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!


About Me

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