The Kopper Kart

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A construction photo showing George Barris next to the truck.
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The Kopper Kart at Lynwood City Hall. Photo from the Barry Mazza collection
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The Kopper Kart at an outdoor car show in 1958. The Rod & Custom Magazine’s Dream Truck and Bob Metz's 1950 Buick, the XM105 can be seen behind the Barris Kustoms promotion vehicle. Photo from the Junior Conway Photo Collection.
Another photo from the same show.
The Kopper Kart alongside with the Aztec.
A photo of the Kopper Kart taken September 5, 1959 at the Disneyland Car Club Day and Autocade show in Anaheim. Bob Holley, worked as the Public Address Announcer at the show that day, and he remembers that he had to tell George Barris over the PA system that if he didn't move his car, a red Cadillac, which he had asked him to do at least twice before, then the club would push it off. The reason was that according to the agreement with Disneyland, they could not have any car motors started or running during the event for safety reasons. Photo from The Cliff Riehl Photo Collection.
An ad for the Kopper Kart from Hot Rod March 1960.
A photo of Jim Skonzakes with the Kopper Kart taken at an indoor car show after Jim bought it. Photo from The Charlie Brewer Collection.
This photo, showing the Kopper Kart with a Cadillac engine is a mystery. Later owner Paul Blasberg pulled the six-cylinder engine to make way for a 3/4 race Cadillac mill in preparation for running at the dragstrip. The truck was supposedly never reassembled again, and it was left outside to deteriorate. The truck was one of Chop Top Charlie Brewer's favorite customs. Charlie had fond memories of the truck from when Jim Skonzakes owned it, and he set out to locate it back in the 1970s. "Dad was friends with Jim Skonzakes and then tracked down Paul Blasberg," Charlie Brewer II told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in February of 2021. "When dad spoke with Paul, he told dad the story we all know, so dad continued to search for the bed or any parts that he could find." Charlie searched all through the 1970s and into the early 1980s before he gave up. He came up empty, but on his travels, someone came up with some interesting photos taken at an indoor car show in Ohio. One of the photos shows the Kopper Kart put back together again with the Cadillac engine in it. Charlie went back and showed this picture to Paul, who had no explanation of why the completed truck had a Cadillac engine in it. This iteration of the truck features a white firewall and chromed hinges. Photo from The Charlie Brewer Collection.
Vic Collins' 1955 Chevrolet truck of Rahway, New Jersey. Vic's truck is a clone of the Kopper Kart. Restyled by Customs by Flash and John Maurice, the build was started in 1999, and completed in 2008.

1955 Chevrolet Pickup restyled by Barris Kustoms of Lynwood, California for George Barris. When George purchased the truck, it had already been sectioned 5 1/2 inches. George, who wanted to use the truck as a promotion vehicle for his shop, had big visions for the Chevrolet, and he had his brother Sam chop the top 4 inches. The body was then channeled 8 inches over the frame for an even lower appearance. The front was restyled by installing quad headlights. 1957 Mercury bumpers were used to assemble the two large copper-plated grille housings. It had a Cadillac Autronic Eye automatic headlight dimmer installed in the grilles center bar. The grille was finished off by filling the openings with a copper-plated mesh grille. Both front and rear were restyled by welding Studebaker splash pans together. They also pancaked the hood, added twin scoops, and peaked the fenders.[1] The stock six-cylinder was replaced by a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette engine.[2] The The pickup truck featured accessories such as a portable TV set and a conventional phonograph in the bed. The record player was played back to the cab via interior speakers, while the portable TV was strictly a luxury item for Sunday picnics and outings. Once completed, the truck was named the Kopper Kart. Most of the trim on the truck that would have been chrome plated was copper-plated instead.[3]


Shown in the Special Class

May 29 - June 2, 1957 The Kopper Kart was shown in the Special class at the first annual Napa Valley Rod and Custom Show along with Joe Botti's 1955 Ford Pickup.


Sold to Jim Skonzakes

George Barris advertised the Kopper Kart for sale in the March 1960 issues of Motor Trend and Hot Rod Magazine. The book Custom Cars of the 1950s Andy Southard has photos of the truck taken in March of 1960. According to the captions, this was the last time that Andy saw the car.[4] Jim Skonzakes of Dayton, Ohio bought the truck from George in 1960.[5]


Sold to Paul Blasberg

Jim Skonzakes owned the Kopper Kart for a short while, before he sold it to Barons member Paul Blasberg of Mansfield, Ohio. The Kopper Kart was featured in Custom Rodder September 1961. By then it had + 40,000 miles on the odometer, and it was owned by Paul. Paul owned the truck in the early to mid 1960s. After having a lot of fun with it, the six-cylinder engine was pulled to make way for a 3/4 race Cadillac mill in preparation for running at the dragstrip. The truck was supposedly never reassembled again, and it was left outside to deteriorate.[5]


The Kopper Kart Mysteries and Rumors

According to rumors, the Kopper Kart was never put back together again. The truck was one of Chop Top Charlie Brewer's favorite customs. Charlie had fond memories of the truck from when Jim Skonzakes owned it, and he set out to locate it back in the 1970s. "Dad was friends with Jim Skonzakes and then tracked down Paul Blasberg," Charlie Brewer II told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in February of 2021. "When dad spoke with Paul, he told dad the story we all know, so dad continued to search for the bed or any parts that he could find." Charlie searched all through the 1970s and into the early 1980s before he gave up. He came up empty, but on his travels, someone came up with some interesting photos taken at an indoor car show in Ohio. One of the photos shows the Kopper Kart put back together again with the Cadillac engine in it. Charlie went back and showed these pictures to Paul, who had no explanation of why the completed truck had a Cadillac engine in it. "Dad came to the conclusion that Paul had the truck back together, and then it went into hiding somewhere. Dad swore that the truck was still complete and not taken apart and then trashed as Paul claimed. Dad searched for years and couldn't find even a small part or parts of the truck. Who knows, if we are lucky, it will show up in someone's garage!" Years back, photos of what supposedly is a reworked in-progress iteration of the truck started surfacing on the web. Charlie always thought these were an attempt to clone the tricks and that it wasn't the original Kopper Kart. He found leads on the hacked-up one, and he went to look at it in person. According to Charlie, his dad didn't believe that was the original. "But that one had been cut up pretty good, so who knows. Dad was pretty good about the details, though," Charlie adds. Charlie had all the parts to build a Kopper Kart clone, but then life got in the way, and Vic Collins beat him to it.[6]


Where is it Now?

In the fall of 2000 John Maurice set out to clone the Kopper Kart. While researching the truck. he talked to Paul Blasberg's wife who could tell him that it had really "gone to pot" from the rainwater getting through the exterior upholstery. A man came to the couple and offered to fix up the truck. Instead, he ended up stripping it. As Mr. and Mrs. Paul Blasberg had already had their fun with the truck, they weren't too worried about the situation.[5] Supposedly the bed and cab went separate ways.[7] Please get in touch with Kustomrama at mail@kustomrama.com if you have any information to share about the fate or whereabouts of the long lost Kopper Kart.


Clones and Recreations

Vic Collins' 1955 Chevrolet Truck - The Kopper Kart Klone


Magazine Features and Appearances

Motor Life June 1957
Rod Builder & Customizer August 1957
Custom Cars September 1957
Hot Rod September 1957
Custom Cars October 1957
Trend Book 156 Custom Cars 1958 Annual
Car Craft January 1958
Custom Cars January 1958
Car Craft March 1958
Rod & Custom April 1958
Custom Cars May 1958
Car Craft June 1958
Rodding and Re-styling March 1960
Custom Cars July 1960
Rodding and Re-styling July 1960
Motor Trend March 1960
Custom Rodder September 1961
Custom Rodder February 1962


References




 

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