Offbeat L.A.: Happy 88th Birthday to Custom Car Legend George Barris!

George Barris gets birthday wishes from "Marilyn" (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

George Barris gets birthday wishes from “Marilyn” (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

Originally published November 25, 2013 at The Los Angeles Beat

Author’s Note: George Barris sadly passed away on November 5, 2015, two weeks before his 90th birthday.

Barris Kustom City on Riverside Drive in North Hollywood (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

Barris Kustom City on Riverside Drive in North Hollywood (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

As we think of the many offbeat subcultures that have sprung from the creative loins of our beloved City of Angels, one that has reverberated worldwide has been Kustom Car Culture. After all, Los Angeles came of age with the automobile and customization is a natural outgrowth of our need to see and be seen. A passion for hot rods and drag races became stereotypical of 1950s to mid-1960s L.A. and chalks up right along side surfboards and movie stars as something emblematic of our city.

The Munster Koach designed by George Barris (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

The Munster Koach designed by George Barris (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

Mixing in the movie industry, which often requires one-of-a-kind specialty autos for use onscreen in films and TV shows, has brought notoriety and fame to a few of the genre’s most talented creators. At the top of that list is car designer George Barris, whose most famous creations include the original Batmobile for the ’60s TV show Batman and the Munster Koach for the series The Munsters. George opened his custom shop, Barris Kustom City, on Riverside Drive in North Hollywood in 1961 and over 50 years later it occupies the same location.

A Batmobile cake for George Barris' 88th birthday (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

A Batmobile cake for George Barris’ 88th birthday (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

George is still extremely active in the custom car community as both owner of his shop and for his annual George Barris Culver City Car Show held each spring. His 88th birthday party this last Sunday at the Kustom City shop, brought out celebrities, car aficionados, friends and fans of his work to celebrate his iconic genius and to personally give him greetings on his special day. Party guests were treated to Mexican food, an Elvis impersonator and a chance to see many of George’s custom cars in person.

The author and Mamie Van Doren (photo by Thomas Kreuzer)

The author and Mamie Van Doren (photo by Thomas Kreuzer)

 

 

While a DJ played Dusty Springfield, the Beach Boys and ’60s girl groups, George made the rounds posing with party guests such as the iconic 1950s blonde bombshell Mamie Van Doren and The Partridge Family mom Shirley Jones. It was truly a memorable party and here’s hoping George has many more..

Barris Kustom City (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

The author and Shirley Jones (photo by Thomas Kreuzer)

 

 

 

 

Barris Kustom City: 10811 Riverside Drive, North Hollywood, CA 91602.

Barris Kustom City (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

Barris Kustom City (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

About Nikki Kreuzer

Nikki Kreuzer has been a Los Angeles resident for more than half of her life. When not working her day job in the film & TV industry, she spends her time over many obsessions, mainly music, art and exploring the oddities of the city she adores. So far she has written 100 Offbeat L.A. articles, which she started in 2013 while writing for The Los Angeles Beat. She has also been published in the LA Weekly, Oddee.com, Twist Magazine, Strobe and Not For Hire. Nikki is also is a mosaic artist, working actor and published photographer. As part of the band Nikki & Candy, she plays bass, sings and is co-writer. Find Nikki & Candy music on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube and other music sites. Nikki is currently working on her first novel. Please “like” the Offbeat L.A. Facebook page! For more Offbeat L.A. photos & adventures follow @Lunabeat on Instagram.

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