I’ve always been a Batman fan, preferring the original art-deco gothic world of the Dark Knight to the technicolour American dream of some of the other superheroes. I’ve had my favourite artists, too – much preferring the art of people like Neal Adams, Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano to the primitive style of Moldoff or Kane. I could list favourite actors, too, and in all fairness probably wouldn’t include Adam West among them, but there was something about the car that West drove in the TV series and subsequent film that really appealed to me as a teenager. This was the first Bat-special in my eyes, something more than an American Limo with a Bat-mask on the front of it, and I knew I had to build a model of it one day.
This project began a year or so back, but with the 50th Anniversary of the show coming this year, I really had to finish it. So here it is – designed from scratch to replicate (as far as possible) the features of the Lincoln Futura on which the original car was based.
The website www.1966batmobile.com tells us:
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 knew it was the perfect answer to the quandary 20th Century Fox had created.
In October of 1965, the Batmobile was completed and delivered to Fox where it made its television debut on January 12, 1966.
The car was such a huge success that George Barris and the producers of Batman decided to build copies of the Batmobile in late 1966. Barris and his crew pulled a mold from the #1 Batmobile and created 3 fiberglass copies. These replicas were displayed at car shows and dragstrips and also made appearances where countless fans could see them.
The 1966 TV Batmobile is still one of the most iconic and popular cars in the world.
My model was built from scratch with reference to as much orginal material as I could find. It started as a solid ladder frame chassis which carries a 12v motor which powers a drive train through a pedal-operated clutch and a 3-speed and reverse gearbox. Custom wheels (same size as Meccano tyres and hubs but better in appearance) are carried on MacPherson Strut suspension at the front and leaf-springs at the rear. A wealth of black parts, mostly original stock, make up the flared body-work, while the front canopies were sections cut from the packing of a pair of Easter Eggs!