Barris in Hollywoodland
by Stephen D. Urette


What happens when a normal family of ghouls like the Munsters decide to they have to have a twentieth-century luxury car? This was the problem faced by Universal-TV when planning the television series THE MUNSTERS. After weeks of searching for a suitable vehicle, the producers decided the only way to obtain the necessary car would be to build it. It is at this point that the producers contacted George Barris to design and build an appropriate machine.

To accommodate the five members of the Munster family and meet their specific requirements Barris used a 133 inch frame. Each member wanted a compartment so a fiberglassed 1927 model "T" body was grafted into a six-door touring roadster with three compartments including a laboratory for Grandpa Munster and a hansom cab rumble seat for Eddie.

Herman Munster was extremely critical about the Koachís performance. This led Barris to use a Ford Cobra engine that is bored and stroked utilizing Jahns high dome pistons. To feed all those hungry cubic inches, Ansens Automotive engineered a Mickey Thompson ram thrust log manifold supporting ten chrome carburetors. Breathing is well taken care of by the Isky cam and Bobby Barrís funnel racing headers. Unfortunately, the mileage isnít as economical as Herman had hoped for Ė three miles to a gallon of embalming fluid.

Herman also indicated that he wanted a good handling, sporty type car that could easily take the winding cemetery roads. Barris used an Ansen posi-shift 30 inch stick with four on the floor coupled to a 4:11 rear end for the sporty drive train. A front dago dropped axle and split radius bars held by T springs, and the read "ZD" frame with model A springs and traction master stabilizers competently takes care of any road condition. The wild new M. T. 11 inch racing slicks, mounted on wide dumped Astro chrome spoke wheels give the Koach plenty of bite off the line.

The spoke wheels are finished off with A.I. knock-off hub and walnut casket wood inserts. To complete Hermanís requirements swing pedals with hydraulic clutch and brakes, and direct vertical steering with Ansenís metal flaked wheel give the car excellent handling to match itís power.

Lily Munster met with Mrs. George Barris to plan the interior and exterior colors. For the exterior black spyder pearl with gold leaf trim was chosen. It was decided that 40 hand rubbed coats would be sufficient. The interior was done in diamond tuffs and buttons with royal red velvet coffin liner. Exterior trim is hand polished wolfskin. Roy Gilbreath finished off his interior work with ermine fur rugs. Optional goodies that were added to the interior for the Munsterís pleasure included, a Muntz stereo tape recorded, Sony TV, and two antique French telephones. A special Autolite electrical system was needed to make these extras operative.

Grandpa felt because the family "blood line" ran back nearly four hundred years the exterior trim should be very traditional. First he wanted a gold plated grave stone radiator and casket handle hood compartment with an ornamental gold temperature gauge. Grandpa also had Barris gold plate any removable exterior parts. To stay with the traditional look Barris used gas side lanterns, spider web headlights, a four-way tail light and floating hand formed fenders. To top this all off Barris spent nearly 500 hours hand forming ornate rolled steel scrolls for the final royal touch.

Project engineers Les Tompkins and Bud Kuns finished the Munster Koach in less than 30 days at a total cost of over $18,000. The Munsters are happy with their new Koach...The producers are still trying to find a way to justify the expenditure. . .Thatís show biz!

(from "Model Car Science" magazine April 1965)

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