The winner of the Best of Show trophy in Saturday’s Downtown Burbank Car Classic was the last to know. After getting a massage across the street, Eric Hernandez returned to his 1932 Model 54 Pierce Arrow.
“A gentleman said ‘This is a beautiful car, no wonder it won Best of Show’ and I said what are you talking about? And he said ‘You won it.’ And I said are you sure?”
He came to the awards ceremony on Orange Grove and San Fernando and talked to Downtown Burbank Partnership Operations Coordinator Marissa Minor, and she confirmed it.
“I was in shock! And I’m still in shock but I’m relaxed because I had a massage,” he quipped.
Hernandez’s vehicle was among 200 classic cars on display along several blocks of San Fernando Boulevard that were closed to traffic for the annual Partnership-sponsored event. There were six trophies presented, one sponsored by U.S. Bank, another by Community Chevrolet and another from Petersen Automotive Museum. Barris Kustom Industries, owned by film and TV auto customizer George Barris, sponsored a plaque for best Custom Creation.
Barris also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Partnership for his achievements in custom auto design of the Batmobile, featured in the 1960s “Batman” TV series, as well as the Beverly Hillbillies jalopy, the Munster Koach and many others.
Terry Karges, executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum, presented the honor.
“George Barris is one of the most creative men in the auto world and he has been for decades,” he said. “Petersen Automotive Museum is fortunate to have several Barris vehicles in our collection. And as you may have noticed this evening, any of George’s creations, including our Grease Lightening, attracts a lot of attention anytime it is on display.”
Many celebrities — John Wayne, Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Frank Sinatra — contacted Barris Kustom when they wanted to stand out from the crowd, he added. Barris’ designs have influenced the styles of Detroit’s Big Three and he continues to play a significant role as an automotive ambassador of good will and creativity in the automotive world today.
Wearing black T-shirt with a yellow Batman emblem, Barris said his friendship with Robert E. Petersen goes back to 1948.
“We had our very first museum in Hollywood at the Autorama,” Barris said. “Pete and his wife Margie, we were together for so many years and it has always been a happy part of our days. So you can see that Petersen means an awful lot to all of us in the automotive and custom worlds and thank you all again!”
Jerry Sidgeler of Lakeview Terrace received the George Barris Kustom trophy for his 1937 DeSoto. The car won another award last year.
“That’s why I am so surprised,” he said, “I figured I wouldn’t get anything today!”
Darleen and Bill Lyons of Santa Clarita received the Best Pre-1960 Vehicle for their 1956 Jaguar.
They have won so many awards with the car they can’t even count them all, Darleen Lyons said.
Bill bought it used 49 years ago. He stored it, took it to Kansas and Oklahoma and brought it back to California and stored it again.
“About 15 years ago we got married and started fixing it up,” she said. “We both work on the car together.”
A 1956 Corvette stirred up a lot of memories for spectator Tony Luna of Burbank. When he was in Texas driving back with a buddy to San Antonio in 1966 to continue his Army duty, his buddy let him take the wheel of his ’56 Corvette.
“I decided to let it rip and I had this thing going as fast as I could, cause there was a Mustang coming up alongside me and I left him in the dust! It was a great car and a great time!” he said.
The Car Classic was a day for the community to come together, for the car guys to show their cars, including Jay Leno with his steamer, to hear music and see George Barris with his Batmobile, said Vice Mayor Bob Frutos.
“This is Burbank!” he said. “People love to come visit Downtown Burbank. The event helps to support our local businesses and community members get to reconnect with other community members. It gets people out of their homes and allows them to enjoy the outdoors. This is just one of many great events that we on the council collectively are working on for the people.”
DOWNTOWN BURBANK CAR CLASSIC WINNERS
George Barris – Best Custom Award – Jerry Seigeler, 1937 Desoto Sedan
Best in Show – Eric Hernandez, 1932 Pierce Arrow Model 54
The Most Unique Vehicle – John and Pat Ruth, 1951 Kaiser Traveler 2 Door
Best Pre-1960 Vehicle – Bill and Darlene Lyons, 1956 Jaguar xk140FHC
Best Post-1960 Vehicle – Greg Davie, 1964 Plymouth Satellite
Classic Vehicle Award – Lucian and Judy Bartoletti, 1957 Chevy Belair
Petersen Preservation Pick – Larry Helscher, 1957 Ford Thunderbird