Emanate car customizer George Barris, creator of the 60’s Batman’s Batmobile, Night Rider’s K.I.T.T, The Beverly Hillbillies 1921 flatbed Oldsmobile and The Munsters’ Koach turned 88 on November 20th and had a huge hullaballoo at his George Barris Kustoms Industries shop in Toluca Lake on Sunday the 24th.
I arrived to join my friend Harrison Held to take in the festivities. The place was packed! There were models cruising around in gold sequined dresses and those dressed in black with more of a gridhouse vixen look to fire up the naughty play vibe. The showroom held the Batmobile and K.I.T.T, while outside The Munster Koach was positioned near the podium. It was a carnival of mid-century delights of knockout busty blonds and crazy concept hotrods. Everyone was milling around and George was constantly on the move: posing for photo ops, signing autographs and receiving hugs from well wisher. All the time George kept moving, as in an endless victory lap throughout the afternoon!
At one point George settled to hold court with such notables as: Judy Tenuta, Francine York, Marty Ingels, Shirley Jones, Mamie Van Doren, Marci Weiner, Brenda Dickson and Ed Lozzi. Of course this was a veritable invitation for the photographers to go at it. And go it they did! Mamie Van Doren posed for the boys before she joined the others, who chatted amongst themselves in-between photo ops and shenanigans.
George received a brand new black VW Bug to be customized in the parking lot of Barris Kostums where this agile octogenarian climbed up the drivers side step to wave the victory sign to a very enthusiastic crowd, where he shared a few thoughts and graciously thanked all in attendance. it was a wonderful way to celebrate turning 88, as much as, it was a great moment to celebrate hotrod culture, obviously inspired and modified by George Barris’ influential designs and ideas, still vigorously embraced by an adoring public.