Holy Test Drive, Batman!

Press and News

By Edsel Rollin

One of my biggest thrills this year had to be when I got a chance to drive the original Batmobile. It’s a big car with a lot of power, but it’s also very old school in many ways. From afar, it appears to be fairly hi-tech (when you consider when it was built), but, when you get to study the vehicle up close, the instrument panel, dash and interior look fairly low-tech.

I grew up on the Batman TV series and even though it was very corny, I loved it. So, when I got an opportunity to interview George Barris, I jumped at the chance. Barris is a collector of what I call “celebrity vehicles” – famous cars that make gearheads like me drool and wax nostalgic.

When I first got behind the wheel of the original Batmobile, I was reluctant to gun the engine or drive fast. But, after I began to feel comfortable behind the wheel, I really opened it up. I was in Sacramento at the time talking to a company that restores many of Barris’s vehicles. People were smiling and waving to me as I drove by and it was a rush. If you can’t get women with the Batmobile, it means you have absolutely no game.

Here’s the history of the original Batmobile:

In 1955, the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company designed and built a futuristic concept car called the Lincoln Futura. It was built entirely by hand in Turin, Italy at a cost of $250,000, and like many concept cars, was never put in to production. In the mid 1960′s, George Barris of Barris Kustom City acquired the car for $1 directly from Ford.

Fast forward to August 1965, the “Batman” TV show producers approached George to have him build a new Batmobile for their upcoming show. The only catch was the car had to be ready for action in a mere three weeks. Seeing the bat-like qualities his Futura already had, George felt it was the perfect answer to the quandary 20th Century Fox had created.

Three weeks later, in October of 1965, the Batmobile was born and television history was made.

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