Custom Car Legend George Barris Dead At 89

Thursday afternoon, legendary car customizer George Barris left this mortal coil at the age of 89, leaving behind a decades-long automotive legacy.

The self-described “King of Kustom Kulture,” Barris was customizing cars long before turning a Lincoln Futura concept car into the first of many iconic Batmobiles, according to The Detroit Bureau. He and his brother, Sam, began customizing while in high school in Roseville, Calif., using the money earned from working on a 1925 Buick to buy and build a 1936 Ford.

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Hey, Hey, It's the Fonz Dream Rod Monkeemobile

A reader, commenting on my post about the Batmobile – arguably the most famous television car there is – mentioned the Monkeemobile, another ’60s pop culture automotive favorite. As it happens, I was already planning some posts on television cars, including one of the authentic Monkeemobiles.

Both of those vehicles have connections to the auto industry, one sort of incidental and the other the very opposite of coincidence.

The Batmobile was based on the 1950s Lincoln Futura concept car George Barris had purchased for $1.00, years after Ford and the Hollywood studios that used it were done with what was then a rather dated car of the future.

The Monkeemobile, on the other hand, was created from a production car with the direct involvement of a car company and one of the industry’s most legendary PR guys.

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A Real Batmobile Replica

Collectors are often categorized into completists, generalists, and specialists. Actually, I don’t think the dividing line is that clear when you consider someone who tries to collect one of each model year air-cooled Porsche is simultaneously a completist and a specialist. One of the things that keeps writing about cars interesting is how multifaceted the car hobby is. Some folks collect air-cooled Porsches. Others collect TV and movie cars – vehicles that have had prominent roles in television series or notable motion pictures.

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Should It Be Legal To Build A Batmobile?

The replica-car business is the authentic and despicable cloaca of the automotive world, attracting scammers, liars, shade-tree hacks, shady African fiberglass molders, soon-to-be-disappointed owners, and lawsuit-addicted former poultry farmers in equal measure. A quick glance at the Gotham Garage website won’t reverse your opinion of the game, but the company, and it’s tatted-up owner, Mark Towle, are at the center of a rather interesting lawsuit.

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  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys i was only here for torchinsky
  • Tane94 Workhorse probably will be added to the heap of failed EV companies.
  • Freddie Instead of taking the day off, how about an article on the connection between Black Americans and the auto industry and car culture? Having done zero research, two topics pop into my head: Chrysler designer/executive Ralph Gilles, and the famous (infamous?) "Green Book".
  • Tane94 Either Elio Motors or Aptera Motors.
  • Billccm I think we will see history repeat itself. The French acquired AMC in the 1980s, discovered they couldn't make easy money, sold AMC off to Chrysler. Jeep is all that remained. This time the French acquired FCA, and they are discovering no easy profits. Assume an Asian manufacturer will acquire what remains of Chrysler, but this time Jeep and RAM are the only survivors.