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

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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 1 month 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.😊
audie65 1 month 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 1 month 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.
RobHoward Wiseguy 14 days ago
Fa Q ..... How's are my gramar Eg-it?
EddieHarris 1 month ago
I'm actually doing a rendering of the Pink Panther Limo as I speak
audie65 1 month 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 1 month 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.
DanielZabo 1 month ago
Surprised that the late Hugh Hefner didn’t buy that shaggin-wagon? Definitely during his prime time player years. lol
OldTVfanatic 1 month ago
Looks more like F.A.B 1 from Thunderbirds
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
I don’t remember that opening.
I heard that. Well kind of but Just not that opening! lol I always thought the other (theme) song from the movie was used in the cartoon edition of The Pink Panther? The instrumental version from Henry Mancini
Yes for some reason I thought it was the same as the movie. 🤔
Wiseguy DanielZabo 1 month 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.
RobHoward Wiseguy 14 days 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.
RobHoward RobHoward 14 days ago
'LAME' is defined as "lacking needful or desirable substance"*.

*Merriam-Webster.

BTW..... Fa Q!
F5Twitster 1 month 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 1 month ago
Perfectly good reason for the antenna--it's called TV reception. Or do you prefer a screen full of snow?
teethclenched 1 month ago
Gee, I wonder how many Mary Kay Cosmetics the PP had to sell to get THAT!


jonnieking 1 month 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."
Barry22 1 month ago
"Quick, to the Panther Mobile!"
justjeff 1 month ago
Well, color me pink... I never knew about that car...
BrittReid 1 month ago
I like the Cragars. Pass on the rest.
Had to check and see what a Gragar is. Come to find out, it's not a type of car as I thought it was, but a type of wheel.
Cragar’s are rims that were popular in the 70’s-early 80’s....
Tough to fine now
BobInBG78 BrittReid 1 month 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 1 month ago
I had all of them (Cherry Bomb exhaust) on a 68 Charger R/T......
madvincent BrittReid 1 month ago
The cragars SS rims look great on vintage cars ....miss those days
DanielZabo BrittReid 1 month ago
Cragars looked so natural on so many types of Hot Rods from the 70’s & 80’s . Those rims with the side pipes were all the rage. But those side pipes could and would leave a nasty burn if you forgot they were just outside the doors.
Andybandit 1 month ago
Cool car. I never heard of the car or seen it.
Peter_Falk_Fan 1 month 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 1 month ago
I love Ferrari's & Alpha Romeo's. Both are great cars.
PulsarStargrave 1 month ago
YUCK, it looks a LOT like "The Car With An Electronic Brain" from an episode of SPEED RACER!
Michael 1 month 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 1 month 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.
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.
stephaniestavr5 AnnieM 1 month ago
THANK YOU AnnieM! I HAVE BEEN VIDICATED!
Over the years I have brought up the fact that I too have seen the Batmobile in person. People would looked at me strange, {They thought I had gone "Batty!} when I mentioned the car was fuzzy. I told them the fuzziness was there to simulate the fur of a real bat.
There used to be a car museum in a nearby suburb. {For those of you who grew up in Northeastern IL., specifically the North Shore area. Do any of you remember the car museum in Highland Park?} Like you saw AnnieM, I also saw that exact same flocked car. I remember touching it. There could have been two cars that "made the rounds:" The shiny one stayed in CA, the simulated Bat fur car {which I consider the "real Batmobile," because of the faux Bat fur,} went on tour.
AzarAttura AnnieM 1 month ago
Saw that very same car too. East Coast
AnnieM stephaniestavr5 1 month 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.
stephaniestavr5 AnnieM 1 month ago
Thanks a lot for the link to the link. I will definitely be checking this site out!
dcoss56 1 month ago
How about moving your cartoons up one hour. Start at 8 instead of 7.
PulsarStargrave dcoss56 1 month ago
Especially on Saturdays for us POPEYE fans!
leave it at 7 just get out of bed
Wiseguy dcoss56 1 month 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.
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