Friday, November 6, 2015

George Barris, designer of many popular cars for TV, movies like the original Batmobile, has passed away

It's a sad day for geeks and custom car builders as news that George Barris, car designer and customizer for a lot of vehicles that have graced both the TV and silver screens, passed away last November 5 at the age of 89.

Barris started modifying cars in the 1950s at a time when car customization was only starting in the United States. With his shop's location in Los Angeles, California, it wasn't long before Hollywood executives and celebrities began to tap Barris Kustom in designing cars for their personal use and as props in the movies.

Of course, when it comes to cars and Hollywood, Barris' most popular - some would even say "iconic" - contribution is the Batmobile for the 1960s Batman TV show which starred Adam West and Burt Ward.

Barris was reportedly only given three weeks to create the Batmobile. Given the short time frame, Barris opted to redesign a car that was available at that time instead of starting from scratch. To do that, Barris took a Ford Lincoln Futura concept car from 1955 which he acquired from Ford years ago and tweaked its design to come up with the finished product. The Batmobile remained in Barris' possession until 2013 when he sold it at a classic car auction for $4.62 million. Not a bad return of investment for Barris who bought the concept car from Ford for only $1.

Barris also had a hand in the design or modification of other familiar cars we've seen onscreen like Black Beauty from the original Green Hornet TV series, the Ford Torino from Starsky and Hutch, the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, and KITT from the original Knight Rider TV series.

Rest in peace, sir. We've loved the cars you've designed through the years. You will be missed.

Photo from the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page

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