On November 5, George's son, Brett Barris, reported that George had passed away, surrounded by family, at his home in California. George's passing comes three weeks short of the kustom legend's 90th birthday on November 20.
GEORGE BARRIS - brief history
Known as the 'King of Kustoms' George Barris was born in Chicago, but he and brother Sam moved to California in 1928 to live with relatives following the death of their parents. George started customising cars as a teenager and set-up the 'Barris Brothers' Custom Shop' (later Barris Kustom Shop, and later still, Barris Kustom Industries) with Sam in 1945.
Staring in the late 1940s and stretching through to the 70s and 80s, the output of vehicles, both mildly and radically customised, from Barris Kustom is too large to count, but it's the work for Hollywood that made the humble Californian a household name around the world.
Barris's most famous creation is undoubtedly the Batmobile, which he created for the popular TV series in 1966, using a Lincoln 'Futura' concept car as a base. Barris also created the 'Munster Koach' and 'Drag-u-la' for TV show 'The Munsters', the 'Beverly Hillbillies' jalopy, 'Fireball 500' Barracuda, 'Banacek' AMX 400 and many, many more.
Along with Sam, George was also a big part of the post-War 'lead sled' phenomenon in the US, with the famous 'Hirohata Mercury' a product of Barris Kustom, as well as Sam's own Mercury sled. This side of the busines really kicked off in the early 1950s, with Barris-modified cars regularly featuring in the enthusiast magazines of the period, and on right up to the 1980s, as well as at countless hot rod and custom car shows.
Barris regularly contributed content and images for these publications, too, and even produced a range of How-To books for budding customisers to develop their own skills and learn techniques from the master.
Famous hot rods, like the 'Kopper Kart', 'Cosma Ray' Corvette, 'Emperor' roadster, 'Ala Kart' and Chili Catalo's 'Little Deuce Coupe' are also the product of Barris Kustom, along with a long list of specially customised and converted cars for Hollywood celebrities, TV personalities, musicians and sports stars.
GEORGE BARRIS - in Australia
After appearing at countless shows in the US, George made his first trip to Australia this past July, as the special guest of Meguiar's MotorEx. At the event, George signed countless posters and merchandise items for fans, posed for photos and also presented two special awards - for a custom and a hot rod - bearing his name.
It was at Meguiar's MotorEx that JUST CARS had the chance to chat to The King of Kustoms. That interview can be read HERE.
JUST CARS passes its sympathies on to Brett and Joji Barris, family, friends, Barris Kustom Industries associates and the countless others who were touched and influenced by the work, spirit and charm of George Barris.
Find out more about the life and work of George Barris HERE.
Thanks to MotorActive for images.