Barris was born in Chicago in 1925, and he was sent to live with his uncle in California at the age of three when his mother died. While working in the family’s Greek restaurant, Barris and his brother Sam were given an old Buick to fix up, which they later sold for a profit and used the money to buy a second car they could fix. That pattern continued, and Barris eventually moved to Los Angeles so he could open a custom car shop.
As that shop became more and more successful, people from Hollywood and the TV industry started coming to Barris for custom vehicles that could be used on screen, the most famous of which was a one-off concept car from the ‘50s called the Lincoln Futura that Barris modified into the famous Batmobile. Barris bought the Futura for only $1 and spent $15,000 customizing it for Batman, a process that he had to cram into only a few weeks in order to fit the show’s schedule. He even retained ownership of the original car up until 2013, when he sold it for $4.6 million.
The popularity of Batman brought more business to Barris, and he and his team were later hired to create the Munster Koach and Drag-U-La for The Munsters, the Beverly Hillbillies truck, the actual car from My Mother The Car, the station wagon from National Lampoon’s Vacation, and a couple of special incarnations of KITT from Knightrider.
The Facebook post reporting on Barris’ death also includes a statement from his son, Brett Barris:
Sorry to have to post that my father, legendary kustom car king George Barris, has moved to the bigger garage in the sky. He passed on peacefully in his sleep at 2:45 am. He was surrounded by his family in the comfort of his home. He lived his life they way he wanted til the end. He would want everyone celebrate the passion he had for life and for what he created for all to enjoy. Thank you all for the posts and calls, your love is deeply appreciated. Peace