I’m old enough to remember when California-based “King Of The Kustomizers” George Barris created the original Batmobile for the campy Batman ABC television series that aired from 1966 to 1968 starring Adam West in the title role. The show wasn’t very good, but the car was cool — although West has been cited noting that it was a handful to drive, with poor road manners.
George Barris, now 88, was and is a folk-hero to a generation of car-culture hotrodders and customizers, and kids like me who built car models from AMT plastic kits, for which Barris was a design consultant.
The platform for Barris’s quintessential Batmobile was a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car that he bought from Ford Motor Company for the princely sum of one dollar, then spent a still-modest 15,000 1965 dollars converting into Batmobile trim. The car had also appeared, painted red, in the 1959 movie It Started with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford.
Barris retained ownership of the car, displaying it displayed in his own Barris Kustom museum in California, until Arizona automobile collector Rick Champagne was the successful bidder at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction last Saturday in Scottsdale, Arizona, paying $4.2 million.
Wikipedia notes that the twin bubble top Lincoln Futura concept car was originally designed by Ford Motor Company lead stylists Bill Schmidt and John Najjar. Unlike many car show concepts then and now, the pearlescent white Futura was a functional automobile – powered by a 368 cubic inch Lincoln V8 engine and powertrain, and built on a Lincoln Mark II chassis and running gear by coachbuilding firm Ghia entirely by hand in Turin, Italy, at a cost of $250,000 – which was serious money in 1955
The virtual giveaway to George Barris after the car made the rounds of the the auto show circuit would presumably have been a tax writeoff for Ford.
Thanks for the memories George!
For more information, visit: