From its high-tech gadgets to its aesthetics, the Batmobile has evolved tremendously over the years. But the most iconic version of the supercar, which appeared in the 1966 Batman TV series, has a pretty neat backstory.
The tricked-out car was ahead of its time in many ways. But astonishingly, the Ford Batmobile was initially sold for less than the price of a cup of coffee.
The Batmobile featured in ‘Batman’ was a 1955 Ford Futura that sold for $1
The 1966 Batman TV series was a campy, comedic version of the Caped Crusader’s story. And Hollywood custom car designer George Barris’ modified Ford Lincoln Futura was a perfect fit for Adam West and Burt Ward’s outlandish adventures as the Dynamic Duo.
But surprisingly, Barris acquired the vehicle next to nothing. He purchased the Futura for only $1, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Of course, that’s not how much the car was worth. The $250,000, Italian-made concept car made its debut at the Chicago Auto Show in 1955. It was then sold to Barris for $1, with the understanding that he would put them in major Hollywood projects.
“I was touring for Ford Custom Car Caravan,” Barris said in an interview for the Television Academy. “So [Lee] Iacocca would send these cars out to me from Ford, and I would use them for the films.”
The Futura was first featured in Debbie Reynolds’ 1959 movie, It Started With a Kiss. It then sat in Barris’ lot for years until he got the opportunity to build the Batmobile for Batman in 1966.
George Barris turned the Futura into the Batmobile in three weeks
When Barris was hired to design the Batmobile for Batman, he was given only three weeks to get the job done. In his interview for the Television Academy, the designer said the Futura already had a futuristic body. But he still had to build the fantastical elements that made it a Batmobile.
“This was a red car that was very aerodynamic,” Barris explained. “I did put all the little trick things in — we had all kinds of little trick things that were incorporated into the car to be a 20th-century crime fighter in the 60s that would do tricks of its own.”
It reportedly cost Barris $15,000 to turn the Futura into the Batmobile. The car was featured in 120 episodes of Batman.
He sold the 1966 ‘Batman’ Batmobile for $4.6 million
Barris leased the Batmobile to the show and maintained ownership over it for decades. In 2013, the car designer decided to sell the iconic vehicle. It went up for sale at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, in January 2013 and was purchased for $4.62 million by businessman and car collector Rick Champagne.
The iconic car might be off-screen, but it’s not out of mind. Matt Reeves’ upcoming film, The Batman, which stars Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader, features a Batmobile that is highly reminiscent of the 1966 version.