Showing posts with label Batmobile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Batmobile. Show all posts

Pop Focus: The Many Cars of George Barris

From the mid 1960s to the mid 1960s it seemed like every American TV series required its own trademark car: Batman's Batmobile; the Munster's Munster Koach; the Beverly Hillbillies touring car; Mannix' roadster; Starsky and Hutch's Gran Torino and the Dukes of Hazard's General Lee.

The common thread for all these vehicles is George Barris, King of the Kustomizers, who passed away Nov. 5 at age 89.

Born George Salapatas, Barris was an instrumental figure in California's early hot rod culture during in the 1940s and 50s. He opened the Barris Custom Shop, which licensed several of its hot rod designs for model kits sold by Aurora, Revell and the like, and found work designing and customizing cars for Hollywood movies and TV series.

Here's a look at Barris and some of his best-known work.

TV Batmobile creator George Barris dies

Sad news today: Genius car customizer George Barris, who designed the iconic 1960s Batmobile, the Musters' Koach and numerous other famed pop culture vehicles, has died at age 89.
"He was surrounded by his family in the comfort of his home," his son Brett Barris wrote on Facebook. "He lived his life the way he wanted til the end. He would want everyone celebrate the passion he had for life and for what he created for all to enjoy."
Needless to say, we're big fans of Barris and his work here at PCS and will spotlight him in one of our upcoming Sunday "Pop Focus" features. Here's the man, himself, with his most famous creation:

Check out a real Batmobile from 1963!

Three years before the Batman TV show hit the airwaves 1966, DC Comics approved construction of a custom Bat car that toured the country.

Heritage Auctions is listing the vehicle at a starting bid of $90,000. Looks nifty!

More pics below.

Details from the press release:
The first touring Batmobile, which started life as a 1956 Oldsmobile 88, with the famous 324 Rocket engine — the predecessor to the muscle cars of the early 1960s — languished in a New Hampshire field for decades before being rescued and restored, and will be auctioned for the very first time on Dec. 6 at Heritage. It could now bring $500,000 or more. The opening bid is $90,000.

"This is a great piece of lost Pop Culture and Americana," said Margaret Barrett, Director of Entertainment and Music at Heritage Auctions. "After it was removed from the field, it went through a few owners before the most recent owner, Toy Car Exchange, put the car through a painstaking frame up restoration with the original engine and other original parts lovingly restored and rebuilt."

This is the earliest DC-licensed Batmobile known to exist. Work on the original touring Batmobile was finished in 1963, two years before the George Barris-designed TV Batmobile had begun in December of 1965.

The car, which measures 17 feet by 83 inches, took three years to build. It was stripped and given a newly created body, replete with the large fin, front end and pocket sliding doors. The high-concept design was, ultimately, highly-reminiscent of the DC comic book cars.

When Batmania started in earnest in the early 1960s, ALL STAR Dairies, a DC Comic Book licensee, approached the owner of the car about renting it, repainting it and rebadging it in official Batman colors and labels and then touring it as the Batmobile. The car was toured in small towns in the Eastern U.S. as "Batman's Batmobile" according to a 1966 Keene Sentinel newspaper clipping.

"This is from before replicas of the Barris TV Batmobile were made and available for touring," added Barrett. "Those were known as 'ABC TV Batmobiles,' and later on as the Barris Batmobile or 1966 Batmobile."

The original '63 Batmobile was returned to the owner in late 1966 and subsequently retired, eventually being sold for less than $200. Within a few years it would lay in a New Hampshire field and, for several decades, would remain a long forgotten piece of American Pop Culture history.

The car, or what was left of it, was re-discovered in 2008 and dug out of the dirt by Bobby Smith of Swanzey, NH. It was sold online to a Chicago Car rare auto dealer, who sold it to auto historian George Albright, who meticulously researched and tracked down the original builders of the car, retired DC Comics executives, as well as former ALL STAR Dairies executives, all of whom had very distinct memories of the car. Albright supplemented the research with other ALL STAR Batman memorabilia, such as milk cartons and ice cream containers with the National Periodic Publications copyright (then owner of DC Comics).

In February 2013 the car was purchased by Toy Car Exchange LLC and transported to Borbon Fabrications in Sacramento, CA, a company that specializes in vintage car restorations. Restoration was beautifully and accurately completed more than a year later and the car made its debut at the renowned Sacramento Autorama, America's longest running indoor car show, where it won first place in the hand built sports car class, ahead of such legendary classics as the Shelby Cobra.