Kustom Dune Buggy? 1972 Berry Mini T4

If you’ve spent time around the custom car culture, you’ll recognize the name George Barris. Barris was known as the “King of the Customizers” and was involved in creating some of the most iconic kustom cars from television including the original Batmobile, The Munster’s Drag-U-La and the Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Apparently Barris (or at least his company) was also involved in producing dune buggies? This 1972 Berry Mini T4 dune buggy is said to have been produced new from George Barris Ind. Found here on craigslist in New Jersey with an asking price of $15,000. That sounds like a hefty asking price for a 45 year old dune buggy, but maybe the Barris connection adds that much value?

The buggy certainly looks like a Barris Kustom. There is also some original appearing paintwork and graphics on the dash.  If these touches are reproduction, or in some other way not authentic, the person who added them to the car sure made them look good. The ad does state the current owner added the proper Barris logos, so not sure exactly what to make of that?

The ad states “This vehicle only has 27270 original documented miles. It was original titled through the California DMV as a new vehicle from George Barris Ind. as you can see through the picture’s I added showing the VIN nameplate and title from the early 80’s and current title and registration.”  If you are in the market for an unusual vehicle with some car culture history, this may be the vehicle for you.  A prospective buyer would be wise to do some additional research and ensure this buggy is ad advertised, especially for price.

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Comments

  1. Mark S.

    Just looking at this thing, it just has George Barris written all over it. I didn’t need to read the article, it was so obvious. Reeeaaallly cool. A great ride for the beach.

  2. Rick

    Barris had nothing to do with the Mini T. He did a few Berry C cabs, but that’s about it. This thing has been for sale for months and, IMHO, about $10K overpriced.

  3. Mister319

    My daily driver for two years was a street legal buggy,the most attention I have ever had in a car and I have had some cool cars,but this one is ugly.

  4. CanuckCarGuy

    Not sure if it’s the same in the US, but as of a couple years ago most insurance companies here in Canada won’t cover dune buggies. Existing customers were grandfathered but new were refused…a friend of mine learned this after a 5 year build. Lots on the market here for sale, but not everyone is aware of the insurance conundrum when buying.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Where in Canada are you? I find it highly improbable that one couldn’t get a dune buggy insured for MANY reasons. You definitely can here in Ontario.

      • CanuckCarGuy

        London Ontario area, and unless you want ‘facilities insurance’ at around $3500 per year, good luck finding a company that will insure you. Make some enquiries, you’ll be surprised…even Hagerty won’t touch them.

      • Pudknocker

        Hey,
        I’m looking for insurance for my Buggy and it’s been a PITA. Do you have contacts of which companies will issue policies?

        Thanks,
        Gord

  5. Ben de Man

    In mine opion it is a Ruska Classica made in the Netherlands.
    Search on Google under the name Ruska Buggies.
    (or http://www.autopasion18.com/HISTORIA-RUSKA.htm)
    They made several models, even a Bugatti look a like.

  6. Whippeteer

    It’s definitely a Berry Mini T4. Whether it has a real connection to Barris is more of the question. The benefit of the T4 was that it used a full size VW pan. The Berry Mini T used a shortened pan.

  7. Joe Haska

    It looks like something George would do, especially if there was any money involved, but I have seen this style of dune buggy body, and I doubt the Barris connection, and even if true, who really cares?

  8. craZee

    What Herman Munster used to go to the beach in

  9. wes

    Ain’t worth fifteen grand even if the Bugaloo chick came with it

  10. Chris

    I knew someone in northern New Jersey with an identical car but candy red back in the early 70’s. Was such a cool car.

  11. Olaf E

    As Ben de Man already mentioned, this is a Dutch made buggy by Ruska. In this case a Sprinter. Production started in 1975, VW 1600 engine,54 HP. The first Sprinters werd based on the Ruska Classica 2.

    The owner/builder Wim Ruska was a former judoka who had won several big championship titles, even two Olympic and two worldtitles.

  12. Olaf E

    It coupe be a badge swap. Who knows Ruska Buggy in Amerika?

    • Whippeteer

      Berry predates Ruska.

  13. Randy Carlson

    This is not a Barris car. It is a Berry Mini T. They are often confused with each other, but there is no connection.

    I have restored two Barris Buggies and have owned a third one as well. Barris did the Phase 2 and Phase 4 buggies (Bugaloos car was a Phase 4) and then the Barris T Buggy (which was available as an open top car or with the C cab roof).

    I researched them endlessly, met with George, met with the main man from his manufacturing facility, etc. Im not just blowing smoke. Ive also owned a Berry Mini T and some other buggies as well (Empi Imp, Mangosta, etc)

  14. HEAVY CHEVY

    Barris did small batch runs of these cars. George was down for making money. He did these on consignment basis and their are very few out there. This car is truly legit!!!

    • Bobsmyuncle

      While that may well be true, how do you know THIS one is legit?

  15. Dik S

    Hi guys,
    again from the Netherlands. My first impression was: it is a Ruska buggy.
    And I still believe it is, but here they are called Ruska Classica.
    Google on this name and you will find many pictures of this model with dutch licenceplates.

    And for all of you, a Happy New year with a lot of nice “new” BarnFinds.

    Dik S. from the Netherlands

    • Dik S

      I forgot to say that this one is for sale in the Netherlands for 5000 euros, that is around 6000 usd.
      So the one mentioned as a Barry, is really much to high prised.
      the one on my picture you can find here:

      https://www.marktplaats.nl/a/auto-s/volkswagen/m1196817729-volkswagen-ruska-buggy-1969-rood.html?c=8c285449651fa109c354bbabe740c1b&previousPage=lr

      • Randy Carlson

        I am quite sure this is not a Ruska. It’s location being in the US makes it highly unlikely that the body was imported here from Europe when they were being produced here in large numbers and at a very cheap price.

        It would be interesting to trace the connection between Ruska and Berry. The bodies are very similar.

    • Whippeteer

      The Berry Mini T and T4 predate the Ruska. Ruska may have obtained the molds, or just made something similar.

  16. Dik S

    I would not be surprised when they used the same molds

  17. Whippeteer

    Berry Plasti-Glass works, Long Beach California, produced the Berry Mini-T, the Mini-T4 (4 seat for full length chassis), and a C-cab back for the Mini-T from 1969 to 1971.

    https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=544129

  18. HEAVY CHEVY

    This is why I believe its Legit. It is Titled as a Barris in NJ. NJ is one of the toughest states to get something titled if you don’t have all the proper documentation. I also spoke to the current owner and he states that he bought it from the second owner and he bought it form the widow of a wealthy car dealer who died. Check out the Title with Barris listed as the maker. This photo also comes from the craig list ad.

  19. Randy Carlson

    With a California assigned vin number it really could be anything…they also call it a coupe on the title. The DMV out here has always been a little loose on these things. One I had showed SDBG as the brand…I have no clue what that was supposed to stand for!

    The ONLY way to KNOW for sure is to get verification from Barris. Out of the three that I have owned, only one had an actual Barris body tag affixed to it, the other two I had verified by the man himself.

    Sounds like the Barris logos on the car were added recently? If they were faded originals like the pinstriping I would see that as an important detail.

    The confusion between Berry and Barris is widespread , i can’t tell you how many times I have heard people call a Berry a Barris.

    It may be “real”, I just doubt it based on my research of both Berry and Barris.

    Regardless it’s a neat find and looks like a lot of fun! Best of luck with the sale!

  20. HEAVY CHEVY

    Since you have owned a Barris and worked on some. If this proves to be legit do you feel it is worth the value being asked?

    • Randy Carlson

      If you had an actual certificate of authenticity from Barris stating that they built it…sure.

      Without that though, it’s 5-7k in my eyes.

  21. HEAVY CHEVY

    I have seen common dune buggies going for $10K to $15K and others higher. I don’t think his price is that off. I would think if it has documentation as a Barris it would be even higher then the asking price.

  22. Bill

    Hey Randy, What, no picture of your Barris “T” ?

    Here’s Mine.

    Bill

  23. Randy Carlson

    That looks mighty familiar Bill!

    http://www.oldbug.com/thetbuggy.htm

  24. Bubblegum Brothers Racing

    I remember this car from back in the early 80’s. Their was a gentleman that owned this vehicle that I spoke with that was from the Piscataway and South Plainfield area. Their are certain vehicles you just never forget and this was one of them. I remember speaking with the owner at that time and he said he bought the car from a wealthy widow of a man who owned several car dealerships. The original owner had the car shipped back from California where he kept it mostly in one of his New Jersey car dealerships for some time and only using it sparingly. The last time I remember seeing this vehicle in the area was probably 1984. The gentleman used to always say that it was the same guy involved with the Munster Koach, Barris as the decals indicated back then also. I have been involved with vehicles most of my life and you don’t forget certain ones and this one stands out. Keep in mind their has been many rare finds from this part of the country and especially this general area of NJ. Even the 1973 Baldwin Motion Phase III ZLX L88 427 Chevelle, qualifies as one of the baddest Super Cars ever produced was found left to rot in South Plainfield NJ. I have no doubt that this will probably be the same vehicle and I am quite surprise that 34 years later it has reappeared and looks like I remembered it back then. If this proves to be the same vehicle then whatever my word is worth, IT’S LEGIT!!!

  25. Bubblegum Brothers Racing

    I remember a car in the Piscataway and South Plainfield NJ area back in the early 80’s that looked just like this one. I have been around the car scene most of my life and certain cars just stand out and that was one of them. I spoke to the gentleman that owned it back then and I remember him stating that the guy who was involved with the Munster Koach was also involved with his car and I distinctly remember the Barris logos on it just like this one has. The last time I remember seeing that vehicle was about 1984. I couldn’t believe when I saw it on the web here 34 years later because it just blew my mind. The owner back then told me the story of how he bought it from a wealthy widow of a man who owned several car dealerships and that he had this shipped back from California brand new.

    The craze from California was Dune Buggy’s and this was a Berry Mini T4 but here is the twist Barris Kustom’s put this kit together and put his Kustom twist on it. So this is a George Barris-Berry Mini T4 creation, a combination of the rarer Berry Mini T4 dune buggy that was built by Barris Kustom. The Berry Mini T4(full pan) and Berry Mini T(shortened pan) were kits that you built and you would put on a VW Bug Pan and it would retain the VIN of the VW Bug Pan and that year of production. However, Barris sold these as new vehicles with the year being the year it was made not by the VW Bug Pan that was used. With that being said, he was required to obtain an “Assigned Identification” tag from the California DMV which then would put the vehicle through a rigorous test and requirements that would allow it to be street certified. These vehicles would have the VIN starting with the prefixes of”DMV” and ending with”CA” and having ascending numbers in between based on vehicles that successfully completed this process and this vehicle apparently has that as pictured here in this article.

    The owner then explained how the original owner had kept the car most of its early life in one of his car dealerships on the showroom floor using it rarely until his passing. It was in the early 80’s when this gentleman bought it from his widow. I believe this to be the same vehicle and would love to check it out because I remember 34 years ago that it was such a rare find and I loved the story that came with it. For what it’s worth and seeing the photo’s of the logos’s and the California Assigned Identification #, I believe this to be the same vehicle. I wouldn’t believe their was too many of them and especially in the state of NJ since this was a creation that came across the country from California. I believe it to be the REAL DEAL a George Barris Creation and a very rare find!!!

  26. John Stevens

    Hello All Barris Fans.
    Let me start by setting the record straight. George did custom(or should I say KUSTOM) work on Berry Mini T4 dune buggies such as this one. It was done right in his shop in 10811 Riverside Drive,North Hollywood, California 91602. The reason I know is I worked there with the King himself George and knew his wife Shirley also. These Berry Mini T4 Kustoms was an attempt to hit the mainstream market by putting custom touches on a base car. Not only did George want to showcase his work but he wanted to market it to a wider audience that would have him create these awesome Dune Buggies since that was the craze at the time.

    Like the gentleman above mentioned and he is correct, Barris sold these as new vehicles with the year being the year it was made not by the VW Bug Pan that was used. With that being said, he was required to obtain an “Assigned Identification” tag from the California DMV which then they would put the vehicle through a rigorous test and requirements that would allow it to be street certified. Any vehicles that were deemed manufactured or produced would have to go through these stringent testing. Again like the gentleman above stated these vehicles would have the VIN starting with the prefixes of”DMV” and ending with”CA” and having ascending numbers in between based on vehicles that successfully completed this process and this vehicle apparently has that as pictured here in this article.

    In addition, these “Barris” Berry Mini T4’s are extremely rare. George didn’t create many and the images here show the touches it should have. From the Barris Kustom logos and even right down to the MOONEYES Hot Rod & Kustom Supply SANTA FE SPRINGS, CA emblem along with the MOON EQUIP est. 1950 emblem. Coming from a man who worked at the shop in the
    late 60’s and early 70’s this car looks right. I can say I do remember a blue metal flake Barris Berry Mini T4 just like this one back then because I fell in love with that color and that car body style.There were also a few other colors I remember such as the purple metal flake and a green metal flake. I hope this was helpful.

    Like 2

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