This next car will remove those rose-tinted glasses through which everybody sees retro automobiles. It’s a highly customized 1969 Chevrolet Corvette dubbed the “Barrister” by its creator, none other than George Barris.
Barris is known for making the first Batmobile. However, he is also seen as a core part of American custom car culture thanks to his numerous and unique builds. Sure, a coffin-like hot rod or a chopped Plymouth Cuda might look cool in a museum. But have you ever wanted to own one of his weird creations?
If the answer is “yes,” then we’ve got excellent news for you. One of his legendary creations is coming up for auction. Barris Kustoms closed after 60 years in business, but this looks like something which rolled out of his Riverside Drive building in the 1980s.
Forty years ago, Barris Kustoms produced seven or eight of these coach-built roadsters named Barrister custom, after their creator, who passed away back in 2015. They were derived from the C3 Corvettes but featured some pretty heavy-handed customization.
Why does the Corvette “Barrister” look like that?
To understand why this car exists, you have to think back to around the year 1980. Celebrities didn’t have Instagram to flex their watch and sneaker collections. Bentley and Rolls-Royce didn’t make SUVs, and the Corvette Barrister was that the closest thing to clout. Why? Because kids used to line up around the block in order to catch glimpses of the latest George Barris car.
We’re not sure how many were made, with estimates ranging from 7 to 12. Many were owned by celebrities, such as James Caan, Bo Derek, and Sammy Davis Jr. One black example sold in 2019 for $50,000. Although it was rumored to have been ordered by Liberace, this is yet to be proven.
Thanks to Mecum’s research, we do know that this car belonged to Barris’ close family friend Frank Monteleone, who owned at least two more Kustom creations. And he must have been a fan of Greek food because this white-and-blue color combo looks like a vintage diner, ready to serve you gyro with a side of baklava.
Neo-classic roadster built and designed by George Barris
Although this is based on a 1969 Corvette, everything is different. All the original body panels are gone, and even the chassis has been lengthened to fit this neo-modern style that seems so cheesy nowadays. The side exhausts immediately grab your attention, but they’re obviously fakes, not connected to the classic Chevy 350 V8. Mecum lists this as having 300 horsepower, which would have been the base setup for the 5.7-liter when it was made.
The interior is quite interesting as well, matching the Greek theme with a maritime combination of colors and wood. It’s not a Bentley in there but grabbing that Turbo Hydra-Matic auto and looking out the split windows might make you feel like a skipper on land.
Perhaps the most interesting feature is the front. Though it’s never officially mentioned, everybody knows those look like 1978 Ford Granada headlights. It’s so weird to see them reflected in this faux Rolls-Royce chrome beak. But one thing’s for sure: you’re never going to see anything like this. Want it? Lot S240 is coming up for auction at Glendale 2022, March 16-19.