Whether you know it or not, if you’re a car guy or a TV fan, George Barris’s “kustom” cars have likely been part of your life for a long time. Sadly, Barris – creator of the original batmobile – passed away yesterday at the age of 89 in his Encino, CA home. Barris was a custom car creator since his high school days whose credits include Knight Rider’s KITT car and the creation of custom vehicles for many Hollywood movies and TV shows including Jurassic Park, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Musters, The Dukes of Hazard, and Starsky and Hutch, to name just a few.
Barris spent much of his childhood living with his Aunt and Uncle in their suburban Sacramento home, where he developed his skills building custom automobiles by working on balsa wood models with great attention to detail, often modifying the original design to suit his tastes. At the age of 18, he moved south to Los Angeles for its fast emerging car culture and quickly became known for his work customizing cars for private owners. Hollywood quickly caught on to Barris and enlisted him to modify automobiles for use in film and television. According to Barris, one of his first Hollywood gigs was creating soft aluminum fenders to be used in a crash scene in the movie North by Northwest.
Check out the video below from the 2013 Barrett Jackson auction at which the original batmobile sold for over $4 million.