LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The custom car maker who designed the Batmobile and many other iconic TV cars died Thursday at his Los Angeles home.
George Barris was 89.
Barris’ son, Brett, announced his father’s death in a Facebook post.
“Sorry to have to post that my father, legendary kustom car king George Barris, has moved to the bigger garage in the sky,” he wrote. “He passed on
peacefully in his sleep at 2:45 a.m.”
The Batmobile was featured on the smash “Batman” which ran twice a week for most of its run on ABC from 1966-1968.
Barris — a one-man car museum — died 15 days shy of his 90th birthday.
He also created vehicles for the TV shows “Knight Rider” (KITT being as iconic as the Batmobile) “The Munsters,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and the films “North by Northwest” and “Teenage Confidential.”
Born in Chicago on Nov. 20, 1925, Barris and his brother Sam migrated to California as children and developed a keen interest in automobiles.
By their teenage years, they were creating custom vehicles.
Barris and his brother moved to the Los Angeles area and opened their first shop in 1945, growing that business into a multimillion-dollar operation.
Barris Kustom Industries is still operating in North Hollywood.
KCAL9’s Rebecca Ferriter reported from there Thursday night and talked to some of Barris’ many admirers and fans.
“Well actually I’m a car designer. And I got to say he’s probably one of the reasons why I am a car designer,” said Gael Buzyn.
Ferriter also spoke to Ed Lozzi, a friend and publicist for Barris for more than three decades.
“Sonny and Cher and their matching Mustangs were designed by George and Shirley Barris,” Lozzi said.
Lozzi said Barris still enjoyed coming to his auto body shop and show room and that he was working up until a few weeks ago.
His passion for cars started early. As a child he and his brother designed cars out of wood.
“George and his brother Sam were drawing and designing toy cars, on pots and pans in the kitchen and driving their parents crazy,” said Lozzi.
The Batmobile — which Barris made in about two weeks from a 1955 sedan for bought for $1 — became arguably the most famous car ever created. It sold in 2013 for more than $4 million.
In a statement, Adam West eulogized Barris.
“Sad to see that we lost George Barris. He created the world’s most famous car, one that I was assigned to drive for three years. He was a creative and popular gent, a unique character who will be missed by many. Sweetheart of a guy,” West said.
The family told Ferriter funeral services were still pending.