Just saw this amazing black Imperial coupe on eBay. I could definitely see Batman and Robin driving around in this–that is, if George Barris had never customized the Lincoln Futura dream car into the Batmobile. In fact, people call a lot of cars of this era “Batmobiles”; like the ’59 Cadillac and Buick, the 60-61 Chryslers, and yes, this ’60 Imperial coupe would inevitably be called a “Batmobile” by onlookers who have never seen such a car before.
The 1955 Futura/Batmobile and the production cars which came after it all shared similar styling themes: bodies that were longer, lower, wider, and sleeker with forward-thrusting lines and an emphasis on the horizontal. There were hooded headlamps, jet cockpit wraparound windshields, and long, high, graceful fins. Like most major innovations, all of the Big Three American auto manufacturers embraced this same general look at about the same time. Some people blame LSD, others contend it was the forward evolution of car styling features that were successful in the past, or that it was simply an outgrowth of the optimistic, future-focused Space Age fascination of the times. Or maybe an idea took shape in the “collective unconscious” and inspired auto stylists simply were able to pick up on it.
The whole “Batmobile” concept has a strong grip on popular culture. Everybody knows what a Batmobile is. Newer versions of the Batmobile retain key aspects of the original: a long, low, dramatically styled coupe in black, with exaggerated “futuristic” design features and big fins.
When I was an elementary school age kid, I religiously watched Batman on Channel 11 (WPIX, New York) at 5:00 PM weekdays. I loved the characters and how they looked, the Batcave, the music, and of course, the Batmobile.
In fact, Mom’s ’62 Mercury Comet looked (to me) sort of like a Batmobile! (From a kid’s-eye point of view, the car’s fins and jet-like tail lights looked bigger and stood out more than to a tall adult).
One thing Mom’s Comet didn’t do was shoot flames out the exhaust like the real Batmobile. This led to a conversion with my dad:
Me: “Dad, what causes flames to come out of a car’s exhaust?”
Dad: “A backfire could cause that.”
Me: “What makes a car backfire?”
Dad: “If the fuel/air mixture is too rich, a car could backfire.”
Me: “Could you make the mixture rich on the Comet so flames can shoot out the exhaust?”
But let’s return to our subject Imperial. It’s such a stunning car–you look at the overpowering size, the voluptuous sculpturing, the exaggerated fins and gullwing bumpers and how it all flows together–and you can’t believe that a serious car company had the audacity to actually build something like this and offer it to the buying public.
Here are more selected photos:
I always like to see what Consumer Reports had to say:
Anyway, I know these Imperials are great cars because I used to own one–a Willow Green ’62. However, I sold it and got another kind of “Batmobile”–a 1959 Chevrolet!
So there’s a 1960 Imperial for you–a tangible reminder that there actually was a time when ordinary people drove real-life Batmobiles–commuting, picking up groceries, visiting relatives, going on vacations. And those Batmobiles took many forms: Imperials, Chryslers, DeSotos, Lincolns, Thunderbirds, Cadillacs, Buicks, Chevrolets, and others. And, if you’re so inclined, you can still pick one up today–and cruise down the highway in your own personal time machine.
I trust that people know that the Batmobile predated the TV show by 27 years, although that wasn’t reflected in the previous live-action movie serials (in 1943 and 1949) because they didn’t have the budget for anything like that.
This site has an overview: https://www.batmobilehistory.com
Artistic variations aside, there were essentially four principal variations prior to the TV show. The comics adopted the TV show Batmobile for a while, but subsequently went in another direction, culminating in the “Superfriends” version, which predominated until the latter ’80s.
In the early ’00s, Corgi did a whole series of 1:43 scale Batmobiles from various decades, some of which will be unfamiliar to the non-comics reader
Love that shot of Julie Newmar.
Dude, we’re talking about cars….
Now we’re talking about Julie Newmar. If any car had lines like that then we’d still be talking about cars. Purrrrfection!
Batman drove the “Lincoln” while Catwoman drove the Cat-illac!
I agree, it was about this time that I decided that maybe girls weren’t so icky.
Cat Woman looked absolutely Purrrrrrrrrrrrrfect! As did Barbara Gordon as Batgirl.
I watched the show as a little boy with my two older brothers. I had no idea why they were interested in the show at the time, but now I see… LOL…
One of my favorite Mopars. I can tell you from experience that one of these will cruise at over 120 mph. Beautiful car although personally I would opt out of the toilet seat trunk lid.
The 60 is the one Imperial I have trouble loving – that front end just breaks everything my brain finds acceptable in a car design. And the fin shape. In fact, the whole car has always looked a little melted to me. Then there is the dash and steering wheel that looks like Baby Huey. I will grant you that this is a lovely example, though. The black with gray inside tones down the car’s excesses about as well as can be done.
Up until sometime in the last decade, there was a company in Indiana that was making replicas of the TV Batmobile. I saw one at a show several years ago and before that saw one driving on the I-465 beltway around Indianapolis. Neither was shooting exhaust flames, though.
Agreed. I saw one at a car show once and involuntarily blurted out the word “ugly,” just before realizing that the owners were sitting within earshot. Not for the first time, I wished for a hole in the ground to open up and swallow me.
But honestly, I’d rather have any other year of Imperial.
Fiberglass Freaks, Logansport, IN, makes the only DC Comics licensed replicas. They were in the middle of an insane police action.
Looks to be the perfect car for Alfred to chauffeur millionaire Bruce Wayne around Gotham City as a Rolls Royce of the same vintage would be too pretentious.
Aren’t the front seats reversed. That is, I believe the high back seat was originally the driver seat and the low back was for the passenger. At least that’s the way it was in other Mopars of the day. Stunning dashboard. Audacious car but beautiful.
Looked at a few pictures online and I think you’re correct. Odd, isn’t it…..
Like WOW batman fans No not one mention the 61 Imperial !!?? as I think the 61 had the highest of all the fin cars !? but the 66 Batmobile was the best as I too grew up in the bat era same bat time same channel
This just turned up on Craigslist: black 1959 Cadillac coupe, 8,000 ORIGINAL MILES, NOT RESTORED, “almost like new”, $100,000. The pictures are fuzzy. Could this be real?
Well someone was reading the wish book Hemmings motor news but if its a real 8000 mile car ? well But someone got painty with the engine ! Why screw with originality !!! & to top it off its the wrong color blue ! caddy eng. is a dark blue & No on the P/S pump & oil filter can paint And non A/C but today prices are out of control for the average car guy to enjoy ! sad
Nice, but no way is it $100 grand nice. IMHO, the seller can go shinny up a tree.
I going to say they would need to prove it to me about those miles. First, so many sellers say the exact same thing even if they know it is only a 5 digit odometer. Second, the seller is using flipper speak. Third, the pictures are crappy and why since it is pretty hard to take crappy, out of focus pictures with any of today’s digital cameras. So I call bull….
If you’re dealing with something that’s actually valued near six figures, you don’t take pictures with a Playskool camera and hack out that kind of verbiage with caps lock jammed on, then repeat the useless word salad again to really hammer your point home.
“It looks better, then the pictures.” Shure hope so…
The tenth picture is a photo of a computer screen. Lots of blurry photos. Pics of oddball parts that may or may not be even on the car in question.
This whole thing smells bad to me.
This is pretty incredible:
In the 60’s TV show, Bruce Wayne did have a ’66 Imperial. When ‘off duty’.
Not to mention The Green Hornet’s Imperial Crown.
With a front bumper like this, if scaled down it could have been a car for Joker with that grin on its puss…
For some reason, it aesthetically reminds me of the vehicles one might find in an Enki Bilal comic which are often caricatures of Iron Curtain tech. The front looks a bit ZILish, maybe. I’m not sure if American stylists needed LSD to create this thing, but it would seem to me that a bit of LSD in the samovar at the ZIL design bureau would almost certainly have resulted in this vehicle…just a bit more black. The name would of course need to be changed…vperyod? inertia?
The TV Batmobile was at the Chicago auto show back in 2010 – I believe.
I had no plans to see it, but then I saw it. It was like the time I suddenly had movie star Bill Holden standing in front of me and asking if I could show him a pair of men’s gloves. I was frozen. Fiction became real and my mind was blown.
In this case fortunately, I couldn’t be stopped. I practically ran up to the car and crawled in. I couldn’t believe that something I held so dear as a child was real and in front of me. I knew every inch of that car. I suddenly remembered every scene it was in. It was an incredible experience. It was probably like what some people experience going to Bethlehem, Vatican City, Hollywood, DisneyWorld, or their old elementary school.
It was a revelatory experience for me. I had no idea how much I studied that TV car until it was suddenly, THERE. My buddy who is an entire generation younger than me thought I had lost my mind. I didn’t care. There were other people there, but for me, they weren’t there. I was totally lost reliving my childhood at the Chicago Auto Show. Weird.
As regarding Bill Holden. We’re talking “Bridge Over the River Kwai”, Bill Holden. The guy who taught Steve McQueen how to be cool. I was probably 17 years old, working the floor at my uncle’s men’s wear store in Colorado and it was my turn to take a customer – who ended up being William Freaking Holden himself. I froze and practically wet myself. I acted like I had my head hit with a shovel. The floor manager bailed me out as I pathetically stood bug-eyed and dry mouthed.
So – I know what it is like to be dumb-struck. God – what would have happened if Bill Holden drove up to me in that Batmobile? I cringe at the thought. On second thought, I know what I would have done – screamed and then faint.
My Wife and I were having dinner on our Anniversary at a steakhouse in Saratoga Calif. I went back out to our car to get my Wife’s coat. Unbelievably, the turbine snooted Batmobile was parked in the restaurant’s parking lot. When I got back I told my Wife what I had seen. I don’t know if she believed me or not, but it was still there when we left!
Batman? “He kept a boy in a cave”. Drew Cary Show.
To me there’s only one Batman, and Batmobile.
The 1960s TV series. Even on a rented 14″ B &W TV I loved it.
I got to see the 1960’s Batmobile at in the showroom at White Bear Dodge in White Bear Lake Minnesota, about 1968. My dad took me to see it. This dealer was at the time supposedly the largest Dodge dealer. I’m sure by then a few copies of the Batmobile were made but 9 year old me was really excited to see it!
By the way, this just happened to show up on my Youtube favorites. Is there any validity to it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SGnrXoWeoM