Richard "Korky" Korkes was born April 1, 1935 in Whippany, New Jersey. His dad was a union carpenter and he 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 Parisienne. The Parisienne 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. While working at Barris Kustom City, Korky was involved in builds such as the Batmobile, the Munster Koach, the Bat Cycle and the Calico Surfer . 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.
While working at Barris there were some strange requests made of Korky. One was to customize a golf cart to look like Bob Hope. Korky took on the assignment and the Bob Hope Golf Cart was born. It then made it way into may parades, TV shows and golf appearances. Eventually Korky left Barris' to open his own shop, Korky's Kustom Studios in North Hollywood, teaming up with Joey Baker, a promoter. Korky and Joey pitched and built the now famous National League stadium carts and the Major league baseball "bull pen" carts.
Richard "Korky" Korkes' Personal Cars
Cars Restyled by Richard "Korky" Korkes
Did You Enjoy This Article?
Kustomrama is an online encyclopedia dedicated to traditional hot rod and custom cars. Our mission is to protect, preserve and share traditional hot rod custom car history from all over the world.
- Find out how you can become a contributor.
- Forward this article to a friend.
- Subscribe to our newsletter and receive updates on Richard Korkes and other subjects featured on Kustomrama.
Help Us Make This Article Better
If you have additional information, photos, feedback or corrections about Richard Korkes, please get in touch with Kustomrama at: firstname.lastname@example.org.