It's been the car hobby's dirty little secret, but now that secret is being shouted across all forms of media George Barris didn't build the original Monkeemobiles, Dukes of Hazzard Dodge Chargers or "Back to the Future" DeLorean.
The "King of Kustomizers" did build many notable cars along side his brother, Sam, and many other famous customizers, both for everyday Joes and Hollywood blokes, and planted his "Barris" emblem on the front fenders of each car his shop built. He has also been accused in recent years of adopting many Hollywood cars created by others, sometimes building recreations and other times purchasing the original car, and including them in his Barris Star Cars Collection. Sometimes, this caused confusion as to who was actually responsible for creating the original cars.
During the renaming of Los Angeles' Riverside Drive and Riverton Avenue to George Barris Place on March 23, several famous cars and replicas from the Barris Star Cars Collection were on exhibit. Among them was the "Back to the Future" DeLorean, which caught the eye of Universal Studios. And the studio wasn't exactly pleased with its presence at the event and has taken steps to clear up the confusion. The LA Times picked up the story on May 4.
According to the LA Times article, Bob Gale, a writer and producer of "Back to the Future," said the special DeLorean used in the film was designed by Ron Cobb and Andrew Probert, and was built under the supervision of special effects supervisor Kevin Pike and construction coordinator Michael Scheffe. Since Barris' version of the movie car carried emblems and appeared in his collection, the studio felt that Barris was misrepresenting the car's origins, thus denying credit to its original builders.
The studio has since filed a cease-and-desist order that Barris stop making "misrepresentations regarding any involvement with the 'Back to the Future' films," The LA Times further reported that the studio demanded Barris remove all images of a replica movie DeLorean from his Web site. Barris was also told to restrict his display of the "Back to the Future" replica, which was built by Barris' shop for a customer.
Barris reacted by telling the LA Times, "I promoted and encourage the car industry. That's what I've always done."
Car builders Dean Jeffries, original builder of the Monkeemobile; Eddie Paul, author of Krause Publication's "Eddie's Paul's Paint and Bodywork Handbook" and builder of a car used in the movie "Taxi" now bearing Barris' signature; and Michael Scheffe, one of the "Back to the Future" DeLorean creators, have all commented on the cars they created in the LA Times.
To read the LA Times' story, click HERE.