*One of only reportedly about seven or so 'Barristers' built *Crafted from a '79 Corvette *Built by the King of Kustomizers *Built for close family friend Frank Monteleone & #002 *350 V8 small block Chevy engine *Automatic Transmission *Several Car Show & Cruising Awards including at "Hot August Nights"
Frank Monteleone met and befriended George Barris and his brother Sam early in their career, along with Von Dutch, and was responsible for collaborating with them on several successful and ground breaking early customs, including Frank's renown 1941 & 1956 Ford's, that were to win high acclaim for the pair in the early 1950's. It is noteworthy that George and his wife Shirley actually built for his good friend Frank this #2 build of his legendary 'Barrister Custom Corvettes'.
The Barrister is a neo classic roadster custom built and designed by the legendary George Barris. Taking some 1930s ideas and some modern styling to create a new look. The Barrister is a stretched car on a Corvette chassis. This was and is a car for the stars. Speculation is that only 7 Barristers were built. This Barrister is the #2 car, which Frank Monteleone bought directly from his best friend George Barris who had customized the build especially for Frank and which Frank had owned ever since until his passing in 2021. George also built Barristers for several stars: Liberace, Bo Derek, James Caan, Jimmy Darren, Sammy Davis Jr. and one for George himself personally. Georges #1 car is still in the Barris Museum. Sammy Davis Jr.s Barrister was featured in the film "Cracking Up" with Jerry Lewis. This Barrister was featured at the Oakland Road and Custom 50th Anniversary show. It has won several car show awards and won cruising awards at Hot August Nights, and is always a parade favorite.
Among the world of hot rodders and car customizers, few have reached the fame and recognition of George Barris. Born in Chicago in 1925, he moved with his brother, Sam, to the Sacramento area as a toddler shortly after the death of his mother. Growing up he became enamored with California car culture and moved with Sam to Los Angeles after WWII. Initially getting his start doing private commissions, modifying cars for individuals, his work soon got recognized by folks both in the car communitysuch as the budding, young publisher Robert E. Petersenas well as movie studio executive as stars. From his Barris Kustom Industries, George Barris would go to define not only Kustom Kulture, but also build numerous famous movie cars, and outrageous Kustoms for famous stars and millionaires alike.
The Corvette was a personal favorite of Barris's and he would go on to customize a variety of them over his career. This 1979 Chevrolet Corvette-based "Barrister" is one such example. Part of a run of about seven or so cars, only parts of the interior design of the 'Vette was retained. Stripped to frame, which was lengthened several inches, an outlandish and unique retro-chic body was fitted. The new coachwork combined many of the best bits of pre-WWII cars such as a long hood, [faux] external exhaust pipes, v-windscreen, and a bold radiator shell with modern design elements including a tapered tail and fastback humps behind the headrests. Buckets seats and wood paneling topped it all off.
Ordered new by celebrities such as Liberache, Bo Derek, Sammy Davis Jr, Jimmy Darren, and James Caan, this particular example was reportedly built and delivered to one of George and his brother Sam's closest family friends and early collaborators, Frank Monteleone.
This impossible to miss Kustom Barrister is a rare opportunity to acquire a genuine and very rare and renown Barris machine.
More than 7 years after George Barris death in November 2015, his custom creations (kustom kreations) had until recently continued to make their way into the automotive spotlight.
Recent sales at Mecum auctions in Kissimmee, FL 2022 have broke all previous records for genuine Barris Kustom cars.
The Barrister, which Barris referred to as a 1930s-style modern sports car, began its life as a 1979 Corvette. After Barris lengthened the frame, he added a long hood, radiator shell, faux side-exhaust pipes, v-windscreen, and fastback humps behind the driver and passenger headrests. The interior features bucket seats, wood trim, and under the hood is a Chevy 350 V-8 engine matched to an automatic transmission.
It wasn't always so easy to stand out, even for the mega-wealthy, especially postwar. There wasn't much individuality available in the marketplace, so celebs that didn't want the typical Mercedes or Rolls-Royce often turned to the aftermarket for solutions. Customizer and movie-car builder extraordinaire George Barris played muse to these societal elite, catering to their whims with outrageous and over-the-top designs.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Barris built a series of neoclassical drop-tops he christened "Barristers" for this attention-hungry customer base. Starting with the then new C3 Corvette, Barris stripped off all semblance of the Chevy, going so far as to lengthen the frame. Barris wrapped the Vette bones in a design that was a strange mishmash of eras, incorporating a long hood, a split front windscreen, a golden radiator shell, a tapered tail, and fake external header and exhaust pipes. The result was something that looks quite similar to the contemporary Stutz Bearcat II, another two-door neoclassic. The Barrister attracted its fair share of celebrity attention, with James Caan, Bo Derek, and Sammy Davis Jr. among them. Liberace, the king of excess, ordered a black and gold example.
"George Barris is among the best-known customizers of all time and just about anything he built is collectible", says Hagerty valuation editor Andrew Newton.
George Barris and Frank Monteleone had a long history of collaborations and friendship starting in the late 1940's in California until George's death in 2015. Frank died in 2021.
1925 - 2015
We love you George. We will miss you. You and Shirley made our times together with you always loads of fun. All our vacations, trips, parties, boating, waterskiing, snowskiing, tennis and all our card and board games were the best. We were so lucky to have you in our lives. We are sure there is a big party in heaven going on now. George give Shirley a big kiss and hug for us. You are in our hearts and will be forever. ( also in our garage ) All our love and prayers to Joji, Brett and Jared at this time. Your memories of George are endless. Love you, The Frank Monteleone family