Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey

8-09 October 2009

Lot 718

1972 Bugazzi Two-Door Custom Coupe by George Barris

To be auctioned on Friday, October 9, 2009

Sold for $19,800

  • Chassis no. 2Y89A810458

460 cu. in. 90-degree overhead valve V8 engine, four-barrel carburetor, select-shift automatic transmission with 12-inch hydraulic torque converter, three-speed planetary gears, power front disc brakes, rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 120.4"

Any fan of “That 70’s Show” or indeed, for those who lived through the decade, remembers the 1970s as a time of mood rings, pet rocks, Rubik’s cubes and leisure suits. Big was in, with big hair, big heels, big bell-bottoms and, most importantly, big cars. Big cars met with big plans when custom car show promoter Paul Rimmer engaged ex-GM stylist Harry Bentley Bradley to style his dream car. Bradley, whose works included the Dodge Deora, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile and dozens of others, had recently been hired by Mattel to design many of the original Hot Wheels cars. Bradley accepted the commission. Rimmer was looking to build an American Rolls Royce; he determined he wanted it to be built on a Lincoln Mark IV platform. Bradley delivered, and the Bugazzi – pronounced Boo-got-zee – was born.

California Show Cars in Long Beach had built famous show cars such as the Pink Panther and the Sex Machine, but, according to an article in the July 1973 Motor Trend, “had an annoying habit of not paying their debts. Or their workers.” Rimmer stepped in and purchased Cal Show Cars to build the Bugazzi, and production started. And soon stopped. Enter Kustom Kar builder George Barris. Barris, who was at the time building a custom Lincoln “Titan” himself, took over production of the Bugazzi and had plans to make as many as 25 examples per year, available for the almost unbelievable sum of $29,500 each. By comparison, a contemporary Lincoln Mark IV listed for $8,640 while a new Rolls Royce Silver Shadow had a base price of about $19,700. Put in another way, the Bugazzi cost about the same as 15 new Ford Pintos in 1972.

The Bugazzi became a darling of both the press and the Hollywood scene. Bugazzi owners included Danny Thomas, Pia Maria, Enzo Stuarti and Jack Hennesey. One other owner of note was Joe Comforte, whose Mustang Ranch had little to do with either horses or ranching. Even though many have reported that the Bugazzi was named the Motor Trend “Car of The Year” in 1973, that honor went to another car. The actual award from Motor Trend was the “Car of The Month” in July 1973.

A contemporary press release listed many of the custom features of the Bugazzi: “Full hand formed brass radiator, dual floating oversized square brass headlights, the frontal area is six inches longer than the normal production car, sculpted, curved fade away front fenders, contoured silhouetted line dipped in the door panels, full front to rear flowing and blended running boards, radiused rolled wheel wells, canted door windows, unique air-foam padded top, deep impressed concave trunk panel to house the tire insert, opera styled reduced semi-curved rear window, authentic radial laced wire wheels with brass knock-offs and hubs. Decorative Italian marble panels, right and left rear upper top vanity cases and mirrors, center armrest swing down bar.”

This Bugazzi includes all of this and more. Fully restored and in excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition, it features a chrome accented engine compartment and white pearl paint by the inventor of candy apple red, Joe Bailon. It also has gold leaf pin stripes and trim, Persian style carpets in the passenger and luggage compartments, custom faux side pipes, 24 Karat gold wheel trim, George Barris badging and a custom mounted, period correct black and white television.

Just as when the car was new, this Bugazzi is not for everyone. Its uniqueness makes it stand out, even in car shows and especially on the street. The Bugazzi is a distinctive slice of American culture of the first order. And with a Harry Bentley Bradley design and a George Barris history, it is a car destined for appreciation in years to come.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

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