Debbie Reynolds and the Batmobile

The car had oil leaks.  The transmission had issues.  It couldn’t get past speeds of 40 mph.

And this January, it’s being sold at the Barrett-Jackson Auctions with a possible selling price of $2 million.

That’s right.  The Batmobile is up for bid.  And not just any Batmobile.  This was the same Batmobile that Adam West drove for three seasons on the Batman television series.  The car’s customizer, legendary Hollywood automobile magnate George Barris, has put the iconic car up for bid.

But how did this classic hot rod become the iconic Batmobile in the first place?

Well, what we know as the Batmobile began its life as a concept car called the Lincoln Futura. This 1950’s car made its debut on the Ed Sullivan variety program, and as you can see from this clip, the Futura is very recognizable, even in its pearl-white paint job. And although the Futura was still in its “concept car” stage, several of the Futura’s designs and mechanics were integrated into other Lincoln luxury cars, such as the Lincoln Premiere.

They didn’t make any further Futuras, but that didn’t mean that the one that WAS produced was camera shy in any sense of the word. With this film clip, you can see the Lincoln Futura concept car going through some tests, as part of this Ford Motor Company industrial film.

Then, in 1959, the Futura received a candy-apple red paint job and appeared in the Debbie Reynolds / Glenn Ford romantic comedy It Started With A Kiss. I mean, look at the chassis. Look at the stylish lines. Look at the curves. Look at that sleek body. Oh yeah, and look at the car, too. 🙂

True story. Car customizer George Barris had only a few weeks to create a “Batmobile” for the 1966 Batman TV series. So what did he do? He gave the Futura a black paint job, and added a few special bells and whistles to it. Voila – instant Batmobile.

Unlike other “TV car stars” like the ’69 Dodge Charger that was in the Dukes of Hazzard, in which the studios probably went through about 300 of them in six seasons of filming, there was only one Lincoln Futura that could be the Batmobile. And it was a mechanic’s nightmare. The battery died. The mag wheels blew out. And since the car couldn’t get past 40 miles per hour, the cameramen had to “undercrank” the film at half the speed so that it looked like the Batmobile was going twice as fast.

Although some copies of the Batmobile were later produced for car shows, and a company called Fiberglass Freaks will build you your own replica Batmobile for $150,000, those replica cars are often built from old Lincoln Continentals. The only Lincoln Futura car out there – the one that appeared in 120 episodes of Batman and the 1966 motion picture of the same name – is on the auction block.

Man, if I hadn’t already purchased a new car… and if the Batmobile wasn’t built from Ford parts…

Doesn’t matter. Someone’s going to win this car at auction and be able to drive the most famous TV automobile ever. And he’ll be able to say he was the third driver of the car, behind Debbie Reynolds and Adam West.