WHY THE MUNSTERMOBILE (AKA MUNSTER KOACH) WAS A BIG DEAL FOR CAR KIDS FROM A BYGONE ERA

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‘The Munsters’ was a short-lived half-hour TV comedy that debuted on September 24, 1964, and shut down on May 12, 1966.

The big difference for young fans of the TV show was Herman made them laugh while the 1931 movie monster simply scared the living daylights out of them when the flick was broadcasted during the 1960s on late night TV.  

Herman Munster was a lovable father figure during an era when “fish-out-of-water” comedies were popular in prime-time TV, a fad undoubtedly inspired by the antics and ratings success of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ during the early 1960s.

“Fish-out-of-water” programs were built around an ongoing plot where the main characters did not mesh with the community in which they lived, mainly because they were radically different from the other residents. The TV show characters were also completely oblivious to the fact they were not the same as the other people in their area.

‘The Munsters’ was an excellent example of the disconnect between them and the community because the Munsters never clued into the fact they terrified their neighbors and were not exactly a conventional nuclear family.

However, ‘The Munsters’ was a very funny TV show and helped eliminate the kiddy fear produced by the original Frankenstein movie. Even better, Herman Munster had a family sedan that fired up the interest of every car kid who watched the show, whether in prime time or in reruns long after its final episode aired in 1966.

It was called the “Munstermobile” (also known as the “Munster Koach”) because it was a custom hot rod built for the TV show by the legendary George Barris, also known as the “King of Kustoms”. The Munstermobile was also a Frankenstein build because it required three Model T bodies to extend it to roughly 18 feet long with a hand-built 133-inch frame.

The custom work on the Munsters’ family hauler included its fenders and radiator because a Model T’s factory versions were not designed to handle the custom version’s requirements, including its hearse body addition. After all, the Munster family leaned heavily toward morbid topics-with a heavy dash of comedy along the way.

Young car kids were likely most impressed with the Munster Koach’s engine because it was a 289 Ford small block engine loaded with a wild combination of ten carburetors decked out with individual curved chrome air scoops and a wild set of chrome exhaust zoomies on both sides.

Barris created symmetrical engine perfection with his intake and exhaust components on the Munster Koach and it was a custom approach that captured the attention of every car kid who watched the show over the years. 

In fact, many budding young car guys bought the plastic model of the Munstermobile and were able to put the iconic car together, including its famous engine components.

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section. 

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