"THE AZTEC" IS ARGUABLY ONE OF THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED CARS IN ROD & CUSTOM HISTORY !
BUT, ITS ORIGINS WERE that of an out-of-the-showroom 1955 Chevy Convertible, like the 3 girls on the left are riding in. BILL CARR was the owner, and he decided right upfront that he wanted to customize his Chev. It's first incarnation was not really too radical, SO Bill made the move to put together a Show Car that would get MAJOR attention.
If you've followed the History of the Aztec, you know that Bill's next step was to enlist Bill DeCarr at Barris' Shop to help him get the work done, and they worked mostly after-hours putting the car together.
George & Sam BOTH weighed-in on the Project too, with George adding some sketches, helping with the build, and, eventually, painting the car. in what he termed "Golden Honey"...a beautiful shade that fully complimented the outstanding work done on the car. And, SAM BARRIS did the perfect chop for the Cantilever roof before he moved to Sacramento. (Sam would later do the chop & body panels on the "El Capitola" in Sacramento and send the car back to George for finishing.)
Bob Hirohata, of Hirohata Merc fame, made the Lucite knobs for the dash, and custom-formed the wild Lucite lenses that take up real estate as the taillights; Bob Houser of the Carson Top Shop fabricated the front-removable portion of the roof & did the interior; "Junior" Conway, sanded & preped the car for painting; Dean Jefferies did the scallops.
THE AZTEC was honored as Custom Car Of The Year in 1958, and magazine features, photo shoots, and, many, many car shows followed. However, in around about 1960, Bill Carr sold the car to a man named Bobby Wilcoxson...and a string of strange incidents and a very interesting history followed the car (including events involving the FBI) for many years until current owner/restorer Barry Mazza acquired the AZTEC and began a serious restoration. (Scroll down to the "Did You Know" Section of this page for Information on "The Curse of the Aztec".)
SO, WHEN GEORGE BARRIS, JOHN D'AGOSTINO, and myself joined together for our yearly Sunday Morning Session at the KKOA 30th Anniversary Leadsled on July 25th, 2010, I wanted George's story of his memories of the build, and his thoughts on Barry's Aztec restoration, because this is one car we had never talked about before.
The Aztec, along with the Hirohata Merc, The Predicta, The Jade Idol, and the Golden Sahara, are among my personal favorites, so it was a real pleasure to hear George tell how it all came together. And, as you listen, you'll hear how George stresses the "family spirit" in ALL of the builds that they were, and are, involved in.
GEORGE BARRIS WAS just a class act all the way, and I was proud to have him for a friend. JK
MY THANKS TO the Barris Family for their help & support...and for their keeping the history, legacy, and memories of George, and his brother, Sam, alive for all to remember and learn from. Be sure to visit the Barris Kustom Industries Website: http://www.barris.com/
THE AZTEC AT THE 2003 KKOA LEADSLED...thanks for bringing it Barry !
HERE IS THE ORIGINAL OWNER, the late-Bill Carr (l), with owner/restorerer, Barry Mazza (r). Bill got a chance to get behind the wheel again thanks to Barry ! (Above photo Courtesy of Rik Hoving)
SPECIAL NOTE: Photo at Top of Page: Bill Carr & George Barris as pictured on the cover of the August, 1958 Issue of Hot Rod Magazine (Courtesy of Kustomrama); Center Photo: Luke Karosi's Kustoms Illustrated Magazine, Issue #11 (Courtesy of Luke Karosi)
Above: Left & Right... Original Ads for the New 1955 Chevrolet !
"THE CURSE OF THE AZTEC" !
I MENTIONED ABOVE that after Bill Carr sold The Aztec to Bobby Wilcoxson, an interesting story unfolded through various owners, the FBI being involved, and in so many other ways, that it actually lead to being called "THE CURSE OF THE AZTEC" !
THIS MAN, BOBBY RANDELL WILCOXSON (shown on the left) was a notorious con man, and vicious bank robber. But it was the December 15th, 1961, bank robbery & Tommy-Gun murder of a guard at that bank that put him on the F.B.I. Most Wanted List & Fugitives List in 1962, along with his partner, Albert Frederick Nussbaum (shown on the right). His life of crime & story can be found by Clicking-On-This-Link to Wikipedia.
"THE AZTEC" IN Car Kulture DeLuxe, #86 !
Car Kulture DeLuxe, Issue #86, February, 2018, has a fantastic Feature Story on the legendary "Aztec" !
FIRST IS THE perceptive, thorough, on-target Editorial by OSR/CKD Publisher Geno DiPol on Page 4 that's a "must read". Then the Feature itself in a five page spread on Pages 66-70 written by OSR/CKD Managing Editor Alan Mayes. It's an in-depth look at the history of the "Aztec" from its owner/restorer Barry Mazza's perspective. Barry explains to Alan how he obtained the car...and gives all of the other details about his ownership and the restoration of it !
This Issue is jam-packed with many other great Rods & Customs, BUT you'll need to buy a copy for your Collection so you won't miss out on the great info and "rescuing history" lesson from Geno's Editorial that you'll definitely learn from. Geno's lifelong-love of Rods & Customs is always echoed in his thought-provoking Editorial's, and this is one you won't want to miss !
Plus, the interview with Barry Mazza & pix that go along with Alan's story on the mind-blowing "AZTEC", are worth buying this issue for alone ! Alan's writing style has an easy, personal approach to it that always rings true. JK
BTW: Here's Direct Link to the Car Kulture DeLuxe Website where you can see cool cars, buy neat merch, and, check-out other dyno-mite stuff! http://www.ckdeluxe.com/
Rik Hoving's WebSite: http://public.fotki.com/Rikster/
Kustomrama WebSite: http://www.kustomrama.com/index.php?title=Main_Page
Kustoms Illustrated WebSite: http://www.kustomsillustrated.com/