Holy Roadster, Batman!
For decades, Roseville-raised George Barris was Hollywood’s top car customizer. A rare replica of his celebrated 1966 Batmobile va-va-vrooms into downtown.
Photo by Michael Crawford
Batman may have been born in Gotham, but his befinned Batmobile from the eponymous 1966 TV series sprang from the creative genius of car-customizing superhero George Barris, who grew up in Roseville and crafted vehicles for some of television’s biggest shows.
Barris, who graduated from San Juan High School in 1943, was a gearhead as a teen, hanging around Sacramento body shops like Bertolucci’s before he decamped to L.A. to open his own place in 1944.
There, the designer quickly gained a national reputation. No less than Tom Wolfe wrote about Barris and fellow customizer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in his 1965 book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.
But Barris’ big break came the following year, when ABC needed a Batmobile for its new series, and he modified a Lincoln Futura concept car in 15 days. (Barris sold the roadster in 2013 for an astonishing $4.6 million.) He went on to design souped-up vehicles for other shows like The Munsters and The Monkees, as well as movies like Jurassic Park and The Flintstones. He also built custom rides for A-listers like John Wayne, Elvis, Elton John and Cher.
Barris died in 2015, but with superherodom at an all-time high these days, his legend lives on. When the Fandemic comic con hits Sacramento June 22-24 , a rare replica of his original Batmobile is expected to be a major draw.
And even the replica boasts a local connection. It belongs to Bob Goldsand of El Dorado Hills, who bought it in 2015 from the only authorized maker of Batmobiles in the world. (Fun fact: The car’s Batphone links up to the tech exec’s phone via Bluetooth.)
Goldsand has fittingly transformed his garage into a Batcave, but draws the line at donning a Batsuit. “If I did,” he says, “it’d have to be a relaxed fit."
For more information, visit fandemictour.com. S