Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1966 -> Black Beauty
Long ago in TV land there was this very successful up and coming producer named William Dozier. In 1965 Dozier called Dean Jeffries to build the Batmobile for the upcoming TV show. Jeffries agreed and set to work on a 59 Cadillac. Two weeks later Dozier called and said they moved up the timetable and they needed the car in 3 weeks and Jeffries knowing that he would not be able to do a job he was proud of, declined the task of making the Batmobile. Desperate Dozier contacted George Barris and in roughly 3 weeks the Batmobile was born out of the 1955 Lincoln Futura show car.
It was 1966 when "Batman" the ever-popular TV series aired. Trying to duplicate that success, producers at 20th Century Fox brought forth The Green Hornet starring Van Williams as Britt Reid and Bruce Lee as Kato in 1966. Many a young child got their first exposure to martial arts with the introduction to this show.
But ask any one who was a child of the 60's and they will remember The Black Beauty, the Green Hornet's rolling arsenal.
Check out these you tube links: Video 1 and video 2
Dozier was unhappy with the job Barris did so, Dean Jeffries, was contacted by the studio and asked to create a car to rival the Batmobile but be a little more realistic. Jeffries chose a 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial for the task. Very possibly Chrysler's first prominent TV/Movie car! He created only two cars for the show, one is currently in the Petersen Museum Collection and the other is currently finishing its restoration in South Carolina. The Petersen Museum purchased the Black Beauty in December of 2003 for a little over $192,000. Adding to some confusion, George Barris created 3 replicas for touring at car shows but without Jeffries or the studios approval.
Jeffries created 2 cars that were fully functional after all there were no digital effects in the 60's. The cars have front and rear facing rocket banks, front and rear gas, oil, water, smoke cannons. Rotating headlights, four green and two white, and rotating license plates. A closed circuit TV system, front and rear cell phones (real big deal in the 60's) brooms that sweep up its tire tracks and a host of other crime fighting gadgets switches and indicator lights.
During the early 1990's Black Beauty 1 was restored and Black Beauty 2 is finishing its restoration in the fall/winter of 2008.
The public interest has never been higher! This car has been covered in several magazines. Plastic model kits, from Polar Lights, die-cast from Johnny Lightning and Corgi are all to be found on secondary sources like eBay.
Currently Sony/Columbia pictures have in development a Green Hornet feature film staring Seth Rogen and Steven Chow due out in June of 2010.
For further information or questions see www.theblackbeauty.com
Do you have information or photos on these two TV cars? We welcome your stories and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some other photos can bee seen at: