Iconic Hollywood Custom Car Creator Barris Kustoms Closing

An integral part of motion pictures and TV throughout the 1960s and 1970s is closing down. The Barris Kustom Industries building is for sale. Home George Barris creations like the Batmobile, Munsters Koach, and a gang of special movie cars; the North Hollywood landmark is selling for $3.995 million. 

George Barris relocated Barris Kustoms to this location in the early-1960s

Barris Kustom Industries in North Hollywood
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA -JULY 26, 2021: Joji Barris-Paster, daughter of the late custom car designer George Barris, stands outside the front entrance to Barris Kustom Industries in North Hollywood that is being listed for sale. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

According to the LA Times, the 18,000 square-foot corner lot will almost certainly be redeveloped. Included on the property are a showroom and garages in the rear. That is where most of the movie magic creations were built. When the Barris brother’s custom car shop in Lynwood, California, burned down in the early 1960s, Sam Barris left the business to brother George, who relocated it to this Riverside Drive address. It was strategically located between Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Productions. 

The late Barris brothers George and Sam almost invented the custom car craze in the 1940s. Chopped and candy-colored customs or “Kustoms” as they were referred to, flew out of the brother’s shop. But by the early 1960s customs were fading. George began to be approached by television and movie studios to create wild cars. 

Barris Kustom City was also a mecca for enthusiasts, as well as actors and musicians eager to drive unique cars. Elvis Presley, James Dean, Elton John, Sonny and Cher; even Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, all had cars massaged by Barris. But the most notable vehicles were for TV and the movies.

George Barris with the Munsters Koach
George Barris arrives at the 26th Annual Saturn Awards in the car he created for the Munster television series, in Century City, CA. (Photo by Online USA/Getty)

Barris Kustom Industries built more than just the Batmobile

Besides the Batmobile and Munsters Koach, there was The Beverly Hillbillies family truckster, My Mother the Car 1928 Porter, Fireball 500 movie convertible, and KITT from the Knight Rider TV series. Barris also did specialized vehicles for movies like the cars used in the racing scene in Rebel Without a Cause. Their bodies were made from aluminum so that when they crashed the damage was more extensive for greater effect.

Barris Kustom Industries also had a hand in building custom motorcycles, bicycles, and electric guitars. The licensing of its creations was a separate revenue stream that helped to market Barris even more. While Barris was primarily doing movie work, the shop also found time to build crazy show cars like the Bathtub Buggy, Voxmobile for guitar makers Vox, Redd Foxx Red Wrecker, and even a hot rod for Tastee Freeze called the “Tasty T.” 

George Barris knew how to market and promote his cars and himself

Barris with the Batmobile
Custom car collector George Barris at the Adam West Star ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 5, 2012, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

George Barris was a marketing genius, knowing how, and when to hype his creations that brought him still more movie work. But in the 1990s Barris slowly stopped cranking out cars and the activity at the shop came to a crawl. Barris died in 2015-he was just shy of celebrating his 90th birthday. 

Since then his daughter has handled the business end of Barris Industries. She told the Times that after the building sells she’ll have the cars and memorabilia relocated to Ventura, California. The plan is to open it to the public. 

Inside Barris Kustoms
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA – JULY 26, 2021: Joji Barris-Pastor, daughter of the late custom car designer George Barris, shows photographs on display of celebrities that have visited Barris Kustom Industries over the years. Barris Kustom Industries is being listed for sale. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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