2021 Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame – Marvin Narbaitz

Marvin Narbaitz
By Dennis Wilson

Marvin moved to Modesto in 1958 and was a classmate of George Lucas in Downey 1962. At 16 he started driving his mom’s car that he took to Smitty’s muffler where they’d heat your coils for $2 a side to lower front but only did one coil hoping she wouldn’t notice. He’s never owned a car he hasn’t lowered. Near end of his senior year (1962) he bought a 55 Chevy. A stock 265 3 speed put on chrome wheels and cheater slicks. No one in the area shifted a column shift faster. He worked along side racing stand out Jack McCoy and on Fridays mounted race tires then went to races each night. He also learned by taking auto and body shop classes, working on his toys was better done by professionals while he earned money to pay for his ideas.

After leaving McCoy’s he was asked by a friend with no license and little time if he could take from Bucks Racing Tires to Kearney Bowl in Fresno to deliver tires for main event. Returning his El Camino the next day he was confronted by Buck if he was driver night before, as he had a neighbor on 99 when the El Camino went by so fast “he thought he was going backwards.” Answering “yes”, Buck offered Marvin a job for rest of season helping mount, groove and deliver tires to Fresno and San Jose on Friday and Saturday nights and to the Clovis Dirt Track on Sundays. He met many ol’ school legends like Vuky Jr., Pombo, Kaeding, Sargeant and more. Later, his friend gave him his new 383 4 speed Dodge he was letting get repossessed to keep until found. Marvin lowered it and it had 456 gears so he raced and beat nearly everything.

Later interest turned to Harley’s and he bought first of two. There were few choppers in Modesto back then and in 1964, a lady hit him on McHenry. While rebuilding bike he had legendary Gene Winfield paint it two colors candy green faded into light pearl green. Total cost $60. At ‘04 Graffiti Show, Winfield show autographed an old picture of Marvin sitting on the bike. When asked if he could still do the job for $60 the answer was just a laugh. Throughout the years he’s owned an array of bikes, Cads, El Caminos, Impalas and pick ups. He worked at first auto stereo shop in Modesto installing 4 tracks and 4 speakers for $129.

In 68 he suffered a near death paralyzing accident. Realizing he’d couldn’t ride again he turned to boats and nice trucks. The prettiest came in ’82, an 18′ Hondo with a Bozarth built 454, equivalent of 23 coats of black lacquer and multiple colors of candy graphics towed with an ‘81 Chevy P.U. sporting 10″ wire knock offs custom interior and gauges with Craig Judd striping.

What he’d always wanted was a separate rod to take to shows or on runs. In ‘99 his wife encouraged him to buy a 383 powered 34 outlaw-bodied coupe they’d found. He always enjoyed driving and trailering to the car shows and he thought that driving with group was more fun. When he was called asking to join their group he said no because he wasn’t good with rules. When he found out the only rule was, “no one gets left behind” he joined the Bandits. Starting with a few people, the Bandits now have members around the state. His is working on a 56 Bel Air rebuild he hopes to have ready for Graffiti shows before adding more H.P. next winter. If time allows he wants to build his last cars. A frame-off 62 bubbletop or Biscayne he’s been building in his head for years, and or a 67 or 68 C/10.

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.