Thursday, November 05, 2015

George Barris

I went to school to learn cars. But every school I went to, they had me drawing flowers for design. I don’t want to draw flowers. For metal shop they had me making drainpipes and I don’t want to make drainpipes. So I went over to Jones Brothers in Sacramento, alongside the railroad tracks, and I said, “I want to shape metal.”  The guy threw out some fenders and showed me how to light the acetylene torch. I was self-taught. And it proved to be successful 
-George Barris
George Barris
November 20, 1925 – November 5, 2015
Barris was a designer and builder of many famous Hollywood custom cars, most notably the Munster Koach and 1966 Batmobile.He died today in his sleep at his home in Los AngelesCalifornia, at the age of 89.

In the 1960s, the Barris firm became heavily involved in vehicle design for television production. At the beginning of the decade, Barris, who loved extravagant design, had purchased the Lincoln Futura, a concept car of the mid-1950s which had been built by Ghia of Italy. It remained in his collection for several years, until he was rather unexpectedly asked by ABC Television to create a signature vehicle for their Batman television series.

Time was very short, as filming would begin in a few weeks, leaving insufficient time for a new design from scratch. Instead, Barris decided the Futura was a perfect base on which to create the Batmobile. Barris hired custom builder Gene Cushenberry to modify the car, which was ready in three weeks. The show was a hit, and the car gained notoriety for Barris. He retained ownership of the Batmobile until an auction on January 19, 2013, when Barris sold it for $4,620,000.

Other television cars built by Barris Kustom Industries include the Munster Koach and casket turned dragster (the "Drag-U-La") for The Munsters, an Oldsmobile Toronado turned into a roadster used in the first season of Mannix, a 1921 Oldsmobile touring car turned into a truck for The Beverly Hillbillies, the fictional "1928 Porter" for the NBC comedy My Mother the Car, Updated KITTs for later seasons of Knight Rider[7] and replicas of 1914 Stutz Bearcats for Bearcats!.

George Barris was responsible for the frame of the original Batmobile and other famous customized automobiles he created for various celebrities. Barris created a customized gold Rolls Royce for actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. The golden Rolls Royce displayed the detailed work of Barris and included hand-etched window glass by Robb Rich showing butterflies, roses, and hummingbirds.

Barris has built many novelty vehicles for other celebrities; these include golf carts for Bob HopeBing CrosbyAnn-MargretGlen Campbell, and Elton John; and 25 modified Mini Mokes for a record company contest involving the Beach Boys. He would also modify cars for Hollywood stars and others. Some examples include a Cadillac limousine for Elvis Presley; custom Pontiac station wagons for John Wayne, and a pair of "his and hers" 1966 Ford Mustang convertibles for Sonny and Cher. With the cooperation of American Motors, in 1969 he modified an AMX coupe into the AMX-400 show car which was later used in a 1972 episode of the TV mystery seriesBanacek, and a Cadillac Eldorado turned into a station wagon for Dean Martin.

Between 2002 and 2006, Barris also designed two custom Cadillac hearses for episodes of the cable television series Monster Garage. Barris' company often builds replicas of non-Barris designed vehicles from other TV series, including The Monkees (Monkeemobile),Starsky and Hutch (Ford Torino), Power Rangers (Rad-Bug, Turbo Vehicles, and SPD Cars), and Knight Rider (KITT). Also designed and built from a 1979 Ford Country Squire wagon, the Wagon Queen Family Truckster for the 1980 movie National Lampoon's Vacation with Chevy Chase.
This was created in 1969 as part of the popular Pink Panther Show.

Good Night Mr Barris
I wish you Blue Sky, Green Lights and Peace

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa 

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