The Pink Panther had the coolest, kookiest custom car of the 1960s

The Panthermobile may not be street legal or very driveable, but it sure is nifty.

AP Photo

Sixties television had the most enviable rides. Sorry, Eighties kids, you can have your K.I.T.T. and Sonny Crockett's Ferrari. Those are sleek and chic, but on the outside, they are still rather standard sports cars. No, we'd rather roll up in the Batmobile or the Monkeemobile. The Munster Koach was a groovy, gothic hot rod — and the family had their awesome DRAG-U-LA, built from a coffin. The Green Hornet battled bad guys in his Black Beauty.

Even the cartoon characters rolled in style. The Flintstones had their iconic foot-powered ragtop. George Jetson could fly.

But none of these superheroes or toon had a car as cool as the Panthermobile. 

The Pink Panther Show premiered on television in 1969. The Saturday morning series on NBC repackaged Pink Panther theatrical cartoons created earlier in the decade. Remember, the character was first introduced in the opening credits of the 1963 Peter Sellers comedy The Pink Panther. The "panther" of that movie was a diamond, but the opening credits featured a symbolic feline. The Pink Panther character proved to be so popular, he got his own animated spin-off series of shorts. 

The Pink Panther Show treated Saturday morning like a true movie premiere, at least in its opening credits. The sequence showed the Pink Panther and Inspector rolling up to Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. While the stars were animated, the sequence was shot in live-action.

United Artists Television

Kids who grew up in the era will undoubtedly now have the swingin' theme song in their heads: "Everybody loves a panther that's pink / He really is a groovy cat / He's a gentleman, a scholar, he's an acrobat!"

But the most eye-catching object in the credits was the Panthermobile. The thing looked like a Hot Wheels toy designed by Eva Gabor. The dart-like doorstop shape was one of a kind, built off the base of an Oldsmobile Toronado, believe it or not.

United Artists Television

After principle designer Ed Newton and his colleagues finished, it hardly looked like an Olds, or anything else on the road.

The 23' long luxury roadster featured an open cockpit. The driver perched in front of the front wheels, making steering and handling an issue. You can even see the driver (the actual stunt driver, not the kid who hops out of the car) swerving along the road, trying to keep the thing straight. In lieu of rearview mirrors, the Panthermobile utilized a black-and-white video monitor.

United Artists Television

The interior was even wilder, with its pink shag carpeting, pink pillows, cocktail bar, and princess telephone. Entry was gained through a wide clam-shell door on the right side. For no real reason, a rabbit-ears TV antenna sprung from a plush, upholstered bench at the rear of the automobile.

The thing cost nearly half a million bucks in today's money to construct. All for an opening sequence of a cartoon. Of course, the Panthermobile made the rounds at car shows, as you can see in the top picture, taken at a New York auto show in 1970.

A decade ago, the Panthermobile was purchased at auction by Galpin Auto Sports, the custom car garage featured in MTV's Pimp My Ride. Jay Leno later took a ride in it for his CNBC series.

But it will always truly belong to the Pink Panther and the imagination of the kids who grew up watching.

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ScoobyDoo169 18 months ago
I think that the Panthermobile is really cool, not as cool as the Mystery Machine though. I love how they ended the article saying that it really belonged to the Pink Panther and the kids who loved it, that was so cute and true.😊
Pax ScoobyDoo169 5 months ago
I heard that the Mystery Machine was actually based upon the First Generation Ford Econoline vans and that they actually had a car show where I live that actually had a real life Mystery Machine. Also, if you look at the show, then you will see that, in fact, that the design is indeed very similar to said van. Moreover, in the live action Scooby-Doo movies, the people that made those films did, in fact, use the van that I had mentioned to make their own Mystery Machine, which I think was already made beforehand for other car shows where I live, as well as all over the country, and possibly even all over the world.
Pax ScoobyDoo169 5 months ago
I tend to think that the Panthermobile was, in fact, the basis for the DOME Zero concept car over in Japan in the 1970s. I also hear that there is a Panther Pink option for cars around that time, but I am not sure which manufacturer had it for which vehicles, though.
audie65 18 months ago
I swear on my honor to attack all grammar police with no mercy. I will make it my life mission to defend all of us who are not so good at grammar. So bring it on grammar police!! I am ready for you!!
Wiseguy audie65 18 months ago
You have no honor. All you have is stupidity. And you insist on proving how stupid you are with every post. Give it up.
robjamhow Wiseguy 18 months ago
Fa Q ..... How's are my gramar Eg-it?
Pax audie65 5 months ago
Challenge Accepted.
EddieHarris 18 months ago
I'm actually doing a rendering of the Pink Panther Limo as I speak
Pax EddieHarris 5 months ago
I would love to see your rendering.
audie65 18 months ago
For no real reason, a douche named F5twister sprang (past tense) in with another ahole comment I wish he had sprung (past present) up his own ass instead!!! What a douche!!!!
Wiseguy audie65 18 months ago
There's a reason. To show morons like you what you should have learned in elementary school when you were too busy sleeping in class. Wake up and shut up.
OldTVfanatic 18 months ago
Looks more like F.A.B 1 from Thunderbirds
Pax OldTVfanatic 5 months ago
Actually, the F.A.B. 1 vehicle from the OG Thunderbirds, as well as the F.A.B. 2 from the new animated Thunderbirds series, were both based upon futuristic Rolls-Royce concept cars, even going so far as to actually get the blessings of Rolls-Royce itself for both concept cars to exist.
Pax OldTVfanatic 5 months ago
Also, yes, the F.A.B. 1 does appear in the new animated Thunderbirds series, but it is now relegated to a back up role rather than being a main vehicle.
MrsPhilHarris 18 months ago
I don’t remember that opening.
MrsPhilHarris 18 months ago
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MrsPhilHarris DanielZabo 18 months ago
Yes for some reason I thought it was the same as the movie. 🤔
Wiseguy DanielZabo 18 months ago
The cartoons themselves had the Henry Mancini music. But the NBC series "The Pink Panther Show" (1969-70, with "The Inspector") had its own theme song where we saw the Pink Panther car.
In 1970-71 NBC showed The Pink Panther Meets the Ant and the Aardvark, with reruns of the Pink Panther and new to TV Ant and the Aardvark.
A few years ago (2017-18) the LIGHT TV network (don't know if it still exists, it was owned by actress Roma Downey) showed
The Pink Panther Show (NBC, 1969-70), The New Pink Panther Show (NBC, 1971-74), Pink Panther and Friends (NBC, 1974-76) and The All New Pink Panther Show (ABC, 1978-80) while competing network THIS TV showed Pink Panther and Pals (Cartoon Network, 2010) all with the original openings from the network series. Back in the late 1980s or early 1990s the individual cartoons were syndicated to local stations without any series opening credits.
robjamhow Wiseguy 18 months ago
HEY DUMBASS! How about using punctuation in your LAME replies. FYI... 'LAME' is defined as "lacking needful or desirable substance"*. After all, a job worth doing, is worth doing write.
robjamhow RobHoward 18 months ago
'LAME' is defined as "lacking needful or desirable substance"*.

*Merriam-Webster.

BTW..... Fa Q!
Pax Wiseguy 5 months ago
I honestly wish that a new live action movie that would be called "The Inspector" could be made and that they could spoof James Bond with an intro, as well as an awesome sounding orchestral rearrangement of the theme from The Inspector cartoons. Also, I love the Spanish side kick that was introduced in that cartoon series as well.
Pax Pax 5 months ago
It would basically be a combination of a French interpretation of movies like the Rowan Atkinsson Johnny English films and Leslie Nielsen's Spy-Hard, along with all of the other Pink Panther films and The Inspector cartoons.
F5Twitster 18 months ago
“For no real reason, a rabbit-ears TV antenna sprung from a plush, upholstered bench at the rear of the automobile.”

SPRANG (past tense) from a plush bench, not sprung (past perfect).
Moverfan F5Twitster 18 months ago
Perfectly good reason for the antenna--it's called TV reception. Or do you prefer a screen full of snow?
teethclenched 18 months ago
Gee, I wonder how many Mary Kay Cosmetics the PP had to sell to get THAT!


jonnieking 18 months ago
Hello to all ! This may answer a few questions posted below. George Barris who, yes, built the "Batmobile", The "Drag-u-la", the "Munsters Coach", and a zillion other cars, was a good friend of mine whom I Interviewed many times from 2006-2014. One of the questions I asked him was about the "flocked" Batmobile, and his answer was simple: "That version was used for any shooting of the show at night so that the paint on the car wouldn't shine & glare into the cameras."
Pax jonnieking 5 months ago
In LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, you can also have a Batman '66 DLC pack, which also includes a LEGO Batman '66 vehicle. Also, Adam West is a character in that game that you have to save, as well as can play eventually. Moreover, LEGO also has made a physical Batman '66 Batmobile as well.
Barry22 18 months ago
"Quick, to the Panther Mobile!"
justjeff 18 months ago
Well, color me pink... I never knew about that car...
BrittReid 18 months ago
I like the Cragars. Pass on the rest.
BrittReid 18 months ago
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madvincent stephaniestavr5 18 months ago
Cragar’s are rims that were popular in the 70’s-early 80’s....
Tough to fine now
BobInBG78 BrittReid 18 months ago
Back then you had to have Hooker Headers under the hood and Thrush or Cherry Bomb exhaust to go with those Cragar rims!
BrittReid BobInBG78 18 months ago
I had all of them (Cherry Bomb exhaust) on a 68 Charger R/T......
madvincent BrittReid 18 months ago
The cragars SS rims look great on vintage cars ....miss those days
BrittReid 18 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Pax madvincent 5 months ago
Why are the comments being deleted? What are they saying?
Andybandit 18 months ago
Cool car. I never heard of the car or seen it.
Peter_Falk_Fan 18 months ago
I wasn't an '80s kid, but I wanted Sonny Crockett's Ferrari Testarossa. I'm a Mopar man, but Ferraris are my favorite exotic cars.
Moody Peter_Falk_Fan 18 months ago
I love Ferrari's & Alpha Romeo's. Both are great cars.
PulsarStargrave 18 months ago
YUCK, it looks a LOT like "The Car With An Electronic Brain" from an episode of SPEED RACER!
Michael 18 months ago
I think I.mentioned the car in another thread.

One of the vehicles in Captain Scarlett had the driver facing towards the rear, looking at a monitor. It's the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle.
15inchBlackandWhite 18 months ago
I remember that opening sequence. I once also got an up-close and personal look at DRAG-U-LA when it was on display in front of a local theater. That thing was cool!
I've seen it, too, at Pensacon. It was there with the Munster Koach. They were replicas, of course. I even had a little chat with Butch Patrick.
Yes Butch Patrick was at this theater too. I didn't get to talk to him.
AnnieM 15inchBlackandWhite 18 months ago
I love the Pink Panther, but I don't remember this car at all. Ah, well. When I was a kid in the 70's, the local theatre showing "Herbie Rides Again" had an actual VW Herbie in the lobby for awhile. I also was able to get up close to an Adam West-style Batmobile at a local car show; it was really neat, as it looked exactly as it did on the show - all except for the flocking. Instead of a shiny black paint job, it was covered in fuzzy black flocking. I have no idea why, but my best guess is so they didn't have to constantly wipe off all the fingerprints from the steady stream of kids who wanted a closer look inside. Lol.
AnnieM 18 months ago
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AzarAttura AnnieM 18 months ago
Saw that very same car too. East Coast
AnnieM stephaniestavr5 18 months ago
Glad to help! I thought I had read somewhere that there were several of them made, so I googled, and found a site called 1966batmobile (dot) com. LOTS of interesting info, plus photos where you can clearly see the flocked versions.
AnnieM 18 months ago
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dcoss56 18 months ago
How about moving your cartoons up one hour. Start at 8 instead of 7.
PulsarStargrave dcoss56 18 months ago
Especially on Saturdays for us POPEYE fans!
country44 PulsarStargrave 18 months ago
leave it at 7 just get out of bed
Wiseguy dcoss56 18 months ago
Then the Westerns fans would complain their shows don't start early enough. Be glad you're not in the central time zone, here the cartoons start at 6am.
Pax Wiseguy 5 months ago
I say that MeTV needs to have a permanent sub-channel to classic cartoons, as well as spinoff channels to action cartoons and classic anime. The channels could be called Toon In, Toon in Action, and Toon In Japan.
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