The Richard Korkes Photo Collection
Richard "Korky" Korkes is a legendary East Coast customizer. He was born April 1, 1935 in Whippany, New Jersey. Korky's dad was a union carpenter and was very knowledgeable when it came to cars. According to Korky, his dad showed him much of what he knew when he started his customizing career.
Korky attended and graduated from Morristown, New Jersey high school. He went on to engineering college but his love of cars and his ability to customize replaced the goal of completing his studies. Korky's first car was a 1946 Ford convertible. He got the car at age 17 in 1952. Naturally Korky could not leave the car alone and soon it had a full race engine, two speed rear end and other Korky improvements including a metallic blue paint job. Korky admits he did not paint the car himself as he was just learning how to paint. Korky attributes much of his inital car knowledge to his father Joseph Korkes and tells us that he then learned much of his craft on his own.
Korky's second car, at age 19, was a brand new red 1954 Ford convertible. Korky was more into customizing by then, and the brand new Ford evolved into the Parisian. The Parisian is one of the most famous cars of its day and won many car shows on the east coast. About the same time Korky created the Free Wheelers of Whippany car club.
At the age of 28 Korky built a futuristic bubble top Jaguar for Bobby Freedman. The car was instantly famous and won many major car shows. So famous became the car, that George Barris of Barris Kustoms wanted to tap into Korky's talants and solicited Korky to work in California. Korky decided to come to California and go to work for George Barris in about 1963 as his shop foreman. Korky solicited Bobby Freedman, the owner of the bubble top jag to pay his way out to California. He packed up the Parisian hooked up a tow hitch, rented a uhaul, loaded the bubble top Jaguar and headed to California with a employee and friend named the "Greek".
As shop foreman at Barris Kustoms Korky was in charge of the cars that were built. George was the promotor and constantly on the road while Korky ran the shop, solved completion issues, and made certain the cars were finished on time. Among the celebritiess that Korky built cars for both at Barris and at his own shop include: Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Farrah Fawcett, Marvin Gaye, Jermaine Jackson, Tom Daniels, Harry Bradley, Reverend Ike, Bernie Cornfeld, Cher, Doug Rose, Canned Heat and many more.
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