Blogs at Amazon

« 1969: It Was A Very Good Year! | Main | Alpine-Renault A110 »

The Batmobile (1966)

"Quick, Robin, to the Batpoles!" Whoosh!  "Atomic batteries to power... turbines to speed". The hidden cave door drops, a sign falls, and it's 14 miles to Gotham City. "Da da da da da da da da da... 'BATMAN'!"

Bat mobile There have been "Batman" cartoons and comic books and TV shows and movies, but the one vehicle that carried the Dynamic Duo and won the popularity vote is George Barris' 1966 TV Batmobile. Originally a car show concept car, a 1955 Lincoln Futura was the donor vehicle for the Batmobile.

There would be 3 more copies later, built from fiberglass molds onto stretched Ford Galaxie frames for public displays and such. Ghia of Italy built the Futura; it was used in "It Started With A Kiss" with Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford.

The Futura was sold to Mr. Barris for the whopping sum of one dollar, since Ford had no use for it and was storing it at Mr. Barris' shop anyway. The 21-day conversion included enlarging the tailfins, black paint, red trim, red flashing lights, new headlight fins, and new Bat-trim.

Bat thumb Wayne Enterprises (and Hollywood) added a high-energy Bat-beam, Bat-ray, nose-mounted chain cutter, direct connection to the Batcomputer in the Batcave, a mobile Batphone, Bat-zooka, Bat-tering ram, a portable inflatable Batmobile, and parachutes for the much-anticipated Bat-turns. A mobile "Batmobile Parachute Pickup Service" van would immediately dispatch and retrieve the discarded silk after each daring traffic maneuver. "Holy turn-on-a-dime, Batman!"

Batmobile The first appearance of a Batmobile was in Detective Comics #27, May, 1939. Since then, the Batmobiles have reflected the trends and technology of the times, including today's armored vehicle and Batpod. But the 1966 show was so far over the top with crazy gadgets and camp humor that this car remains the favorite of most Batfans.

Premiering on January 12, 1966, "BATMAN" changed TV forever. Color television was new, and this show made the most of it! There were three seasons before the show was cancelled by ABC. There would have been a fourth season and hopefully beyond, but the sets were bulldozed before word came down that NBC wanted the show. Between the first and second season, the "BATMAN" movie was released, introducing us to the Batboat, Batcycle, and Batcopter. The higher film budget allowed these vehicles to be built, and footage from the movie was inserted into the series from time to time.

Batman 3 22 09 002 Anybody who was anybody wanted to be on the show. Sammy Davis Jr. (Shown here), Vincent Price, Eartha Kitt, Ethyl Merman, Cesar Romero... the list goes on. From campy guest roles as villains to cameos in a skyscraper window, big names would beg their agents to be on "BATMAN".

A question has come up as to why many of the scenes were filmed tilted. The producers later replied that the crooks were crooked, so the scenes were lensed crooked as well. The fight scenes may be best remembered with comic superimpositions like "CRAAACK!", "FLRBBBBB!", "WHACK-ETH!", and "ZOWIE!".

At first, the show was on twice a week, with a deadly cliffhanger sure to make you come back and see their daring escape (Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel!). Good thing Batman kept a can of Bat-Carousel-Reversing Spray handy in his utility belt at all times, as well as the Universal, All-Purpose Bat-Antidote.

Though Batman usually drove the Batmobile, Alfred the butler drove it a time or two (Robin was too young). The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) stole it once and made it the "Penguinmobile", complete with an umbrella over the driver's seat.  Little did he know that Batman could maneuver the car by remote control, and the resulting ride was hilarious (Quack, quack, quack)!

Batman 3 22 09 003 "Holy Made-For-TV Reunion Show!" There was a GREAT TV movie in 2003 starring Adam West, Burt Ward, and the Batmobile, called "Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt". Out of Bat-character, the two actors relived the years making "BATMAN", under the premise that the Batmobile been stolen and they were going to find it. Frank Gorshin and Julie Newmar reprised their roles as "The Riddler" and "Catwoman", arch-villains from the series and comics. Betty White makes the infamous window cameo in this TV movie.

The Batmobile has appeared in several productions over the years, including "Rock Star", "The Simpsons", and "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" (Look close at the Warner Brothers/Burbank Studios gate - it just drives by).

Newer Batmobiles have been made, but this car is the fans' favorite. "Holy backfire, Batman!" The car seems to be having a resurgence, as several new scale models have recently been released.

The DenOfGeek web site provided the Lincoln Future/Batmobile image. Technical stuff for this post came from "The Official Batman Batbook" by Joel Eisner. The front view is from 1966Batmobile.com, the last two photos are from "The Official Batman Batbook".

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

 

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e54ed05fc2883301156e45131f970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Batmobile (1966):

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

For the longest time a lot of my friends and I were under the impression that the Batmobile in the '60s show was a. . . .Pontiac! Must've looked like the GTO or a Catalina or something. Probably the sort of beakish front end.

No, it was the Monkeemobile that was a Pontiac.

Car & Driver did a comparison test with the Batmobile, the Starsky & Hutch Torino, etc.

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/comparison_test/coupes/batmobile_vs_starsky_hutch_ford_gran_torino_back_to_the_future_de_lorean_time_machine_mad_max_ford_falcon_interceptor_general_lee_dodge_charger_comparison_test/batmobile_comparison_test

The Batmobile won. The driving dynamics were less than impressive, but the car's basic coolness outweighed the problems. As they put it, "In the Batmobile, well, you forgive a lot."

One of the joys of owning a Barris built TV car (the Stutz Bearcat replica previously featured here by Cookie the Dog's Owner and myself) was getting the chance to visit Barris at his Hollywood shop.
Behind his desk were shelves of Batmobile models and toys.

But a highlight was going into the garage and being allowed to sit in the actual #1 1966 Batmobile. The first thing you do is pick up the Batphone. And yes, the song ”Da-da, Da-Da, Da-da, Da-da...Batman!” goes through your mind. As a child of the 60s, I watched Batman...mainly for the car.
Sitting in it and meeting its builder was a very special event..one I thought I'd never have while watching the show outside of Kansas City all those years ago..
Two icons of the custom car world together...one living, the other steel.

A couple of years later, I got to spend some time with Batman himself, Adam West.
After watching him deal with the media and public...politely
answering questions that were the same ones asked 40+ years ago, I told him he had a great sense of humor.
"John" he said leaning in close and whispering "in this job, you've got to have a sense of humor."

John B, that's a fantasy I've had since 1966. To both sit in the REAL Batmobile, and then meet Adam West, is the next best thing to meeting Catwoman (Any of them LOL).

I still plan on building a model of the Future in 1:24 scale, with a same-sized Batmobile next to it. Kind of a conversation piece, I hope.

The Batmobile is on permanent public display at the Volo Auto Museum, in Volo, IL.

The Batmobile I am familiar with, circa 1966 used the bubble roof from the 1955 LInconln show car but it was primarily based on a 1966 Oldsmobile Holiday coupe. Look at the wheel wells, they are hardly changed at all.

I like the TV Batmobile -- and would love to see some documentation on the '66 Olds claim -- but much prefer the looks of the 1989 movie car.

But more to the point: how could you have omitted the sublime Tallulah Bankhead from the list of guest villains? I'm shocked... SHOCKED!

"Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods!" Miss Tallulah Bankhead gave her final performance as "Black Widow" on "Batman". Her Bat-appearances were March 15 and 16, 1967; she passed on December 12, 1968.

Good thing the Caped Crusader used his Anti-Short-Circuiting Batelectrodes and Remote-Control Batcomputer Oscillator during this crime spree. We might have never heard from him again!

"The Batmobile is on permanent public display at the Volo Auto Museum, in Volo, IL."

It's one of several copies out there. Barris made about 4 for the car show circuit, others were made by fans.
You can buy fiberglass shells to mount on most 60s-70s chassis...which could explain the one with Olds mechanicals.
This website explains it all:
http://www.1966batmobile.com/

The original #1 metal car...the ex Futura...is now in the Peterson Museum in LA. Whether it's just on loan or Barris sold it, I don't know.

I got to see one of the original Batmobiles - the "stunt" version I believe - at Veteran's Auditorium, Des Moines, Iowa in 1986. Some lucky kid won an Easter Egg coloring contest and won a ride around downtown Des Moines. Given the fact I was in college at the time, I don't think I could have bluffed my way through pretending to be under 12.

Anyway, when the Batmobile got back from the tour, the driver decided to do a little showing off with the Batmobile by doing donuts in the parking lot and what-not. I was standing by the parking spot of the Batmobile when they threw open the garage door and manually pushed in the steam-spewing, non-running Batmobile. It would seem the side panel of the radiator wasn't up to the stress of a high-revving V8 slinging around a 20 year old Batmobile. As the very last of the coolant poured to the floor from the very-blown radiator, I bellowed out -

"Holy Prestone, Batman! The bat-radiator has sprung a bat-leak!"

The handlers of the Batmobile all turned and looked at me with icy daggers shooting out of their eyes and "oh, no he di'n't" looks on their faces. Discretion being the better part of valor I beat a hasty bat-retreat up to the main level to get Burt Ward to re-sign my autographed photo of Robin.

I say re-sign because Burt Ward first signed it when I was about six years old at a car show in Rock Island, Illinois. It blew his mind that anyone would hold on to a picture of him as Robin for that long. The look on his face when I slid the already-signed picture across the table was unforgettable.

Burt Ward ended up talking to me for about half-an-hour if for no other reason than I bucked the trend - I wanted to be Robin when I grew up. Alas, it was not to be as a cruel mix of genetics made me 6' 4", but that was the dream anyway.

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

Powered by Rollyo

Car Lust™ Contributors

October 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31