The classic car world lost a number of renowned figures this year. Here, we take a moment to recognize some of the great personalities and pioneers who left an indelible mark on the industry, hobby and old car lifestyle before passing away in 2015.
George Barris, 1925-2015
The California King of Custom Cars and legendary creator of TV’s original Batmobile died at age 89 this past November. In his North Hollywood shop located just down the street from Universal Studios, Barris created many of the colorfully designed, often outrageous, vehicles made popular in television and film throughout the 1960s and ’70s. You can check out some of his more memorable classics — including his star-studded list of celebrity clients — in this remembrance published by Fox News.
Dick Guldstrand, 1927-2015
From 1963 to 1965, Corvette racing legend and Hall of Famer Dick Guldstrand won three consecutive SCCA Pacific Coast Championships. In 1964, the racer who would eventually be known as “Mr. Corvette” was named the California Sports Car Club Driver of the Year. Two years later, Guldstrand won the GT class at the Daytona 24 Hour race. In 1967, Dick also raced a L88 Corvette at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Bob Bondurant. Guldstrand died September 2nd at his motorsports shop in Burbank, California. He was 87. The Los Angeless Times posted this remembrance.
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, 1926-2015
The founder of Britain’s National Motor Museum in 1952, Edward, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, died on August 31st at age 88. Lord Montagu was a pioneer of the “stately home movement” in England, a hereditary member of the House of Lords and an active parliamentarian whose views on heritage and transport commanded widespread respect despite the highly publicized sexual scandal that ultimately marred his legacy. The Telegraph remembered Lord Montagu’s life and touched on the details and aftermath of his court case in this remembrance published shortly after his death.
Denise McCluggage, 1927-2015
Autoweek staffer and female racing legend Denise McCluggage passed away in May at age 88. In an age when seeing a woman racecar driver was rare, McCluggage placed fifth at Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1960 and, in 1962, drove a Ferrari 250 to victory over the men in the GT class at Sebring. Among many other accolades, she was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2001 and the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2006. For her writing, McCluggage won both the Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism and the Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. Check out this Autoweek tribute that paid homage to her amazing life and legacy.
Margaret Dunning, 1910-2015
Passing away in May just a month prior to her 105th birthday, Margret Dunning and her contributions to the auto world were highlighted in a Detroit Free Press tribute to this energetic woman who single-handedly funded the expansion of the Plymouth Historical Museum. Dunning was involved in many community projects over nearly nine decades in Plymouth. Known for her love of historic vehicles and her knack for maintaining them, Dunning was a regular participant in the Woodward Dream Cruise and many concours d’elegance across America.
Ray Vellero, 1947-2015
After Ray Vellero’s sudden and unexpected death last June, Hagerty’s Jeff Peek put together this remembrance of the headline-grabbing record setter known to West Coast Volkswagen aficionados and drag racers. Vallero built a reputation for his racing prowess in the 1960s, but his real love was “building Volkswagen engines, building race cars and just talking about cars” in his humble machine shop on Lincoln Way in Auburn, California.