Buick is more than ‘just a car’ to quite a few people.