Shirley Barris' 1958 Ford

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George Barris leaning on the Thunderbird
A photo of Shirley's Thunderbird taken outside of Barris Kustoms in the late 1950s. The car is parked next to Bob McNulty's 1955 Chevrolet Corvette in the photo. Photo from The Ray Soff Collection.

1958 Ford Thunderbird restyled by Barris Kustoms for George Barris' wife Shirley Barris. The body was shaved and a new grille out of chrome mesh backing with small Lucite tubes and gold crackled-painted painted stars which stood 2 inches off the surface of the backing. The grille was designed to fit the stock opening. The stock headlights were replaced by four Lucas Flame-thrower headligts. Dual spotlights and custom hubcaps complete the sparky look.[1]

Teddy Zgrzemski worked for Barris Kustoms when they painted Shirley's Thunderbird. He was 16 in 1960, and in 2020 he told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that all he ever was was Junior's helper. "I never did any painting or stuff. I was just the prep guy. I blocked, sanded the cars, taped them off, and got them all ready—stuff like that. Once in a while, George would lay down one side of scallops on a car, and then he would tell me to duplicate it on the other side. Like on Shirley Barris' 58 Thunderbird. I had to duplicate that one. And Chilli Catallo, The Little Deuce Coupe, he laid out one side of the scallops, and I had to duplicate them and do the other side before Junior painted em."[2]

The Thunderbird was used in the 1960 adventure movie The Time Machine along with Bob Metz' 1950 Buick aka XM105. Shirley's Thunderbird won the American Sports Luxury award at the Krankers Motor Revue 1959

Magazine Features

Custom Cars July 1959
Motor Life July 1959
Customs Illustrated September 1959
Customs Illustrated March 1960
Trend Book 197 Custom Cars 1961 Annual
Popular Customs Winter Issue 1963



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