When I was up at the George Barris garage sale in North Hollywood, California, this past summer, I stumbled upon a bin full of posters of a novelty build dubbed “The Bathtub,” a car that Barris was involved with in the late-’60s.
Novelty rods are probably an acquired taste. Some folks think they’re clown cars, I loved them when I was a kid.
Barris was, per usual, at the center of not only the Bathtub, but most of the other novelty builds of the day. The cars that came out of this era were fantastic in their outrageousness and sheer audacity
Probably the most outrageous of the era was the “The Bathtub,” built by Rob Reisner in 1968 and shown and promoted by Barris back in the day. Featuring a twin-bathtub cockpit, a toilet driver’s seat, a double-blown Chrysler mill, Charmin holders, and a myriad of plumbing references (see threads and fittings on exhaust tips,) the car was a big hit touring the country and making car show appearances.
But what happens when a show-circuit, novelty car retires? Especially a build with a toilet for a driver’s seat? In the case of the “Bathtub,” it fades into the mist, never to be seen or heard of for decades.
Beau Boeckmann and Dave Shuten have liberated the Bathtub from obscurity and with the help of Galpin’s Speed Shop, plan to restore the car with a 2020 debut.
We were re-acquainted with the rod at GNRS and was walloped by the sheer craziness of it. We don’t know if it was a fully functioning car, or a “pusher,” but time has definitely taken its toll on the old rod.
Upon closer inspection, the twin fiberglass bathtubs are threadbare with glass strands showing through, but the psychedelic bubbles are still intact.
The pleated upholstery is faded and rotting, and all the chrome and brass fixtures needs a lick-and-a-promise, but its outrageousness has not diminished one iota. At the very least, a deep cleaning would go a long way.
Until it returns from Galpin, check out the car in its as-found state. We’ll keep a lookout for the restored version of the Bathtub and revel in the chance to re-live the crazy late-’60s custom car scene.