George Barris' Five Most Famous Cars

Did you watch TV at any time during the '60s, '70s or '80s?
Then you're probably familiar with George Barris' work. He worked on some of the most instantly recognizable vehicles that have ever graced the small screen. Though the Batmobile is probably his most famous piece, you're sure to recognize some of his other rides as well.

1. The Batmobile from the original Batman TV show. When Adam West needed something suitably superheroey to drive on the 1966 show, Barris was contacted to come up with something on the double. Given a time frame of a mere three weeks, Barris decided it would be much easier to customize an existing car than create something from scratch. He ended up using a Lincoln Futura he already had on hand from the 1959 movie It Started With a Kiss. The parachutes on the back really work - Barris once tested them on the Hollywood Freeway and was pulled over. Photo credit

2. The Munster Koach from The Munsters. Herman and Lily Munster's ride was actually made of three Model Ts. Once again, Barris was working on a pretty tight schedule - the studio gave him just three weeks to Frankenstein the car together, outfit the interior with blood-red velvet and create all of the exterior scrollwork by hand. By the way, should you ever find yourself driving this thing, leave plenty of room for turning corners: the Koach is 18 feet long. Barris' company also created Grandpa's DRAG-U-LA.

3. KITT from Knightrider. To be fair, it seems that Barris only worked on versions of KITT - specifically, the convertible and the Super-Pursuit KITT. Designer Michael Scheffe was responsible for the original.

4. The Beverly Hillbillies' jalopy. "I found a 1922 Ford at a feed store off Interstate 10 in Los Angeles that the owner had cut the back off and made a bed to haul hay," Barris said. "I bought it and fixed a place for Granny's rocking chair, and away it went."

5. "1928 Porter" from My Mother the Car. "Mom" wasn't a real Porter (a very small company that only made a handful of cars), but was actually a Model T Touring car with a Chevy V8 engine.
By the way, My Mother the Car was voted by viewers of the O'Reilly Factor as the worst show in the history of TV. If you've never heard of it, the opening and closing credits will speak volumes (and also give you a good look at Barris' work):

There's some bad blood in the custom car community, it seems - apparently many of them feel Barris takes credit for cars he didn't design, including the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, the Monkeemobile from The Monkees and Black Beauty from The Green Hornet. The problem is that his company has created replicas of many of those famous cars to use at conventions and the like, and Barris doesn't seem to discourage anyone when they assume that he was the original designer. 

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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