Batmobile star at Delavan car show
DELAVAN — More than 1,000 classic cars, show trucks, motorcycles and special interest vehicles are expected to converge on the shores of Delavan Lake on Sunday, July 10, when The Cars Time Forgot car show takes over the grounds of Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan.
A special appearance by The Batmobile is one of the highlights. The caped crusader's most famous mode of transportation is made possible by the Volo Auto Museum and the Delavan-Delavan Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
More special appearances include Funny Car driver Barry Bartz featuring Mr. Twister, Capt'n Bob and Arlo of Wisconsin Hot Rod Radio and Ted Vernon from the TV show “South Beach Classics.”
The Batmobile is expected to be a particularly fascinating attraction for this year's show.
George Barris created The Batmobile exclusively for the “Batman” TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward.
The 1966 vehicle started as a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car, but Barris and his crew — with DC Comics' three-week deadline — transformed it into the world's most famous car featuring numerous special effects and innovations.
Volo Auto Museum, of Volo, Illinois, owns a late 1970s version that will be the featured vehicle at the 13th annual Cars Time Forgot show from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 10. Activities will be at Lake Lawn Resort for a fifth consecutive year.
“There was only one car built and actually used for the TV series, and that was on permanent display,” museum director of entertainment and displays Brian Grams said about the original that was sold for $4.6 million in 2013. “But Barris pulled the molds and built a few additional ones for exhibition purposes, a backup car and for general display. We've used this one for rentals and promotions.”
And that's one exciting, nostalgic reason why an estimated 10,000 Stateline area fans of custom and stock cars, trucks and motorcycles will be visiting the shores of Delavan Lake.
But The Batmobile would not be making a special appearance if not for Grams, his family and fate.
“This all started with my grandfather opening a resale shop, and out of the small antique mall we tried to get rid of junk cars and it's evolved into what you see today,” Grams said.
The Volo complex includes 12 buildings covering two square city blocks — one would walk seven miles to see everything. The 33 exhibit areas include vintage animatronics, military, vintage arcades, trains and tractors.
But obviously, the museum's focus is cars, of which it owns about 400 and buys and sells classic and collector vehicles.
Its inventory features numerous exhibits, including cars of the rich and famous, TV and movie cars, antique vehicles, autos of the 1950s, hot rods and customs and muscle cars.
And then there's the museum's prized Duesenberg Room, which houses the world's largest collection of Duesenberg II cars ever assembled.
And Volo is still waiting to get two of those prized possessions back.
“You build connections, and we've built a small niche, so sometimes people come to us,” Grams said of Warner Brothers and Volo's Duesenberg line. “We sent them red and brown vehicles, which they painted yellow for 'The Great Gatsby.' So we signed a deal with the right of first refusal to buy them back. But Leonardo (DiCaprio) liked one so much that he took off with it and still has it. We're still trying to get the other one back from Warner Brothers, which has been using it for display purposes.”
And while the stories behind most of the star-crossed vehicles may not be as colorful as this one from the 2013 film, they do have stories.
However, fans must visit the museum, located about 50 miles east of Rockford off U.S. Highway 12, to hear them.
Volo's collection includes the eighth Dodge Charger General Lee built for “The Dukes of Hazard” — fortunately avoiding the fate of nearly 250 others that were wrecked in filming the series.
Others include one of Grams' personal favorites and one that took nearly 10 years to obtain, a 2004 Holden Monaro from the movie “Son of the Mask,” the semi that Heath Ledger drove in “The Dark Knight” and one of only two Ferrari Spiders built for use in “Miami Vice.”
The lengthy list goes on and on, and Volo's collection features several other masterpieces that the legendary Barris and his company had their fingerprints all over.
Those creations include the Munster Koach and a casket turned dragster Drag-U-La for Grandpa Munster, a 1921 Olds touring car that was updated and turned into a truck for the 1993 film “The Beverly Hillbillies” and one of only three KITTs made for the “Knight Rider” TV series.
And the museum got its hands on arguably Barris' most iconic vehicle, The Batmobile. It is an original model with the trademarked name and logos and the famous modifications, one that comes with another great story.
“They had the actual bat phone, but they were trying to think of what to use for the base,” Grams said. “And one of the guys comes out of the bathroom with a plunger ... they made the mold from the rubber part of the plunger and that became the base.”
Cars Time Forgot visitors will get to see that phone. And maybe folks old enough to remember, or those who have seen re-runs of the show, can envision the dynamic duo leaping from the vehicle to defeat criminal elements of Gotham City.
“Everybody knows the Batmobile,” Grams said. “We do well with rentals because they are an attraction and pull in extra attendance at these car shows.”