George Barris, the legendary custom car builder who helped define California’s car culture with colorfully designed vehicles ranging from the stunningly beautiful to the simply outrageous, died Thursday at the age of 89.
You may remember George Barris as the mastermind behind a macabre rolling funeral home for “The Munsters”, a backwoods rattletrap for “The Beverly Hillbillies”, a modified AMC AMX for a George Peppard TV show called Banacek, the eponymous car of the film, The Car, “Black Beauty,” the car Bruce Lee used in the TV show, “The Green Hornet”, and perhaps most famous of all: It was George Barris who transformed a 1955 Lincoln Futura into TV’s “Batmobile.”
His most famous creations, such as the Ala Kart and the Hirohata Merc, remain instantly recognizable on the car collector circuit to this day. The most famous of all, the Batmobile, sold at auction two years ago for $4.2 million.
There’s no doubt that the 89-year-old customizer left behind a body of work unlike that of any other custom car builder, both in style and in popular exposure.
In addition to his son, Barris is survived by his daughter, Joji Barris-Paster, and a grandson. Barris was preceded in death by his wife.
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Images by Fiberglass Freaks and CBS News.