George Barris, creator of the Batmobile, dies at 89
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
In 1965, producers of the “Batman” television show needed a supercar that Adam West could wield to battle the Joker and the Riddler.
There was just one man for the job: George Barris.
“I saw the script and it said, ‘Bang,’ ‘Pow,’ ‘Boom,’ ” Barris told The Times in 2012. “That’s exactly what I wanted the car to be able to do. I wanted it to be as big a character as the actors themselves.”
It took 15 days and $15,000 for Barris to transform a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura into the iconic midnight black and fluorescent-red-pinstriped Batmobile with plexiglass bubble windshields — “bulletproof,” of course. He didn’t forget the Bat Ray, with its dual 450-watt laser beams for obliterating obstacles, the Bat-O-Meter for identifying the bad guys, or the oil squirters for repelling evildoers.
Barris, the Southern California custom-car legend who created many of the most memorable and outrageous automobiles ever seen on film and television, died Thursday at his home in Encino. He was 89.
A man nearly as flamboyant as his cars, Barris also designed special vehicles for many of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and John Wayne.
For his everyday use he drove a Toyota Prius that was tricked out in true Barris fashion — sprayed gold with emerald green metallic accents and doors that opened upward, like a Lamborghini.