Old School Americana & Nostalgia


What Happened to the Black Beauty, ‘The Green Hornet’s Car?

What Happened to the Black Beauty, ‘The Green Hornet’s Car?

Kids who grew up in the 1960s might have fond memories of watching The Green Hornet during its one-season run on ABC. The show, which took its basic structure from the old radio program, featured Van Williams and Bruce Lee. Yet the car fans out there probably were drooling over seeing the Black Beauty in every episode.

The car was tricked out with so many different gadgets. This was important because The Green Hornet, the alter-ego of newspaperman Britt Reid, went out to fight crime. Having the Black Beauty be able to either make fast turns or fire off some bullets or rockets helped a lot.

So, the TV show lasted just for the 1966-67 season. It had the unfortunate situation of premiering at the same time Batman was taking over the nation. Fans of that show fell in love with the Batmobile and its cool gadgets and look. The Green Hornet did not pull in the ratings numbers equivalent to Batman. That was a hard task to undertake.

But that didn’t mean the Black Beauty was out of commission. Let’s offer some background on the making of the car, then look at where it sits today.

William Dozier Stirred Pot For the Black Beauty

This all starts, though, with producer William Dozier, who was the creative mind behind these TV series. Knowing that The Green Hornet was getting the green light from ABC, Dozier wanted to have a car with a little more pizzazz than the Batmobile.

20th Century Fox reached out to Dean Jeffries with the mission of making a Batmobile-like car. It had to have a little more reality to it, though. Jeffries nabbed a 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial and started preparing the car for the show.

In reality, there were two cars created by Jeffries for the TV show. Based on the most recent information, one of the Black Beauties is at the Petersen Museum Collection. That one was bought in 2003 for around $196,000. Another one resides in South Carolina.

Jeffries went to town and set up a lot of gimmicks in his cars. According to Retro Rides, these two cars are set up with front- and rear-facing rocket banks. They also have front and rear gas, oil, water, and smoke cannons. They also have rotating headlights (four green and two white) along with rotating number plates.

Powerful 440-Cubic Engine Housed Inside Car

Toss in a closed-circuit TV system and front and rear cell phones and that’s a cool car circa 1960s. Both cars have been restored from their original make.

As for the engine, Autoblog reports these Chryslers had the original 440-cubic inch V8 engine in there. It has 350 horsepower and 480 ft-lbs of torque.

To throw in some confusion, George Barris created three replicas that could be used at car shows. But he did not have the blessing of Jeffries or Dozier when he went ahead and made them.

As an aside, when Seth Rogen put together his version of The Green Hornet, he did not use one of the older models. But a 1965 Chrysler Imperial was built out for the big-screen movie adaptation.

It’s fair to say that the Black Beauty belongs among the coolest classic TV cars ever to grace the small screen. With it still remembered all these decades later, Black Beauty will hold a special place in gearheads’ hearts.