You have to understand that, growing up, the Batmobile was the only car that mattered on the only show that mattered.
We’re talking about the mid-1960s television show version of the Batmobile, not the merely adequate version in the Tim Burton movies or any of the disasters that followed.
I think a lot of guys my age treat the Batmobile with reverence. One co-worke recently came over to my desk and said, in hushed tones, “The Batmobile is coming.”
That got my attention.
The annual Metrocruise in a Grand Rapids suburb often has special appearances, and this year the glorious vehicle of our youth would be there.
Naturally, plans were made.
Behind the wheel of the Best Car Ever.
My 11-year-old daughter wanted to go with me, but that was going to require a proper introduction. Thursday night we watched the 1966 movie, which I never thought was a good as the television show, but is on DVD and is a suitable introduction to the Bat-world.
The cruise is conducted in a series of parking lots along the area’s busiest street, so traffic crawled as we got closer. There were hundreds of hot rods and fancy cars, with people setting up along the street for the parade later in the day.
I was interested in none of those. They are just cars. I’d rather have my Vue.
But then we saw it – the sleek black beauty with big fins, red striping and bubble windshields. It is beautiful.
Now, there are four officials versions of the Batmobile. The original was famously built by George Barris based on a Ford Futura, and Barris made two more as stand-ins for the television show and car shows.
Another copy was made for drag racing shows. There are also other versions out there made by collectors.
The guy at the cruise said there are 10 made, and only six exist today. That goes against everything else I’ve read, but I wasn’t considering this person a Bat-expert.
They also were advertising this car as Batmobile No. 1, which would be the first one Barris made. I don’t think this is that car. I’ve read that Barris owns it, and it’s in his own museum in California.
Plus, I didn’t see the slot in the front where the blade pops out.
So I kind of suspect that these folks were calling in No. 1, as in it was the first Batmobile, with the Tim Burton vehicle – a version of which this person also owns -- would be No. 2.
So I don’t know if Adam West ever sat in this particular car. If I were buying it, I’d be asking some more questions. But since I was just planning to sit in the driver’s seat for a couple minutes, I was ecstatic.
I happily paid the $10 -- which they said would go to charity -- so I could slide in behind the wheel.
It was snug, but part of that might have been because I was trying to be careful not to touch things.
The Batphone was under the dash and the t-shaped handle for the emergency Batturn hanging from the arch. Everything was labeled, just like in the show.
The speedometer was neat – it was more like a big compass, with the numbers spinning under a dome.
There was a mannequin dressed like Robin in the passenger seat. I kept waiting for him to say, “Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed!” and flick the switch to fire up the flames out the back. Commissioner Gordon awaited.
My daughter dutifully snapped photos from all angles, and an employee offered to allow her to sit with me for a shot.
Eventually I had to slip back out for another entranced 40-something to relive his youth.
It was a glorious day.