Video: Restored Golden Sahara II Debuts In Geneva, Switzerland

We recently brought you the story of the Golden Sahara II, the George Barris/Bob Metz show car that surfaced after 50 years of hibernation.

It sold in as-is condition for $350,000 last spring at Mecum and the new curator of this historically significant car is Klairmont Kollections out of Chicago, Illinois.

The original paint job on the Golden Sahara contained actual fish scales. The organic material discolored to a gold shade after all these years.

The car was decades ahead of its time. It featured remote control operation, autonomous capability, and illuminated Neothane “Glass Slipper” tires from Goodyear. It had remote doors, remote start, and a primitive form of voice control as well.

Other innovations included an aircraft-inspired “Uni-trol” lever for acceleration, braking, and steering, as well as a sensor-based automatic braking system that relied on antennas to spot objects in front of the car.

The car is based on a 1953 Lincoln Capri originally owned by George Barris. Shortly after Barris bought the brand-new Lincoln, it was totalled in a wreck. Barris restyled the car for owner Jim Street at his shop in California, and the first iteration of the car,  the “Golden Sahara” was born in 1954.

In late-1956, Ohioan Street took the car to Indiana and had Bob Metz restyle the car again They added more ornamentation, twin-fins, and a bevy of the aforementioned pioneering electronics. It was re-named the “Golden Sahara II” and emerged from it’s chrysalis at the end of 1958.

Thats Jim Streets wife in the picture. She would demonstrate the Golden Saharas features at car shows and dealership appearances.

It caused quite a commotion back in the day. It was featured in the major motion picture release, Cinderfella, starring Jerry Lewis, and was shown around car show circuits and car dealers  through the mid-’60s.

Then it disappeared.

Fast forward to last year when the car surfaced after Street passed away and his estate offered the car for sale.

The question that came to the fore was, what do you do with a car like this? George Barris, Sam Barris, and Bob Metz’s fingerprints are all over this car. Do you leave it as-is or restore it?  Do you touch up the Mona Lisa?

Well, now that the car debuted at the Geneva International Auto Show, the question has been answered. Klairmont Kollections had Speakeasy Kustoms in Bedford Park, Illinois, freshened the Golden Sahara II and the results are impressive.

The car was in a very forlorn state when liberated from Jim Street’s garage but now, it’s been returned to golden, glittering perfection.

Aside from new paint and re-plating the all-gold trim, a very restrained hand was employed everywhere else. We suspect the car was put through a careful cleaning and merely removing the dinge of 50 years from the interior alone, made a huge difference.

Goodyear had a major role in reproducing the illuminated neothane tires and the finished result — on display in Switzerland — are spectacular. The original “Glass Slipper” tires held air. These reproductions are solid, like a skateboard wheel, which is also made of neothane. Top speed? 5mph.

We can only imagine what a huge impact this car had 60 years ago. Kudos to Klairmont Kollection owner Larry Klairmont and Speakeasy Kustoms for resuscitating this critical piece of history from the golden age of kustom kars.

Can’t wait to see it in person.

 

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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