Monday, January 23, 2012

Buicks with the Barris Touch



It's no secret that King of the Kustomizers George Barris' first car was a Buick, a 1925 Buick roadster passed down from family when he was just a teenager. But it would be a few years later when his touch would create some very special ones. This 1941 Buick convertible featured flow through fenders and a Cadillac grille. It helped young Barris get noticed, in fact he featured it on his business card. Many chopped and channeled "Kustoms" followed.


After the era of the chopped and channeled "lead sleds", Barris made quite a few customs for movies. This caught the attention of Buick Motor Division itself, who provided him with a new 1963 Riviera to customize. The result was the "Villa Riviera", a frost white custom which was used in the movie "For Those Who Think Young", featuring a young Nancy Sinatra.


After the movie was completed, Barris changed the color to Translucent Cherry. It seems much sportier in the red hue. But Barris wasn't completely satisfied and kept experimenting. Note the open roof section and the extended fenders. The headlamps are concealed behind the fender ends.


Here's the Villa Riviera again, this time wearing a Cherry and White scalloped paint treatment. The wheels have also been changed. It may have been more successful in solid Cherry.


Speaking of successful, AMT was so impressed with the Villa Riviera that they featured it as a build option for their 1963 Riviera 1/25 Scale Model. Note the groovy 1960's graphics.

The Buick Wildcat Mystique began as a 1965 Wildcat hardtop. The roof is chopped, the hood and front fenders are stretched, the rear deck is lengthened, and the bumpers are replaced by rolled pans. The hand made bar grilles front and rear complete the custom effect.


Note the rear grille effect, the W shape, and the lowered roofline. The styling accentuates the original Buick lines to their dramatic pinnacle. The interior is basically stock with some wood trim and upgraded audio added.


The color is pretty attention-getting too. It's finished in 40 coats of Apricot Pearl, and these Tangerine scallops were added shortly after completion. It was reportedly made for a movie actor, although that had not been confirmed and Barris' book makes no mention of the client.

And this is a great shot- George Barris, wife Shirley and children Joji and Brett pose in the driveway of their Lake Encino home with a very special 1966 Riviera. Built again for Buick, the car is painted in Gold Tangerine Murano Pearl and features an ASC Sun Roof, special wheels, and red line tires. It was used promotionally and helped Buick dealers such as Reynolds popularize the Sun Roof.

Of course, George Barris built many interesting custom and movie cars over the years, including the Batmobile, the Monkeemobile and other truly legendary cars, but we think its interesting that he got his reputation going with Buicks, and he certainly did some great custom Buicks in the sixties.

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