Ford’s Futura to Batmobile – a Management Lesson

Is that the Cone of Silence? Ford's "Synch" in the '60s?

Ford’s designers had this inspired vision of how cars should look in the ’60’s. They called it the Futura, and Ford’s marketing and advertising machine ramped up, parading it around with fanfare and marketing splash, only later to park it in a back lot to rust away.

Going No-Where Fast - an Idea Dying in Committee

When broadcast corporation ABC was starting their popular Batman series, they casually asked George Barris, now yet known as the King of Kustomizers (KITT Knight Rider, Back to the Future DeLorean, et.al.), but then a small operation called Riverside Drive Garage, if he could do something special.

They did not give him much time, and only provided the barest of direction, because that’s all they had: put a bat face on the front of a Lincoln.

Ford sold Barris this concept car for $1, probably elated to essentially dump their investment on taxpayers as a tax write-off.

Yet Barris’ little “Skunk-Works” shop of designers came out three weeks later with, The Batmobile complete with the ubiquitous-now-but-then-unheard-of wireless telephone, as well as other neat gadgets that have not yet quite caught on as well, like a radar screen, oil slick nozzles, ejector seats, and a jet exhaust.

This is the second reproduction, still owned by Barris himself, and worth somewhere well above the $233,000 its sister brought at auction.

Despite a 500-horsepower engine, Barris didn’t have time to upgrade the performance to match, as one can tell by watching the Caped Crusaders search for sea legs after dismounting the 2o-foot long land-yacht each time they made a spirited maneuver, which was just about constantly (and part of the brilliant humor of the show!).  But still, Barris turned a spark of inspiration that had been killed by a committee, back in to something inspiring. Take THAT, red tape!

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