George Barris, best known as the creator of the Batmobile, passed away on Thursday at age 89. Barris was perhaps one of the greatest customizers who designed cars for films and television, as well as for private clients of his. He had resided in Los Angeles and Sacramento for most of his career after being born in Chicago, IL and moving to Northern California as a child. He moved to Los Angeles after World War II.
Barris and his brother, Sam, started out at a young age treating standard-issue Mercurys, Buicks, and Fords as starting points for reinterpretation. They went on to create Barris Kustom Industries together where they created many well-known television and movie cars, including the family car of The Munsters. His best known work was the Batmobile, a transformed 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, for the 1960s television series “Batman”. The Batmobile was sold at auction at Barrett-Jackson in 2013 for $4.62 million.
A customized 1929 Ford pickup named Ala Kart won the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy at the Oakland Roadster Show two years running, 1958 and 1959. “It gives you a feeling that you’ve done something to make a better world,” Barris told Rod and Custom in 1962.
Although George Barris was well-known for his custom creations, he was equally known for his flair and larger-than-life personality, and of course, for his support for the custom car community. George was always present at big vehicle events in Southern California, supporting those who loved what he loved. He was still working on new projects up until the end.
News of George’s passing was announced on Facebook by Barris’ son, Brett. He wrote, “Sorry to have to post that my father, legendary kustom car king George Barris, has moved to the bigger garage in the sky.”
Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.