In the mid-1960s, drag racing was growing in popularity across the US. Trying to capitalize on the trend, a little show called “The Munsters” built an episode around the concept — and, in the process, built one of the coolest TV cars ever made.
The main car for the series was the Munster’s Koach, which served as the daily driver for the titular family. For a drag racing episode, however, the show needed something that looked just a little bit faster. Enter the Drag-U-La.
The episode went something like this: Herman Munster, patriarch of the family, loses the Koach in a drag race. To win it back, Grandpa Munster builds this: a fiberglass coffin wrapped around a drag car drivetrain. He wins the race, the Koach goes back home, and everyone’s happy.
The story isn’t real, but the car is. It’s a functional drag car, with a offscreen story that may even be more interesting than the on-screen one. Barris Kustoms needed a coffin for their design, but California law at the time forbade the sale of a coffin without a death certificate. A member of the Barris team paid a Hollywood funeral director cash, and came back under cover of darkness to find a fiberglass coffin waiting for him behind the funeral home.
This car, however, isn’t built from that coffin. The original screen-used Drag-U-La was modified for later use in the movie “Munster, Go Home!”, where it swapped the transparent cockpit out for a rollbar to allow Herman Munster actor Fred Gwynne to fit in the driver’s seat.
This version of the car, modeled after the original version from the show, is still an official Barris Kustoms build. It’s one of four promotional Drag-U-La cars built for giveaways, museums, and even (rumor has it) real drag race tours. The car features a 289ci Ford V8, sending a claimed 350 horsepower through an automatic transmission and into a differential that sits between the driver’s legs.
For those of us younger than the original TV show, the name conjures a different memory: Rob Zombie’s late ‘90s hit Dragula, off the album Hellbilly Deluxe. While the video infamously features the Munster Koach rather than the actual Drag-U-La, this the car you truly want for digging through ditches and burning through witches.
This Drag-U-La is headed to Mecum’s Kissimmee 2022 auction this coming January.