If you are an old geezer who grew up in the 1960s (I’m allowed to say that because I’m one of those myself) you probably rushed home from school to watch the Batman television series. It starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, and the series brought the old DC comic book characters to life and into your living room. The old Batman television series was actually conceived as sort of a campy comedy intended for “hip” adults, but kids loved it as well.
Much can be said about the Batman of the sixties, which ran for just two and a half seasons but did produce 120 episodes, but hey, this is a car blog and this post is about the car that Batman drove: the Batmobile. A Hollywood based custom car guru named Dean Jeffries was originally contracted to design the Batmobile for the television series, and he started to modify a 1959 Cadillac to that end late in 1965. But the production schedule wound up calling for the car by January of 1966 and Jeffries couldn’t meet the deadline, so the job was then awarded to George Barris whose shop at the time was called Barris Kustom City.
Barris just happened to have acquired the 1954 Lincoln Futura prototype show car from Ford, who sold it to him for $1 along with what were termed “future considerations.” The Futura was made by hand in Turin, Italy and cost some $250,000 to produce. Barris had three weeks to turn the Futura into the caped crusader’s futuristic mode of transportation, and he was able to pull it off. It is said that the project cost $30,000 to complete over that three week span.
The Batmobile came loaded with options, but you weren’t going to find many of these at your local Ford dealer in 1966. There was of course the Batphone at a time when mobile phones were a dream away, the Bat Smokscreen which would render the Batmobile invisible to anyone giving chase, the Bat-tering ram that would enable the car to knock down stuff that was in its way, and a host of other gadgets and devices.
Technically speaking, the Batmobile was powered by a 390 cubic inch V8 engine, it had a 129 inch wheel base, and it weighed in at some 5,500 pounds. The car had some notorious reliability problems at first, including the propensity to blow tires at the drop of a hat, but the problems were eventually corrected.
Barris subsequently put together three replica Batmobiles to participate in shows, and one that was designed to be exhibited at drag racing events. Barris still owns the original, which is on display at his shop in Hollywood. The original Batmobile is valued at around $2 million…and remember, he acquired the Futura for a buck. All we can say about that is…Holy Moolah, Batman!
Contributed by Fossil Cars Staff Writer