In the past few years, not only has the Corvette-like Batmobile from Batman Returns been put up for auction, but a jet-powered replica of that same style of Batmobile has also been created. A drivable copy of the Dark Knight-era Tumbler has likewise been built, along with a working replica of the associated Bat Pod motorcycle. For many people, however, the only “true” Batmobile is the original version driven by Adam West in the 1960s TV series – and it’s about to be put on the auction block, for the first time ever.
Unlike the versions from the 80s and beyond, the original Batmobile started life as something else – the one-of-a-kind 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car.
Created by the Ford Motor Company, the Futura served as a showcase and test bed for technological concepts that might or might not make their way into production cars. The 19-foot (5.8-meter)-long vehicle was built by hand in 1954 at Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy, and was painted a pearlescent blue-white. It made its debut at the 1955 Chicago Auto Show.
At the time, some of its features included a push-button transmission, instruments mounted within the steering wheel, and external microphones that could transmit traffic noises to its occupants – kind of funny, when one considers what lengths automakers now go to in order to block out such sounds.
In 1959, the now-red car made a cameo in the movie It Started with a Kiss. Shortly after, it was purchased from Ford (for one dollar!) by renowned automobile customizer George Barris – he’s the person who created such classic TV vehicles as KITT, the Beverly Hillbillies’ truck, the General Lee, the Torino Green Hornet and the Monkee Mobile.
The Futura was stored in his garage until late 1965, when 20th Century Fox Television and Greenway Productions approached him about making a car for the upcoming Batman TV series. Given the 15-day timeline and US$15,000 budget, he decided to heavily customize the Futura instead of starting from scratch.
Throughout its subsequent career on television and at car shows, the car has remained part of Barris’ personal collection. Now, however, he’s decided to let it go. It will be auctioned on January 19th in Scottsdale, Arizona, by the Barrett-Jackson auction house.
Although it’s not clear if all of these are actually functional, some of the car's features include:
- 1956 Lincoln 390 V-8 engine
- B&M; Hydro Automatic transmission
- Nose-mounted aluminum Cable Cutter Blade
- Bat Ray Projector
- Anti-Theft Device
- Bat Eye Switch
- Antenna Activator
- Police Band Cut-In Switch
- Automatic Tire Inflation Device
- Remote Batcomputer
- Emergency Bat Turn Lever
- Anti-Fire Activator
- Bat Smoke
- Bat Photoscope
- Rear-mounted Deist parachutes for executing 180-degree turns
There is no word on what price the car is expected to fetch. It will doubtless be enough, however, to have made the Adam West-era Batman exclaim something along the lines of “Great galloping greenbacks!”.