The Batmobile from the 1966–1968 live action television show and its film adaptation began life as a Ford concept car called the Lincoln Futura, built over a decade earlier in 1955. The body of the Futura was fabricated by Ghia of Italy, whose artisans hammered the car's panels over logs and tree stumps carved as forms to create the sleek manta ray-like car. In 1959, the Futura was featured sporting a fresh red paint job in the film It Started With A Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford. In 1965, ABC-TV chose famed Hollywood customizer George Barris to design a "Batmobile" for their soon-to-go-into-production Batman show. Dean Jeffries worked on the design and initial fabrication for the Batmobile, using a 1959 Cadillac, but when the studio wanted the car faster than he could provide, he turned it back to George Barris. With only three weeks to finish, Barris decided that rather than build a car from scratch, it would be best to transform the Lincoln Futura (bought from Ford for $1.00) into the famous crime fighting vehicle of TV's caped crusader. Barris hired Bill Cushenberry to do the metal modifications to the car. When filming for the series began, several problems arose due to the age of the car: it overheated, the battery went dead, and the expensive Mickey Thompson tires kept blowing. By mid season, the engine and transmission were replaced with a Ford Galaxie. The most frequent visual influence of this car is that later Batmobiles usually have a rear rocket thruster that usually fires as the car makes a fast start.
The extra-large bat-trunk in the Batmobile holds various crime-fighting equipment and has plenty of space to fit eight people comfortably. The windshield is bulletproof. And of course, the Batmobile is not without its helpful gadgets:
- Bat-glove Compartment
- Infrared Bat-dust (glows in light and in dark, but only visible when viewed through the Batmobile specially tinted windshield)
- Emergency Bat-turn Lever (releases the Batmobile parachute that enables quick turns)
- Bat-deflector (diverts a criminal tracking signal, leading them to a miniature Batcave in the middle of nowhere)
- Bat-ray (can do many things, such as open van doors)
- Super-powered Bat-magnet (for opening steel doors from a distance)
- Odor Sensitometer Radar Circuit (puts a certain scent on the radar screen)
- Ultrasonic Recorder (also records regular sounds)
- Batmobile Parachute Pickup Service Signal (calls aforementioned service to pick the Batmobile parachute off the city street)
- Emergency Bat-trunk Lock
- Bat-zooka (can fire explosive blasts, or is used to fire bat-ropes to tops of very tall buildings)
- Anti Mechanical Bat-ray (renders mechanical apparati useless)
- Battering Ram (also known as the Bat-ram, used for knocking down reinforced doors)
- Library Paste Bat-dissolving Switch
- Bat-safety Belt
- Bat-alert Buzzer (in all Bruce's cars, indicates when the Batphone in the Batcave is ringing)
- Bat-scope (TV screen that can be used to monitor someone's movements)
- Anti-theft Activator (can be disguised as the Start button, fires fireworks from the car)
- Anti-fire Activator (fills Batmobile with extinguishing foam)
- Bat-ray Projector (fires Blu-ray from headlights that shut down a car's ignition)
- Hidden Bat-laser Beam
- Homing Receiver Scope
- Inflatable Batmobile (kept in Batmobile for use as a decoy)
- Batman and Robin seats
This Batmobile original gadgets included the nose-mounted chain slicer, lasers, rockets, an on-board telephone, radar, dash monitor, on-board computer, and police beacon. If needed, the Batmobile is capable of a quick 180° "bat-turn" thanks to two rear-mounted 10' parachutes, and it is equipped with a smoke emitter and a nail spreader to discourage pursuit. Some changes were made during the run of the series, including different license plates, a change in steering wheel, and the addition of extra gadgets such as the rear-facing camera and battering ram.
Behind the Scenes
- The basis of the 1966 Batmobile was the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept show car.
- The Batmobile license plate number reads:
- "Gotham City 1966" - Not an actual number plate, but the slogan under the registration number
- "BAT 1"