It’s hard to imagine Batman without his trusty Batmobile, the car that needs no introduction other than to know it’s the Batmobile. In much of his early comic book adventures, the Batmobile was just a plain old black-colored car that had a bat-shaped fin on it or something, but it was with the Batman TV series in 1966 that the Batmobile practically became a character in its own right. The man behind that Batmobile was George Barris, a car customizer and builder that made the Dark Knight’s ride more than a simple car, but a work of art. It’s sad news then that we learned yesterday that Barris has passed away.
The news was announced by DC Comics via the company’s Twitter feed:
— DC Comics (@DCComics) November 6, 2015
“Sorry to have to post that my father, legendary kustom car king George Barris, has moved to the bigger garage in the sky,” Barris son Brett Barris wrote in a Facebook post. “He passed on peacefully in his sleep at 2:45 am. He was surrounded by his family in the comfort of his home. He lived his life they way he wanted til the end. He would want everyone celebrate the passion he had for life and for what he created for all to enjoy. Thank you all for the posts and calls, your love is deeply appreciated. Peace.”
Barris was born in Chicago, but was raised in California. He started modifying cars with his brother Sam while still in high school, after which he made his way to Los Angeles where he would customize cars for private buyers. He opened his own business, Barris Kustom Industries, in the mid-1950s, where his work would soon capture the attention of film and TV producers. The basis for the Batmobile was a 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept Car that was bought for a dollar. Barris then spent three weeks and $30,000 turning it into the signature crime-fighting ride it became.
Barris went on to customize vehicles for movies like North By Northwest, High School Confidential, and The Time Machine, and for TV shows like Mannix, The Beverly Hillbillies, and even Knight Rider. His final screen credit was re-creating James Dean’s famous Kustom Spyder for the TV movie James Dean: Race with Destiny in 1997.
Barris is survived by his two children. His wife Shirley pre-deceased him in 2001. Barris was 89 years old.