Starting out as 1953 Lincoln Capri Hard Top the “Golden Sahara,” was a futuristic low-slung automobile designed and built from the chassis up by George Barris and his brother Sam. On this particular car, every body section was hand-formed into a Barris design that certainly has graceful eye-appeal.
The bumper bullets, entirely new at the time the car was built, later came out on Cadillac and became famous. Also new was the checkered grille, later to be seen on the '55 Ford. The thin-line rear fender fins, new then, today are seen on more than one make being built in Detroit. The spare tire well, impregnated on the rear decklid, appears on '57-'58 Imperials. Perhaps these were ideas already on the drawing boards in Detroit at the time the Golden Sahara was being constructed; but, like many another idea that is dreamed up by different people in different locations at the same time, George was able to build it first because of his hand-formed methods.
Probably the most familiar customizing feature on Barris automobiles is the lowering of the car. George has devised every conceivable method to give the car a ground-hugging, low look, believing simply that a lower car looks better. The chopped top is practically a Barns trademark; he's certainly clone enough of them to earn it. He is one of the first to admit the only real way to lower the car and keep proper proportions in both the upper and lower body areas is to "section" the car. This requires taking out a three-to-four-inch section of metal all around, usually in the widest area of flat metal in the vertical position. This, as you can readily visualize, is quite a task when there are a multitude of angles and contours on nearly every body design. Sectioning, without a doubt, is the costliest of custom modifications. Luckily for enthusiasts, Detroit designers have narrowed the depth of the body sides on the newer cars so such lowering will soon be unnecessary.
Another Barris innovation which can be recognized as having started a trend is the "floating" grille. Subsequent to this operation performed on a few cars in the early Fifties, manufacturers adopted the idea, with Pontiac and Oldsmobile being notable examples.
Air scoops — in the hood, at the forward section of the rear fender, over the headlight, and in other places — have long been a re-styling modification practiced by Barris. So have the not-so-apparent "molding-in" (making one-piece by filling and welding) of all body seams, bumper pans, and the like. On earlier customs, the V-butted windshield, forerunner of the curved one-piece glass now universally used, was an idea initiated by Barris. Of course, such metal artistry as trenching headlights and taillights, smoothing off emblems (nosing and decking), and the like are so common today in the customizing field that you can hardly identify Barris or anyone else as the originator; yet these are the modifications most often done by the youthful customizer wherever he may be — in Hoboken or Honolulu.
The main features included high-tech electronics. Five way electronic steering: steering wheel, push button, remote control, floor board covers and voice control. Sensitivity solenoids to open the doors, activate door openers, operate TV, stereo, record player, radio . The exterior was finished with 40 coats of pure oriental pearl which was made from scales of an imported fish. All metal fabrications were 24 karat gold plating. The Golden Sahara was featured in the movie "Cinderella" starring Jerry Lewis.