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.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Some Barris Cars Had Bad Luck! Part 2 - Rod and Custom Dream Truck

By far one of my favorite Kustom trucks is the The Rod and Custom Dream Truck. It began with  a 1950 Chevrolet 1/2 ton truck originally owned by Spencer Murray of Glendale, California. Spence bought the car after he went to work for Hop Up Magazine as he needed another set of wheels in addition to the Von Dutch striped 1954 Chevrolet hardtop that he and his wife shared. The car would eventually be known as "The Dream Truck", and was designed by Lynn Wineland following suggestions from more than 2500 Rod & Custom magazine readers. It all started in Rod & Custom September 1953 where The Dream Truck was presented as a rolling laboratory that readers could help develop.
The "Dream Truck" made its rounds to all the great Kustomizers of the time.. Including Curly Davis of Davis Custom Shop in Burbank,  Gene Winfield of Winfield’s Custom Shop in Modesto, Bob Hirohata,  Dean Jeffries, Larry Watson, Bob Metz, And of Course  Barris Kustoms added quad headlights, scoops to the roof and hood, and front and rear grille openings formed by molding together 1957 Stude baker front pans. After Bob Metz had fit the car with new rear fenders and fins, George Barris painted it bright white with scallops. The car was later painted metallic lime gold with a fresh burgundy red scallop design by Larry Watson.

In 1958 The Dream Truck was nominated as one of 28 "Top Customs of the Year" in Motor Life July 1958. October 21, 1958, on the way to the 4th annual international Motor Sports Show in Des Moines, Iowa, the Dream Truck was Wrecked. The truck that was hauling the Dream Truck blew a tire, causing both pickups to land upside down in the roadside ditch. The car was sent back to California, where George displayed the wrecked version on car shows. Repairs of the truck after the accident was estimated at $3500 plus paint, so the remains were sold. Soon after the truck's near demise, the engine and transmission were sold, and separated from the rest of the car. The wheels and tires were stolen, and the 1956 Chevrolet Corvette steering wheel and assorted dash gauges disposed of.

Info and images from

1950 Chevrolet 1/2 ton truck that had a long road of Kustomizing ahead of it..
Photo provided by Richard "Fuzzy" Fuerholze

First Version
Second Version
Third Version
Forth and Final Version Before the Accident

Then the truck towing the Dream Truck blew a tire and flipped
After the crash George displayed the wrecked remains of the car
After this the the Car was sold off for 1000.00

 Bruce Glasscook found the Dream truck in a shed near Stockton, California in 1971. The owner refused to sell it, and it took Bruce 8 years of begging before he was able to buy the car in 1979.
Bruce hired Carl Green and Wesley Jones of Bartlesville, Oklahoma to take on the major job
of restoring smashed up truck.  The restoration is top notch and was finished  and hit the show circuit and is now part of the Kurt Mc Cormic Collection.

Carl Green and Wesley Jones during the restoration of the Dream Truck.
10:30 AM, October 21, 1979, exactly 21 years after the accident Carl 
Green begins laying pearl coats over the white underbase.

Kurt McCormick taking the Dream Truck for a spin in 2002. Photo by Dave Darby

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some Barris Cars Had Bad Luck! Part 1 - Golden Sahara

Doing some research for the book that were working on "The Art of George Barris" I have come across several pictures of Kustoms that George Did that in one way or another have been destroyed yet rebuilt even better! Below are some fine examples of cars that got a little beat up.. It's interesting that its of the most famous cars to come out of the shop that got wrecked..

The Golden Sahara:

I spoke to George about this the other day.. I asked if we have any shots of the Jim Skonzakis 1953 Lincoln before the wreck and he said probably not.. All he did to it was "Nosed" and "Decked" before they laterally left days later for the show up north. On the way home the motor blew on Dan Landon's 49 Chevy, so they decided to flat tow it behind the Lincoln.. at some point it got really foggy and out of no where appeared a flat bed truck!!!  As they went under the truck they leaned over and ducked under the dash. After the smoke cleared and the cops came Geroge needed medical attention for some cuts on his face..well they were in the middle of no where and the officer said the only medical help is in the bar down the road..George ended up having to walk a few miles to the bar to find the Local Doctor!! A drunk doctor went ahead and cleaned a bloody faced George Barris.

Jim's 1953 Lincoln and Dan Landons 1949 Chevy
at the Accident Scene Notice the fog...
Photos: Rik Hoving

Dan Landon's 49 Chevy Before the Accident
also got a little beat up..

After allot Cutting the Golden Sahara now a blank canvas

Finished Product - Golden Sahara 1st Version

2nd more Extreme Version

Notice the Light Up Tires

Part 2 Coming Soon..


About Me

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