The Edmond Sun

Features

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 www.darrylstarbird.com/museum.htm or call 918-257-4234.

 

1
Text Only
Features
  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 20, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crazy spring weather brings frantic pleas

    It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning. Tulips were blooming, squirrels were all a’skitter, my allergy-prone nose was running ninety-to-nothing, and workmen were in my yard leaning on rakes at $18 an hour. You might know I’d be anxious to remedy that! They were waiting to get started on spreading 60 bags of mulch, which I was belatedly on my way to reserve and pre-pay so they could pick it up and get started. Rush ... rush ... rush, and oh my aching back.

    April 19, 2014

  • Oklahoma History Center new home for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame has a new home at the Oklahoma History Center. Created in 1999, the hall of fame, operated by the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, has been housed the past several years at Oklahoma Christian University but there was no available space to display photographs and information on the inductees.

    April 18, 2014

  • pink.jpg Local children win Edmond Sun Easter coloring contest

    Two local children were named winners of The Edmond Sun’s Easter coloring contest. At left, Madsion Porter, 4, daughter of Tracy Porter, won a princess Easter basket, which included a tiara, tea set, stuffed bunny rabbit and chocolate rabbit. At right, BriAnna Harbaugh, 9, daughter of Leslie Haubaugh, won a Hello Kitty Easter basket, containing art supplies, a Hello Kitty stuffed animal and a chocolate bunny.  The families also received a three-month subscription to The Edmond Sun. For your own subscription to The Edmond Sun, visit edmondsun.com, call 341-2121, or visit 123 S. Broadway.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Annual Turkish art and food festival set for April 26-27

    Raindrop Foundation is a nonprofit cultural organization that seeks to promote friendship and understanding through shared understanding and community experiences. This free event is set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 26 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27 at 4444 N. Classen Blvd., Oklahoma City.
    This year Raindrop Foundation will bring cultural entertainment and education to Oklahoma City area by presenting the Annual Turkish Art and Food Festival. The festival will feature Turkish folk dances, traditional music, water marbling art, whirling dervishes, calligraphy, traditional art of felting, China pieces as well as original arts and crafts for sale to the public.

    April 18, 2014

  • Health seminar focuses on Oklakhoma’s high suicide rate

    OU Outreach and Norman Regional Health System are offering a new health seminar titled “Circle of Care Methodology: Risk Assessment and Prevention of Suicide.” The seminar will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24 at the Norman Regional Hospital Education Center. Suicide touches many people’s lives. This seminar focuses on the Circle of Care Methodology, which engages a holistic and mitigating approach to the issues and care that is required to address suicidal ideations, attempts, completions and the aftermath.
    The cost is $45 per person, and seating is limited. There will be free parking onsite for all seminar attendees. For more information, visit https://pace.ou.edu/en/programs/health-seminars/.

    April 18, 2014

  • Film documentary explores hunger in America

    The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma will host a screening of the 2012 documentary, “A Place at the Table,” at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Food Bank Volunteer Center, 3355 S. Purdue, Oklahoma City. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The story documents the struggle of food insecure people in the United States.
    Author Joel Berg will be present as a featured guest. Guests also will have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion about the issue of hunger in our communities. The screening is free, but seating is limited to 275 people. For more information, go online to www.okchurches.org.

    April 18, 2014

  • Nominations being accepted for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation is accepting nominations through June 1 for inductees into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. Oklahoma veterans including Medal of Honor recipients have been being honored by the hall of fame since 1999. A banquet and ceremony honoring those selected this year for the hall of fame will be Nov. 8 at the Tower Hotel, formerly Marriott Hotel, at 3233 Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City.
    Nominees can be living or deceased. Nomination forms can be obtained by writing to the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 30658, Edmond, OK, 73003; or on the foundation’s website at www.okmhf.org.
     

    April 18, 2014