November 6, 2015
George Barris, the Batmobile creatorknown as “King of the Kustomizers,” has died. He was 89.
The popularity of his cars caught the eye of Hollywood, and his first film assignments included work on cars for Alfred Hitchcocks North by Northwest, 1958’s High School Confidential and 1960s The Time Machine.
His biggest impact occurred when ABC asked him to create a signature vehicle for Batman. Barris rolled out a Lincoln concept car called the Lincoln Futura that he had kept in storage for about decade and used that as his base, constructing the car in just 15 days.
It was built for $15,000, though Barris purchased the Futura for $1. Barris kept the car in his personal collection and in 2013 sold the car at auction for $4.6 million.
“Growing up I wanted to fight crime just so I could drive George’s Batmobile,” said DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee. “It was my great honor to get to meet him in person recently and to thank him for his contributions to the world of Batman, and there was no greater thrill than getting to sit in that Batmobile from my childhood.”
DC issued a statement calling Barris “a true creative genius,” adding “George’s design contributions to the legendary 1966 Batmobile thrilled fans of the classic Batman TV show, left an indelible mark on Batman legacy and lore and is still recognized as one of the most iconic vehicles of all time.”
The success of Batman and the Batmobile led to more work, including Mannix, The Beverly Hillbillies, Knight Rider and designing the Munster Koach for The Munsters, among others. He also designed novelty cars or performed customizations for celebrities ranging from Bob Hope to John Wayne to Elton John.