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Tuesday, April 18, 2017





From the first moments the theme song plays to the opening cartoon montage of the 60's Batman series, there was something about this show that was at once cringe worthy and ultra cool. Batman, pre-recorded, in full color on the TV screen was every comic collector (and kids) ultimate TV show. The costumes, the characters, the catwomen. As cheesy as it was, most of the times, it's attention to detail to all aspects of the Batman universe was awesome. A Unique television show for a unique period of time.

Where does he get all those wonderful toys?

One of the coolest toys created for TV and Movies is the Batmobile. Specifically, the '65 Batmobile. When 20th Century Fox began developing the show, they contacted Dean Jefferies, who started his career as a grinder in a machine shop, while pin striping cars on the side. He became so well known that James Dean, became one of his early customers, hiring Jefferies to work on his Porsche 550 Spyder. This opened the door for Jefferies, Mobil Oil hired him to paint their Indy Cars, which turned in to a full time job working with A. J. Foyt and then Caroll Shelby.

Again, this opened more doors and Jefferies began building custom vehicles for different Hollywood productions, including the Manta Ray from Bikini Beach, The Monkeemobile, the Landmaster from Damnation Alley and later, the Trolly from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Jefferies began work on the design and initial fabrication for the Batmobile, soon after he was contacted, but 20th Century Fox wanted the vehicle finished sooner than Jefferies could deliver and he asked George Barris to finish the project for him.

The Batmobile started off as a customized 1959 Caddillac, but when Barris took over the project, they switched the vehicle over to a customized Ford Futura - a concept car that was created by Bill Schmidt, Doug Poole Sr and John Najjar in the 50's. The Futura prototype was built entirely by hand at Ghia Body Works in Italy at the cost of $250,000.

Barris, purchased the vehicle for $1.00, after it had been showcased in the movie It Started With A Kiss, but nothing came of it and it languished in his shop for years. When he got the call to do a vehicle for the Batman TV series, Barris thought it would be easier to just transform a car for the show, instead of building one from scratch, so he, along with Herb Grasse, a designer and Bill Cushenbery, a metal fabricator, set to work modifying and converting the Futura.

Barris was smart. He kept ownership of the car and would lease it to the Studio when they needed it for filming. Unfortunatey, when filming began, problems arose with the car. It would over heat, the battery would die and the Mickey Thompson tires continually failed. By mid season, a Ford Galaxy engine and transmission were installed and later, the rocket boosters were added for effect.

From the Batman/Batmobile Wikipedia
This Batmobile's gadgets include a nose-mounted aluminum Cable Cutter Blade, Bat Ray Projector, Anti-Theft Device, Detect-a-scope, Batscope, Bat Eye Switch, Antenna Activator, Police Band Cut-In Switch, Automatic Tire Inflation Device, Remote Batcomputer—radio linked to the main Batcomputer in the Batcave, the Batphone, Emergency Bat Turn Lever, Anti-Fire Activator, Bat Smoke, Bat Photoscope, and many other Bat gadgets. If needed, the Batmobile is capable of a quick 180° "bat-turn" thanks to two rear-mounted ten-foot Deist parachutes. The main license plate seen throughout the series was 2F-3567 (1966). Some changes were made during the run of the series, including different license plates (TP-3567; BT-1 and BAT-1), removal of the Futura steering wheel and substitution with a 1958 Edsel steering wheel, and the addition of extra gadgets such as a net in the trunk, remote-controlled driving, a rear-facing camera under the turbine exhaust port, and the Bat Ram

There were a total of 4 Barris built Batmobiles. Two of the vehicles featured fiberglass copies of the original body for exhibition on the car show circuit and one was built for exhibition drag racing. At one point, the cars we painted with black velvet "fuzz" paint to hide the stress fractures that showed up on the fiberglass bodys, later, they were all restored to their original gloss black paint job.

The drag racing version of the Batmobile featured a Holman Moody Ford 427 V8 engine,  an Art Carr-prepared Ford C6 transmission and a functional rocket exhaust that had a tank filled with gasoline or kerosene that was pumped out the exhaust port and ignited electronically.

Now, as a kid, there is nothing cooler than a souped-up muscle car, equipped with a rocket. How many times have we donned our capes, tried to modify our big wheels or green machines and peeled off down the road to bring justice to the people? What would have made it even better, is if they had built the Batmobile as a kids ride-on. Most of us would still be on the road today, cape blowing in the wind, legs pumping those little pedals and singing the theme song to the show and making the VROOOM noises of the rocket exhaust.

A man can dream.

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