TO FULLY REALIZE THE IMPACT OF THIS CAR, you have to turn the clock back to 1949.
THINGS WERE A LITTLE DIFFERENT IN 1949: Harry Truman was President of the United States Of America, "The Shadow" & "Inner Sanctum" were still two of the most listened to shows on Radio, Milton Berle was the "King Of Television" with his NBC Network Tuesday nite show sponsored by Texaco, AND, that brand new Mercury 2-Door Coupe would run you right around $2,000.00, plus tax.
They produced 120,616 of those '49 2-Door Coupes, and customizer, or should I say "kustomizer", SAM BARRIS, purchased one of those brand new Merc's. Then, he and his brother drove it back to their shop and, with only about 5 Miles on it, they proceeded to tear it apart and create what's been called THE VERY FIRST CHOPPED '49 MERC IN HISTORY !
IN OUR 2009 KKOA SALINA INTERVIEW, I wanted to talk to Sam's brother, and my friend, GEORGE BARRIS, about this landmark Merc...the one that set the bar for all that came after it.
ROY BRIZIO & his Staff were entrusted with the restoration of Sam's car by its current owner, JOHN MUMFORD. BILL GANAHL was in charge of the project that also included a "spot on" restoration of the "Ala Kart".
George, along with my 'cuz, JOHN D'AGOSTINO, joined me in our yearly "Sunday Morning In Salina" Car Talk Session, and I not only wanted George's reaction to the immaculate restoration, but how Sam started on the car to begin with.
REMEMBER: This Was A Brand New, Right-Off-The-Showroom-Floor 1949 Mercury ! What was being done to this car, with the mind-set of the general public toward Hot Rodders & Customizers in that era, was COMPLETELY UNHEARD OF !
But, as all of you reading this story on the HOF Legends WebSite know, it was one of the MOST important events in Rod & Custom History. It set the pace for the "Hirohata Merc", Dave Burgarin's Merc, Frank Sonzogni's Merc, the James Dean Merc...and all of the rest that followed. In fact, ANY '49-'51 Merc that's chopped to this very day owes Sam a debt of gratatude for starting this to begin with.
Listen as George Barris talks fondly of his brother, the excitement that happened when they got it back to their shop, what was done to the car then, and, his thoughts on the Brizio restoration and the Merc's present owner, John Mumford.
This is a brief, but very important History lesson from " The King Of The Kustomizers" that you'll want to hear more than once ! Enjoy !! JK
(Above Left to Right: Rod & Custom Feature, Dec. 2008; The Rodder's Journal Feature, Issue 38; The Motor Trend Feature, December, 1951)
ABOVE: "THE ROSE", The Sam Barris Tribute Merc created with the help of Sam's son, John, and the Barris family. It was built by Mickey Galloway, along with a crew of many, many superb craftsmen like Gene Winfield, Art Himsl, Darryl Hollenbeck, John Aiello, and, interior work by Jack Barclay of Woodland, California, and many others who donated their time, and contributed to its' completion.
(Jack Barclay, had worked with the late Manuel Arteche', the original owner-builder-upholsterer of the '61 Invicta shown on the upper left hand corner of this page and now owned by JK. He continues in Manuel's building now known as Jack's Upholstery. )
"The Rose" was then auctioned off so that the Tribute money could be donated for Children's Cancer Research & Treatment. Trying to help children and their families affected by this terrible disease that also took the life of Sam Barris in 1967.
To see the Official Barris Website just click-on here: www.barris.com
Read my review of George's latest book "Barris Cars Of The Stars", Motorbooks, Pub., on the "Hot Off The Press" Section: http://www.legends.thewwbc.net/gpage112.html
SPECIAL NOTE: Some photos on this page courtesy of Rod & Custom Magazine. To read Jim Aust's R&C story about Sam's car just click-on this link: http://www.rodandcustommagazine.com/hotnews/0809rc_1949_mercury_coupe/index.html