The Legendary George Barris Passes Away

George_BarrisAccording to a Facebook post made by his son, Brett, George Barris, the car designer who created the iconic 1966 Batmobile died on November 5.  He was 89. “He passed on peacefully in his sleep at 2:45 am. He was surrounded by his family in the comfort of his home. He lived his life they way he wanted til the end.”

According to Wikipedia, Barris attended San Juan High School and “rushed to sweep floors at a local auto body shop as soon as school let out.” After turning 18, Barris moved to Los Angeles to “become part of the emerging teen car culture” and opened “Barris Custom Shop” on Imperial Highway in Bell, California.

His brother Sam was in the Navy during World War II and joined George after being discharged. The two built their “kustom” designs for private buyers and George also built and raced cars. These activities brought them to the attention of the movie industry and they were soon asked to create cars both for personal use by the studio executives and stars and as props for films, their first being used in 1958’s High School Confidential. They also made the acquaintance of Robert E. Petersen, founder of Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines and, much later, of the Petersen Auto Museum. His car shows further publicized the Barris style, as did the car customizing how-to articles George wrote and Petersen published.

I had a chance to meet Mr. Barris a few years ago at the SEMA show and it was one of the highlights of the event (of my life?) to meet a living legend who created a legacy of cars that will never be forgotten.

 

Photo By Scalhotrod (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons