I have to give Mattel a lot of credit for producing many memorable and great Hot Wheels edition cars. Cars like the Gremlin Grinder or the 1952 Henry J or some of their special motorcycle editions really got my juices flowing. But, wow, Mattel really hit bell with their new 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept Car from their higher priced Boulevard series. The real life 1955 concept car was eventually to be purchased by custom car guru George Barris for just one U.S. dollar and customized into the famous 1966 Batmobile for the ABC TV series.
But, in it’s own right, the Lincoln Futura was indeed futuristic and seemed to predict many of the styling trends of the 1959 automobiles of the era including the huge fin look on so many of the 1959 cars, a look that dramatically disappeared on nearly all of the radically restyled 1960 models that Detroit marketed. Nearly all of the 1960 cars were given a fresh look, where so many of the styling gimmicks of the 50’s disappeared such as those wild fins as cars grew bigger and wider in some cases, while a new wave of compact automobiles also hit the market in another wave.
In 1955, the Lincoln Futura hit the showcar circuit and was indeed quite a showpiece. With it’s bubble top roof and wider and more modern styling, the car was indeed a true predictor of a few of styling cues from the end of the 50’s decade.
Unlike so many of the regular series editions of Hot Wheels cars, this higher priced Boulevard series car features Real Riders rubber like soft tires with tread pattern as well those typical 1950’s super wide whitewalls. That’s some styling trend that really died with that era, those super wide whitewalls!
The pearl white paint job of the original showcar is also faithfully reproduced here as well. Wow! That was a very important detail from the 1955 showcar. This was the first car ever to feature this type of pearl paint. And ultra-tiny Futura logo markings can be viewed on the side of the car as well, another detail sorely missing from your run-of-the-mill Hot Wheels edition cars.
While so many of the 1955 cars were still round and bulbous in shape, this wide and modern 1955 Lincoln concept car was one of the most striking concept cars ever produced. Yet, it was an amazing story how the car ended up being sold to George Barris for just $1 after the car reached the end of it’s useful life as a showcar, and thankfully wasn’t crushed or cut up for scrap metal like so many unfortunate showcars which fail to find their final resting places living in some car collection museum.
The original 1955 showcar was built by hand in the Ghia factory in Turin, Italy at a cost of $250,000. Interestingly, when George Barris acquired the 1955 showcar, he also secured all of the rights to 1955 Lincoln Futura as well, and only in recent times has allowed reproductions by companies such as Johnny Lightning or Hot Wheels or a model kit by Polar Lights, who purchased the rights to the old Aurora line of model kits from the 1960’s including monster models of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, etc. Strangely, a Johnny Lightning version of the car comes in black, when the only real color of the old showcar was pearl white. But, that might have been that Johnny Lightning doesn’t on the rights to produce the Batmobile models like Mattel does, and wanted to produce a car that looks like the Batmobile.
George Barris actually produced three more copies of the 1966 Batmobile for promotional use or for use at drag race events, etc. The original Batmobile was created for $30,000 in custom work beyond the one dollar cost to buy the car. A fiberglass company was eventually issued some limited rights to produce a few more bodies that could be used to make other Batmobiles. And many homemade Batmobiles exist owned by a few inventive, but fanatical, fans of the show. Ever since a Batmobile first appeared in a 1939 copy of DETECTIVE Comics by DC, these must have fans of Batman who wanted their own Batmobile. And the first appearance of the awesome 1966 George Barris car must have made more than a few fans of Batmobiles really cream their jeans along with the first appearance of that sexy Catwoman!
Incredibly, some wealthy guy actually paid $216,000 at a recent R&M car auction for a Fiberglass Freaks reproduction of the Batmobile recently. Wow! That’s some Bruce Wayne wealthy comics nerd right there!
One more copy of the stock Futura was produced in later years, this one in red.
Well, thanks so much Mattel and Hot wheels for giving many a car collector some real good wet dream material here. This 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept Boulevard series car is excellent on so may levels. I’m in love here!