We are counting down the Top 50 hot rods and street cars of all time that have made an appearance in a television series, or a memorable television episode. Starting from #50, and counting down to our #1 pick, follow along with our memories, and see where your favorite show lands.
8. The Munsters: Kustom Koach
As legendary kustomizers, both Dean Jefferies and George Barris have appeared on our countdown of the coolest hot rods in television, and the number nine spot is no exception. One of the kookiest whips to ever roll out of Barris Kustoms is the beloved Munster Koach, the family truckster of “The Munsters.”
There is not much one can say about the one-of-a-kind Koach Barris built that has not been said already, but we will try since there may be a few new goblins out there.
Television executives provided Barris with a scant 21 days to complete the car, which is triple the crunch time of getting ready for SEMA! The first Koach had a price tag of $18,000 – and in 1964 that was like robbing the graveyard for jewels.
In the episode introducing the car, Lily (Yvonne De Carlo) buys two vintage Ford cars from a used car lot – a Ford hearse and a T-Bucket. She kindly asks the salesman if the body shop can put the two together as one car, and then surprises Herman (Fred Gywynne) with it as a birthday gift. Everyone is delighted, especially Grandpa (Al Lewis) who has a high perch in the very back of the rumble seat area … very ala “Beverly Hillbillies” for Granny’s character.
With imagination at work in real life, Barris conceived the car from three Ford Model T bodies that were chopped and welded together, with a lot of added fabrication on a handcrafted frame that measured just over 11 feet in length. The new 18-foot body was bolted to it. To propel the monster and give it a mean, growling sound, a 289 Ford Cobra from a ’66 Mustang GT was dropped in.
Modifications commenced, mating the engine to a four-speed manual transmission and a performance rearend. Adding to this, Barris incorporated Jahns high-compression pistons, 10 chrome-plated Stromberg carburetors, Bobby Barr racing headers, an Isky camshaft, dropped axle, split radius rods, and T-springs.
In all- it was a show and go rolling automobile, not just a parked prop. The car was further accentuated with a brass radiator and fenders, vampire blood red interior, and ornate steel work that was hand-rolled and took more than 500 hours to complete. The Gloss Black Pearl paint set off the wicked tone while still remaining a stylish transport to transcend time, even for this bunch of affable ghouls.
Barris is solely responsible for another radical vehicle, the Drag-U-La dragster — a gold coffin on wheels that is raced on the drag strip alongside the Munster Koach in NHRA-style by Hot Rod Herman and Grandpa. And, although it only appeared in one full episode (season one, episode 36), it too lives on through eternity.