George Barris

Custom Car Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, George Barris (1925-2015) talks about his early years customizing his own cars as a teenager and describes his participation in the street racing youth culture of the late 1940s in Los Angeles. He discusses the craze in low budget Hollywood films to depict this culture thus leading to his work in film and television. Barris describes in great detail, the custom cars from various television series for which he is best known, including the "Batmobile" from Batman, the "Munster Koach" and "Drag-u-la" from The Munsters, the family car from The Beverly Hillbillies, the red with white-stripe Ford Torino from Starsky and Hutch, the "General Lee" from The Dukes of Hazzard, and K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. He also talks about his contributions to such feature films as "Ghostbusters", "Back to the Future", and "The Flintstones." Additionally, Barris discusses his role as a pioneer of custom designing cars and talks about his extensive celebrity clientele that included Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Redd Foxx, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Karen Herman conducted the interview on April 21, 2004 in North Hollywood, CA.

"If you said you were bringing a Batmobile for a car show, the show would just absolutely be mobbed with people who wanted to see the car. It was a major contribution to the popularity of a film that you had the people taking a picture next to the car. That was a thrill. We made that car be a star on film as well as in real life."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
George Barris on making the "Batmobile" for Batman
George Barris on making cars for The Beverly Hillbillies
George Barris on designing the "Munster Coach" and the "Dragula" for The Munsters starring Fred Gwynne as "Herman Munster" and Al Lewis as "Grandpa Munster"
George Barris on growing his custom cars business in the 1960s
George Barris on designing cars for the feature film "Back to the Future"
George Barris on his work on the feature film "Ghostbusters"
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his early interest in cars; on his involvement with cars during his high school years
On moving to Los Angeles to start his custom cars business and getting involved in the "street racing" culture there; on celebrities' early interest in his custom cars, and on the pitfalls of making custom cars; on making custom cars for various celebrities, and various feature films

Chapter 2

On his work designing a car for a Dragnet episode; on making cars for Route 66; on designing cars for 77 Sunset Strip, and on touring the car from the show
On growing his custom cars business in the 1960s; on knowing how his custom cars would look once they were on camera; on designing a car for The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis starring Dwayne Hickman
On losing many of his cars in a fire in the 1960s and on opening his North Hollywood shop; on designing the "Munster Coach" and the "Dragula" for The Munsters starring Fred Gwynne as "Herman Munster" and Al Lewis as "Grandpa Munster"

Chapter 3

On licensing cars like the "Munster Coach" for toys; on making cars for The Beverly Hillbillies; on knowing what colors to use for his cars on television and in feature films
On making the car for My Mother the Car; on making the Batmobile for Batman
On the choice of Bronson Cave for the location of the Batcave on Batman; on working with Batman creator Bob Kane on the design of the Batmobile for Batman
On the number of Batmobiles he made for Batman; on designing the Bat Boat, the Batcopter, and the Batcycle for Batman; on work he did for Batman projects subsequent to Batman

Chapter 4

On his work for The Green Hornet; on his work for The Monkees; on his work for Mannix
On working on Sid and Marty Krofft shows including The Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf; on the challenges his custom car business faced in the 1970s; on his work for The Partridge Family
On making cars for M*A*S*H; on his work for Bearcats; on his work for Starsky and Hutch
On making cars for Fantasy Island; on working on CHiPs; on his work for Knight Rider

Chapter 5

On his work on Knight Rider; on working on The Dukes of Hazzard
On some of his film work including "Back to the Future" and "Ghostbusters"; on customizing private cars for Redd Foxx, Bob Hope, and Elvis Presley; on the craft of car design and customization

Chapter 6

On making a car for Zsa Zsa Gabor; on the car that best expresses him; on communicating with his staff when creating cars, and on running his custom car business
On his career highlights; on customizing a car for an episode of Extreme Makeover
On advice to aspiring custom car designers; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

77 Sunset Strip

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George Barris on designing cars for 77 Sunset Strip, and on touring the car from the show

Batman

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George Barris on making the "Batmobile" for Batman
George Barris on the choice of Bronson Cave for the location of the Batcave on Batman
George Barris on working with Batman creator Bob Kane on the design of the Batmobile for Batman
George Barris on the number of Batmobiles he made for Batman
George Barris on designing the Bat Boat, the Batcopter, and the Batcycle for Batman
George Barris on work he did for Batman projects subsequent to Batman

Bearcats!

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George Barris on his work for Bearcats

Beverly Hillbillies, The

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George Barris on making cars for The Beverly Hillbillies

Bugaloos, The

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George Barris on working on Sid and Marty Krofft shows including The Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf

CHiPs

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George Barris on working on CHiPs

Dragnet

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George Barris on his work designing a car for a Dragnet episode

Dukes of Hazzard, The

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George Barris on his work on The Dukes of Hazzard

Extreme Makeover

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George Barris on customizing a car for an episode of Extreme Makeover

Fantasy Island

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George Barris on making cars for Fantasy Island

Green Hornet, The

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George Barris on his work for The Green Hornet

H. R. Pufnstuf

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George Barris on working on Sid and Marty Krofft shows including The Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf

Hill Street Blues

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George Barris on working on Hill Street Blues

Knight Rider

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George Barris on his work for Knight Rider
George Barris on his work on Knight Rider

M*A*S*H

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George Barris on making cars for M*A*S*H

Mannix

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George Barris on his work for Mannix

Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The

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George Barris on designing a car for The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis starring Dwayne Hickman

Monkees, The

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George Barris on his work for The Monkees

Munsters, The

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George Barris on designing the "Munster Coach" and the "Dragula" for The Munsters starring Fred Gwynne as "Herman Munster" and Al Lewis as "Grandpa Munster"
George Barris on licensing cars like the "Munster Coach" for toys

My Mother the Car

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George Barris on making the car for My Mother the Car

Partridge Family, The

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George Barris on his work for The Partridge Family, including the bus

Route 66

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George Barris on making cars for Route 66

Starsky and Hutch

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George Barris on his work for Starsky and Hutch
Topics

Pop Culture

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George Barris on designing the "Munster Coach" and the "Dragula" for The Munsters starring Fred Gwynne as "Herman Munster" and Al Lewis as "Grandpa Munster"
George Barris on making the "Batmobile" for Batman

Television Industry

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George Barris on licensing cars like the "Munster Coach" for toys
George Barris on the challenges his custom car business faced in the 1970s
Professions

Custom Car Designer

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George Barris on knowing how his custom cars would look once they were on camera
Geroge Barris on knowing what colors to use for his cars on television and in feature films
Custom car designer George Barris on making prop police cars street-legal
George Barris on the craft of car customization
George Barris on the car that best expresses him
George Barris on communicating with his staff when creating cars, and on running his custom car business
George Barris on advice to aspiring custom car designers

Designers

View Profession
George Barris on knowing how his custom cars would look once they were on camera
Geroge Barris on knowing what colors to use for his cars on television and in feature films
George Barris on the craft of car customization
George Barris on the car that best expresses him
George Barris on communicating with his staff when creating cars, and on running his custom car business
George Barris on advice to aspiring custom car designers
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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George Barris on making cars for Route 66

Comedy Series

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George Barris on designing a car for The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis starring Dwayne Hickman
George Barris on designing the "Munster Coach" and the "Dragula" for The Munsters starring Fred Gwynne as "Herman Munster" and Al Lewis as "Grandpa Munster"
George Barris on making cars for The Beverly Hillbillies
George Barris on making the car for My Mother the Car

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
George Barris on his work designing a car for a Dragnet episode
George Barris on designing cars for 77 Sunset Strip and on touring the car from the show
George Barris on making the "Batmobile" and various other vehicles for Batman
Custom car designer George Barris on making prop police cars street-legal

Reality TV

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George Barris on customizing a car for an episode of Extreme Makeover
People

Redd Foxx

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George Barris on designing a car for Redd Foxx

Zsa Zsa Gabor

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George Barris on making a car for Zsa Zsa Gabor

Fred Gwynne

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George Barris on designing the "Munster Coach" and the "Dragula" for The Munsters starring Fred Gwynne as "Herman Munster" and Al Lewis as "Grandpa Munster"

Dwayne Hickman

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Custom car designer George Barris on his work for a Dragnet episode

Bob Hope

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George Barris on designing Bob Hope's golf cart

Bob Kane

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George Barris on working with Batman creator Bob Kane on the design of the Batmobile for Batman

Sid Krofft

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George Barris on working on Sid and Marty Krofft shows including The Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf

Marty Krofft

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George Barris on working on Sid and Marty Krofft shows including The Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf

Al Lewis

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George Barris on designing the "Munster Coach" and the "Dragula" for The Munsters starring Fred Gwynne as "Herman Munster" and Al Lewis as "Grandpa Munster"

Elvis Presley

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George Barris on designing for Elvis Presley

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