R.I.P. George Barris, designer of TV's Batmobile
The "Kustom Car King" also created the Beverly Hillbillies' jalopy and many other awesome automobiles.
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In classic television, an action show was often only as good as the hero's car. What would Jim Rockford be without his Firebird, or the Mod Squad without its Challenger? When it came to making cool cars for TV, George Barris was one of the best. Earlier today, Barris' son took to Facebook to report that his father had died.
Sorry to have to post that my father, legendary kustom car king George Barris, has moved to the bigger garage in the sky. He passed on peacefully in his sleep at 2:45 am.
Barris crafted some incredible autos over his decades in the business. Perhaps the most iconic is the original Batmobile, the sleek black ride with red (well, "fluorescent cerise") highlights and fins, built from a 1955 Lincoln Futura. With a short deadline to produce the ride for Batman, Barris modified a Futura in his shop rather that start from scratch. To this day, it remains far more beautiful and timeless than that squashed steath bomber in those recent Batman movies.
The ace customizer continued to churn out memorable cars. He provided the Munsters' hot rod, the Beverly Hillbillies' truck, Mannix's Toronado roadster, and the "Super Pursuit" K.I.T.T. on Knight Rider, to name a few. If you remember the 1977 B-movie Super Van, that was Barris, too.
The Batmobile remains his pièce de résistance. Two year ago, the vehicle sold for $4.3 million at auction.
Illustration by Jeannine Riske.