Legend has it that custom car designer George Barris bought the inspiration car for the Batmobile for the amazing price of $1.
The future Batmobile was the brainchild of Lincoln Mercury's postwar chief stylist, Bill Schmidt. Schmidt was inspired by a scuba-diving encounter he had with a shark. From that encounter he sketched a long, low, wide, and flat automobile with a full width grille, ominously hooded headlights, and killer tail fins.
The $250,000 dream car was dubbed the Lincoln Futura. Described as a "rolling laboratory". It was built by Ford Motors to learn about new technology they could apply to their production of automobiles. The body was hand crafted by the Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy. Then shipped to the states onboard the ill-fated Andrea Dorea which would later sink after colliding with another ship. After the usefulness of "the Futura" at Ford had finally come to an end, it was put into storage to await an uncertain fate. Custom car builder George Barris found it and purchased it for the amazing price of $1.
Dean Jeffries, another famous customizer of the 60s, was contracted to build a "Batmobile" for a fall, 1966 TV series in the works at 20th Century Fox. Jeffries couldn't fit the "rush" job into his current work schedule, so he passed on it. In a pinch, 20th Century Fox turned to George Barris to build the Batmobile. He was given a rough sketch (by BATMAN production artist Eddie Stakes) and only 3 weeks to design and build it! To save time, he realized he could use the long-idle Futura as a basis. "The art director brought in an idea of what they needed: flashing lights, turbine fire blower on the back, chain slicer, etc.," said Barris. "I incorporated a bat-face into the design sculpturing of the car. That's why you see the ears go up where the headlights are. The nose comes down for the chain slicer. The mouth is the grill. Right on back to the huge, long fins which are Bat-fins."
During the 1966-68 run of the Batman series there were five Batmobiles made. Barris reveals, "the number one and number five were metal cars, with the stunt car being number five (Number 5 has never appeared on film and was not built by Barris) - Number two and three are Fibreglass cars ".
Though there have been many Batmobiles built for not only the television series but also for subsequent Bat movies. For most car lovers there is only one "true" Batmobile. It can be seen at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.