The $750,000, Six-Engined George Barris SnakePit Is a Land Speed Record Car on Acid
From the designer of the original Batmobile, it’s about as subtle as a Black Mamba bite.
If you want proof that even the greats have their off days, look no further than the back catalog of famed car customizer George Barris. For every Batmobile and Munster Koach, there are several design exercises that didn't quite pan out. And then there's this: The 1975 George Barris SnakePit, an acid trip of a land speed record car powered by six Ford V8 engines for sale on Hemmings for a cool $750,000.
Barris Kustom jobs are certainly an acquired taste, and the SnakePit is just as unapologetic in its embrace of that Vietnam-era futurism that makes most of his oeuvre look like early Hot Wheels cars brought to life. The all-steel, twin pontoon body hides the sextet of Cobra-Ford 351 V8 engines, 12 Holley carburetors, two automatic transmissions, two fuel tanks, 48 exhaust pipes, and lastly, an orange velvet interior with seating for two. The project took nearly four years to complete and cost nearly $100,000—the equivalent of over half a million dollars today.
With all those mechanical bits working in concert, the SnakePit was designed to put out 2,000 horsepower and reach a top speed of 300 mph. Yes, in a car with an open cockpit and no serious safety equipment to speak of. The listing states that it "was built to attack international speed records at speeds that stagger the imagination," but there's no indication it was ever actually used in a record attempt. There's also no video of the SnakePit running or driving available online, and the seller notes it hasn't been started in a decade.
All right, so this is pretty much a broken, functionally useless vehicle with polarizing aesthetics. And it's worth noting that the SnakePit last sold for a mere $32,500 at auction back in 2006, so $750,000 would represent over a 2,200 percent increase in value in a decade. Classic car values have spiked recently, but we'd be shocked if that rising tide managed to lift this particular boat.
Still, the chance to own a Barris Kustom doesn't pop up every day. In addition to the original 1966 Batmobile, which he personally sold for $4.62 million at auction in 2013, Barris and his team were responsible for nearly every famous TV and movie car from the Sixties and Seventies. Black Beauty from The Green Hornet, Drag-U-La from The Munsters, General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, The Car from The Car, and the Oldsmobile jalopy from The Beverly Hillbillies all came out of Barris Kustom Industries, as did the iconic Wagon Queen Family Truckster from the 1983 comedy National Lampoon's Vacation. Barris passed away in 2015 at the age of 89.
With that pedigree in mind, we think the SnakePit is worth saving, orange velvet cockpit and all. It would be great to see it restored and added to some oddball collection—after some tough negotiations, of course.