Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey

8 - 9 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.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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+1 212 894 1301
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Political Science. ... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Peter Giddings

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+1 925 831 2048
California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

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United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

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Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more