1955 Lincoln Futura's End

Hard use during filming of the Batman TV series, which ran between 1966 and 1968, took its toll on the Batmobile's frame and running gear. After cracks developed in the frame of the former 1955 Lincoln Futura and troubles arose with the transmission, customizer George Barris replaced the frame and running gear as a means of avoiding the risk of further breakdowns during filming.

As a result, there's a little Ford in your Futura: a Galaxie frame that was lengthened 11 inches, a 390-cubic-inch V-8 engine, and a Ford automatic transmission. In March 1966, Barris applied for a patent for his "new design" Batmobile. On October 18, 1966, the U.S. Patent Office granted him patent number 205998, which was good for 14 years.

After the series ended, the Batmobile gathered dust for several years at Barris' shop. In 1973, Barris held an auction to dispose of many of the cars he had built for the movies. Sale prices were not what Barris expected.

Although the Batmobile was included in the auction, it failed to garner any bids and went unsold. Immediately after the auction, Barris was offered a trade for a 1957 Thunderbird, at that time valued at about $1,700, but he turned it down.

At some point, Barris built five replicas of the Batmobile that were displayed and later sold. The replicas were built of fiberglass from molds taken from the original. (The molds later were said to be stored in the rafters at Barris' shop.) Stretched Galaxie frames were also used for the replicas, one of which got a 429-cubic-inch Ford engine and was apparently used for speed or drag racing events. The other replicas got 390-cubic-inch engines.

Barris later seemed more than a little puzzled by continuing interest in the Futura. When asked about parts removed from the Futura, he said that he usually gave them to anyone who asked for them.

Many of the parts from the Futura undoubtedly went on the scrap heap and were hauled away by the garbage collector. A few of the parts were used on other cars Barris built. Videotape of the Batmobile indicated that while it looked good on the surface, it had deteriorated over the years.

During the last 15 to 20 years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the original Batmobile, no doubt aided by the release of a new series of Batman films dating back to 1989. With the renewed interest, Barris put the original Batmobile back out on tour.

At the time the Futura was turned into the Batmobile, only a handful of people even remembered the show car. Barris gained notoriety as the owner of the original Batmobile and made a good deal of money from it. It will be a long time before the Batmobile is forgotten. The sad fact is that the Futura no longer exists, except in the hearts and minds of those who remember what it once was.

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