Monday, March 15, 2010

THE RIK HOVING FILES: George Barris 1941 Buick

By Rik Hoving: March 15th 2010

When George Barris moved from Sacramento to Los Angeles he drove a 1936 Ford Cabriolet. A nice custom. But George soon understood that when he wanted a profitable Custom Body Shop he needed something more to advertise his workmanship. So he got himself a second hand 1941 Buick Convertible and started to built his dream custom, and one he hoped would bring him many more customer cars. George started the car right after the move from the Bell Shop to the new Compton Avenue shop. 

George showing off in front of the camera, standing on his hands, and behind him the start of his 1941 Buick. The work on the fade away fenders had just begun.

Once most of the body work was done on the car he painted it white primer and drove it around for a while to get all the bugs out before he would finish it, and add a gloss paint job.

The Buick in white primer at El Mirage. Note that the front bumper is still the stock 1941 Buick unit. 

After this well proportioned and style Buick was finished George used it to promote his Barris Kustom Shop. The car was used on his Business Cards for some time. It was used on the May 1948 Road and Track magazine cover. And George won at the first Hot Rod Exposition in Los Angeles in 1948.

The car was finished somewhere in 1946-47 and this is how it first looked once on the street. Typical for the era are the black wall tires.

The Buick on the cover of the May 1948 Cover of Road and Track issue #2

George his 1941 Buick is a classic styled customs that we certainly can call trend setting. The custom had it all, perfect stance, perfect flowing lines with the chopped padded top and full fade away fenders. Twin Appleton spotlights, dark paint and white wall tires, with smooth large disk hubcaps.

The Buick on the side of the Compton Avenue shop Bart Bartoni photo

The 1941 Buick convertible windshield frame was chopped a few inches. The body dropped by lowering the suspension front and rear with a slightly larger drop in the back for a perfect stance. It looks like the Buick was first built as a custom without the fade away fenders. In the first photo of this article you can see the car with the work on the fade away started but a set of Appleton's is already mounted on the chopped windshield frame, perhaps indicating that the car was driven in chopped and lowered condition with stock but molded fenders for some time.

The fade away fenders where created using sheet metal bend, cut and shaped to fit the 1941 Body. The headlights have been frenched into the molded front fenders and the heavy original chrome ornaments where removed. 
The stock grille was removed and replaced with a 1941 Cadillac grille. The front sheet metal was reshaped to blend the grille in. The area below the hood was created from sheet metal and the hood character line was very nicely repeated into that and shaped to end in a nice point just above the new grille. At the rear the fenders where molded to the body and flared nicely into the body with a gentle curve. 

The Buick with some sort of award ribbon on the antenna. Could this have been after the car won the award at the first Hot Rod show in 1948?

George shaved the trunk of the chrome emblems and replaced the original outside trunk hinges with internal versions. The stock taillights where removed and relocated into the 1946 Oldsmobile bumper guards to leave the rear of the body totally clean. At the front the stock bumper was also replaced with a 1946 Oldsmobile bumper with same year guards. The front has the parking light integrated in to the guards. 

The Buick was painted with many coats of deep Royal Metallic Maroon, which later would become one of the Barris trademark colors. Glen and Bob Hauser from the Carson Top Shop created A padded top with absolutely perfect proportions. 
And also did the interior in White and dark red. 

 The photo above shows the substantial damage after the crash.

Some time Later the car was in an accident. A friend of George was trying to drive the car from a scene where Police had showed up and where George was arrested. He apparently lost control over the car and crashed it.

But George decided he could fix the car and updated it at the same time. George now used a cut down 1946 Caddy grille and new tire/hubcap combination.
George has no idea what happened to his old Buick. At one time he planned to built a clone, never happened. So, I think it’s time for somebody else to built a clone, of this iconic custom.

The Buick rebuilt after the accident, but still in primer. The new cut down 1946 Cadillac grille looks great, and gives the front a less boxy feel. Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps on wide whites are a perfect update as well.

Thank You Rik Hoving for the Awesome Blog!! 

Check out Rik's Site 


  1. Hi Rik !
    George Barris personal dynamite kustom ,
    -41 Buick Roadmaster convertible with fadeaway fenders taken from -42-46-47-48 Buick Super or Roadmaster must be some of the most sleak design invented . If this one was done sheetmetalwise in -46-47 then this must have bin one of the first or the first fadeaway fender customs built . What other customs used the fadeaway Jack Stewards Ford , Harry Westergard built -41 Cadillac and what else , was built when ? Could Westergard -41 Cadillac bin built -46 ?
    Still a milestone custom !

  2. Check out the George Barris car photographs on ebay :



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