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History Top 5 Barris Kustoms of the early 50s

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Jive-Bomber, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,467


    Jive-Bomber submitted a new blog post:

    Top 5 Barris Kustoms of the early 50s


    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
    Sprout likes this.
  2. Even though I read and understand your reasoning for leaving off the Hirohata, it still needs to be on this list. But it's your list, not mine :)
    APACHE FS and Squablow like this.
  3. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,759


    Good article, as always. The effect of the Matranga Merc affects me too. My favorite of the 5, even if you had the Hirohata in there.
  4. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,111

    from California

    I think Busters Ford is on the ugly side. that would be on my list of Barris failures.

    I didn't even know they built Landons Chevy, I need to pay more attention.

  5. Kind of interesting that two of the cars picked were not start to finish Barris cars. Landon's Chevy was chopped by the Ayala's and the Liston Ford had a bunch of work done on it by George Cerny.
    Pinstriper40 likes this.
  6. flamingokid
    Joined: Jan 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,200


    Love 'em all,but given the chance,I'd make the Chet Herbert streamliner my daily driver.
    autobilly likes this.
  7. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,467


    Thats the tough part of picking Barris "built" cars- The work was often started one place and finished another. Sometimes the credit was given to the wrong shop or metalwork was redone, so yes, it's confusing! Are you sure Dan Landon's Chevy was chopped by thew Ayala Bros?'s_1949_Chevrolet
  8. I don't think anyone is sure if it was but it seems to be the general consensus that it was. Rik Hoving says there is some evidence that the Ayala's chopped it and it is more like an Ayala chop than a Barris chop with everything molded in a very organic looking.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2015
  9. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 7,432


    In one of Barris' many interviews on Jonnie King's "Legends..." site (sorry, I don't know which interview}, George mentions having chopped Landon's Chevy. I think it was in the context of liking to try new things, so it MAY have been in the Larry Ernst episode, but I'm not at all sure. (My computer will no longer access the audio, but some digging should turn it up.)
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2015
  10. jcmarz
    Joined: Jan 10, 2010
    Posts: 4,633

    from Chino, Ca

    Sam was the artist and George was the savvy business man. I bet they are happy to be together again. Peace.
  11. @jcmarz sorry but I have to disagree in part. George was every bit the artist Sam was. George was a commercial artist and was customising cars before Sam, Post ww2 George convinced Sam to stay in LA and taught Sam bodywork. Sam did become the better body man and had a natural flair for customising. George saw the potential of promotion and moved in that direction, this doesn't diminish his abilities. People might say there isn't many photos of George working on cars, well George was the one taking the photos!

    A good article from 1953 by Spence Murray THE BARRIS STORY (MAY 1953 HOP UP ARTICLE)
    Rolleiflex, brad2v, Squablow and 3 others like this.
  12. goldenidolcustoms
    Joined: Jun 13, 2010
    Posts: 258

    from Pa.

    In the big book of barris Sam Barris gets the credit for all the work on the Dan Landon chevy
  13. Agreed. I think people think that once Sam got there George had no input into the design of any of the cars. Georges design sketches of the Hirohata are the first that come to my mind when talking about the input George still clearly had on how cars were being built in the Barris shop after Sam's arrival. Both were remarkably talented.
  14. Here are some design sketches George did of the Hirohata merc, a pink and white Olds and the Karl Cadillac, though not all the ideas were used it shows his artistic talent.

    gbsketch1.jpg gbsketch2.jpg gbsketch3.jpg
  15. @Jive-Bomber Jay -

    Glad you included the "BEAST" 4 'liner on your list! ...

    Beast 4 Ad.jpg

    Here's some pics of the streamliner chassis while at Barris Kustoms:

    Beast 4 on trailer at Barris Kustoms .jpg

    Beast 4 at Barris Kustoms.jpg

    Sam Barris in Beat 4.jpg
    Sam Barris in Chet Herbert's streamliner
    (photo from the Barry Mazza collection)

    George Barris, Chet Herbert, Lynnwood Cop - Beast 4.jpg
    Chet Herbert wrote the following caption on the back of this photo: "George Barris of Barris Kustoms
    making notes on the car as a police officer from Lynnwood, CA. stops by to check on our progress at about 2 in the
    morning. We worked straight through the night for 3 days to get the car ready to take to Bonneville Speed Week".
  16. The pic with the police officer looks almost staged until I read the caption. At 2:a.m. he was wondering why the lights were still on and a door open. Now days it would be a full s.w.a.t. unit and the NSA.
  17. Sorry, but my list would include the Sam Barris Merc. Love everything about that car.
    49ratfink likes this.
  18. Sam was actually a police officer in Lynwood for a number of years and there were a couple of other officers that also worked at the shop on their off time so it probably wasn't a rare occasion for an officer to drop in.
  19. quidnunc
    Joined: Jan 1, 2011
    Posts: 60

    from pittsburgh

    Can anyone identify the front axle used on the Herbert streamliner? If it's an early Ford piece, what would be the front track dimension? Thanks.
  20. Narrowed model A axle.
    HEMI32 likes this.
  21. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,335

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    I believe it's Frank Sonzogni pictured, who moonlighted as a bodyman at Barris' and had a beatiful custom Merc.

    Picking just 5 Barris Merc's is a task let alone any 5 cars.

    For Merc's, my 5;

    Sam Barris
    Sonzogni (or perhaps Fred Rowe's convert.)

  22. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,995

    from DFW USA

    Good list. Hirohata Mercury absolutely belongs on it though.

    We all have opinions... but man... I don't see how you find the Panoramic Ford to be ugly. There isn't an ugly line on the whole car. It's probably the best shoebox Ford ever created.

    vwdave30 and Rolleiflex like this.
  23. Boatmark
    Joined: Jan 15, 2012
    Posts: 300


    These types of things are purely subjective. I'd have to think through my final two - but my first three would be Sam's Merc, Matranga's, and the Hirohata car. The first two for their sheer beauty, and although not to my taste, Hirohata for its lasting significance to the genre.
  24. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,351


    All great cars on the list, and all worthy, but I'll add myself to the list of people who want to see the Hirohata Merc on there. I would consider it one of the greatest custom cars of all time, Barris or otherwise. Certainly one of the most famous.
  25. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 5,089

    from Berry, AL

    The Hirohata Merc was the first custom I ever really took notice of. I think it was a 80's issue of Rod and Custom that had a story on it and the build. Or it might have been the clone that was built around that time? Either way, it opened my eyes to customs and the Barris brothers.
  26. In no particular order...

    Bob Hirohata '51 Merc
    Chuck DeWitt '50 Ford convertible
    Carl Abajian '49 Chevy convertible
    Marcia Campbell '42 Ford
    Buster Litton '49 Ford "Panoramic Ford"
  27. autobilly
    Joined: May 23, 2007
    Posts: 3,094


  28. flamingokid
    Joined: Jan 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,200


    BTW,does anybody notice a resemblance between Barris and a young George Clooney?
  29. Just wondering if I missed something ? That is the first time I have ever read someone writing that Jerrys was started first without it turning into a huge discussion. I was glad to read it though.Did I miss some new evidence ?
    This is a cool thread and everyone has their favorites.
  30. Thanks for sharing that Hop Up article @Jimmy B! It paints a good picture of what the early days at Barris was like.

    Those pictures are epic @HEMI32! I love that second picture of them test fitting the Chet Herbert streamliner - seems like perfect placement for the roll bar, just be sure to tuck your head when she rolls!


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