George Barris made a rare east coast appearance back in 2009 at Soundsation Audio in Staten Island NY. Many posed for pictures with George and the 1966 Batmobile at Soundsation, 2311 Forest Avenue, Staten Island, NY. Then Barris and Lambros Vassiliou, owner of Soundsation, drove the Batmobile and a vintage, lime green 1969 Dodge Charger to cruise night at Superior Confections on 1150 South Avenue where the real party was. Sponsors of this event include Arc Audio, Soundsation, Barris Kustom Industries, Superior Confections, Absolutely OK Auto Body, Delfini’s Gourmet Catering, Custom Signs and Championship Construction.
Here’s a bonus weekend post illustrating just how much Hondas have infused American culture. Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was creator of the Rat Fink and a legend in the hot rod and Kustom Kulture scene of the 60s. His custom choppers and show cars were among the most famous of their era. You may recall names like Road Agent, Mysterion, or Road Agent from your youth, and anyone who grew up playing with Hot Wheels knows the Beatnik Bandit.
Many of Roth’s personal cars, however, were Hondas, which he used to sell Rat Fink merchandise at hot rod shows and run his custom painting business. A couple of years ago his Honda Civic went up for sale, and now his 1973 Honda N600 will follow.
The N600 currently part of a huge single-owner collection of 80-plus iconic American hot rods and customs that includes famous show cars by Boyd Coddington, George Barris and more. But not for long. Soon they will change hands at RM Auctions’ “Icons of Speed and Style” bidding frenzy to be held at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on September 26, 2009.
When Blackie Gejeian was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at Galpin Auto Sports recently, two of his famous roadsters were on display. The black 1926 Model T, known as Shish Kabob, is probably slightly better known, but The Emperor is just as impressive.
The Emperor didn’t start out as a show car project. Chuck Krikorian was a teenager in the late ’50s when he dropped a 1929 Ford roadster body on 1931 Model A ‘rails with the intention of building a drag race car. Krikorian’s brother-in-law, Richard Peters, and Blackie persuaded him to take the roadster in a different direction and finish it as a show car. Gejeian’s Shish Kabob had tied for the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy in 1955 and Peters’ 1929 Ford RPU, Ala Kart (built by George Barris, Peters, and Gejeian), won AMBR in 1958 and 1959.
Krikorian followed their advice, and the roadster soon ended up at George Barris’ shop, where it began its transformation at the hands of Barris, Krikorian, Peters, and Gejeian. The roadster underwent a radical redesign that included a custom grille insert inside a hand-formed shell. The body was channeled 8 inches over Z’d ‘rails of a fully chromed chassis. Motorcycle fenders covered skinny tires with wide whitewalls, mounted on chrome reverse wheels with caps. A 1957 Cadillac topped with six Stromberg 97 carbs was dressed up for show, but built for performance as well. Legendary upholsterer Eddie Martinez stitched the rolls ‘n’ pleats throughout the interior. Eventually, Tommy the Greek added some of his signature graphics to the body.
The Emperor followed the path of Shish Kabob and Ala Kart, winning the title of America’s Most Beautiful Roadster in 1960. The car went into storage not long after winning AMBR, but not before Blackie raced it at Kingdon Drag Strip near Stockton. He drove the roadster to 106 mph in the quarter, kabooming the Caddy engine in the process. Blackie eventually bought the roadster from Krikorian, bringing it out of hibernation and freshening it up a little. Decades later, he is still the owner.
Today, The Emperor displays a few mods made over the years. The cycle fenders have been removed and meaty tires with raised white lettering replace the skinny piecrust rubber—and the graphics have gone away. But those tweaks are minor, especially when we think about all the famous hot rods from the same era that have disappeared. We’re glad and lucky that The Emperor is still with us.STREET RODDER ran a full story on Blackie Gejeian’s The Emperor in the March 2001 issue, which can be read on this website here. And if you’re lucky, like we were, you might get to see this important piece of hot rod history live and in person at a hot rod event someday.
The Porsche 550 Spyder in which actor James Dean was killed may have been found after being lost for 55 years, ABC 7 in Chicago reports. The movie star died in a head-on collision on September 30, 1955 at age 24 driving the car on a public road to a race he intended to drive it in.The car was totaled, and one of his competitors bought the engine and other parts, leaving the crumpled body to auto restorer George Barris.
Barris opted not to restore the vehicle, but loaned it out to the National Safety Council for automobile safety promotions and car shows.It came up missing while being shipped to Los Angeles from Miami in 1960.On the 50th anniversary of Dean’s death in 2005, Chicago’s Volo Auto Museum offered to purchase the car for $1 million. That brought in several leads, the best of which was a man in Whatcom County, Washington, who claimed to have seen the Porsche hidden behind a false wall when he was a child. The man, who has not been identified publicly, passed a lie detector test, but doesn’t own the building where the car supposedly is hidden. Talks are ongoing with the building’s owner about the $1 million offer, which still stands.
However, Barris, who is now 89 years old, likely has his own claim of ownership since there is no paperwork transferring ownership from him to anyone else, the museum’s director Brian Grams told Fox News. “This guy’s story is awesome, and our most believable lead to date,” Grams told ABC 7. “It’s kind of like Al Capone’s vault. If it is in there, it continues the legend of this car’s notorious history.”
George Barris, best known for creating the “Munster Koach” and television’s Batmobile, celebrated the release of his new biography at Galpin Auto Sports.
Of the many things George Barris has accomplished, one of the most impressive is the fact that he is still going strong as he approaches his 90th birthday. Hot rod and custom enthusiasts in Southern California can frequently see George at various car culture events. One such event was the book launching and signing party for King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris.
Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, California, hosted the event, and decorated their hot rod collection showroom with an impressive gallery of photographs, memorabilia (including a Barris crest custom guitar and an assortment of his trademark gold jackets), old magazine articles, and dozens of examples of George Barris drawings and paintings.
Barris is best known to the general public as the creator of the “Munster Koach” and the TV version of the Batmobile. Among hot rod enthusiasts, his most famous vehicle may be the “Ala Kart”, the Model A roadster pickup that won the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award two years in a row, in 1958 and 1959. Those may be the most famous Barris cars, but they are only a tiny percentage of all the vehicles he’s built.
George was born in Chicago in 1925 and grew up in Northern California. It was there that George and his older brother Sam started working on cars. They were teenagers when they started demonstrating a knack for custom creations. The first car they modified was a 1925 Buick. George and Sam moved to the Los Angeles area in late Forties, where they worked together at the Barris Brother’s Custom Shop.
Starting in the Fifties, George extended his involvement into photographing car feature stories for magazines such as Rod & Custom, and writing tech stories about customizing techniques. Sam left the shop in 1956. George never left, moving his business to North Hollywood in the Sixties. As the shops reputation grew, studios commissioned hot rods and custom creations for movies and TV shows. Today, George is still at the North Hollywood location.
His remarkable life is chronicled in King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris by Brett Barris and Douglas Nason. Brett Barris is the son of George Barris and the marketing director of Barris Kustom Industries. Douglas Nason is an art curator and author of numerous art books, many exploring pop and custom culture. In creating the book, Barris and Nason solicited the contributions from many car culture personalities, whose essays and stories (and more than 1,000 photos) are compiled in the 496-page book.
Just a few days from the sixtieth anniversary of James Dean’s death on September 30th, 1955, we may have our greatest clue to finding the location of the infamous Porsche he fatally crashed in, long-rumored to be cursed.According to ABC7 Chicago, the Volo Museum located in Volo, Illinois, claims they have received a credible tip as to the whereabouts of the long-lost Porsche 550 Spyder, whose tales of curses are not just stories, they’re downright terrifying.After Dean’s death in the car, it broke a mechanic’s leg, two men who purchased parts from the vehicle wrecked the cars they used them on killing one, and many more stories of horrifying incidents related to anyone who came into contact with the car have been told for decades. It was even nicknamed “Little Bastard.” The Curse Of James Dean’s “Little Bastard”When we think of the Porsche 550 Spyder, the first thing that comes to mind is James Dean. We…Read moreAfter suspiciously surviving unharmed after its first exhibit completely burned to the ground, it was being transported from its second exhibit and managed to crush a truck driver, fall off of two more transport trucks, and then vanish – seemingly until now.From AB7 Chicago:Long rumored to be cursed, the Auto Museum made a reward offering of $1 million for the wreckage in 2005. Following an episode of “Brad Meltzer’s Lost History” that aired in winter 2014, the museum says, they were contacted by a man in the spring with an intriguing tale.“He said he was 6 years old at the time, and was present as his father and some other men put the wreckage behind a false wall in a building in Whatcom County, Washington,” said Brian Grams, director of the Volo Auto Museum.It’s also reported that the man coming forward knew exclusive details related to the car and passed a polygraph test.The conversation over the exact whereabouts of the car are ongoing, with the man wanting a guaranteed amount of the reward money before revealing the location. The museum is trying to establish clear legal ownership of the car before granting any rewards, but everything looks to be moving forward.“This guy’s story is awesome, and our most believable lead to date,” Grams said. “It’s kind of like Al Capone’s vault. If it is in there, it continues the legend of this car’s notorious history.” Have we finally figured out the location of James Dean’s fatal Porsche, or will this just be another peg in the long-storied history of the mysterious car?
It was perhaps the most sought-after derelict bus in Southern California, a 1953 GM TGH-3102 sinking to the ground and shot through with bullet holes. The bus wasn’t particularly rare in and of itself, nor did it run a particularly noteworthy route; rather, they came to see the man who made the run-down bus his home and workshop: Kenneth Howard, the eccentric artist and pinstriper better known as Von Dutch. Now, more than 20 years after his death, his bus will make its post-restoration debut at the upcoming Goodguys Southwest Nationals in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Barrett-Jackson, the World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions™, announced today that it will offer one of the most recognized and popular pieces of entertainment history worldwide, at its 42nd annual Scottsdale auction in January – the only 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car which was heavily modified by legendary customizer George Barris to become the original 1966 Batmobile in the live action TV series Batman, as well as the movie adaptation, starring Adam West. The car will cross the block alongside Barrett-Jackson’s 5000 Series on Saturday, January 19th from approximately 5:00pm – 9:00pm.Still as striking as when it first came out of the paint shop, the original Batmobile has been a part of Barris’ personal collection since he first bought it from the Ford Motor Company for a dollar in 1965. Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction will mark the first time the car has gone up for sale since then.
There was a rumor circulating around the net on Monday that George Barris and his company Barris Kustoms is finally letting go of one of the most iconic cars of our times, the original, No1 1966 Batmobile built from a $250,000 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car.We asked around and today, we received an official confirmation about the sale from Nichole Lopez, marketing specialist at Barrett-Jackson, the Scottsdale, Arizona, auto-auction house.”Yes, Barrett-Jackson will be auctioning off the Batmobile,” Lopez told CarScoop.”The 1966 Batmobile by George Barris is the most recognized and popular piece of entertainment history, worldwide, that has become an icon. This is the first time that the original Batmobile has been up for sale. Included with the Batmobile will be historical memorabilia and documentation from George’s personal archive. No Reserve,” Lopez added.We dont need to tell you that the No1 1966 Batmobile is the Holy Grail of Batfans, as well as automobile and movie/television memorabilia collectors.In the past, weve seen several other Batmobile replicas used in the 1966 Batman television series and the homonymous movie starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin going under the hummer – for example, the No6 Batmobile fetched US$233,000 at a UK auction in 2007.The original 1966 Batmobile, which has been in the hands of George Barris since its inception, however, will command a whole lot more money and we wouldnt be surprised at all if it brings in a few million dollars during the Scottsdale Collector Car Auction that runs from January 13 to 20, 2013.