The Golden Sahara
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.
- 1 The Crash
- 2 The $25,000 Custom Car
- 3 Motor Trend Cover Car
- 4 The Second Iteration
- 5 TV and Movie Appearances
- 6 Hidden But Not Forgotten
- 7 Out of Storage
- 8 SOLD - $350,000 USD
- 9 Restoration
- 10 Magazine Features and Appearances
- 11 Cars Inspired by the Golden Sahara
- 12 Further Reading
- 13 References
- 14 Sources
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.
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.
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.
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.
TV and Movie Appearances
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
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. Larry Klairmont of Chicago, Illinois was the lucky bidder, adding the car to his collection at the Klairmont Kollections museum.
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
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 The Golden Sahara and other subjects featured on Kustomrama.
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: email@example.com.