George Barris, Designer Behind Batmobile And Munster Koach, Dies At 89

Nov 06, 2015 02:09 PM EST | Bill Moran

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Legendary custom car builder George Barris, has died at the age of 89. His creations include Kustom builds for "Batman," "The Munster's," "North by Northwest," "The Time Machine," "The Beverly Hillbillies", "The Dukes of Hazzard," "The Love Bug," "The A-Team" and other classic TV shows and films.

Born in 1925, George spent his entire life customizing. At the tender age of 7, George would tinker with model cars and entering them in local contests. Resisting his parents' desire for him to enter the family Greek restaurant business, George would instead go on to spend the rest of his life building the most iconic cars for television and movies.

The pinnacle of George's work came from a 1955 Lincoln Futura that he transformed into the Batmobile. With a budget of just $15,000, George reconstructed the Futura into the most iconic automobile of all time. Held in his personal collection until 2013, this piece of entertainment history would later be auctioned off by Barrett-Jackson for over $4.5 million.

Before Hollywood would come to rely on computer graphic animation (CGI) and other special effects, they relied on Barris to create cars that could actually be driven. George would turn ordinary automobiles into highly recognizable creations that would transcend the TV series or movie itself. No one can imagine Batman without the Batmobile thundering out of the bat cave, or the Munster family going somewhere without the Munster Koach, a fusion of three Ford Model T's and Georges creative imagination.

In addition to one-of-a-kind creations for television and movies, George often granted requests from celebrities to build them novelty vehicles. Among these celebrities were Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Ann-Margret, Glen Campbell, Elton John, Elvis Presley, John Wayne and Dean Martin.

Barris also designed two custom Cadillac hearses for episodes of the cable television series "Monster Garage." Today, his company often builds replicas of non-Barris designed vehicles from other TV series, including "The Monkees," "Starsky & Hutch," "Power Rangers," and "Knight Rider."

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