THE GEORGE BARRIS TRIBUTE PAGE
ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC BUILDERS OF kustom cars & hot rods, for almost SEVEN decades was GEORGE BARRIS.
His legacy of truly historic cars known by, not just the Rod & Custom Industry but by the Public as well, included TV's "Munsters Koach" & "Drag-U-La" from the "Munsters" Series, and of course, everyone's all-time favorite: "The Batmobile"
Sadly, George Barris passed-away, Thursday, November 5th, 2015, but the creations he designed & built through the year's will live in the hearts & minds of fans all-over-the-World. As a kid, George Barris was one of my Heroes; as an adult, he became one of my friends.
Every year from 2006 to 2014, George, along with my Cuz, Designer/Creator of some of the most beautiful, Award Wining kustoms of the last Four Decades, JOHN D'AGOSTINO, and, myself, had a locked-in, yearly, Sunday Morning Session at the KKOA Leadsled in Salina, Kansas.
It wasn't just an "interview session", it was three guys talking cars, having fun, and, listening to the history & and archiving the stories of both John, and, one of the longest-running Hall Of Fame Legends & Pioneers: GEORGE BARRIS.
RIP, my friend, and thank you for the kindness, help, support, and, the learning experience, that you gave me all through the years. You were truly "The King Of The Kustomizers".
Jonnie King (November 6th, 2015)
(Above photo courtesy of Mel Melcon, McClatchy-Tribune News Service...with sincere thanks.)
FROM OUR SUNDAY MORNING SESSIONS that were done between 2006 and 2014, I've chosen TWELVE STORIES that were favorites of George, John D'Agostino, and, myself.
You'll find a synopsis of each one below, and there's a Link attached to each one so that you can listen to it by simply clicking-on that Link.
As you listen, you'll understand why I created the Hall Of Fame Legends Series...to archive the oral history & stories of those Pioneers/Hall Of Famers that gave so much to our R&C Industry through the years...so they wouldn't be forgotten, and could be heard by those that remember them, as well as those who are learning about them for the first time.
GEORGE BARRIS, was one of the first to offer to sit down with me and share his stories & history so we could get the HOF Legends Series online, and, On-The-Air. As I stated above, as a kid George was one of my Heroes; as an adult, he became one of my friends.
Please enjoy each & everyone of the stories listed below as my Tribute to my friend: George Barris..."The King Of The Kustomizers" !
1. "THE BATMOBILE": As I set-up this Tribute Page to George, I wanted you to hear this Special Interview I did with him on how he designed and built the famous TV "Batmobile"...which has turned-out to be his most-famous, universally-known creation of all-time !
IN THIS Very Special "BATMOBILE" Production, you will not only hear George, but, BOTH "Batman" & "Robin" make an appearance !
PLUS, you'll hear the "Batmobile" itself ! Here's the Link to that Special Page : http://www.legends.thewwbc.net/gpage23.html
2. "GEORGE BARRIS MEETS THE 'MUNSTERS' AT THE DRAGSTRIP" in the TV Episode: "Hot Rod Herman" !
George & his Crew built BOTH the "Munsters Koach" & "Drag-U-La" for this hilarious TV show, AND, George actually drove the "Drag-U-La" at the dragstrip for this special Episode !!
THIS IS A GREAT story to listen to that brings the "Munsters Koach", AND, "Drag-U-La" to life.
In addition, you'll hear an Introduction by "Grandpa Munster" (Al Lewis) himself, and, you'll even hear George do a "Wheelie" ! Just CLICK-ON-RIGHT HERE !!
3. "THE ALA KART STORY": After the terrible December 7, 1957 fire at the Barris Shop, the only car that was left to fully work on was the Ala Kart.
In this Interview, George gives the full story on how that legendary Award Winner the "Ala Kart" came together, as well as his feelings on the restoration of it by Roy Brizio's Shop.
Simply Click-On-Here to hear this important story on one of the most-creative, award winning, kustoms ever built.
4. "THE STORY OF THE HIROHATA MERC": One of the most Legendary of all kustoms is the "Hirohata Merc". Bob Hirohata owned it; Sam & George Barris built it.
This is one of the earliest kustoms to bring fame to Sam & George, and in this early Interview that George and I did, he explains the complete story in his own words.
You can access & hear this historic info from "The King Of The Kustomizers" right now by Clicking-On-This-Link.
5. "BUILDING THE GOLDEN SAHARA": One of my favorites of all the Barris kustoms is the beautiful "Golden Sahara"...produced at a time when Detroit "Concept Cars" & "Dream Cars" were at their peak.
In this Sunday Morning Session with our good friend, John D'Agostino, George gave me the history of how this radical, fantastic kustom was built...and how it was used in a Jerry Lewis movie !
PLUS, my Cuz, John D'Agostino, tells about seeing the "Golden Sahara" on TV...and I give you a YouTube Link where you can see it in action with its owner Jim Street ! Just Click-On-Here to listen & learn !
6. ALWAYS IN THE "Top 10" of all kustoms built is "THE AZTEC" !
The work on this car was simply phenominal...and I wanted George to fill-in all of the details surrounding the build of this stunning creation that BOTH George & Sam had a hand in.
He didn't disappoint me as you'll hear in this Sunday Morning Session that George, John D'Agostino, and, myself shared ! Click-On-Right-Here, and listen to the complete story on "The Aztec" !!
7. ANOTHER GROUND-BREAKING KUSTOM that Sam & George Barris produced was the "LARRY ERNST '51 CHEVY BELAIR".
In this Interview, George talks at-length about chopping this Chevy hardtop, and, Larry Ernst, its owner, who had a secret at that time that many were not aware of.
ALSO, as an added Feature, we discuss the tragic December 7th, 1957 fire at the Barris Shop, and how that lead George into another major build (The "Ala Kart"), and a move into Hollywood.
This is one you MUST HEAR ! CLICK-ON-HERE ...and you're on your way !
8. "THE SAM BARRIS MERC": SAM BARRIS WAS one of the best bodymen/kustomizers to ever light-up a torch.
His 'from-the-dealership-to-the-shop' kustimization of his then-brand new Merc set the R&C world on its ear...and, not only made the covers of the R&C mags of the day, BUT also earned its place on the cover of the iconic Motor Trend mag !
George & I had never discussed this car yet, so in this Sunday Morning Session in Salina I made it a point to make sure we covered the history on this historic vehicle...one of Sam's personal rides that lives on today ! Just CLICK-ON-RIGHT-HERE to listen.
9. "FROM STREET RACING TO BUILDING CARS FOR TV & MOVIES": this is one Interview with George Barris that you really don't want to miss !
In this Sunday Morning Session, George told John D'Agostino & myself, how about his early year's of California street racing...and how it led to his street rod being shot with bullet holes !
ALSO, the chopped '48 Chevy that he did for the film "High School Confidential" started Geoge on a career of building cars for more films, and of course, TV show's.
You'll even here "The Killer" JERRY LEE LEWIS in this cool historic Interview ! Ready ? Okay...all ya gotta do is CLICK-ON-HERE and all the action starts !
10. "THE LITTLE DEUCE COUPE" had its origins with Mike & Larry Alexander in Detroit. But when its owner, "Chili" Catallo, moved to L.A. George Barris chopped it and took it to another level. And, of course, the Beach Boys hit song truly made it a 'living legend' !
Mike Alexander had previously told me his story on the coupe's early build, and George gave me his history with the car, and his feelings on the wonderful work that Mike & Larry Alexander did in their simple, great little shop in Detroit.
CLICK-ON-RIGHT-HERE for this story on one of the R&C Industries most-legendary Hot Rods ever built...PLUS, as a BONUS, George's story of the "Five Batmobiles" on-the-street is SO COOL !
11. "THE XPAK 400" STORY: Always looking ahead, George Barris was as much a visionary as he was a designer/builder of some of the most unique kustoms to ever hit the streets.
In this Interview I cover the fact that the cars George & John create are organic...they flow from start-to-finish...like they were built that way to begin with...which leads George to tell John D'Agostino & I about the remarkable, hovercraft-style machine he created called the "XPAK 400" !
This one is story that's fun, as well as historic ! Listen to it by CLICKING-ON-HERE .
12. "THE BURGARIN MERC": George had a rule about working on '49 -'51 Mercs..."No Two Would Be Built Alike", and Dave Burgarin's 0-So-Kool Merc has always intrigued me because it's inspiration was the "Hirohata Merc".
I still have my "little pages" mags from the 50's. Honk, Car Craft, Rod & Custom, Custom Cars...I still have my complete collection of all of those. And, one kustom that I always liked was the "Burgarin Merc"... I loved the chop, and the use of those Packard taillights that flowed perfectly into the tops of the '51 Merc fenders.
George's memories of all of the builds that he & Sam had done were always just spot-on, so when I mentioned Dave Burgarin's car he started right-in and gave me the story.
We also talked about building cars for other clients, which includes a great story about Rock & Roll singing legends SONNY & CHER.
In addition, George reflected upon the fact that friendship & family was always a part of his history, and, his career. You can hear that caring-feeling in his voice as he tells this story... CLICK-HERE to hear it, my friends.
MY SINCERE SYMPATHY to Joji & Brett Barris (George's' Daughter & Son), his Grandson, Jared, and to all his family & friends.
George was truly a "one-of-a-kind": a very special, very talented, most-creative, builder & designer who's magical touch, and, forward vision, graced the R&C Industry for almost seven decades. JK
SEE THE SPECIAL TRIBUTES TO GEORGE BARRIS in Car Kulture DeLuxe #74 (February, 2016 Issue) by, Geno DiPol, Publisher, on Page 4, and, by Alan Mayes, Managing Editor, on Pages 60-61.
Both Tributes are eloquently stated, and, heartfelt...making this Issue a "keeper" for sure.
NOTE: All photos/images on this page courtesy of their original owners/copyright holders...with sincere thanks.