Custom Car Builders

January 21, 2015

2007 Barris Exhibit NHRA


In the summer of 2007 the NHRA Wally Parks Museum in Pomona organized an exhibition about the history of the Barris Kustom Chop titled; A Salute to George Barris, The King of the Kustomizers

When I was working on an magazine article I needed some info that good friend Rob Radcliffe emailed me about shortly after he had visited the NHRA Barris Kustom Shop exhibit in 2007. And while looking for the info I browsed thru the many photos Rob took at the museum. Back when the exhibit was planned, I was kept in the loop by exhibit organizer Greg Sharp and by Barry Mazza who loaned his Barris Kustom 1955 Chevy “the Aztec” to the museum for the duration of the exhibit. It was the first time the Aztec would be traveling to California since it had left there many, many years ago. I was asked to supplied a few of my colorized photos to be part of the display, which made me very proud. And when Rob Radcliffe mentioned he would be visiting the exhibit I asked him to take as many photos as he could…. which he did.

I always thought this exhibit was something really great to do, showing a lot of material from the Barris Kustom Shop including photos, tools and accessories, of which some had never been shown before. Alongside the exhibit of material several Barris Kustoms created cars would be on display in the museum. For this article we will concentrate on the show cases of the exhibit and will get back to the cars in an second article. Lets take a look at some of the photos Rob took.
CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-25The Barris exhibit was in one of the rooms at the Wally Parks Museum. This photo shows the entrance to the room. What better way to welcome you into a Barris Exhibit than with Sam Barris and the Hirohata Mercury.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-03For the exhibit they recreated the old Atlantic Blvd Von Dutch painted Barris Kustom Shop sign and wall. 


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-02The later version of the shop entrance sign were also recreated for the exhibit and displayed in one of the show cases.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-15The main display showed a nice timeline from the early times on the left to the 1960’s on the right.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-14A nice selection of 1940’s and early 1950’s photos.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-07Later on in the 1950’s towards the mid 1950’s and up.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-08And the last of this display case showing the customs created towards the 1960’s.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-10George Barris receiving a trophy at the 1950 Oakland Roadster Show. (George can be seen on the far left on the photo kneeling down.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-11George Barris proudly showing the awards the Jesse Lopez 1941 For won at the 1950 Oakland Roadster show.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-12The Lynwood years display case showed some nice early business cards.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-13Some later business cards, and on the bottom an window sticker an a early Compton Ave business card showing George his person 1941 Buick.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-04An later version of the Kustoms of Los Angeles plaque.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-05Some old tools, an other material, like this old paint can were found in the attic at the old Atlantic Blvd shop and displayed along with photo’s, old magazines etc.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-06George Barris and the Barris shop have played a very big roll in the magazine publications of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Here is a sample of a few of the magazines with Barris material on the covers.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-17Hot rods created at the Barris Kustom Shop.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-19The Barris Kustom Shop was an huge motivator for the use of Appleton Spotlights. 


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-21The famous Barris Kustoms shop price-list could of course needed to be included.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-22Brad Masterson loaned some of the old tools from his personal collection. Brad saved these tools which were found in the attic of the old Barris shop.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-01A few samples of some of the great photos that were on display in large format on the museum walls. 


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-24Barris Kustom Accessory products from the 1960’s.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-09A promotional photo of the Barris Kustom wax and cleaner products that were sold in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.


CCC-barris-nhra-exhibit-26When Rob Radcliffe visited the show, George Barris was also there, so Rob asked George to sign two of the special cards the museum had printed for the exhibit. He later send one of them to me… thanks Rob.




( this article is sponsored by )

CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob





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About the Author

Rik Hoving
Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)


  1. Wow! Does that take us all back! What an influence Barris was able to achieve across all America with the publications that shared what was happening on the California custom car scene.

    Rik, bless you for keeping the torch lit!

    Larry Pointer


  2. Great article Rik.
    That shot of Barris in front of the Lopez coupe is great. Jer over on the HAMB just posted a shot of Jesse from the same show. The gal in the coupe was the then, current Miss California.


  3. Glad you enjoyed the photos, Rik! I wish I had a better camera back then…haha.

    I think it’s time for another Barris Kustoms exhibit, or perhaps an overall “Kustoms” exhibit that includes work from the many shops pushing the envelope at the time…maybe focusing on certain trends or eras and how they changed over time…using historical kustoms to illustrate the differences.

    I’ll never forget walking into the Wally Parks NHRA Museum and seeing the Hirohata smiling back at me; it was the first time I saw it in person. Coming around the corner and seeing Sam’s Merc, the Aztec, the Dream Truck, the Blue Danube clone, Duncon Emmon’s Matranga clone, etc. It was a great display!


  4. love it well done every thing that we see in here sure brings back a lot of memories from back then for a lot of us,, thanks rik,


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