60 Years Ago: The Barris Shop Fire
I guess old cars & fire have been on my mind quite a bit lately, with the massive, deadly wildfires of Northern California are finally coming to an end. The fires got very close to Vern Tardel’s Shop in Windsor, and Scott from Chuckles Garage had his entire Coffey Park neighborhood burn to the ground, along with his home and old cars. This makes it more than ironic that December 7th of this year will mark sixty years since the Barris Shop caught on fire and destroyed 15 custom cars before firefighters stopped the blaze at Ala Kart, which was sitting in the paint shop area. Known as “The Worst Day in Custom Car History”, the fire nearly made George quit the business entirely after such a devastating loss. Cars destroyed included Archie Moore’s crazy custom magnesium-bodied Jaguar coupe, Jayne Mansfield’s beloved Jaguar XK120, Bobby Yamazaki’s quad-headlamp ’54 Mercury, Ron Guidry’s 1936 Ford coupe ‘Renegade’, the 1954 Ford F-100 ‘Wildkat’, and many other project cars being built at the time.
You can read more about the shop fire from George Barris interviews with Evel and Jonnie King.