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National Corvette Museum features legendary creations of Carl Casper

Carl Casper constructs the "Batmobile" for Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" (1992)
National Corvette Museum
Carl Casper constructs the "Batmobile" for Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" (1992)

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green is currently showcasing the works of designer Carl Casper. Included in his portfolio are the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am known as "K.I.T.T." from Knight Rider and the iconic van from The A-Team.

The National Corvette Museum is chock full of exhibits that seek to educate worldwide audiences about the evolution of the Corvette through collection, preservation, and celebration of its legacy.

As part of that mission, the museum continuously works to feature new exhibits, such as “An American Love Affair: 70 Years of Corvette,” which opened earlier this year as part of the Corvette’s 70th anniversary celebration.

Carl Casper

Now, the museum is displaying the creations of Carl Casper in a gallery titled “Custom CARisma: The Legendary Creations of Carl Casper,” who is a world-renowned car designer, engineer, racer, author, and artist.

From 1963 until 2017, Casper was involved with over 1,000 car shows all over the country. During that time, he also created studio-licensed touring cars for Hollywood, including the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am known as "K.I.T.T." from Knight Rider, the iconic van from The A-Team, “General Lee” from Dukes of Hazzard, in addition to several others.

Mariah Hughes is a spokesperson for the National Corvette Museum and told WKU Public Radio that the exhibit features several pieces of Casper’s work, and that it’s the first time these cars have been on display together since 2017.

“They are all his own personal creations, and, to me, it’s more art than performance vehicles, because when you see them, you can definitely take in the thoughts, the paint, the color schemes, and the engineering that went into each of the cars on display,” she said.

Custom Cars

 Carl Casper's award winning Knight Cruiser
National Corvette Museum
Carl Casper's award winning Knight Cruiser

Several of Casper’s famous designs make up the exhibit including his purple “Knight Cruiser,” which is the nation’s most-awarded custom car.

Hughes said that there are several other cars on display that also highlight Casper’s vision and ingenuity.

“We’ve got some really cool custom cars from the Turbo Shark Corvette, which is Carl’s take on the C-3, before the C-3 was even unveiled to the public, to a wonderful young American dragster, which is a long, long drag car,” she added.

 Carl Casper's Turbo Shark Corvette
National Corvette Museum
Carl Casper's Turbo Shark Corvette

The Batmobile

Perhaps one of Casper’s most famous creations is the “Batmobile” from Tim Burton’s 1992 film Batman Returns. According to the museum, he took the job because the producers wanted something more reliable than the car made for the first film, as this model would be getting more screen time.

While the Batmobiles built for the film weren’t housed on Corvette frames, they were still very much General Motors products, with each having been constructed on an enlarged Impala chassis, according to Chevy Hardcore.

Of the three vehicles built for Batman Returns, one is featured in the exhibit, which will only be at the museum for a limited time.

Carl Casper's "Batmobile" on display at the National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
Carl Casper's "Batmobile" on display at the National Corvette Museum

“It (the Batmobile) is a custom car, and it is part of this exhibit. It’s housed in our limited engagement gallery, which is a rotating exhibit hall where we change out exhibits on an annual basis, and that’s why it’s here with us until December 31st of this year,” Hughes said.

More information about the exhibit and how to get tickets can be found online at the National Corvette Museum website.

The National Corvette Museum is located at 350 Corvette Dr. in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Copyright 2023 WKU Public Radio. To see more, visit WKU Public Radio.

Jake Foster