George Barris shaped my life. Truly. As child of the ‘60s and ‘70s I grew up watching his famous cars in TV shows that would forever imprint themselves on my psyche and later, on my choice of careers.
The Munsters, Beverly Hillbillies, Batman, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Green Hornet…. iconic TV shows all with way cool cars that the shows revolved around, almost like the cars were part of the cast of characters.
Rock and roll, hot rods and muscle cars burned their way into my soul as a youth, and like the cars Barris kustomized, my destiny was shaped little by little.
I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with George several times at various car shows.
He was a doll, absolutely charming and delightful, still working the angles, promoting his brand and the line of famous cars he became known for. He invited me to come visit him and tour his museum, and urged me to call his daughter Joji to set up an interview. I had planned on doing that this upcoming spring of 2016, but sadly I won’t get that opportunity now. George passed away Nov. 5, 2015 at the age of 89.
He was scooting around in a little motorized jalopy, which hadn’t been kustomized, much to my surprise. Delighted to talk with fans and pose for pictures, he was sharp and with it, sporting a groovy yellow satin jacket, hipster shades and slicked back thinning gray hair both times I met him.
We always fought over who got to be Batman and drive the Batmobile. Of course as children we made due with whatever we could find, our old red wagon, or my pink stingray bike, and used our imagination to supply the special features.
Thank you George for all you did to energize the imagination of my youth, and fuel my path towards the weird, the quirky, and the kustomised culture. Never be boring, always stand out and do your own thing. These are lessons from George that I will embrace always. Rest in Peace George. Thank you for your vision and your impact on the pop culture that made me who I am.
Stories about cars, pop culture, music, art, and other related topics written by GEARHEAD owner Rev. Michelle Haunold. Guest writers are also encouraged to get in touch to share content that might be of interest to GEARHEAD customers.