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A bizarre project that TV rescued from oblivion: the car that became the best Batmobile in history

2023-02-05T10:49:29.837Z


It was a Ford subsidiary Lincoln concept that was not produced. He resurfaced to give her a vehicle for Adam West's Batman.


These were times of crisis for Ford

.

At the end of World War II, it was trying to compete against the leading companies in the car market in the United States.

The bets only left millions in losses.

But there were some chips destined for Lincoln, its luxury car subsidiary, which shipped with a bizarre, interoceanic project that turned heads at shows but never made it to the production line.

The Lincoln Futura was called to sleep the sleep of the just.

It ended up becoming the most famous Batmobile in history

.

The concept car was developed in 1955 by the company that depended on

Ford

, when the Detroit firm was devastated by the economy and family problems.

Henry Ford had delegated the presidency to his son Edsel Bryant Ford, who died early.

The founder took the wheel again, but then abdicated in his grandson.

Henry Ford II laid the groundwork for the renovation, with a team of World War II veterans including Robert McNamara, the future US Secretary of Defense.

While the Lincoln Futura didn't hit the real streets, it did find its way into the collective unconscious.

Lincoln Futura, the car that became the most famous Batmobile in history.

The key man in this story is George Barris, a car customizer who worked closely with producers and Hollywood stars.

He was commissioned in 1966 to, in record time, shape the car that Batman would drive in the television series.

In his garage he had forgotten the concept of the Futura

, which -events of fate- had come into his hands.

A modest investment, a few quirky touches on an already eye-catching vehicle…and off to Gotham City!

Lincoln Futura, life before Batman

Ford competed in the middle segment with Buick and Oldsmobile.

On the verge of despair, he launched the Edsel, which paid homage to Don Henry's son but left a gigantic void in the coffers:

a loss of 350 million dollars between 1957 and 1959

.

In parallel, the Detroit company deposited in the Lincoln division the mission of gaining a place in the high-income segment before the Cadillac.

Lincoln Futura, the car that became the most famous Batmobile in history.

Designers John Najjar and William M. Schmid spearheaded the project to create

a big car that would ignite the desire of the rich

.

Although the idea was developed in the United States, it was in Italy where it took shape, through Carrozzeria Ghía.

From Turin he returned as a specimen called to conquer space, in the middle of the race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

There were those who, on the other hand, preferred to compare it with an animal: two bubbles in the cockpit, side fins in the rear sector and pointed finishes in the front part gave it the appearance of a manta ray.

With an investment of 250 thousand dollars, the success among experts and fans was immediate.

Since the New York Auto Show, where it was presented in immaculate white in 1955, he has received praise and curious glances.

It was loaded with a 400-horsepower, 6-liter V8 engine

.

The transmission was an automatic and a three-speed.

It weighed a ton and a half.

It was monumental: 5.76 meters long, 2.19 meters wide and 1.49 meters high

.

Lincoln Futura, the car that became the most famous Batmobile in history.

Its screen debut occurred four years later, painted red in the movie “It started with a kiss”, starring Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds.

He repeated his presence in the modest “The secret door” (1964).

By then, the Lincoln Futura was all but forgotten.

This is how it became the Batmobile From the Fox production company they went out looking for a car for the series that was about to premiere.

The vehicle already had participation in the first chapter, so the manufacture had to be against the clock.

They approached Dean Jeffries, a well-known customizer from California who had had James Dean among his clients and who had just been awarded a piece that matched the spirit they were looking for: a 

Maserati

known as “La Mantarraya”.

They asked him to modify a Cadillac, but the deadlines wrecked the attempt.

George Barris was the second choice.

And he provided them with a car not to forget

.

George Barris, the man responsible for turning the Lincoln Futura into the Batmobile.

Barris, 40, had settled in Los Angeles as a youth.

His creations had given him fame as the "King of the Custom" ("King of the Kustomizers").

His relationship with Hollywood was not reduced to the favoritism with which stars like John Wayne or Elvis Presley treated him, but rather he knew the corridors of the film industry.

It began with a collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock himself for “North by Northwest”.

Her resume features the unmistakable black A-Team utility and the Munster Koach from “The Munsters,” a parody of “The Addams Nuts.”

He also built a replica of the DeLorean from "Back to the Future," though that creation landed him in a legal dispute with Universal.

His most important contribution, however, is the Batmobile.

Lincoln Futura, the car that became the most famous Batmobile in history.

Using Jeffries' earlier sketches,

Barris salvaged the Lincoln Futura he kept in storage at his home

.

He had bought it for the symbolic value of a dollar and now, eleven years after its creation, he found in the psychedelic sixties the moment for which he was born.

For the touch-ups he was inspired by the 1940 comic drawings. He kept the bubble-type cockpit almost intact, changed the bows and lights and added a turbine in the rear sector.

If his predecessor evoked a manta ray, now the reference was the bat.

Three weeks and a thousand dollars after the assigned mission, Batman had his car.

Lincoln Futura, the car that became the most famous Batmobile in history.

He debuted on the small screen on January 12, 1966

, in the first chapter of the Adam West and Burt Ward series on ABC.

A facelifted Lincoln hits the screen

Five minutes into the action,

Batman

and

Robin

hop in the black and red-accented car, drive out of the Batcave and head to the Gotham City Police Department.

The Dynamic Duo must defuse the villain's maneuvers, who hatched a plan to force Batman to reveal his true identity: Bruce Wayne.

After finding a clue, they move on wheels to a nightclub.

Robin, a minor, cannot enter.

He stays in the cabin and watches the situation with the Bathyscope.

Through this device he sees his partner succumb to the charms of an assistant to the Riddler: Batman dances and, poisoned, faints.

His friend runs to help him, but the villain's minions shoot him down with sleep darts.

The Batmobile is the ultimate loot

.

When they are about to steal and destroy it, he defends himself: he launches fireworks, the alarm sounds.

Batman arrives, still dizzy, and is reunited with his vehicle.

The review of the episode shows that

the car was also a protagonist of the pop series

.

He had powers: he poured oil and nails on the floor to get out of the chases, he had Battelephone and Batsmoke, in addition to the Bathyscope that he already showed off at its premiere.

He was so demanding on the set (and off it) that they built three fiberglass replicas and later acquired one made of metal.

They were used for action scenes, for racing, and for displays.

The latter, meanwhile, served as a spare in emergencies.

Lincoln Futura, the car that became the most famous Batmobile in history.

The series ran for three seasons

.

In total, 120 chapters.

The legacy of the Lincoln Futura, however, is eternal

.

Each new version of Batman demonstrates it: all his vehicles are reminiscent of the original Batmobile.

Barris auctioned it off in 2013, two years before his death.

It was bought by a businessman from Phoenix.

In exchange for 4.8 million dollars, he fulfilled his dream

: to have in the living room of his mansion the car that already in his first appearance, against adversity and villains, showed itself indestructible in the collective unconscious.

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Source: clarin

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