Building the Batmobile: The untold story of TV's most iconic vehicle

From concept to cult classic.

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

There are a lot of things that go into making a show "iconic." Most importantly, though, are the unmistakably unique factors. There's no confusing Batman for any other show on TV. The creators made sure of that. From the costumes to the theme music to the performances, everything about Batman is uniquely Batman. The set design, the characters and even the way Batman climbs up buildings are all elements that make sure you can instantly tell what the show is.

Another of the show's most special traits was its Batmobile. There was no other car on television like it back then, and there sure hasn't been one since. The Batmobile from the Batman TV series is distinctive even within the pantheon of Batman media. No other Batmobile looks like this one, in the comics or the movies. So where did this set of wheels come from, anyway?

The book Batmania does a fantastic job of wrangling all sorts of Batman-related ephemera and cramming it between two covers. Batmania features a revealing interview with George Barris, designer and builder of Hollywood custom cars. His most famous work, of course, is the show's Batmobile.

The original Batmobile was a customized Ford Futura, a sharp-looking, immediately recognizable experimental car made nearly a decade earlier. Famously, the Futura appeared on-screen in the comedy It Started With a Kiss, starring Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds.

"The Futura was built way back in the fifties," Barris wrote.

"It's not a production car. The Futura was the product of designer William Schmidt and the car was released to me when I was with the Ford Custom Caravan.

"I would take these experimental cars that come from the division and use them for film work. In this case, I wanted to use the Futura because it already had the double bubbles. All I had to do was remove a part of the central section and keep the fore and at. Then I put in the arches, lights, and everything else. Using the Futura enabled me to save a lot of time and I only had three weeks to build the car!"

Fascinating stuff!

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WilliamJorns 20 days ago
Interesting factoid: George Barris actually had a patent taken out on the design of the TV Batmobile - a patent which finally expired in 1980. That explains why the Batmobile drawn in the comic books during the show's initial run on network television looked almost, but not exactly, like the car on the show. DC Comics couldn't have drawn the car exactly like it appeared on TV without having to pay a royalty to Mr. Barris for every issue sold depicting his unique design.
BrittReid 21 days ago
I always like The Black Beauty Better.
Runeshaper 21 days ago
Very insightful. The Batmobile is FANTASTIC! Kudos to George Barris for creating this iconic vehicle and to Futura designer William Schmidt.
Bapa1 21 days ago
The Batmobile was ultra-cool.
JHP 21 days ago
we I was a yung un ; Batman and the Green Hornet were in my viewing wheelhouse
Stoney 21 days ago
Always wanted to drive the Batmobile lol
Deleted 21 days ago
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StrayCat 21 days ago
What you say is true, but Lincoln continued to operate as a separate division of Ford, just like all the GM Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, etc. In fact, Lincoln showrooms were usually paired with Mercury. They were generally advertised as your "Lincoln/Mercury dealer".
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