The 1960s TV show Batmobile – and for many Batman fans, the car that will always be the true Batmobile -- went under the hammer on the weekend at US auction house Barrett-Jackson.
But the car that hit rocket-thruster icon status in the schlock small-screen show was not born as the black ultra-finned collection of Bat gadgets that shot it to fame.
The 1960s Batmobile was customised from a one-off 1955 Lincoln Futura concept prototype that was unveiled on the Ford stand at the 1955 Chicago motor show – in a pearlescent blue-white finish. It also later got a red paint makeover for a bit part with Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford in the 1959 movie, It Started With a Kiss.
But its life as the Batmobile didn’t start until about five years later, when the TV series brought its air date forward and needed a vehicle within a couple of weeks. The producers dumped the existing car plans and knocked on designer George Barris’s workshop door – behind which the Futura had been gathering dust.
The concept car had cost Ford around $250,000, but Barris had bought it from them for a nominal $1 after the Chicago show. He completed the customisation in three weeks – and the Batmobile was born.
“The 1966 Batmobile by George Barris is one of the most famous Hollywood cars in history and it has become a true icon that has been carried from generation to generation of Batmobiles to follow,” Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson said.
“This vehicle not only marks the significant Bat logo that sits on the middle of its door, but a time in television history where they defied the odds of making a car the real star of the show. It revolutionized an entire industry that followed in its footsteps and we couldn’t be prouder to have it cross our block in Scottsdale as it goes up for sale for the very first time.”