Jim Street’s self-driving Golden Sahara II sells for $350,000!
Built by George Barris, then updated in 1960 at a cost of $75,000, this legendary car disappeared from view around 1980. Now it's back, and has just sold at Mecum
One of the most famous custom cars of the late 1950s and early '60s, the self-driving Golden Sahara II, has re-emerged after nearly 40 years out of the public eye – and it's just sold for $350,000 before premiums at a Mecum auction.
Golden Sahara II was Immortalised in the Jerry Lewis film Cinderfella, and was widely known as one of the most innovative and futuristic cars of the period. Its revolutionary electronic control system allowed it to be steered and operated in many different ways, including by remote control – which effectively categorised it as autonomous.
- Jim Street's Kookie's Kar hot rod sells for $440,000!
- Sonny and Cher's wild Mustangs customised by George Barris
- Barris-inspired custom cars for sale
It was often referred to as the most expensive car of its time, and grew crowds of onlookers wherever it went during its tours of the USA.
The car started out as a 1953 Lincoln Capri belonging to legendary customiser George Barris, but when Barris badly damaged the Lincoln while using it to tow a friend's car, it seemed the perfect excuse to radically customise the accident-damaged bodywork.
The customising work by Barris was actually commissioned by Jim Skonzakes, better known as customiser 'Jim Street'. By the time Barris had finished, it featured gold trim and, inside, a built-in TV, reel-to-reel tape player, refrigerator and cocktail bar. When it was completed in 1955, Motor Trend headlined it as 'The $25,000 custom car'.
Five years later Street updated the car, renaming it Golden Sahara II, at a cost of $75,000. This is when the electronic autonomous driving controls were added, and it was repainted in pearlescent white paint apparently created using crushed fish scales.
In this form it won best of show at the 1960 National Championship Custom Car Show, and appeared in the 1962 film Cinderella and in the series I've got a secret, in which Street walks alongside the car as it self-drives (below).
For the following decade, Jim Street used Golden Sahara II for cruise nights and shows, often hiding a remote control up his sleeve so it looked as though the car was responding to his verbal commands. By the end of the 1970s he tucked the car away, not to be seen again.
Street passed away in December 2017, and there was initially uncertainty over what would happen to his cars. However, it's now become clear that Mecum auctions will offer it for sale. The paintwork is looking worse for wear, but the car is complete, right down to the Zenith remote controls used to operate its self-driving mode.
It was offered in as-found condition at Dana Mecum’s 31st Original Spring Classic auction on May 19 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, and sold for an impressive $350,000 plus premiums.
Classic Cars for Sale
Over the top high end drag truck! This labor of love was started 13 years ago and unfortunately could not get finished due to health reasons. This Studebaker pickup will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck with the 900+ Horsepower Blown 502 Chevy V8 with Brodix Aluminum heads, an 8:71 Littlefield Blower, BDS Fuel injection, Built Turbo 400 Automatic transmission with reverse valve body
This Beautiful Mercedes 190SL was originally build in 1959 and originally delivered in Germany. This 190SL is in very good shape. Since it was professionally restored a number of years ago this is certainly a beautiful and more then presentable driver. Of course this roadster shows no rust on body or undercarriage. The 1897 cc 4 cylinder engine runs strong and smooth. We have driven the car exte
This Matching numbers 1961 VW Beetle ( VW113) is in immaculate shape. This lovely beetle is what we call “ a labour of love ” The former owner has been restoring the car to an almost concourse condition over the last 3 years. Of course this 1961 VW Deluxe sedan shows no rust what so ever. The fully rebuild 1200 CC 4 cylinder engine runs strong and smooth and the manual gearbox shifts per
For Sale: 1971 Cutlass S Hardtop Coupe Numbers Matching Original Cutlass, 1 Owner car Less than 44,000 ORIGINAL miles on whole car Good running Rocket 350 engine with 2 barrel carb Solid and clean shifting TH350 Automatic Transmission Factory A/C car Interior is in like new condition, no tears or rips anywhere (black vinyl) Very Very minor rust on car, Two small rust areas behind front