Batmobile #1

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 TONS!

"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

The Batmobile as shown on Radir's website
The Radir rims are seen again below wearing really wide and strangely-treaded tires. Are these the famed Mickey Thompsons that Barris first installed hoping NOT to get flats.....but as they were made for light-weight race cars, the Futura blew them out quickly.

Look, Alfred! No driver! The Batmobile takes a corner minus Batman...or anyone else at the wheel.
These pictures are from a 1989 article, inspired by the release of the 'Batman' movie starring Michael Keaton. They appear to have been taken in the late sixties, possibly after the show ended.
The #1 Batmobile is still owned by Mr. Barris and stored at his 'Barris Kustoms' shop, located at 10811 Riverside Dr., North Hollywood, California.
It's amazing that this car has been stored in the same place for over 35 years now!!!

For an even MORE indepth description of the Futura's rebirth as the Batmobile,
check out this lengthy article from the late 1980s!

7/18/96: Number 1 is reported to be in VERY poor condition as of June, 1996 at Barris' Hollywood shop.
11/9/96: The 'poor condition' report is indeed true. Recent reports from magazines/newspapers and individuals that have seen it all confirm that up-close, the Futura is showing her age. The paint appears good at a distance, but up close is cracked and discolored. The interior is described as almost 'ratty'.
4/11/97: I just received word from a visitor to Barris' shop this week that George says he has stopped showing the #1 Batmobile due to it's deteriorating condition. Says the witness- "The body cracks are all over the body now, and the paint and bondo on the hood is bubbling and starting to lift. Most every light is cracked, broken or even missing. (One of) the red lights on the pieces which stand beside the broken off and has been replaced with red electrical tape! It is certainly heartbreaking to say the least."
I have offered to take over ownership of the car and begin repairs- no response yet. ;)
Here are eight pics from Eric Seltzer, taken in late August '96. They include some revealing close-ups.
Notice in these pictures, and the one at the top of the page, that Barris has added LOTS of little signs to the car, labeling each button's 'function'. One obvious addition is the 'GAS' signage on the front grilles, aside new, orange 'nozzles'. These were only added in the last two years or so.

Here's something you don't see often! The #1 car getting loaded onto it's enclosed trailer beside the Barris Kustoms shop in North Hollywood. Note the AM/PM conveinience store just next door.
These three pics were taken next to Barris Kustoms in early 1996. You have to wonder how many times they've taken the car through that McDonald's drive-thru...just for kicks!

A couple of family portraits of the Futura/#1 car and younger siblings...first the 1989 film version and then with both the 1989 and 1995 film cars. Both pics feature George Barris standing by.

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