2001

Dick Dean with the original Monkeemobile Dick Dean's recent Black Beauty replica
Dick Dean with the original Monkeemobile & The Black Beauty

Sad footnote: Dick Dean passed away June 2008

I had a recent conversation with car customizer Dick Dean.  In addition to many other projects, Dick Dean worked for George Barris on the original modifications that turned the Futura into the Batmobile and subsequent replicas. He also worked for Dean Jefferies customizing the Monkeemobile and the Black Beauty too.  Who better to answer my burning questions about the Futura and the replicas but Dick Dean?

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Eric: How many people worked on modifying the Futura into the Batmobile and how long did it take?

Dick: Five men working 3 weeks to get the first Batmobile to the studios.

E: Who were the five people who worked on the conversion of the Futura?

D: Myself, Dan Dempski, Richard "Korky" Korkes, Bill Cushenbery, and Roy "Tubs" Johnson.

E: Where there any pictures taken during the construction?

D: There were no pictures of construction because it went so fast.  Bill Cushenbery did start the work on the Batmobile, but time was running out so we brought it back to George's and did a crash program.

E: What was the Futura's condition before you started work on it?

D: It had one small dent on the fender

E: How were the door bats applied on the #1?

D: The bats were affixed on with flush screws

E: Where did you get the beacon light and the props for the #1?

D: Handmade the light, gadgets, etc.

E: What was in the trunk of the #1?

D: Futura - stock

E: Did you work on the repairs of the #1 when the car was breaking down in 1966-1968?

D: No, but the #1 Batmobile did get a chassis change after the movie. Les Tompkins, George Barris' partner at the time changed it.  Ford gave 4 complete chassis and engines which were used.

E: When were molds pulled from the #1?

D: After the filming was over the car was taken to the mold shop.

E: How many replicas were built by Barris shop?

D: Three at Barris' shop.

E: Were any of the replicas used on the TV show or 1966 movie?

D: No, only the #1 car was used in the movie and on TV as the others cars weren't even built yet.

E: Did you build a metal replica or are you familiar with a metal replica (#5) that George may have won in a lawsuit/dispute?

D: There is no metal #5 car that either George Barris or I know of.  If there's a #5 metal one out there, someone else built it.

E: In what years were the replicas built?

D: 1967-1968

E: Why were the replicas made differently from the original #1?

D: Because we couldn't always find the same things.  No one cared.

E: Did the Dragster have a manual or automatic transmission?

D: A manual transmission.  

E: Did the replicas originally all have rear canopies?

D: The replicas always had canopies on the rear, yes.

E: Why were some of the Batmobiles flocked?  Was it to hide stress cracks from the fiberglass?

D: One of the replicas was flocked because it came out of the mold in bad shape.  So we called it Bat Fuzz.  

 

Thanks to Mr. Dean for taking the time to answer my questions!