The Golden Sahara

From Kustomrama
Revision as of 02:42, 19 March 2019 by Admin (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
The Golden Sahara is a radical show car built by Barris Kustoms for Jim Skonzakes of Dayton, Ohio. The first iteration of the car made its public debut in 1954 at the Petersen Motorama held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles.
An early, mildly restyled version of George's Lincoln.
On the way back home from a show the motor blew on Dan Landon's 1949 Chevrolet, so they decided to flat tow the car behind George's Lincoln. It got foggy, and out of nowhere appeared a flat bed truck. George's Lincoln went under the truck. This photo was taken at the crash site. Notice the fog. Photo by George Barris.
Another photo of the Lincoln taken after the accident.
The remains of the Lincoln after all damaged body parts were cut off.
Named “The Golden Sahara,” Jim's Lincoln made its public debut in 1954 at the Petersen Motorama held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles.
1953-lincoln-golden-sahara4.jpg
The first version of the Golden Sahara was featured in Motor Trend May 1955. Displayed on the cover of the magazine, it was featured as a "$25,000 Custom Car." Motor Trend Magazine had shown photos of the car to a group of people who were asked to give their impressions of it, and about half of the interviewees guessed wrongly that a Detroit manufacturer had built the car.
The Golden Sahara at the 1955 Los Angeles Motorama. Photo from the GT350LADY Collection[1]
Golden-sahara-motorama-19552.jpg
Golden-sahara-barris.jpg
Jim got a sponsorship deal with Ohio's Seiberling tire company and the car appeared in their magazine and ads and at events in Seiberling's display. Photo courtesy of Jim Skonzakes.
Jim-street-skonzakes-1953-the-golden-sahara.jpg
The second, and more extreme version of the Golden Sahara.
The Golden Sahara 2 towing Jim's 1955 Chris-Craft 21-foot Cobra, one of 56 ever made. Jim's Cobra was equipped with a blown Cadillac engine by sprint legend Henry Meyer. It was also dressed up with quad exhaust, Buick portholes, a Batmobile-style twin-grip steering, and a custom trailer. Photo courtesy of Jim Skonzakes.
A photo of Jim with the Golden Sahara II. Photo courtesy of Jim Skonzakes.
Jim rented the Golden Sahara to auto dealerships as a crowd magnet for the stores. Rental income helped him cover the reported $75,000 build cost. Photo courtesy of Jim Skonzakes.
1953-lincoln-golden-sahara5.jpg
Golden-sahara-barris2.jpg
The Golden Sahara at the 1959 Bakersfield Motor & Boat Show.
Barris-golden-sahara.jpg
Barris-golden-sahara2.jpg
BarrisGoldenSahara-vi.jpg
Jim-skonzakes-golden-sahara2.jpg
Jim-skonzakes-golden-sahara.jpg
Leo Lyons' Ultra Modern Merc was restyled by Leo Lyons of San Bernardino, California. The build was started in 1955 and completed in 1959. The front end design of the car was heavily inspired by the Barris built Golden Sahara, and Leo actually had the car at the Barris shop, on and off, for nearly a year. Sam Barris guided Leo on how to do leadwork, and both Sam and George Barris helped teach him techniques that would enable him to finish the car. As Leo recalled, “George gave advice too, but Sam spent the most time showing me how and what to do. I really wanted the Barris boys to finish the car but after a year of keeping the car there at their shop, on and off, they taught me enough where I could finish it on my own. And I learned how to French the headlights. that was pretty cool to do back then too.
Tony Bruskivage's 1952 Lincoln Convertible is an East Coast custom that seems to have found inspiration in the Golden Sahara. Known as "The Pearl," Tony's build was completed circa 1960.
The Golden Sahara appeared in the movie Cinderfella
Jim-skonzakes-golden-sahara-5.jpg
Jim-skonzakes-golden-sahara-2.jpg
Jim Skonzakes demonstrating the steering mechanism in the car.
The electronic control system in the trunk of the car.
Golden-sahara-ii-custom.jpg
The Golden Sahara being loaded into a trailer. Photo by George Barris - Barris Kustoms.
Golden-sahara-glowing-tires.jpg
Golden-sahara-glowing-tires2.jpg
Golden-sahara-glowing-tires3.jpg
June 25, 1962 Jim Street presented the Golden Sahara II it on the TV-show I've Got a Secret. Click here to check it out.
In 2009 Jonnie King sat down with George Barris and John D'Agostino, during the KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular in Salina, Kansas, to talk about "The Golden Sahara." "The Golden Sahara" is one of Jonnie's personal favorites, so he asked George to give him the fill story on the legendary "Dream Car." Click here to hear the interview at www.legends.thewwbc.net/.
Built by Larry Grobe at VooDoo Larry Kustoms, The VooDoo Sahara was built as a tribute to the Golden Sahara, combinging details from both versions of the car. The build was started in November of 2014 and completed in August of 2016.
A photo of the Golden Sahara taken in March of 2018. Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
This was one of the first photos that surfaced online after the car had been pulled from storage. Photo courtesy of Ben Blevins.
March 14, 2018 Mecum Auctions announced that the Golden Sahara would cross the block at Dana Mecum's 31st Original Spring Classic Auction in May. The auction was held May 19, 2018 at Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Golden Sahara was offered without a reserve.Click here to check out the Golden Sahara II auction listing. Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions.
The Golden Sahara II received several bids in Indianapolis, and the auction ended at $350,000 USD.
After buying the Golden Sahara II, Larry Klairmont commisioned Speakeasy Custom & Classics in Chicago to restore it back to its former glory. The restoration was completed in February of 2019. Photo courtesy of Speakeasy Customs & Classics.
In March of 2019 Goodyear and Klairmont Kollections unveiled the restored Golden Sahara II at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show. The restored version of the iconic custom featured translucent Goodyear tires. Photo courtesy of Goodyear.

1953 Lincoln Capri originally owned and restyled by George Barris of Barris Kustoms. After an accident, George's Lincoln was built into the Golden Sahara, a radical show car commissioned by Jim Skonzakes of Dayton, Ohio.


The Crash

The Lincoln was George's daily driver, and he nosed and decked the car before he took it up north for a show. He was driving along with Dan Landon and his 1949 Chevrolet. On the way back home the motor blew on Dan's Chevrolet, so they decided to flat tow it home behind the Lincoln. It got foggy, and out of nowhere appeared a flatbed truck. George's Lincoln went under the truck. As they went under the truck they leaned over and ducked under the dash. After the smoke cleared and the cops came Geroge needed medical attention for some cuts on his face. The guys were in the middle of nowhere, and George had to walk a few miles in order to reach the local bar where the doctor was at. The doctor was drunk, but managed to clean George's bloody face.[2]


The $25,000 Custom Car

After the accident, the remains of George's Lincoln were used to build the radically restyled Golden Sahara for Jim Skonzakes of Dayton, Ohio. This version featured sloped doors and rear fenders covered with gold-dyed aluminum with a satin finish. The rear end of the car housed a molded-in spare tire cover. The trunk was opened by twisting the license plate. Up front, the Golden Sahara featured a combined headlight, parking light and bumper arrangement.[3]


The interior of the Golden Sahara featured a curved rear seat that was built around a complete refrigeration unit that housed a cocktail bar. Glen Houser and Bob Houser upholstered the car at Carson Top Shop. The interior featured a TV set mounted in the dash, a hi-fi radio mounted below the TV, and a tape recorder installed between the driver and passenger in the front seat. Golden frieze material and white Naugahyde covered the seats, dash, and side panels. A shag rug with two-inch padding made the floor of the car luxuriously soft to the feet. All interior trim were gold-plated. Named “The Golden Sahara,” Jim's Lincoln made its public debut in 1954 at the Petersen Motorama held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles.


Motor Trend Cover Car

The first version of the Golden Sahara was featured in Motor Trend May 1955. Displayed on the cover of the magazine, it was featured as a "$25,000 Custom Car." Motor Trend Magazine had shown photos of the car to a group of people who were asked to give their impressions of it. Most of the people in the group hadn't seen it before, and the reactions were many. "Must have been built for Ava Gardner," was one of the comments. Some people expressed that they "just don't like that type of car," and one man wisely concluded that it obviously was built for "show and blow rather than utility!" About half of the group admired the car in general, while the other half varied down the line toward outright dislike. Almost all people agreed that they thought the lines of the car were good, the smartly sloping door in particular. Half of the interviewees guessed wrongly that a Detroit manufacturer had built the car.[3]


The Second Iteration

In 1956 Skonzakes had Indiana customizer Bob Metz and Ohio's Delphos Machine and Tool modify the Golden Sahara further, turning it into the Golden Sahara II. This version featured twin-fins and a bubble top.


In 1960, the second iteration of the Golden Sahara won Best Custom and Best Display at the first annual National Champion Custom Car Show.


TV and Movie Appearances

The Golden Sahara appeared in the 1960 movie called Cinderfella, starring Jerry Lewis. June 25, 1962 Jim Street did also present it on the TV-show I've Got a Secret.


Hidden But Not Forgotten

Jim put the car in storage in the late 1960s. He owned it until he passed away in 2017, keeping it in storage together with the original Kookie Car. According to a thread on the HAMB, the car was last seen in public at a local cruise night in Hamilton, Ohio in the early 1980s. This turned out to be one of many rumors about the car.


Out of Storage

In March of 2018 the Golden Sahara was pulled from storage in order to be sold at an auction in May. Recent photos of the car surfaced on Instagram March 13, 2018.


SOLD - $350,000 USD

March 14, 2018 Mecum Auctions announced that the Golden Sahara would cross the block at Dana Mecum's 31st Original Spring Classic Auction in May. The auction was held May 19, 2018 at Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Golden Sahara was offered without a reserve. The car received several bids, and the auction ended at $350,000 USD.[4] Larry Klairmont of Chicago, Illinois was the lucky bidder, adding the car to his collection at the Klairmont Kollections museum.[5]


Restoration

After buying the Golden Sahara II, Larry Klairmont commisioned Speakeasy Custom & Classics in Chicago to restore it back to its former glory. The restoration was completed in February of 2019.


Unveiled at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show

In March of 2019 Goodyear and Klairmont Kollections unveiled the restored Golden Sahara II at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show. The restored version of the iconic custom featured translucent Goodyear tires.[6]


Magazine Features and Appearances

Motor Trend May 1955
Trend Book 133 Custom Cars 1957 Annual
Custom Cars June 1960
Car Craft July 1960
Custom Cars July 1960
Trend Book 143 Restyle Your Car
Trend Book 197 Custom Cars 1961 Annual
Rodding and Re-styling January 1961

Cars Inspired by the Golden Sahara

Leo Lyons' Ultra Modern Merc
Tony Bruskivage's 1952 Lincoln Convertible - The Pearl
The VooDoo Sahara


Further Reading

Barris Kustoms
Jim Skonzakes
The VooDoo Sahara


References


Sources

Internet Movie Car Database
The HAMB



Promote your shop, show or business on Kustomrama - This ad space can also be bought to promote cars for sale or to hunt down rare parts you're looking for. Click here for more info...

 

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.




Help Us Make This Article Better

If you have additional information, photos, feedback or corrections about The Golden Sahara, please get in touch with Kustomrama at: mail@kustomrama.com.


Personal tools
Please Help Kustomrama
facebook
Recommended reading