Steve Tansy Interview

Steve Tansy, custom car builder that made the Coca-Cola Car, worked for George Barris and toured with the #3 Barris Batmobile in the late 1960's.

Mark: What year(s) did you drive the Batmobile?

Steve Tansy: 1967-1968

MR: Was the car flocked when you saw it the first time?

ST: Yes. Can you tell from the photo in the newspaper that it was flocked?

MR: Yes. When did you sand off the flocking and repaint it?

ST: 1967

MR: Was it hard to sand off?

ST: It was very hard to sand off the flocking. I used 80 grit sandpaper on a D.A. and then block sanded it before painting it in my shop.

MR: How long did you have to do the sanding and repainting?

ST: I did it in the off-season, but I still only had a couple of weeks to do it.

MR: What can you tell me about the car?

ST: The car was one of three that Barris built when the TV show was really popular. There was another car, a metal car, that I think was built on a Thunderbird.

MR: A 1958 Thunderbird?

ST: Yeah, I think it was a 1958 Tbird, built by Jim Sermersheim of Indiana. It was a little smaller than the cars that Barris built. Did you know that metal car was confiscated by Barris and federal marshals at a car show in Fort Wayne, Indiana?

MR: I've heard that story, but I've also heard that Barris hired Jim Sermersheim to be his "east coast representative."

ST: So, you've heard of Jim Sermersheim? Not many people have.

MR: Thank you. Do you know why the #5 car sat behind Barris' shop and became so dilapidated?

ST: Not really. Probably because it wasn't the same size as the others.

MR: Did the #3 car have headlights like the one in the photo in the newspaper?

ST: No. It didn't have headlights or tail lights. It only had painted in headlights, painted in silver--or red. I can't remember.

MR: If it didn't have headlights, it might have been the #2 car that you drove instead of the #3 car pictured in the paper.

ST: You know, you might be right.

MR: But the #2 car still had flocking on it when I saw it in 1986, so it was either the #3 or #4 car. Did the car have rear windshields when you first saw it?

ST: No.

MR: Then it probably was the #3 car after all.

ST: You sure know a lot about these cars!

MR: Thank you. It's been my life's passion. Did the trunk always open, or is that something that happened during your tenure with the car?

ST: No. None of the fiberglass cars had opening trunks. Only the Futura Batmobile had a working trunk.

MR: Sometime between when you drove it and when I saw the #3 car in 1992, the trunk was cut and made functional.

ST: Really? I didn't know that.

MR: Did the Batmobile have any mechanical issues while you were driving it?

ST: No.

MR: Was the car you drove ever drag raced?

ST: No. They built another car for drag racing. It was much more souped up than the one I drove.

MR: Do you know why the rear canopy of the #4 car, the dragster, had four holes cut-out in the windshields on each side? Was it to provide air flow so they wouldn't blow off?

ST: Maybe.

MR: Is it possible the car you drove had windshields at one time, and that they tore off on a drag strip?

ST: I don't think so.

MR: Were you ever pulled over by the police while driving the car?

ST: No. What few times I drove the car on the street, I was usually escorted by the police, or had a TV or radio crew with me.

MR: Do you have photos of you with the Batmobile?

ST: No-just the ones in the newspaper. If I would have known the interest level today, I would have taken lots of pictures. At the time, it was just my job. I loved it, but it was a job.

MR: Any mishaps or funny stories you'd like to share?

ST: None that I can remember. It was great meeting lots and lots of movie stars, though!

MR: Thanks so much for taking some time out tonight to answer my questions.

ST: You're welcome, and thank you for your interest.

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