Since the dawn of the automobile, the desire for individuality has been a motivation for customizing cars. It began with rich and famous people commissioning coachbuilders to create unique one-off designs. Back then, "Custom Jobs" were used to describe cars built from the ground up, while a "Restyled Job" defined a stock auto that somehow had been altered from the original design. George Barris started his career watching Northern California customizer Harry Westergard restyle cars in the late 1930s. With Westergard as his mentor, young George set out to restyle his first car in 1941. Like most other men in the trade, European sports cars and coachbuilt customs served as inspiration for Barris and Westergard in the 1940s. In 1951, after moving to Southern California and successfully establishing his own custom body shop, George decided to go to Europe to study automotive styling. Visiting Italy, Germany, and France, his primary purpose was to observe current styling trends and see what some European coachbuilders were up to.
The First Dual Headlights
Italy, especially Turin, seems to be a central place when it comes to the birth of the dual headlight. A couple of years before George Barris arrived in Europe, a wealthy client in Sicily commissioned Italian car design firm and coachbuilder Pininfarina to design a one-off sports car. Known as the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS, the elegant coupe is believed to be the first automobile that adopted dual headlights. Inspiration for the build is said to have come from an Alfa Romeo cabriolet that Pininfarina had developed for Prince Aly Kahn, the husband of Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth.
Cars Featuring Dual Headlights
Bob Hagerty's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan - Jade East
Dan Hiramoto's 1941 Buick Century Convertible - Raven
Jim and George Bernardo's 1948 GMC Pickup
George Mizzi Jr.'s 1950 Mercury Convertible - The Purple Bug
Vic Collins' 1955 Chevrolet Truck - The Kopper Kart Klone
Don Ellis' 1955 Ford Thunderbird
Dean Jeffries' 1956 Porsche 356 Carrera
Doug Osterman's 1957 DeSoto
David Rolin's 1957 Ford - The Tormentor
Jerry DeVito's 1957 Ford Fairlane - The Maze
Ron Volpe's 1957 Ford Convertible - Red Robin II
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