THE MUNSTER KOACH CELEBRATES ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY THIS MONTH
BARRIS WITH HIS MOST FAMOUS PROJECT
By Vinnie Richichi
The King of Kustoms, George Barris passed away in Southern California yesterday at the ripe old age of 89.
There were three things you did if you were ten years old and into cars in the sixties...read about them...draw them in your notebooks and build models. George Barris was a part of all three. I couldn't wait to run up to Maxie's Candy Store each month on the day the magazines came in and spend my hard earned allowance on Car Craft, Hot Rod...okay I bought Drag Cartoons too...and see what creations Barris, Gene Winfield, Dean Jefferies and the other originators of the Kustom Kulture were turning out of their California Shops.
From those pages came the freedom not to just draw a 59 Chevy with slicks and a blower sitting on the hood but to on paper, chop, channel, cut wheel wells and dream that cars could be something more than a place to go from point A to Point B. That with a little work that Plymouth Savoy sitting in grandpas driveway could be art.
Same with building models. a trip to George’s Hobby Shop on Northern Blvd, some Testors spray paint, an Xacto knife and some glue and I could do what I learned how to do from George and the masters. Create car art. You could also buy those iconic AMT and Revell car models like the Monkeemobile, the Munsters Coach, General Lee in kits and build them as well. Again it brought the worlds of art, entertainment and cars together in the brain of a little kid.
Getting older I like to think that I got away from that...moved on to big boy toys then I remember that I've driven thousands of different cars but the one I remember most is one lap around the parking lot driving The Batmobile. On one of my first trips to Southern California many years ago there were two spots I made sure I hit...the Benedict Canyon house where George Reeves (Superman) was killed and to North Hollywood to see Barris' shop.
I walked down into my basement last night, there on a shelf sat three model kits waiting to be built including Ed Big Daddy Roth's Rat Fink, a '56 Chevy and a model of my '62 Vette. Guess some kids never really do grow up.
Thanks George Barris who along with your late brother Sam, gave us some of the great Kustoms of all time. I can imagine a garage in heaven somewhere where you guys will all be sitting around talking about the old times. I hope it smells like bondo and spray paint and that the cold bottles of Coke are a dime!
OK COMMISSIONER GORDON..I'LL GET OUT OF THE CAR NOW