As automobile technology continues to evolve, there’s a growing desire among car enthusiasts to own a more personalized, unique ride that stands out from the rest. Custom vehicles have been around for decades, attracting enthusiasts and collectors alike. From the Batmobile to KITT and many more, custom creations continue to captivate our imagination and push the boundaries of automotive design and engineering. Let’s look at six famous custom cars from the minds of some of the most imaginative designers in automotive history! 

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Famous Custom Cars from TV and Film 

Film and television sets are a hotbed for famous custom cars. When it comes to world-building, a run-of-the-mill car can wreck your immersion in the show or movie. Film and television producers understand this, so they turn to the iconic look of custom cars to set their show in a truly unique world. 

So, start your engines! Let’s take a look! 

1. The Batmobile (Lincoln Futura) 

Biff, Bam, Pow! Holy tires, Batman! Whether you watched the Batman television series when it aired from 1966 to 1968 or through reruns of the classic show, you’ll recognize this custom car constructed from the mind of George Barris. 

the classic machines the 1966 batmobile
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Constructed from a Lincoln Futura concept car, this extraordinary vehicle became the embodiment of Batman’s style and crime-fighting prowess. Its distinct bat-design and bat-gadgets captured the imaginations of fans worldwide, solidifying its status as the ultimate superhero car. The fact the show’s initial run was only three years, yet its version of the Batmobile maintains its iconic status is a testament to how a great custom car can leave a lasting Bat-pression! 

2. KITT (1982 Pontiac Firebird TransAm) 

A few years before he started running on beaches in slow motion, David Hasselhoff was the undercover LAPD detective Michael Knight on Knight Rider from 1982 to 1986. More iconic, though, was Knight’s trusted sidekick: the Knight Industries Two Thousand—or KITT—which was also the brainchild of George Barris. 

On the show, KITT was powered by an artificial intelligence and was a self-driving car years before the concept entered the real world. 

It cost NBC approximately $100,000 to customize a 1982 Pontiac Firebird into KITT—which is over $315,000 in 2024. For audience members, though, this expense was well worth it. Another iconic aspect is the performance. In the studio, KITT was voiced by William Daniels in what is perhaps his most famous role. 

Custom Cars of the Rich and Famous 

Some of the most famous custom cars gain their status with the help of their owners. These next two creations are owned by two of the most influential car collectors in the world! 

3. Jay Leno’s EcoJet Concept

When it comes to custom cars, comedian and television personality Jay Leno is no stranger to extraordinary creations. One such masterpiece is the EcoJet concept car. 

This vehicle is powered by a Honeywell LTS101 gas turbine engine. This may not seem strange until you realize this engine was designed for helicopters! In contrast to some other famous custom cars, the EcoJet is designed to be driven on the road like any other car. 

Created in collaboration with General Motors, Honeywell, Alcoa, and BASF, the EcoJet exemplifies Leno’s passion for pushing the boundaries of automotive innovation. 

4. Paul Newman’s VW Beetle 

Beyond his accomplishments as an actor and director, the late Paul Newman was also a fervent race car driver and a collector of incredibly famous custom cars. There was no shortage of options we could’ve chosen to highlight here, but we picked Newman’s custom Volkswagen Beetle. 

Paul Newman's VW Beetle
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Don’t let this little Bug fool you, there’s some venom under its hood. Not only was it customized to be a convertible, but it has also been equipped with a V8 engine, reflecting Newman’s adventurous spirit and love for speed. 

Famous Custom Cars Going Back to the Future? 

The sixties were the space age. Not even the sky was the limit anymore! In the 2020s, we look back at this decade and view their predictions for what the future would look like through the lens of “Retrofuturism.” 

It is remarkable to think what people thought the coming decades would bring, and these two famous custom cars are examples of that. 

5. The Deora (1965 Dodge A100)

This customized 1965 A100 pickup truck repurposes the back hatch of a 1960 Ford station wagon as its windshield! Modified by Mike and Larry Alexander with the help of Harry Bentley Bradley, this famous custom car made its debut at the 1967 Detroit Autorama hotrod show. 

Its unconventional design featured a fully functional body without a traditional hood, challenging traditional automotive aesthetics. The Deora’s impact extends beyond its full-size form, though. In 1968, the Hot Wheels line of scale model cars was launched, and they chose to feature the Deora in their inaugural line-up

6. The Reactor

No discussion of retrofuturism is complete without mentioning Gene Winfield and his iconic Reactor. Completed in 1965, this Space Age-inspired custom car was built on a Citroën chassis and powered by a Chevy flat-six engine. 

Gene Winfield and The Reactor
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The Reactor made its mark on popular culture, appearing in 1960s television shows like Bewitched, Mission: Impossible, the previously mentioned Batman series, and even the original run of Star Trek. On the latter, Winfield also contributed his talents for the design of the shuttlecraft Galileo. 

Join the Custom Car Community with TWR 

Custom vehicles represent a passion and creativity that brings enthusiasts together, fueling the desire for experimentation, innovation, and one-of-a-kind designs. At TWR, we pride ourselves on being a thought leader in the custom vehicle space. 

From retrofuturistic creations to celebrity favorites, and much more, we have the skill, knowledge, and talent to turn your dreams of a unique, standout personal vehicle into a reality. Our world-class team has the expertise to make your vision come to life, providing you with a personalized creation that reflects your passion and style. 

When it comes to custom vehicles, there are no limits to what we can create. Let TWR take your personal automotive experience to the next level. 

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