Just like famous actors and actresses, there are iconic cars and other vehicles in television and movie history that have left an indelible mark on pop culture.
In this article we will explore the story of three of those famous silver screen machines. Do you know the history and fates of the original Batmobile, the Dukes of Hazzard cars, or the Back to the Future time machine? Let’s get the lowdown on these iconic television series vehicles!
1. The Batmobile (from “Batman” 1966 TV series and movie)
Without doubt the most famous vehicle in television history is the Batmobile, and many different evolutions have appeared over the years. Batman first appeared 75 years ago, during May of 1939 in “Detective Comics #27,” and the Batmobile was introduced a couple of years later in “Batman #5”.
In 1966, the first full-sized, operational Batmobile was built for the television series when famous custom car builder George Barris was hired to create the car. He used Ford Motor Company’s abandoned Lincoln Futura concept car as the basis for the iconic vehicle, as the Futura design already had bat-like features such as long fins and bubble canopies, to which added a bat mask by converting the nose. It was also convenient, as Barris was only given about two weeks to design and build the Batmobile by the TV studio.
Barris had owned the Batmobile ever since he created it. However in 2013, he sold it at an Arizona auction house for $4.6 million where it was purchased by businessman and car collector Rick Champagne. It tied the record with the Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger, for the highest price ever sold for a movie car at auction. Barris has said he has shown the Batmobile around the world, but has recently said that, “Now is time for someone else to enjoy it.”
2. The General Lee (from “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV series and movie)
The General Lee is the car driven by Duke Cousins Bo and Luke in the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. It’s an orange 1968 Dodge Charger that’s known for its signature horn, the fact that its doors are always welded shut leaving the Dukes to get in and out through windows, and the rough-and-tumble stunt work that it went through on every episode.
But there wasn’t just one of these bad boys- an astonishing estimated total of 256 General Lees were used (and mostly destroyed) during the entire series! Today, 17 of the originals still exist in various conditions, with countless replicas produced over the years. The first ever General Lees were labelled “LEE 1”, “LEE 2” and “LEE 3”.
“LEE 1” was a V8-powered 1969 Dodge Charger equipped with air conditioning, which was sold to Bubba Watson at the 2012 Barett-Jackson Scottsdale auction for $110,000 USD. Watson is an American professional golfer on the PGA Tour.
Many replicas have been created, but a side-effect of the sheer number of Chargers that were destroyed for the TV series and 2005 movie (plus the usual effects of time and rust on the rest of the Charger population) is that the values of remaining 1968 Chargers have skyrocketed.
3. DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine (from the “Back To The Future” movie trilogy)
The DeLorean DMC-12 is the four-wheeled time machine from the Back to the Future trilogy. Dr. Emmett Brown built the time machine from a DeLorean DMC-12 car, wanting to gain insights into history and the future, which is how the misadventure of the movie first begins.
The DeLorean DMC-12 was a sportscar manufactured by John DoLorean’s DeLorean Motor Company for the American market in 1981–82. Approximately 9,000 DMC-12s were made before production stopped in early 1983. The DMC-12 was the only model produced by the company. It was a fairly rubbish car, but its starring role in one of the most popular movie series of all time has seen values soaring. Plenty of the remaining DeLoreans now feature replica movie addenda like a flux capacitor and “Mr Fusion” portable nuclear reactor.
One of the DMC-12s used in filming in the Back to the Future Trilogy is now on display in Universal Studios Hollywood.