Two of television’s most recognizable custom cars from the 1960s—the Munster Koach and Drag-u-la—will frighten and delight visitors of all ages during Charlotte Motor Speedway’s April 13-16 AutoFair.
The Munsters’ TV series concept was that seven-foot-tall Frankenstein creation Herman Munster lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Mockingbird Heights with wife Lily and her father (both undead vampires), son Eddie (a werewolf), and Lily’s niece Marilyn (a sweet, beautiful blonde). Humor came from their fish-out-of-water interactions with neighbors, frustrated government officials, and the occasional scam artist. Dubbed “America’s First Family of Fright,” the original Munster clan appeared in 70 episodes from 1964 to 1966, plus an Easter special, and a theatrical movie. The show enjoyed tremendous success, rising to no. 18 in the all-important Nielsen ratings during its first season, but owes its long-term popular culture impact to countless reruns in syndication.
- What is the Munster Koach? In the fourth episode of the first season, Lily wants to surprise Herman with a new car for his 114th birthday. She buys a T-bucket roadster and a 1920s-era hearse and asks the used-car salesman to “call a custom body shop, tell them it’s a rush job…” and combine the two. In the real world, that’s exactly what happened when the studio gave legendary custom car builder George Barris 21 days and $18,000 (about $175,000 today) to create the Munster Koach. The Koach rode on a 133-inch wheelbase, was covered in black pearl paint, featured a coffin-like blood red velvet interior with four-row seating, and was powered by a Ford Mustang V-8. The body was a creative blending of three Ford Model T roadsters and hearse elements, such as the ornate, enclosed middle section. The Koach can be seen in many episodes and was a wildly popular scale-model kit.
- Where did Drag-u-la come from? In episode 36 of the first season, Herman bets the Koach on a race at the Mockingbird Heights Drag Strip and loses. Grandpa Munster builds a much faster, coffin-based dragster and wins back the Koach. In real life, Barris’ shop turned a fiberglass coffin into “Drag-u-la” by mounting it on a tube-frame chassis, equipping it with a Ford Mustang V-8, and putting a Plexiglas dome over the driver’s seat. The antique gold dragster, also a successful seller in scale-model kit form, featured exhaust headers that resembled pipes from an organ and a front “license plate” fashioned to resemble a tombstone. Strangely, Drag-u-la only appeared in one episode of the series.
The Munsters’ Koach and Drag-u-la will be displayed in the Showcase Pavilion during the April 13–16 AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Other show highlights include a museum-worthy collection of NASCAR race cars celebrating the sanctioning body’s 75th anniversary, a trio of uniquely quirky one-offs, an array of customs representing the hobby’s “Best of the Best,” and an autograph session with monster truck builder and racer Dennis Anderson.
The new-look AutoFair will transform the famed 1.5-mile speedway throughout the weekend. The latest technology, trends, parts, and products will fill the Manufacturer’s Midway. Guests can test drive the current line of Chevrolet vehicles, ride shotgun with professional Ford Performance Racing School drivers and visit all-new themed areas that explore the latest from the worlds of electric and off-road vehicles. Additionally, the reconfigured swap meet, hosted by the Hornet’s Nest Region AACA, will provide a wide array of hard-to-find parts and memorabilia.
On Sunday, the inaugural Smith Heritage Invitational will bring together a distinguished collection of some of the most sought-after vehicles in an assemblage on par with the world’s most exclusive car shows.
Single-day tickets are $15 for adults. Admission is FREE for children 12 and under with an adult. Guests can upgrade their AutoFair experience to include high-end hospitality in the Paddock Club, featuring private appearances by industry leaders, food, VIP parking and more. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com. Tickets will also be available at the gate.
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