The story begins when Dean Jeffries, another famous customizer of the 60s, was contracted to build a 'Batmobile' for a fall, 1966 TV series in the works at 20th Century Fox. Suddenly, the ABC TV network decided they wanted the show's launch moved up...and Dean Jeffries couldn't fit the 'rush' job into his current work schedule, so he passed on it. He would, however, be asked to build, and did build, a car for the next ABC comic-book hero, The Green Hornet..that car was called 'Black Beauty'.
In a pinch, 20th Century Fox turned to George Barris to build the Batmobile. He was given a rough sketch (by BATMAN
production artist Eddie Stakes) and only 3 weeks to design and build it! Barris would be paid to build the car plus a
weekly rental fee for the car during the show's production.
"The art director brought in an idea of what they needed: flashing lights, turbine fire blower on the back,
chain slicer, etc.," said Barris. "We gave them a twentieth-century Batmobile that was different
from Bob Kane's."
To save time, he realized he could use the long-idle Futura as a basis. Since the car was 'worthless' to Ford, and 20th Century Fox owed a mountain of storage fees to Barris, Ford sold the car to Barris for $1.00.... yes, one dollar!
Here are a few of the blueprints drawn up by Barris Kustoms, and used to guide the car's construction.
The #1 Batmobile is actually the Lincoln Futura show car, reworked by George Barris and Bill Cushenbery.
It was not built from scratch. It is steel-bodied, has all the gadgets built-in, many of which function, and weighs 3
"It had an experimental Lincoln engine, which we removed and replaced with a blue-printed 427 Ford
engine that had dual Paxton blowers with a nitro injector. It ran and drove pretty well."
While Barris worked on making the chain cutter and other additions to the car, Barris hired a competing
car kustomizer, Bill Cushenbery, to do the body work. "Bill did the metal shaping," said Barris. "I chose
him because of his experience and craftsmanship. He is a top-notch craftsman."
Recalled Cushenbery, "I guess they were too snowed under. I did it in my own shop. Barris told
me what to do. I didn't work from any sketches."
Said Barris, "I incorporated the bat-face into the design sculpturing of the car. That's why you see the
ears go up where the headlights are. The nose comes down for the chain slicer. The mouth is the grill.
Right on back to the huge, long fins which are Bat-fins."
The Futura had no side windows to roll down, so Ford designed a unique air-flow system that had air
ducted thru the passenger compartment and out through 'V' shaped slots in the rear deck. When the
Batmobile was painted, the inside surface of these vents was trimmed in the red paint. However, the
replica fiberglass cars had no such vents- just look-alike 'steps' molded in. Since there was no inside
surface, the red trim got applied on the top of each 'step'. As these cars have changed owners over
the years, and undergone restorations, some have lost this red trim while others retain it. Many non-Barris
replicas chose to trim the steps while others left them black as well.
The above photo shows the car's paint as very 'flat'. Early filming was done with the
car painted with a less-shiny paint, to control reflected light and unwanted background images.
The car is a matt black and the expected 'Cherise Red' trim has been quickly spray-painted on in WHITE. Eww!!
Here the Batmobile gets air under the front wheels as it hops a curb during early test-filming. Note the 'Gotham
Lumber Yard' sign......why so low? Oh, yea.....the camera angle!
These are additional early test shots. The next two pictures are taken from a few seconds of footage from
the very first Batman series episode- OOPS! The car is still matt black and white!
Here's the #1 Batmobile as she appeared after completion of early film tests, and was repainted Gloss Black and Cherise Red....
note the use of 'Radir' wheels (see below).
Being a rather savvy businessman, George Barris was prompt in patenting his creation...check out page 40 of the filed papers.
These pics are from a 1966 TV Guide story about George Barris putting the car to good use. In the first picture, another modification to the Futura can be seen. The top section of the Futura's unique steering wheel was cut out to mimick the yoke of a large aircraft. This change made operating the car hazardous on top of uncomfortable. After complaints from Adam West (and probably the stunt-driver as well), Barris removed the Futura wheel and speedometer, and replaced it with a 'common' Edsel wheel. This is why you will see pictures with a complete, round wheel in the car sometimes. The Futura wheel disappeared after removal and hasn't been seen since. It may have simply been discarded as junk! Further confusing the issue, when the show ended, and the car began doing auto-shows, Barris cut the Edsel wheel as he had done to the Futura wheel! The cut-Edsel wheel is how it is setup to this day.
Note: Most of the other Barris Batcars have the same Edsel wheel.
This picture of Adam West driving the #1 car shows both the Radir wheels (see below) and 'Bat-tering Ram' seen in a few episodes.
The Dynamic Duo demonstrate emerging technology...the cellular phone! Someday, all drivers will be able to get one! WOW!!
So THAT'S where the Bat-super-thing-a-ma-bob is located! Actually, the guys are looking for a bomb that's been planted in
the car, and thus revealing to us which way the Futura's hood opens. Thanks guys!
11/18/96: The above pic is of the 'Dragway' wheels that the #1 car wears these days.The Batmobiles were previously treated
to a formerly 'rare' set of wheels called 'SINGLE RIBB I', made by a company called 'Radir'. Today, none of the Barris cars still wear them, but that may
change as Radir is back, and the wheels (below) have been re-issued! See their website at