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Lot 718

1972 Bugazzi Two-Door Custom Coupe by George Barris

Sold for $19,800

460 cu. in. 90-degree overhead valve V8 engine, four-barrel carburetor, select-shift automatic transmission with 12-inch hydraulic torque converter, three-speed planetary gears, power front disc brakes, rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 120.4"

Any fan of “That 70’s Show” or indeed, for those who lived through the decade, remembers the 1970s as a time of mood rings, pet rocks, Rubik’s cubes and leisure suits. Big was in, with big hair, big heels, big bell-bottoms and, most importantly, big cars. Big cars met with big plans when custom car show promoter Paul Rimmer engaged ex-GM stylist Harry Bentley Bradley to style his dream car. Bradley, whose works included the Dodge Deora, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile and dozens of others, had recently been hired by Mattel to design many of the original Hot Wheels cars. Bradley accepted the commission. Rimmer was looking to build an American Rolls Royce; he determined he wanted it to be built on a Lincoln Mark IV platform. Bradley delivered, and the Bugazzi – pronounced Boo-got-zee – was born.

California Show Cars in Long Beach had built famous show cars such as the Pink Panther and the Sex Machine, but, according to an article in the July 1973 Motor Trend, “had an annoying habit of not paying their debts. Or their workers.” Rimmer stepped in and purchased Cal Show Cars to build the Bugazzi, and production started. And soon stopped. Enter Kustom Kar builder George Barris. Barris, who was at the time building a custom Lincoln “Titan” himself, took over production of the Bugazzi and had plans to make as many as 25 examples per year, available for the almost unbelievable sum of $29,500 each. By comparison, a contemporary Lincoln Mark IV listed for $8,640 while a new Rolls Royce Silver Shadow had a base price of about $19,700. Put in another way, the Bugazzi cost about the same as 15 new Ford Pintos in 1972.

The Bugazzi became a darling of both the press and the Hollywood scene. Bugazzi owners included Danny Thomas, Pia Maria, Enzo Stuarti and Jack Hennesey. One other owner of note was Joe Comforte, whose Mustang Ranch had little to do with either horses or ranching. Even though many have reported that the Bugazzi was named the Motor Trend “Car of The Year” in 1973, that honor went to another car. The actual award from Motor Trend was the “Car of The Month” in July 1973.

A contemporary press release listed many of the custom features of the Bugazzi: “Full hand formed brass radiator, dual floating oversized square brass headlights, the frontal area is six inches longer than the normal production car, sculpted, curved fade away front fenders, contoured silhouetted line dipped in the door panels, full front to rear flowing and blended running boards, radiused rolled wheel wells, canted door windows, unique air-foam padded top, deep impressed concave trunk panel to house the tire insert, opera styled reduced semi-curved rear window, authentic radial laced wire wheels with brass knock-offs and hubs. Decorative Italian marble panels, right and left rear upper top vanity cases and mirrors, center armrest swing down bar.”

This Bugazzi includes all of this and more. Fully restored and in excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition, it features a chrome accented engine compartment and white pearl paint by the inventor of candy apple red, Joe Bailon. It also has gold leaf pin stripes and trim, Persian style carpets in the passenger and luggage compartments, custom faux side pipes, 24 Karat gold wheel trim, George Barris badging and a custom mounted, period correct black and white television.

Just as when the car was new, this Bugazzi is not for everyone. Its uniqueness makes it stand out, even in car shows and especially on the street. The Bugazzi is a distinctive slice of American culture of the first order. And with a Harry Bentley Bradley design and a George Barris history, it is a car destined for appreciation in years to come.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more