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November 4, 2012

Barris' custom cars are legend in hot rod industry

(Continued)

Barris said he transformed the Lincoln in just 15 days for $15,000.

Producers of “The Munsters” asked Barris to get a hearse for the TV family’s car. But he had a better idea: He welded together three Model T bodies, put casket handles around the engine and decked out the interior in blood-red velvet.

Under the hood, he put a Ford Cobra engine with 10 chrome-plated carburetors. Barris designed and built it for $18,000 and called it “The Munster Koach.”

Elvis Presley, a frequent customer, became a close friend. Barris decorated the ceiling of Elvis’ 1960 Cadillac limo with gold records and built in a 24-karat gold cabinet with a gold-plated swivel for a TV.

Barris’ phone — its ring tone is a familiar theme song: “Na na na na na ... Batman” — doesn’t ring nearly as often with crazy requests as it once did. He’s always had help running the business. First he worked with his brother, Sam. Then with his wife, Shirley. Now his daughter and other family members have taken on a larger role.

His grandson Jared, 23, took what Barris had pasted on paper and created a computerized model of the reimagined F-150. The two said they blended their “new school and old school” techniques and refined the truck’s design. Then they fabricated a custom grill. They lowered the frame about 10 inches. They built new side rails on the bed of the truck.

After five months, they ended up with a black-and-red roadster with sharp bat-wing fenders — a new spin on the classic Batmobile.

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