George Barris Style: 1970 Cadillac Del Caballero

In the world of  car customizers, the name Barris is legendary. George and Sam Barris quickly made a name for themselves in Southern California at a time when the area was waist deep in talent.  Their custom cars, made for auto shows, celebrity clients, and both television and movies, are legendary. From the Hirohata Mercury to KITT from the Knight Rider TV series, the products of the Barris Kustom Industries in North Hollywood are as much a part of American culture as apple pie, baseball, and the flag. One of the lesser known endeavors of George Barris was a set of add-on custom touches to Cadillac Eldorados in the late sixties and early seventies.  This 1970 Cadillac Del Caballero, found here on craigslist in Knoxville, Tennessee, is one of likely a few survivor  cars outfitted with this garish dealer installed package. At a selling price of $8,000, is this a rare chance to put a Barris car in your garage, or your opportunity to arrive at the Player’s Ball in style next year?

While this custom Cadillac is no Hirohata Mercury, it does capture that over the top excess that some Barris customs were known for. In fact, there is another one of these cars on the Barris website that is decked out in bronze paint with a gold landau top. Compared to that car, this silver car with a black landau top is fairly sedate. Speaking of the landau top, I would imagine that it creates quite a blind spot. As a whole, the package could be considered excessive, but that was part of the Barris style.

As we look at this package, it appears that it consisted of a fiberglass cap with a padded vinyl top and landau bar glued to it, upper door trim, a trunk trim panel, and an add on grill.  The deal was that Barris provided the kits to dealers, who would install them as either showroom bait or for customers who wanted something a little extra.  Truth be told, this idea was probably the precursor to those wretched fake convertible tops and faux Rolls Royce grills that we saw on Cadillacs, Buicks, Mercurys, and Lincolns in the years following.  If any readers remember kits like this being offered before these Barris conversions, please let us know.

As we look at this particular car, we see that it is still in very good shape.  The Barris kit components have that gently aged look to them that blends well with the car’s well cared for but unrestored condition.  The panel on the trunk looks like it needs to have the fake black wicker glued back on properly.  Inside, the leather upholstery and dash look to be well cared for and totally serviceable.  The unique hubcaps could use some polish, but the whole car looks like it is one day of fixing and polishing away from being totally suited for local car show duty.

I guess you have to ask yourself if you could drive a car that more resembles a parade float than a luxury car.  Eldorados were the cars of bankers, executives, and others who valued understated luxury.  This kit kind of turns that image on its ear.  In Hollywood, where getting the attention of others is a sound business strategy, this car would fit right in.  While it is neat to see that one of these has survived in such good condition, I think I would have to pass.  It is just not my style, but I would love to see one of you buy it and preserve it.  It is a rolling example of the phrase “different strokes for different folks.”

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Comments

  1. Josh_T

    I would love to run around town in this beast…

  2. AF

    not me..

  3. Snipertr3

    The Willys coupe in background looks interesting

  4. glen

    Is that a helipad, or the hood?

  5. BiggYinn

    Barris land barge lol

  6. lawyer George

    This car needs paint and I haven’t even examined the pictures. In my mind every potentially flashy car “needs paint” if it is grey, silver, gold, dark blah green, brown [Oh the vision hurts my eyes and head so I can’t go on with anything but “etc,”] regardless of the paint condition: Patina’ed (e.g. rusted out & ugly too boot), dull, or just having come out of a spray booth of a Chip Foose, Danny Koker, Jesse James, et. seq. The other glaring problem is the car is thousands of miles from where cars should be–Oregon! But I could be wrong.

  7. Rex Kahrs Member

    I Googled Barris, and scrolled through probably 200 photos. The Batmobile was the only car I liked.

    Now here’s a cool ride, which shows that talking on the phone while driving dates back farther than you think!

    • Jeffro

      The sad part of this picture is that kids today have no idea what a phone booth is or what it looks like.

    • Nrg8

      Munsters? Hello. ?

      • glen

        Loved that thing, and the racer they built in the movie.

  8. Kofbdc@gmail.com

    You’d have to put a GPS antenna on each end of it to know where you are on the map.

  9. jw454

    Not a bad car but, it’s just a little too “J. C. Whitney” for me. I was liking the car on the trailer in the background until I realized it’s not a Willys coupe. I believe it’s a VW bug with the “Willys” kit on it.

  10. Simon

    Believe it or not there’s one here in Australia too – https://www.carsales.com.au/private/details/Cadillac-Eldorado-1970/SSE-AD-4836239

  11. UK Paul

    I like it

  12. CCFisher

    There appears to be more going on here than just a roof cap. The stock side glass has a near vertical rear edge; the glass on this car does not.

    Like 1
  13. edh

    Looks like the regular land yacht, what was added a license plate frame?

    Slow day at Barnfinds.

  14. Puhnto

    How hard would it be to take all that extra stuff off of it? Those era Eldorados were particularly lovely cars. Clean, stately, classy.

    Like 1
  15. Ronald G Bajorek jr

    the first year of this style Eldo was a gentlemans Hot-Rod, I’d own this, but would prefer a clean ’67

  16. Paul

    Referring to the Rolls Royce grills, around late 1972, a friend of mine had a black VW Beetle with such a grill on it. It was awesome. Many people stared in disbelief. Nah, couldn’t be, they thought… But it was, loved cruising in it. Not sure what year the VW was.

    • Paul

      PS; I forgot to mention that I do not know how old the upgrade front end was. It could have been right at 1970 or earlier

  17. HeadMaster1

    George was the true “King of Kustoms”. I had a chance to meet him in 2013 and have him sign my Kustom School Bus

  18. HeadMaster1

    He’ll be missed, a true trend setter in the industry, long before SEMA and reality TV shows

  19. Rod444

    I like it.
    And for a little spending money, you can rent it that front end to your local drug enforcement agency as a battery ram.
    I’d drive it.

  20. waynard

    Ugh. This is not worthy of the Barris name. I’d yank all that crap off and bring it back to stock.

  21. Rod444

    I like it.
    And for a little spending money, you can rent it out to your local drug enforcement agency as a battering ram.
    I’d drive it.

  22. carsofchaos

    I wonder where this car actually is, as it’s been for sale for months on the Allentown, PA craigslist…..

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