George Barris, the 87-year-old king of "kar kustomizers," profiled in LA Times

For 70 years George Barris has been "taking ordinary vehicles and mutating them into hell-for-leather roadsters," many of which are now part of automotive history.

"Others have been immortalized on television and in the movies," writes W.J. Hennigan in the Los Angeles Times.

"He turned a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura into the Batmobile. He stretched out a Model T body and, with a few tweaks, made it into the ghastly vehicle that the Munsters drove in the TV show."

There's a video, too (non-embeddable).


  1. George Barris is one of my personal heroes, and we had posters of some of his creations at the body shop I used to work at. So much of pop culture is tied up in this man’s creative ability and metalsmithing – without him, the automotive landscape in this country would be far poorer.

  2. His designs inspired Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Revell-Monogram for great toys and models all through the 60s and 70s.  Definitely a key player in pop culture.

  3. When I saw your headline, specifying Barris’s age,I was afraid he had died.

    I thought Barris built the Red Baron (giant German helmet mounted on a T-bucket) but I’ve seen that credited to Jay Ohrberg and/or Tom Daniel.  One of those guys was on Wonderama when I was young – one of their cars was a regular-size automobile, but then the driver’s seat split off into a separate pod-car.

  4. let’s not forget that, aside from all the awesome customs and movie cars, Barris was also responsible for the Bugazzi – arguably the most over-the-top tasteless automobile in the world (I’ve seen described as “dictator’s bathroom on wheels”…)

    go on, google Bugazzi and marvel at the insanity!

  5. George Barris features prominently in “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhh!) Around the Bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmm)…” by Tom Wolfe.  

    Quite the engaging essay, it appears (retitled) in The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (collected essays from the early sixties, all quite engaging).

  6. George Barris is important, no doubt, to the history of car customizing, but his impact is overstated (usually by George himself). He has claimed credit for many creations that were not his, often those of Dean Jeffries, Eddie Paul, and others, and his brother Sam was responsible for much, if not most, of the work of the Barris shop back in the day.

  7. Loved driving by his shop on the way into Hollywood, just before the Hollywood Bowl.  

    My favorite car-adapting moment of his: He raised the roof of John Wayne’s station wagon upwards by six inches so wayne didn’t have to take off his cowboy hat when he got in the car.

  8. Back in the 80s, one of my elementary-school classmates won a contest of some sort (radio, perhaps?) and got a ride to school in the Batmobile.  All of us were hanging out the window to watch it drive up outside the school.

Comments are closed.