1955 LincolnIn 1955, Ford Motor Company produced one of the most popular and revolutionary concept vehicles in automotive history, the Lincoln Futura. The famous men behind the design and engineering process were Mr. William M. Schmidt, Mr. John Najjar, Roy Brown, and Mr. Martin Regitko. During the early 1950’s, the Lincoln Futura had a premier press event located in New York City, NY. On January 8, 1955, the concept vehicle was introduced at the Chicago Automotive Show and became a huge sensation among the buying public.

1955 Lincoln

The Lincoln Futura concept model cost $250,000 to build. During its production, the full size plaster model, along with a complete set of blueprints, chassis, and running gear, was sent to Ghia in Turin, Italy to be used for construction of the fully operable Lincoln Futura show car. The Lincoln Futura was designed by the Lincoln design team at Ford Motor Company Engineering Center located in Dearborn, Michigan. The Futura was a laboratory on wheels from which Lincoln Mercury Division wanted to obtain valuable engineering data and test public reaction to its styling innovations.

The Lincoln Futura included a circular radio antenna mounted on the trunk combined with an audio approach microphone designed to pick up and amplify the sound or horn signal from any car approaching from behind. Another highlighted feature was the Plexiglas dome that set over two bucket type seating for its passengers. The first color that the Lincoln Futura model was produced in was pearlescent frost blue white and later on, the color was changed to red. The Lincoln Futura highlighted a hint of several futuristic items to come within the automotive products of Ford Motor Company.

1955 Lincoln
On August 19, 1959, a featured film, It Started with a Kiss, was released to the public. The movie was directed by Mr. George Marshall and produced by Mr. Aaron Rosenberg and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The movie featured Hollywood stars such as Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds, whose characters won a raffle enabling them to become proud owners of a custom built car. The movie featured the 1955 Lincoln Futura making it an integral part of the movie. The Lincoln was delivered to Spain where it attracted the attention from many people and became a huge success for the movie.

Six years later, Mr. George Barris, the custom automobile designer to the stars, purchased the Lincoln show car from Ford for one dollar. After a few years of ownership, Barris received a call from 20th Century Fox stating their need for a new and exciting model for their upcoming TV show, Batman. Further discussion continued about making the vehicle into a “Batmobile” within three weeks for $30,000. Mr. George Barris agreed that the Lincoln Futura show car was the perfect solution for the new TV series.

In October of 1965, the Batmobile was complete and delivered to Fox Studios where it made its television debut on January 12, 1966. The Batmobile was such a great success among the public, Mr. George Barris and the producers of Batman, decided to build replicas of the Batmobile in late 1966. Mr. George Barris still owns the original vehicle currently valued at $2,000,000. Although many years have passed since the debut of the Batman TV series, the 1966 Batmobile is still considered one of the most iconic and popular cars in the automotive market to date. Update. The Batmobile owned by Barris sold at Barrett-Jackson for $4.62 million dollars.

Story courtesy of www.motorcities.org

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC) of the Detroit Public Library (Bibliography: Janicki , Edward Cars Detroit Nerver Built -Fifty Years Of American Experimental Cars. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc New York, 1990) For further information please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email nahc@detroitpubliclibrary.org. Please do not use any photographs without the permission of MotorCities. For further information contact Robert Tate at btate@motorcities.org

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