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Oklahoma State Fair: Darryl Starbird brings six custom cars from museum

A custom-car builder and designer, Darryl Starbird has rolled out some of his best at the Oklahoma State Fair, including the Predicta.
by Bryan Painter Published: September 18, 2012

Darryl Starbird burst his own bubble and then created another one.

Starbird aspired for some time to be an aeronautical engineer. This Kansas native — whose father, Austin, worked for Boeing — pursued those studies at Wichita State University.

But for many years, there was a desire stirring within the young man to build custom cars.

“I dropped out of college and started my shop building cars,” Starbird said this week during the Oklahoma State Fair. “I guess the aircraft influence of futuristic airplanes and aerodynamics and all of that influenced me to build a streamline aerodynamic type car.”

Starbird's dreams took shape in the form of a clear Lucite plastic dome on a customized 1956 Ford Thunderbird he called Predicta.

Instead of focusing on what his life might have been like as an aeronautical engineer, Starbird became known as “The Bubble Top King.”

The 79-year-old internationally known custom-car builder and designer has brought six cars to the fair as a treasure sample of his creations and that of other builders on display at “Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum” near Bernice, in northeastern Oklahoma.

From his shows, such as the one held for decades in Oklahoma City and the one still going in Tulsa, to the scale models he designed for Monogram to having his creations featured in hundreds of auto publications, Starbird built not just cars but memories around the globe.

At the fair, Starbird has one car out front of an enclosed area in Centennial Plaza. Through the fair last day on Sunday, fairgoers can step into an open-air exhibit to view five cars — including Predicta — for $1.

His first bubble car

There it was, a 1956 Ford Thunderbird in a junkyard after a “run-in with a train,” Starbird wrote in an autobiography he co-authored with his grandson, Brice Bledsoe.

The 26-year-old Starbird gave $800 for the wrecked car and took it to his Star Kustom Shop in Wichita. When he was finished with it, he took the futuristic car — with its bubble top, television in the dash and a stick in the center instead of a steering wheel — to the 1960 Grand National Roadster Show in Oakland, Calif. Predicta was the show's sweepstakes winner.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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