Batmobile - The black, atomic
powered automobile with dual canopy and red and white
pinstripes seen on the fantasy crime drama BATMAN/ABC/1966-68.
Millionaire Bruce Wayne (Adam West), a.k.a. the caped crusader
"Batman," used this sleek transport to race through the
streets of Gotham City in pursuit of such evil-doers as the
Joker, Riddler and Penguin. The Batmobile was stored in the
secret caves beneath the stately living quarters of Wayne
The original Batmobile was actually a customized Ford
Lincoln Futura, a unique experimental car designed by William
Schmidt (built in Italy by Ghia in 1955) which had previously
appeared in the motion picture It Started With A Kiss (1959).
When production schedule for the BATMAN series was moved up,
Dean Jeffries the person originally chosen to design the
Batmobile ,was replaced by custom car-expert George Barris
(a.k.a. "The King of the Kustomizers").
Having only three
weeks to build the car, Barris chose the experimental Ford
chassis with a double bubble canopy.
Barris sculpted a
18-foot 10 inch aerodynamic hand-formed steel body over the Futura
chassis with front-end twin nostril scoops and an impressive
jet-styled turbine engine exhaust nozzle. The original Futura engine was a
He then mounted a
moon-equipped Ford 292 engine, with dual Granitelli
Paxton turbo chargers with nitro oxide thrust control and a
hydro-trans mounted into a locked posi-traction rear end. Barris rpelaced the engine with a Ford 390 in 1967.
The interior contained flashing lights, Batphones, antitheft
devices, radios, a Batscope, escape tools, a Detect-a-scope,
laser gun controls and a remote TV camera with display screen.
The finished product weighed 5,500 pounds and cost $30,000. In
contrast to its atomic-powered billing, (the atomic pile in
the Batcave powered the Batmobile), the Batmobile's ran on
The car's real top speed was 40 mph. The film
cameras under-cranked so the car appeared to be going 80 mph.
The tire tread design on the Batmobile resembled row after row
of "Peace" symbols, and each wheel rim was adorned with a bat
silhouette. Barris switched those Mickey Thompson tires with Firestone tires because the original tires were unable to handle the weight of the batmobile.
Reportedly, stuntman Hubie Kerns said he got the car up to 70 miles per hour on the
highway for the helicopter shots while filming the Batman movie in the summerof 1966.
Additional "Bat" equipment included the Bat Laser, the Batram,
the Batmobile Mobile Crime Computer, Remote Control Ejector
Seat Button, Bulletproof Windshield, Parachutes for slowing
down at high speeds (with a parachute pick-up service), and a
Batmobile Tracking Map. The four different license plate
numbers used on the series were: 2F-3567, TP-6597, BAT-1, and
2EF-456. When trouble called, Batman said to Robin (Burt
Ward), his crimefighting sidekick..."To the Batmobile." The
Batmobile exited the Batcave through the emergency Bat-tunnel
on Highway One or the Batcave Subterranean Blue Grotto Exit
(actually Bronson Caverns located in Hollywood Hills,
The Batmobiles built for the series were never bought by ABC
but became the possession of their creator, George Barris who
rented them out around the country.
Only the original Batmobile was built on a Futura chassis.
Cars two through five were constructed from smaller cars whose
chassis needed to be lengthened to match the original size of
the first car. The most powerful of the cars was number three.
It had a drag race engine purring beneath its Bathood.
time, some 25 different Batmobile replicas in varying sizes
(plastic, wood, etc.) were available for purchase. Batman also
used the Batcycle, the Batcopter and the Batboat to pursue the
villains of Gotham City.
When seatbelts became an important
social issue in the 1960s ("Buckle up for safety, buckle up"),
BATMAN producer William Dozier inserted scenes of Batman and
Robin buckling up their waist safety belts. At the time, the
Automobile Legal Association reported that Television's worst
drivers was Batman.
According to their observations of just
one program, Batman made U-turns on a busy street, crashed
through safety barriers, crossed road-divider markings, and
failed to signal on any of his turns.
For the movie remake Batman (1989) starring Michael Keaton a
new Batmobile was built by special effects supervisor John
Evans from a design by production designer Anton Furst. It was
about twenty feet long, eight feet wide with a body made of
The car featured side-mounted Batmissile
launchers, a central hydraulic jack that lifted the car off
the ground to enable it to change directions, and compression
feature that collapse the width of the car from 60 to 30
inches for alley chases.
New and improved versions of the Batmobile were introduced in the movies Batman Returns (1992),
the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), and
In the 1990s, the Batmobile was also featured in the Batman
Forever Stunt Show, a 20-minute extravaganza at Six Flags
Magic Mountain in California and Six Flags Great Adventure in
New Jersey which pitted the Caped Crusader against the Riddler
and Two-Face with pyrotechnics, karate fights and motorcycle
TRIVIA NOTE: On the 2/20/91
installment of THE TONIGHT SHOW Johnny Carson read a joke
about the last words of Albert Einstein, who supposedly said,
"If it was a real bat cave, how come the Batmobile is so clean
and shiny?" The No. 3 Batmobile (a fiberglass copy of the
original still owned by George Barris in North Hollywood) is
currently owned by the Imperial Palace Auto Collection in
Biloxi, Mississippi. It was purchased Labor Day (1997) at the
Kruse International Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Auction for over
$100,000. See also
"The Drew Carey April Fool's Day Sweepstakes" and
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