George Barris, an icon both inside and outside the world of custom cars, passed away on Thursday November 5th at his home in Encino, California. The images in this email come from his son Brett's newly released book King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris.

George Barris, an icon both inside and outside the world of custom cars, passed away on Thursday, November 5th at his home in Encino, California. The images in this blog come from his son Brett’s newly released book King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris.

As many of you have probably heard, George Barris passed away yesterday at the age of 89. There’s no doubt George was one of the most influential builders our hobby has ever seen. He brought customizing to the masses through an array of one-of-a-kind vehicles that ranged from chopped Mercurys to far-out show rods. The machines he built were for everyone from kids gluing together plastic model kits to movie stars cruising the Sunset Strip. His impact was simply incalculable.

Barris inspects the Kustom City U.S.A. Album with The Kustom Kings in front of the XM:SC210. The chopped, streamlined coupe was originally campaigned by the Chrisman Brothers at Bonneville.

Barris inspects the Kustom City U.S.A. Album with The Kustom Kings in front of the XM:SC210. The chopped, streamlined coupe was originally campaigned by the Chrisman Brothers at Bonneville.

George was born in Chicago, Illinois, and moved to Northern California at a young age. There he dug into the art of body repair and customizing with his older brother Sam. During WWII, he relocated to the Los Angeles area and opened his own shop in 1944. After the war, he and Sam joined forces and started taking on customizing jobs. Always the promoter, George documented their customizing processes and submitted them to magazines across the country.

The XPAK 400 was one of the many wild machines to come out of Barris Kustom City during the '60s. Here George is seen taking the hover car for a late night ride in North Hollywood.

The XPAK 400 was one of the many wild machines to come out of Barris Kustom City during the ’60s. Here George is seen taking the hover car for a late night ride in North Hollywood.

It wasn’t long before Barris Kustoms started surfacing in everything from magazines and movies to record albums and T.V. shows. Cars like the “Batmobile,” “Munster Koach” and “DRAG-U-LA” (to name a few) became household names—and George Barris was the man behind them all.

In the late '50s, the "Ala-Kart" was the king of the show rods. The Barris-built pickup netted back-to-back AMBR awards in 1958 and 1959.

In the late ’50s, the “Ala Kart” was the king of the show rods. The Barris-built pickup netted back-to-back AMBR awards in 1958 and 1959.

Thank you George for all you’ve done for our hobby through the years. We send our condolences to the Barris family and kustom fans across the globe. You’ll be missed.—TRJ