Monday, April 25, 2011

THE RIK HOVING FILES: Hot Rod Show Give Away Cadillac

For the 5th Hot Rod show held in the Los Angeles National Guard Armory April 24-27 1952 the show organisers planned to have a wonderful custom car created to be given away as door price

This announcement for the Give Away Caddy at the Hot Rod Show was made in the newspapers in Los Angeles. The car was still in primer when the photo for the announcement was made.

In previous years the show promoters had given away a 32 Ford Roadster, and some Sports cars. For 1952 it was going to be a Custom Car. Several manu factors where contacted to construct this Custom. The Barris Shop was chosen to create the overall design and to do the body work, and all other custom work needed. The Carson Top Shop was responsible for its interior and the wonderful removable Top with wrap around rear windows. The engine was hopped up by Eddie Edmunds.

This never before published photo of the fresh primered Cadillac was recently discovered in the Barris Archives by Mad Fabricators Piero. The slightly warn photo shows that the car was completely assembled and driven while in primer. A common practice to find any problems before the car was going to be painted and completely finished.

The car was featured in a three page article in the December 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine. But in this article there was no mentioning of the new lucky owner of the car. It seams that the new owner was not into showing the car at other shows, or be part of any publicity after the show. 
A few photos of the car where used in some Barris How To magazine articles, showing the grille and rear fender scoops.

The three page article in December 1952 Hop Magazine shows the car in its final gloss paint. Barris named the pale gold color “Golden Fog”

The show promoters delivered the 1949 Cadillac (just a few years old then) in early 1952 at the Barris Shop. Barris designed this custom to be an elegant, high class custom. 
The windshield was chopped 2,5 inches. A new grille was created from using a second 1949 Caddy grille turned upside down and welded to the original piece. This new unit was smoothed and chromed. The floating grille bar had ends made of 37 Chevy headlight buckets and three grille bars where used from a 1951 Ford Pick Up Truck, and everything was beautifully chromed. A new front splash pan was created and molded on to the front of the body. The New front bumper was made out of 1951 Cadillac bumper components with integrated dagmars. The bumper was split in two and the center was now filled with a molded in custom made splash pan. 1951 Ford grille rings and custom made inserts where used for the air intakes below the frenched Caddy headlights. The chrome was removed from the hood and was also peaked in the process. 

This unique photo of the car at the LA Hot Rod show in 1952 was made by photographer Loomis Dean for Life Magazine. It shows the custom grille and surround. And also the smooth Cadillac bumper ends. The car would later get a license plate frame on the splash pan.

The door and trunk handles where removed and electrical openers installed. A custom made rear fender air intake - to cool the rear brakes - was created using the rock shield of a 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood. The car was lowered, but not as much as many other Barris creations. Just enough to make the long Cadillac body look even longer. Swanson supplied the needed components for this job.

Another Life Magazine photo shows how long this custom is. The long hood and lowered top give the car excellent proportions. The Barris team have created a very elegant timeless custom for the show. The crowd stands beside the car dreaming how wonderful it would be to win the door price and drive away in it. 
When all the body work was done the car was primered and assembled. Then it was time to deliver the Caddy to the Carson Top Shop for a full custom interior in red and black leather. Carson also made a unique wrap around rear window removable Hard Top for the Cadillac. The top was not off white as most of the Carson tops where, but for this car they choose black leather as the cover material. When Carson was ready with the upholstery part the car was driven around for some time to find all the bugs. Then everything was pulled apart again and Barris prepared it for a very classy pale gold paint job with extra gold powder. Barris named the color “Golden Fog”
Unfortunately we have never been able to locate a color photo of this car to show you how gorgeous it must have looked.

1952 Hot Rod and Motor Sports Show program cover shows the Cadillac on the cover in yellow. But that was just to mimic the Golden paint. Paint techniques and high cost prevented from reproducing the color correctly on the program.

One thing that was found recently, are pages of a Barris scrapbook showing this Custom Cadillac. George kept scrapbooks from all the Barris Cars that made the magazines, show programs, posters etc. This Give away Cadillac got quite a bit of publicity before the 1952 Show. But after the show it disappeared.. What happened to this car? The only thing we where able to find out about the winner is a small article in the Motor Sports World News paper, when the winner Lawrence Kilty was concratulated.
But has this very nice custom survived, d oes it still sit in a garage somewhere, what’s the story after the show. If you know more, please let us know.
The may 1952 Issue of Motor Sports World had this small announcement in it. The Winner Lawrence Kilty from Hollywood is the lucky winner of this Barris Customs. He drove it away that evening... but where to?

Below is some material George collected in his scrapbook about the car. Some unique material, recently discovered by Piero at the Barris Archives.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Aztec and Bank Robber "One Eye" Bobby Wilcoxson!

We got this forward to us from Pat Ganhal and its quite and interesting story about the
fate of the Aztec. It from the site.

Link to Story THE AZTEC and "ONE EYE" Bobby Wilcoxson!

"One Eye" Bobby Wilcoxson liked fast women, fast race horses and fast cars. With proceeds from one of his bank heists, Wilcoxson bought one of the most famous hot rod's ever customized: The Aztec. A 1955 Chevy, the Aztec was many things but fast one not one of them.
William "Bill" Carr, an insurance company adjuster from Hollywood, California by way of West Virginia, moonlighted as a hot rod customizer in the 1950's. Carr worked nights in a shop owned by George Barris, the legendary hot rodder and famous creator of the original TV Batmobile, the Munster's Coach, and the Black Beauty from the Green Hornet, just to name a few.
Carr bought a brand new 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air and customized it. The Aztec appeared at a hot rod show in Washington D.C. in June, 1959 where Carr told a Washington Post reporter $20,000 had been spent customizing the Chevrolet Bel Air convertible.
Sometime in 1961 or 1962, Carr sold the Aztec to "Bob Wilcox", one of bank robbing "One-Eye" Bobby Wilcoxson's aliases. Carr was paid some cash and given a new Pontiac. A short time after the deal was done, FBI agents showed up at Carr's house asking questions.
Before it was known publicly Wilcoxson was a wanted man, he left the Aztec for safe keeping in Phoenix, Arizona, in my grandparent's garage. My father, a young auto body and fender repairman and an expert car painter from Salinas, California, visited his parents in Phoenix and looked the car over. I was with my father on that that trip - at the rip old age of two!
"Most of the body was molded from lead so it was a heavy car," Jim Hurley said. "It was so heavy that changing one flat tire required a floor jack lifting the frame behind each wheel well."
Wilcoxson was soon named on the 10 most wanted public enemies and the FBI seized the Aztec from my grandparents garage. As the story goes, the G-men tore the heavy car apart looking for stashed loot, weapons and evidence, according to Wilcoxson's half-brother, Jim Hurley.
The Aztec was next auctioned to a man in New Jersey who modified the original customizing, and sold it. The FBI eventually seized the car again when one of its subsequent owners was caught transporting illegal drugs. Thus, the "Curse of The Aztec" was born.
The car sat rotting away in a New Jersey junkyard. Barry Mazza, a hot rod man now living in Florida, acquired the corpse of the Aztec in 1991, barely saving the classic's remains from the jaws of a car crusher.
Today, thanks to Mazza's tender loving care, The Aztec is restored to its original customized glory. The popular car appears periodically at hot rod shows around the country.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Coming Soon! Barris Kustom City By Morgan & Phillips Vintage Style Tees

Were proud to announce our new line of Barris vintage tee shirts. This vintage line will include some of the great Barris's designs from the 50's 60's and 70's straight from the Barris collection.

We teamed up with MORGAN & PHILLIPS who is doing all the recreation of the designs, printing, marketing and all that is entailed in the production of a clothing line! We thanks them and look forward to all that will come of this.. So stay tuned for more!

New Barris Kustom City by M&P will be available late January-Early February at M&P dealers and online at &




Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Art Of George Barris Book in the works!

Brett Barris and Doug Nason has been hard at work for the past 2 years on a new book "King Of The Kustoms - The Art Of George Barris" that is published by Last Gasp who also did "The Art of Von Dutch" and "The Art Of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth". We here at Barris Kustom City have been digging through George's archives to bring you rare and never before seen images of the many Cars, Toys, Bikes and every thing else that George did in his life time as the King of Kustomizers. Look out for the book later this year!

By Brett Barris and Douglas Nason
Published by Last Gasp (The Art of Von Dutch/ The Art of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth)Release date – Fall 2011

“King of the Kustomizers” is the sobriquet given to George Barris, the most phenomenal kustom car builder ever. His contributions to American car culture include 
creating some of the best known cars of the 20th Century, like the original TV Batmobile and Munsters Koach, as well as made-to-order vehicles for movies, TV, corporate sponsors and the private use of the rich and famous. A multimedia artist in his own right whose designs have embraced toys, model kits, mini-bikes, motor homes and motorized surfboards, Barris has also enjoyed success as a photographic chronicler of celebrity and pop culture over decades, capturing the car-crazed zeitgeist of his times as it carried him to the crest of fame itself.
The definitive work on a legend, “King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris” features over 200 pages jam-packed with rare, never-before-seen photos, concept drawings and blueprints covering the full spectrum of Barris’ design genius and celebrity lifestyle. Written by an all-star line-up of contributors, the book traces his extraordinary life and trendsetting work within the contextual intersections of art, society and history, while a generous selection of Barris tribute art by a legion of artistic admirers showcases his enduring influence and legacy. Coming soon to a bookstore near you, this is one ride you don’t want to miss!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lynwood Slide Show With New Fire Pixs

I put together this slide show for the Fire Party and I thought you guys would get a kick out of it!! 

A few weeks ago I was going through some images at the shop when I came across a sheet of film negs.. I noticed one of the shots has a burnt up car in it a closer look and it was the Jag on a trailer... So I took the number on the sheet and went back to the files and looked at the few sheets before and a few after and sure enough there they were.. A bunch of never published images of that horrible day. It felt pretty neat to find these..

The first few minutes are fire shots the rest are just random shots at the lynwood shop...

And feel free to visit we have good stuff for sale

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Some Barris Cars Had Bad Luck! Part 4 - The Ala Kart

The Ala Kart was one of the only cars to survive the Lynwood fire and make it's mark in Kustom history. It was sitting next to the paint booth and just happen to be where the fire stopped. While George felt like it was the end of his career the support from his wife Shirley,
the guys in the shop and the good friends from Northern California like, Blackie who would make the drive down and help George finish the car kept him going! the Ala Kart went on to win the Grand National Roadster Show in 1958 and in 1959 and became the first show car model kit from A.M.T.

In 1960, Owner Richard Peters father demanded him to sell the car so he could focus on the family's agri-business. George had by then made an agreement with AMT to make a model of the car, without involving Peters. In order to rectify the deal, Peters ended up selling the car to AMT for promotional purposes. 

AMT bought the Ala Kart in 1961 and the model kit was released late that year. The Ala Kart model kit sold more than 1 million kits the following year.

In a weird twist of faith the Ala Kart in the possession of A.M.T caught fire. In order to make the car more drivable in and out of shows, the Hilborn injectors were swapped for four Stromberg 97 carburetors. In November of 1963, while the Ala-Kart was being driven by AMT's Budd Anderson, an electrical wire shorted out and melted the plastic fuel lines which allowed gasoline from the electric fuel pump to set the engine compartment ablaze doing serious damage to the hood and leaded cowl. The February 1964 issue of Rod & Custom reported the story in an article titled "The End of the Ala-Kart". For the next year, the winner of 2 AMBR awards and over 200 other top trophies was stored in a Detroit garage. After receiving many letters from Ala-Kart fans, AMT sent the Ala-Kart back to Barris' North Hollywood shop for restoration, coinciding with a re-release of the kit, which was chronicled in the September through November 1965 issues of Rod & Custom. At that time Rod & Custom proclaimed it "America’s most popular Hot Rod."

Words: Piero Deluca -

If you look to the far right of this picture you can see the cowl of the Ala Kart

What it became

The End Of The Ala Kart

The Rebirth of the Ala Kart

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Some Barris Cars Had Bad Luck! Part 3 - George's 1941 Buick

So the story that George told me about this one is and amusing one..
Apparently they were hanging in Culver City and they saw some cute girls so the approached them
and started talking to them. The girls boyfriends didn't like that they were talking to these Kustom
guys and so a fight broke out and in the mist of it all the cops showed up and arrested George for being
a part of the fight. Well one of his buddy's decided to to hop in George's car a get it out of the area so they wouldn't impound it and sure enough while George is in the holding sell he hears "APB ALL UNITS REPORT TO ACCIDENT INVOLVING 1941 BUICK" George knew right away that it was his!! what a bad night!! So it turns out his buddy was trying to get out of the area quickly and lost control and smashed the diver side.

After the dust settled, George decided he could fix it up and update it at the same time. The damaged 1941 Cadillac grille was replaced by a cut down 1946 Cadillac grille, the large smooth hubcaps were replaced with Cadillac Sombreros.


About Me

Barris Kustom City is dedicated to the preservation of early Barris Kustoms history, images and merchandise.