Editor’s Corner: A Look Behind Our September Cover Shoot at Barris Kustoms

Aug 25, 2010

For our September cover shoot, we headed up to Barris Kustoms in North Hollywood, California.

Singer Rick Springfield‘s 1963 split-window Corvette Stingray was ready to be delivered and George Barris was nice enough to let the build team do the unveiling at his legendary shop.

A car like this doesn’t come around very often so we jumped at the chance to put the Corvette on our cover.

When we showed up to shoot the car unveiling, we were treated to a personal tour of the facility by George’s grandson, Jared. He told us all about the history of the shop, and we were able to see some incredible movie and television cars.

Currently, the shop houses the original KITT car from Night Rider, a replica of James Deans’ “Little Bastard,” the Munster Koach from the TV show “The Munsters” and not one but two Batmobiles (including the original!)

Every car enthusiast should make a field trip there at some point, if possible. It’s not often you get to see the workshop of a legend!

When we arrived, Rick’s completed Corvette was sitting in front of the shop, in the exact same spot that so many other legendary stars’ cars had sat.

The walls of the shop are literally covered in photos of George presenting cars to movie and television stars in that exact same spot. (This includes Elvis Presley, who hung out at the shop!) That’s pretty cool! Check out our slideshow of behind-the-scenes photos from our September cover shoot!

The story of Rick’s car is very interesting in itself.

Rick Springfield drove a 1963 Corvette in the 1980s (back when everyone was singing “Jessie’s Girl.”)

Although he loved the look of the car, he wasn’t pleased by its lack of features.

His car looked hot, but without air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, or any other creature comforts, it just wasn’t fun to drive.

When Rick moved out to New Zealand, he sold the car. He didn’t, however, lose the affection he had for it.

The story of his second 1963 split-window Corvette starts in January of this year at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

George Barris, his daughter Joji and her boyfriend Barry Paster were walking around with builder Steve Sanderson and his wife.

The group walked by a resto-mod Corvette, and it was mentioned that Rick Springfield was looking for a car like that; however he wanted a ’63 split-window exactly like his old one, right down to the silver-blue color.

George Barris’ grandson, Jared, is good friends with Rick’s son Josh, and Rick had mentioned it to Jared.

Since Steve Sanderson and his team at Sanderson’s Customs & Conversions build custom Corvettes, it was a good match, and the plan to have Rick’s car built was in motion within a week.

According to Steve Sanderson, finding the donor car was one of the hardest parts of this build.

“I called my friend Joe Calcagno at R.A.R.E. Corvettes in Soquel, California, before I went to meet Rick,” said Sanderson. “I asked him to find me a 1963 Corvette that was titled in California and he said ‘good luck. That’s one of the hardest ones to find.'”

Fortunately for Sanderson, his friend found a guy who had one of those cars.

“He said the guy has been saying he was going to restore the car for the past 15 years and has just not done it,” said Sanderson.

When approached, the car’s owner agreed to sell it and they bought the car the next week.

Sanderson and his team went to work, constructing the car of Springfield’s dreams in about five months. (You can read about the build and all of the car’s features in the September issue of Hotrod & Restoration.)

This car was unique for so many reasons. Aside from its eye-catching looks and all of the custom features, it was the fact that this was the first car that George Barris’ grandson, Jared, had gotten involved with.

Although Jared didn’t do any of the physical work on the car, he was there every step of the way for the build process, contributing ideas and helping to design the car to fit Springfield’s wants and needs. He used the experience as an opportunity to learn the basics of car building.

George mentioned how much car designing had changed since he started in the business in the 1940s.

Jared used computer programs to help design Springfield’s Corvette; however, George had his own way of getting the job done, before the days of computers and Photo Shop.

“I used to cut and paste pictures of cars together [to design a car],” he told me. “I would cut up front ends of car photos and push them together like paper dolls. It was Photo Shop by hand.”

George couldn’t be prouder that Jared is considering following in his car-building footsteps. And Jared couldn’t be prouder to have George as a grandfather.

“He didn’t just build cars that were cool, he made characters out of cars,” Jared told me. “It’s nice to see people’s faces when they meet my grandpa. He built cars that bring back memories.”

To check out more of George Barris’ custom car creations, go to http://www.barris.com/.

For more information on Sanderson’s Customs & Conversions, go to http://www.sandersoncc.com/.