You don’t have to be steeped in comic book memorabilia to know that Batman is one of the greatest superheroes of all time. Fans of the Dark Knight have long since fallen in love with the character’s affinity for tech-y gadgets and awesome vehicles making the Batmobile so enduring and popular. There have been many iterations of the famous comic book vehicle over the years but none are more iconic and beloved than the Lincoln Futura. The original Batmobile used on the set of the 1966 Batman TV series. Let’s take a look at the incredible technical and cultural history behind the first real Batmobile.
The story starts with a man by the name of George Barris approaching the Ford Motor Company. Barris, as most fans know by now, was the man behind the design of the original Batmobile. Barris had been given a three week deadline in which to create a realistic and functioning Batmobile that would be used on the Adam West-led television show. Barris rushed to Ford where he was inspired by the 1955 Lincoln Futura – an innovation in American muscle that had recently been showcased on the film It Started With a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds.
How much did Ford sell the vehicle to Barris for? A whopping $1.00. That’s right. A single dollar. We won’t even bother adjusting that for inflation.
With the car in his possession Barris was quick to get to work. According to Barris‘ own autobiographical notes, renovating the Futura into what we now know as the Batmobile took a total of 15 days and $15,000. Barris based most of his design off of the original Lincoln Futura base model. What a model to work with! At the time of its release the ’55 Futura was considered an aging but exceptionally powerful little car. The original ’55 Lincoln Futura featured a V-8 engine with a 4 barrel carburetor. The car pumped out 330 H.P. The guts of the vehicle were already awesome, so now what they needed was to make the exterior match the tone of a comic book show.
What makes the ’55 Lincoln Futura so special is that it became the first real and functioning Batmobile to ever exist.
The body of the car had been designed by Ghia Body Works over in Turin, Italy and it didn’t take much effort to push it into comic book territory. Barris had the sides of the car completely reworked in order to change the shape of the vehicle. Hooded headlights were put into place to give the car a bat-like appearance. The biggest changes came in the form of the plexiglass bubble over the driver and the rear turbine engine that wowed audiences around the world. Barris would finish his work on the vehicle six days ahead of schedule and impressively under budget. The interior of the car featured working Batman gadgets – a Batphone, a Batscope, a remote camera and more.
Since it’s creation the Barris-made Batmobile has become one of the most famous cars in entertainment history. Barris, now in his ’80s, hauled the car around to conventions and auto shows for much of the last thirty or so years giving fans everywhere a chance to soak it in.
Barris recently sold the ’55 Futura at auction for an astounding $4.6 million dollars.
Now, how is that for a return on your investment? Warren Buffett and even Bruce Wayne himself would be proud of that!
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We can safely say that the Barris Batmobile will always have a special place in our hearts. If you’re into custom vehicles seen in TV series and movies, you’ll love our article on James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Is the ’55 Futura your favorite version of the Batmobile?