Culver City Observer -

Culver And The Car Show: A Love Affair


Fred Altieri

George Barris (center) with winning show car owners

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

The love affair between Culver City and classic cars revved up once again in downtown on Saturday as the 12th Annual George Barris' Culver City Car Show took center stage.

Thousands of car enthusiasts reunited, reveled in and admired the hundreds of vintage rides lined up along Culver Blvd. from Duquesne to Canfield and adjacent streets leading to Venice Blvd.

The festival also included celebrities, live music, a beauty contest, introductions, interviews, city officials and a trophy ceremony recognizing the proud owners of the custom vehicles in what is proclaimed as "the only auto show like it in the world" by George Barris, the renowned "King of the Kustomizers."

The show's grand marshall was Butch Patrick, immortalized for playing werewolf-child Eddie Munster in the 1960's CBS hit television show "The Munsters."

Patrick was a fan favorite as he addressed the audience, answered questions, mingled with the crowd, helped present the beauty contestant winners and signed autographs.

The Exchange Club of Culver City along with were the official sponsors and instrumental in bringing together this year's show dubbed "Cruisin' back to the 50's." The Culver City Police and Fire departments were also on hand to help coordinate and support the event.

Barris, 89 years young with the vim and vigor of a teenager and ever popular with his legion of auto buffs, still works from his custom car shop in North Hollywood where he eventually relocated to in the early 1960's as he continued to design and build award-winning vehicles.

He is noted for building many memorable cars for the film and television industry including creations for: "High School Confidential", the 1958 cult classic and the two well-known vehicles featured in "The Munsters": The Kargoyle and The Munster's Koach."

"I go to shows all over the world, I mean everywhere. But there's only one show like this because Culver City caters to the people and makes them happy. The reason why it's become so successful is because we enjoy people and puppies. And with cars, puppies and people you've got to be at "the" location. And this is the only location," said Barris.

Patrick offered: "George Barris has been a friend of mine since I was a kid on "The Munsters." I rode around in his creations and he kind of let me grow up in his shop. I'd go visit and see what was going on. His shop was on Riverside Drive in North Hollywood.

"He created the Munster Coach, Dragula, the Batmobile. Pretty much every T.V. and movie car known to man George either created or had a hand in designing. I was 11, 12 years old at the time so I wasn't driving them. But I was building the models so it was cool to ride around in the real things."

Barris spoke about the history of hotrodding and Culver City from over six decades ago which forever fused his love for the city: "In the 1950's we used to have what we called: "cruising to here." We started at the drive-in on Sepulveda at the end of the street. Then we'd go up the hill and all pull over and park our cars.

"We'd turn on the music and start swing dancing. The music would travel. It was so loud from every car that was there.

Then we'd choose the two hotrods to race to see who was going to win. And whoever lost would lose their car. So this is how we started in Culver City."

"But the real music was something else. The real music was six sets of red lights. They were flashing with sirens blaring and coming up the other way. You could see all these cars scrambling to get out of there because they didn't want to get a ticket... and these two guys driving to win their car were going between them."

Patrick related: "People that enjoy "The Munsters" enjoy cars today from the 60's and the great decades. If you package it all together you have a great nostalgia show, you've got great hotrods and you have people that are still enjoying it. So it works out. Look at the crowd. We had a huge turnout"

"People still enjoy the T.V. show. They have fond memories of it. Their kids watch it together with them today. It's very rare that you can find three generations of viewers all together and enjoying the same thing.

Fred Altieri

Butch Patrick and George Barris with beauty contest winners

"Being a T.V. icon is cool especially since Eddie Munster is a cool character. I absolutely enjoy it. The reception I receive everywhere is incredible. That's why I continue to do it. It's a labor of love. It's really not a career, it's more of a give-back than anything."

Barris wrapped up before going back onto center stage to present the best car trophies: "As you walk down the street you can see a chop top, there's a fade-away, there's a cover blend, there's French-tipped fenders, there's a floating grill. Look at all of that"

"My family participating is another reason why this show is successful. My daughter, my grandson and the rest of my family come and enjoy being a part of this show. We've been to the Grand Nationals and many other shows but you'll never ever see another one like this in the world.

"As you can see all around just like when we raced... it makes people happy. That is how it started in Culver City and it's never ended."


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