Barris Cars of the Stars
by George Barris and David Fetherston
2008 Motorbooks, an imprint of MBI Publishing Company, MN, USA
I've known George Barris for quite a few years and generally see him a couple of times a each year at various shows, most often at the Concours at Pebble Beach.
I was introduced to George by the late Bob Butts of Fantasy Car, another icon of the Custom Car world, although not of the stature of George Barris.
During that first encounter he spent a fair amount of time yelling at me when he discovered I was that "damned Canadian who had built a Batmobile" that Adam West had at the time called the 'finest in the world.' We smoothed that out quickly enough and he took me on a tour of his shop, even showing me the original Batmobile in great detail. We even tried to work out a way for me to restore it for him, which sadly, never happened.
I may have missed out on the pleasure of restoring the Batmobile but I have been fortunate to have restored a couple of other Barris originals, one of which was the Barris Super Van aka, 'The Love Machine'. It is downstairs at this moment, sitting just inside my front doors, red velour, rotating bed, disco ball, lava lamp and all. Turbo Sonic, an eccentric turbine-powered three-wheeled dragster is also featured in my show room and still sits in its original paint and mark ings from when George and Dick Dean built it far too many years ago.
George and David Featherstone, his co-author, have been writing books for several years—books that have covered much of George's career and I have to admit to owning most, if not all, of them.
George's career spans pretty much the entire history of the hot rod and custom car culture and his accomplishments have been many. Barris,Cars of the Stars features George's close association with Hollywood 's stars and the cars he built for them. It is a natural companion to his previous book, Barris TV & MovieCars, which covered the movie cars that he built.
I have to admit that leafing though the pages I felt a little maudlin at times as the book brought me back to moments in my life, many not even associated with cars, but instead with the people. Seeing Sonny and Cher clowning around their new custom Mustangs, John Travolta in full Disco regalia and Farrah Fawcett lounging on the hood of her custom Corvette, big hair and all, brings a twinge to the gut and a fondness and longing for things that used to be.
This will affect anyone who lived though those times even if they aren't car lovers.
It is quite well written and full of George's reminiscences which make it far more than just a picture book, although it certainly does not fall down in that respect either.
Barris, Cars of the Stars is a must have for anyone who enjoys custom cars, movie stars, Hollywood or just plain George.
Four out of five stars, no pun intended.