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.
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.
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.
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