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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

World-famous Barris Kustom Industries shop looking for a new owner

Barris Kustom Industries, arguably the most emblematic hot rod shop in the world, is for sale. While the Hollywood building might not survive, the memorabilia in it will be saved and put in a collection that will be open to the public.

George “King of the Kustomizers” Barris opened the shop on North Hollywood’s Riverside Drive in 1961. It wasn’t the customizer’s first shop, but the 10,000-square-foot facility is the one he made his most famous hot rods in. Some of his best-known creations include the Munster Koach, which was created by combining several Ford Model T bodies, and the 1966 Batmobile, which started life as the Ghia-built Lincoln Futura concept introduced in 1955.

Barris died in 2015, but his Riverside Drive facility lived on; Joji Barris-Paster, his daughter, kept it going with the help of her husband, her son, and her brother. Motor Trend reported that the business notably sponsored trophies at events like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and SEMA and oversaw the restoration of historic builds.

None of these activities require a 10,000-square-foot facility, and Barris Kustom Industries hasn’t built cars since its founder’s death, so the building is looking for a new owner. It’s listed at $3.9 million, and the Los Angeles Times reported that it will almost certainly be redeveloped, which is another way of saying the building will be flattened and replaced by whatever makes the most money; condos, a strip mall, a medical center, or something else.

There’s no word yet on who will buy the property. Agency Douglas Elliman Real Estate told the Los Angeles Times that it has received several off-market offers for it. It’s in a highly sought-after location so it shouldn’t be difficult to sell, but emptying the property will be a far more difficult task. Photos published by Motor Trend show there are still several cars (including a replica of the Batmobile), thousands of documents, plus countless model cars, posters, tools, and other items from Barris’ illustrious career. Luckily for enthusiasts, the memorabilia isn’t for sale.

Barris-Paster told the Los Angeles Times that the historically-significant contents of her father’s shop will be moved to an unspecified location in Oxnard-Ventura area, where it will later morph into a museum that will be opened to the public. “It has to be, and we want it to be, because he would have wanted it that way,” she explained.

Several Barris-customized cars have appeared in the spotlight in recent years. The Golden Sahara II that he built in the early 1950s was fully restored and displayed at the 2019 edition of the Geneva auto show, and one of his first Dodge Challenger-based builds, the Red Demon, was listed for sale on auction site Cars & Bids earlier in 2021.

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