Submitted by Steve
Mr. McGrath, Kenny’s high school shop teacher, arranged to have the Stingray stolen by Wayne Lowry, one of his former students, because he can’t afford to live on a teacher’s salary. Lowry will sell the car and they’ll split the money. Kenny agrees to work for them, then steals the car back. He and Vanessa are then chased by Lowry, but they get away. Kenny returns the Stingray to the school, but doesn’t reveal McGrath’s involvement in the theft. Kenny receives his high school diploma, and he and Vanessa kiss and walk off together.
Kenny Dantley (Mark Hamill), who loves working on cars, is a high school student in Van Nuys, California. He and the other students in their shop class, along with their teacher Mr. McGrath (Eugene Roche) find the chassis of a 1973 Corvette Stingray about to be crushed at a junkyard, and agree to rebuild it as their final project. Several weeks later, the car is finished, and everybody loves it, especially Kenny, since he did most of the work on it. The red-painted Stingray has a unique look to it, and Kenny changed the car to make it a right-hand drive vehicle. Mr. McGrath agrees to let the students drive it in town, but while Kootz (Danny Bonaduce), one of Kenny’s classmates, is driving it, he stops to buy drinks for everyone. Later that night, Kootz walks up to the group to tell them the car was stolen because he left the keys in the ignition while buying the drinks. Kenny takes the news very hard, but McGrath, who is more like a friend to Kenny rather than his teacher, surprises him when he says it’s just a car. Days later, Kenny is putting up flyers around town for the stolen Stingray, when a man comes up to him and says that he recently saw the car in a casino in Las Vegas, but couldn’t remember which one. Despite his high school graduation about to occur, Kenny decides to go to Las Vegas to get the car back. He tells his mother he’s leaving for a while and hitchhikes to Las Vegas.
On the way there he’s picked up in a van by a girl named Vanessa (Annie Potts). Vanessa is a “hooker-in-training”, and wants Kenny to be her first paid client, but Kenny isn’t interested, and he has no money anyway. They make it to Las Vegas, and Kenny spends the night in her van. The next morning, she kicks him out for not paying, even though they didn’t have sex. Kenny then goes from one casino to another looking for the car, and he eventually finds it, but while it looks just like the Stingray, the one on display is actually a Datsun. Disheartened, Kenny is about to hitchhike back home when he sees the Stingray drive by him. He chases it on foot, but it gets away. Now knowing the car is in Las Vegas, Kenny finds a job so he can have money, since he doesn’t know how long he’ll be in town before he can steal it back. He’s sleeping in a U-Haul container, but one night he sees Vanessa after a rough night “at work”. They rekindle their relationship and he sleeps in the van again, and again she kicks him out in the morning, but this time he pays her with the only money he has, a $2 bill he got the day before. Vanessa keeps the money and later frames the $2 bill, saying it’s the first money she earned as a hooker.
Throughout the movie, which takes place over the course of the summer, Kenny takes and later quits several automobile related jobs, and he sees the Stingray several times. But everytime he gives chase, it gets away. He also runs into Vanessa, who got a job at a fast-food restaurant until she can build up her clientele, and they restart their relationship again. While all this is happening, Kenny is writing letters to Mr. McGrath, and he is filling him in on his search for the Stingray. McGrath gets the letters and calls one of his former students, Wayne Lowry (Kim Milford). Lowry has the Corvette, and we learn that he and McGrath conspired to steal the car. Since Kenny is in Las Vegas and has seen the Stingray, they agree to disguise the car. One day, Kenny, now working at a car wash, sees the Stingray come through the wash, but it’s now painted gold. This time, he steals a bicycle and is able to follow the car to a local auto body shop, which is run by Lowry. He and his goons catch Kenny and beat him up. They hold him at their garage, but he’s able to get away. He’s gets together with Vanessa, and she convinces him to let the police handle it.
The next morning, Kenny goes to the police station to report the stolen Stingray, but before he enters the building, he sees Mr. McGrath. He tells Kenny he knows about Lowry and says he will handle it. They drive into the desert, and McGrath tells Kenny that he’s responsible for the car being stolen. He can’t afford to live on a teacher’s salary, and the money he can get for selling the Stingray will help him get by. Since the car is technically school property, the only way he could sell it was if it was stolen first, then Lowry will sell it and he and McGrath will split the money. If it’s learned that he was involved, McGrath would lose his job and his family, and that’s all he has and wants. Kenny’s inability to let go of the car was not expected, and then he tells him that he brought him out to the desert for Lowry to kill him, but if he agrees to work for them, they’ll let him live. Seeing as he has no choice, Kenny agrees. Back at the garage, Lowry and the goons apologize to Kenny for beating him up and put him to work. But before he starts, Kenny demands the first week’s pay upfront, and Lowry agrees. Now with money, Kenny cleans himself up and buys a nice dress for Vanessa. He then tells her that he no longer cares about the car, just the money he can get from this job. While Vanessa is happy with her new dress and the money he is now able to give her, she sees that Kenny is now acting like a jerk, and begins to think that she liked him better when he was broke. Later, a man drives up to the garage in Vanessa’s van. Kenny accuses him of stealing it, but he says that he actually bought it and shows him the for sale sign painted on the window as proof. He says that the girl didn’t need it anymore since she is now living in a casino.
That night, Kenny tells the others that he is working late and will close up. After they leave, Kenny locks himself in the garage, moves the Stingray into the painting booth, and paints the car red again. The next morning, as the goons open up the shop, Kenny beats them up and drives off with the Stingray. When Lowry later comes in, they tell him what happened and he takes off after Kenny. Instead of driving back to Van Nuys, Kenny stops at the restaurant Vanessa works at, but they tell her she recently quit. He then goes to the casino she now lives at. He enters her room, and after seeing that she is in the middle of shooting a porno, he makes her leave with him. She’s mad at him for making her lose her payday, but when she sees the Stingray, she quickly realizes that he planned on stealing the car all along and he really does like her. They drive out of town back to Van Nuys, but Lowry catches up to them. He chases them on and off the highway for several miles, but Kenny is able to get away after he plays “chicken” with the Stingray vs. Lowry’s Camaro. Lowry swerves to miss them, and wrecks the Camaro in the process. Kenny and Vanessa then drive back to Van Nuys.
Some time later, Kenny and Vanessa drive up to the school in the Stingray. It’s now the following school year, and the remaining students who worked on the car immediately recognize it. Kenny then goes into the school and sets off the fire alarm, bringing everyone outside to see the car, including Mr. McGrath. The principal also comes out and asks what’s going on. Kenny tells him that he found the car and is returning it, keeping McGrath’s involvement in the theft a secret. He then asks the principal for his diploma, since he missed the graduation ceremony. While he is getting it, Kenny tells McGrath that his secret is safe, as well as his job, but they are no longer friends. The principal comes back out with Kenny’s diploma, but Vanessa takes it away from him and walks off. The movie ends with Kenny catching up with her, then they kiss and walk off together, while Kootz, who everyone still believes is responsible for the car being stolen, is forced to wash the car.