George Barris, the car customizer who created such eye-catching TV vehicles as the Batmobile and the Munster Koach, died Thursday at his home in Southern California at age 89. His longtime friend and publicist Edward Lozzi confirmed the news to EW.
Born in Chicago in 1925, Barris grew up in Roseville, Calif., and loved cars from an early age. He hung around auto body shops as teenager, moved to Los Angeles after graduating from high school, and became a pioneer in the Southland car scene.
His most famous creation was Adam West and Burt Ward’s trusty ride in the Batman TV series of the 1960s. Working from a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura, Barris created a sleek black-and-red-pinstriped crime-fighting machine, complete with swooping rear fins, a turbine exhaust, and all manner of gadgets.
In addition to the Batmobile, Barris also souped up a Model T for The Munsters, designed the jalopy for The Beverly Hillbillies, and updated K.I.T.T. for later seasons of Knight Rider. Barris also worked on cars for personal use for stars such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
Barris’ survivors include daughter Joji Barris-Paster, son Brett Barris, and grandson Jared Barris.
The Barris family said in a statement, “George Barris derived both his inspiration and his greatest source of pride in the relationships he forged with family, friends, and the world.”