The Edmond Sun


March 15, 2013

ON TRAVEL: Starbird museum sparkles at Grand Lake

EDMOND — Larry Griffin stopped me at church one day and asked, “Have you ever been to Darryl Starbird’s museum?” I gave him the quick answer, “No,” all the while thinking, “and I don’t plan to. Cars aren’t my thing.”

I’m glad I kept that part to myself. I hate eating crow in public. I have now been to Darryl Starbird’s National Rod and Custom Hall of Fame Museum on Grand Lake and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Starbird long has been one of the biggest names in custom car design. His futuristic autos are sleek, stylish, sometimes humorous, but always works of art.

Darryl’s dad worked for Boeing in Wichita and Darryl himself studied to be an aeronautical engineer. He had, however, been interested in cars since he was a child. Always an entrepreneur, he got a license to buy and sell cars while he was still in high school.  

After several years of college and working nights in the engineering department at Boeing as a design draftsman, Darryl decided to concentrate on his first love. He opened his own business, Star Kustom Shop.

In earlier projects, he’d taught himself welding and metalworking and did a lot of body and fender work. His first major re-do was on his own 1947 Cadillac.

More show cars followed and by 1959, one of his creations won both the Sweepstakes and Top Custom Shop Achievement awards at the National Hot Rod Association National Custom Car Show.

The car most buffs think of when they think of Darryl Starbird is his break-through “Predicta.” The electric blue redesigned ’56 Thunderbird with a ’57 Chrysler engine featured a bubble top, center stick steering, push-button controls and TV. In 1960 the car won every possible award and became a popular item with scale model builders. More than half a million Monogram model kits of the “Predicta” were sold.

The “Predicta” was purchased by Monogram, then later given away in a contest. It went through several owners and suffered damage, including a garish paint job. Almost 20 years after he had built the car, Darryl found it and restored it to its original state. And now visitors to his museum can see this shiny beauty looking as fresh and futuristic as the day he first finished it.

After “Predicta,” Starbird created a number of other bubble-topped autos earning him the soubriquet “King of the Bubble Top.” In all, over his half-century-plus career, Starbird has created more than 300 one-of-a-kind cars. Over a dozen of his designs have been replicated for scale-model kit enthusiasts. More than 10 million kits have been sold world-wide. In addition, he’s produced hundreds of custom car shows.

People are always surprised that a figure of national importance lives and works here in Oklahoma. But Darryl’s heart is in this part of the country. In 1995 he opened the Darryl Starbird Rod and Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation) on Highway 85A just west of the Monkey Island turn-off.

The first stop for every visitor to the museum should be to the little theater to watch a video about Darryl himself. This was a real must for me because I came into the museum a tabula rasa where custom cars were concerned. Not only did the video give biographical information about Darryl, it showed some of the steps in creating a custom car. These can include shaping sheet metal from flat to complicated curves and incorporating parts of other autos into the finished product. Some of Darryl’s finest creations started out as almost total wrecks.

Armed with this background information, I proceeded to check out the rest of the museum. Of course, there are lots and lots of cars — all kinds and colors. Among the more than 50 cars on display are about 20 of Darryl’s creations. The others are examples built by other professional builders. Some are part of the permanent collection; some are on loan.

The collection includes not only hot rods and street rods but custom pick-ups, vans and SUVs. Some of them look almost cartoonish — like Doug Weigel’s “Tonka Toy,” a bright yellow little truck with a beer keg gas tank. Others range in design from sophisticated to space-age.

Knowing nothing about engines or performance, I picked my favorites on strictly stylistic lines. “De Elegance,” built and designed by Starbird, cried out for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard — he, suave and debonair in a black tux; she, svelte in a slinky silver satin gown with a white mink stole. Darryl took a 1979 Buick Riviera and retro-styled to create a ’30s look. He extended the wheel base two feet to accommodate the long handmade front of the car. His son Rick added the shiny ebony finish. This car is glamour on four wheels!

Another of my favorites was the “Starship.” Designed by Darryl and built and owned by his son Cliff, “Starship” started life as a ’72 Chevy Camaro. This double-bubble, shimmery-light-blue dream car looks ready to jet into the 22nd century.

Besides the cars, another area features the Hall of Fame salutes the top builders and designers as voted on by the corporation. It began in 1995 with the induction of 13 builders. Two new inductees have been added each year. In addition, a Wall of Fame displays photos of top cars built in this country both past and present.

I went into the museum not expecting to enjoy it. But I couldn’t resist the riot of gorgeous colors and the variety of designs. Now I’m a big Starbird fan and I tell everyone — “When you go to Grand Lake, don’t miss Darryl Starbird’s National Rod and Custom Car Hall of Fame and Museum!”

FOR INFORMATION on hours, admission and directions, go to or call 918-257-4234.


Text Only
  • NAMI classes begin in September

    NAMI Edmond North-OKC, the local organization of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will offer its Family-to-Family Education Program beginning Sept. 2. It will contine Sept. 4 and 8-9. Classes will be at Crossings Community Church, Quail Springs United Methodist Church, Francis Tuttle Technology Center (Portland campus), Tinker AFB Chapel and the Thunderbird Club House in Norman.
    NAMI Family-to-Family is a free 12-session education program for family caregivers of adults living with mental illness. The sessions are offered once a week for a few hours each.

    July 30, 2014

  • clinic 1.jpg Edmond church to host free eye clinic

    An Edmond church and Feed the Children are partnering to provide a free eye clinic.
    Individuals will be able to receive a free vision test and free prescription eye glasses from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Waterloo Road Baptist Church, 3100 E. Waterloo Road. All ages are welcome and registration is not required.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • UCO forensic volunteer wants to aid more agencies

    A four-person group of forensic investigators who volunteer their time to help smaller Oklahoma police departments isn’t enough to meet demand, a member said.
    Kama King, who recently completed her graduate research and will be a member of the faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Forensic Science Institute, said outside of full-time jobs, members of the group volunteer to assist these agencies.
    As her career progresses, King hopes to help establish a permanently funded organization available to any agency in the state to assist in remains recovery as well as related training.

    July 29, 2014

  • jc_ITS map.jpg City to improve traffic flow

    The Edmond City Council this week approved a services agreement with Electronic Technology, Inc. For the  installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems’ video wall system at a cost of $314,620. The vote was 3-0.
    ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • jc_Earp Marlin 2 - photo credit Noel Winters.jpg Shootout of a sale

    An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 80.
    Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 11.6.12 Mother and Cub (2).jpg UCO forensic researcher answers key question

    After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
    “You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Karan & Rwanda.jpg Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs

    Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
    Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How to care for your pet without breaking the bank

    It’s a shame furry friends can’t pay for themselves. Though wagging tails after a long day at work may make pet ownership seem worthwhile, a happy pup won’t stop those bills from rolling in at the end of the month. Thankfully, quick and easy ways exist for dog owners to cut down on costs.

    July 28, 2014

  • MS_new pastor_Page_1.tiff Local church welcomes new pastor

    For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
    Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • pm_Ramona Paul.jpg Keith, 5 others to receive service awards

    The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
    Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos