Which Was the Coolest '60s TV Show Car?

Love him or loathe him, George Barris, the self described King of Kustomizers, had a huge impact on 1960s TV. The mastermind behind the Monkeemobile, Batmobile, hell pretty much every prime time mobile was Barris. You may not have even been born when these shows were new (whippersnapper) but you’re reading a car blog so you should be at least familiar with them. Even if you’re not, that’s what Google was invented for.

What's sexier, Diana Rigg, or a Lotus Elan?

From My Mother the Car (go look it up) to the outlandish Munstermobile, ’60s TV cars mirrored the dramatic convolutions of Vietnam-era American society. Even puppets got some rocking cool wheels as Lady Penelope pulled the strings on the 3 axle Rolls dubbed FAB-1 in Thunderbirds Are Go. Sure the ’70s had K.I.T.T., the General Lee and BJ and the Bear’s truck, but the ’60s had Mannix’s GTS Dart convertible, The Prisoner’s Lotus 7 and John Steed’s Blower Bentleys on The Avengers.
With the background noise of the cold war and nuclear inhalation ever present, the sixties was a time when more than ever people everywhere turned to their TVs for escapism entertainment. Reality TV wasn’t even considered during that era, reality being too scary at the time. And as the shows became more ludicrous and vaudevillian, so did the set pieces, including the cars, become  larger than life, keeping pace.
George Barris was the premier creator of such prime time fantasy fulfillment, but he wasn’t alone, nor were all TV cars wacky customs, as some of the more cerebral fare warranted interesting, but sedate accouterment. Out of all those, which TV car of the sixties do you think was the coolest?
Image sources: [66batman.com, Lotustalk.com]

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42 responses to “Which Was the Coolest '60s TV Show Car?”

  1. Maymar Avatar

    Batmobile, bar none – what else had atomic batteries, man? That, and everything labeled, for clarity.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      If I ever suddenly found myself a multi-millionaire I would buy the original Barris Batmobile and turn it back into the Lincoln Futura show car.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        That would make me sad. You can't erase history.

        1. P161911 Avatar

          Barris erased Lincoln history.

      2. Maymar Avatar

        I should probably be disappointed, but the Futura's pretty cool.

      3. Armand4 Avatar

        If I ever suddenly found myself a multi-millionaire I would buy the original Barris Batmobile and use it as my daily driver.

        1. P161911 Avatar

          Sort of like Jon Lovitz in Benchwarmers.

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    Diana Rigg was definitely hotter than the Elan. She also probably didn't break down and leave you stranded.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      That's immediately what I thought of.

  3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Let's not forget Professor Fate's Hannibal 8!
    <img src="http://www.petersen.org/images/Exhibitimages/hannibal8-1965greatrace.jpg"&gt;
    …although that technically isn't a "TV Show Car," the movie ended up on TV regularly by the end of the '60s.

  4. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    <img src="http://www.autointhenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/pink_panther_limo.jpg">____Words couldn't express how much I wanted to be the kid who drove this at the end of the Pink Panther. OK, so he isn't actually driving, but I didn't know that. All I saw on the TV was a kid driving an outrageously cool low, pink car.

  5. KAH Avatar

    <img src="http://bikerodnkustom5.homestead.com/files/Brain_Barris_chain_bike_1965__14_AL.jpg"&gt;
    I'd going to pick Drag-u-la from The Munsters
    but the Route66 C1 gets a nod for being one of the first shows to make the car a big part of the show
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/65/Route66bnov.jpg/270px-Route66bnov.jpg"&gt;
    and every body knows this bad boy was build for Speed
    <img src="http://images.paultan.org/images/Speed_Racer_Mach_5.jpg"&gt;

    1. dmilligan Avatar

      I'll second the Dragula, although I was a big fan of the Munstermobile too.
      And Diana Rigg is hotter than any Lotus.

  6. engineerd Avatar

    <img src="http://www.paulfrasercollectibles.com/upload/public/docimages/Image/i/k/p/TardisS.jpg&quot; style="width: 493px; height: 622px; border: 0" alt="imgTag" />
    You are truly a nerd when you know what this is from.

    1. rovingardener Avatar

      The handling is wonky, but my God there's a lot of room inside!

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      In London, back when there were still some of these around, about 90% had the L in Public scratched out.

    3. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      Oh yes, very much.

  7. Deartháir Avatar

    Wait… they had TV in the 60's?
    Growing up in the 80's, my parents refused to pay for cable TV, so we had the two free over-the-air channels: CBC, and static. So I got to watch Sesame Street, hockey, the Wonderful World of Disney, and The Littlest Hobo. Not the greatest selection of car-centric shows. The first one I can think of is Maxwell Smart's Tiger. Then later I found put what was in it, and I liked it all the more. So that gets my vote.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I distinctly remember an episode of Littlest Hobo with a cop in a Dodge Aspen, I'm sure about it. That was about as carnivorous as the series got though, I must admit.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Well, growing up in Buffalo, I thought the Canadian stuff was cooler, and spent lots of time watching CBC stuff on CHCH-11 Toronto through the static-y snow.

  8. scroggzilla Avatar

    Yeah, I could see how a thing like that would happen.

  9. tonyola Avatar

    The Green Hornet's Black Beauty – triple-distilled menace out of a 1966 Imperial.
    <img src="http://reviews.carreview.com/files/2008/12/black-beauty.jpg"&gt;

    1. tonyola Avatar

      And here's the car in action. Haven't you ever wanted a garage with a rotating floor (yes, the cars are models and it would be utterly impractical but it's still cool)?
      [youtube P2RDh0EqRH8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2RDh0EqRH8 youtube]

  10. LTDScott Avatar

    I don't really have an answer, just found the timing of the question amusing since I just happened to watch the original Austin Powers last night, with none other than Diana Rigg.

  11. tonyola Avatar

    Wrong about the Monkeemobile – George Barris didn't build it. Two of them were created by Dean Jeffries, although Barris bought one later on. Jeffries also built the Green Hornet's Black Beauty.

  12. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    It had already been wildly popular for a couple of years by the time 1960 rolled around, but Kookie's car (Norm Grabowski's original T-bucket) on 77 Sunset Strip was a major TV star car.
    <img src="http://image.streetrodderweb.com/f/milestones/8695826+w200/0112sr_080miles16_z.jpg"&gt;

    1. tonyola Avatar

      He said '60s too.

  13. FreeMan Avatar

    Wasn't K.I.T.T. from the 80's?
    And why do I have to pick Diana or the Elan? Can't it be both?

  14. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    Not as Hoony as the others already here but definitely worth an honorable mention.
    <img src="http://open.salon.com/files/car1252982855.jpg"&gt;

  15. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    While Major Nelson's Goat was no George Barris custom, it was very cool and I still have fantasies about Barbara Eden's irrefutable hotness so her master's car is worthy of mention.
    <img src="http://imcdb.org/images/181/182.jpg"&gt;

  16. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    Samantha Stephens' Camaro was pretty sweet, too. And Elizabeth Montgomery was one hot witch!
    <img src="http://imcdb.org/images/230/235.jpg"&gt;

  17. packratmatt Avatar

    The Lost in Space Chariot. More of a minivan than a car. http://www.voodoofx.com/images/chariotBox.jpg

  18. CEMan Avatar

    Why does this post make me think you guys are following the Jalopnik path? Point? What Point?

  19. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

    Dean Jeffries dies a little inside every time somebody repeats George Barris' claim that he was somehow the brains behind the Monkeemobile. George OWNS the "B" car. He BOUGHT it some years back and named it "George Barris' Monkeemobile" so that people would assume that he actually had anything at all to do with its creation. Please don't give the putz any more credit than he deserves.

    1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

      Correction: George Barris apparently sold his car in 2008 for $360,000 at Barrett-Jackson.

  20. Jim7 Avatar

    The Mannix Toronado
    <img src="http://www3.telus.net/toronado/UTMannixStunt.jpg"&gt;

  21. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Right. There is that too.

  22. microbuss Avatar

    um excuse me? BOTH Knight Rider & Dukes of Hazzard were from the 1980s