The Epic Backstory Behind Key West's Mysterious, Illegally Parked Flintstones Mobile

This Friday, Key West police introduced Florida to the greatest illegally parked vehicle in state history — a mysterious Flintstones car piling up tickets in downtown Key West. We were left with many questions, such as who created such a magnificent ride, and why had they abandoned it?

Now New Times has untangled the saga of the foot-powered wonder. It turns out that before it was the Flintstones mobile, it was actually the Pimpstones mobile, because this is Florida and a regular Flintstones car still isn't weird enough.

"We were coming to Fantasy Fest, and we decided we were going to be the Flintstones. Actually —" Lisa Bowman stops and corrects herself, "actually, the pimped-out Flintstones. The Pimpstones."

Around 2010, Bowman and her husband, Ronnie, now residents of Key West, were living on Long Island. They'd begun planning a trip to Key West months in advance.

It took Ronnie Bowman about two months to build the prehistoric-looking vehicle during his free time on weekends and nights after work, and in October of that year, they loaded it onto Lisa Bowman's nephew's pickup truck and headed south for Fantasy Fest.

Last week, the Bowmans were thrilled to see their creation had made the news after Key West cops posted a photo of the vehicle, which was illegally parked across from a basketball gym. 

"He loved getting his 15 minutes of fame," Lisa Bowman says of her husband. "We were so proud to see it on TV."

So in case you were as curious as we were, here's how the Flintstones Pimpstones mobile made its way to Key West. 

The Bowmans, who say they won second place in Fantasy Fest that year with the Flintstones-themed entry, made a permanent move to Key West in 2012. But their new house was small, with a tiny yard. There really wasn't any room for the Flintstones mobile. 

Around that time, Mary Parmley, who ran an arts organization called Just 4 Kids, remembers seeing it parked on the side of the road. It was love at first sight.

"We drove by and saw it outside and said, 'We've got to have that,' and the owner was like, 'Do you want it?'" Parmley recalls. And just like that, the Bowmans donated it to the kids' group.

Parmley says the car was popular with both kids and adults. Children would take pictures with it and pretend they had traveled back in time, but the vehicle still made the rounds at boat parades and on Duval Street for Halloween and more adult-oriented events. 

Earlier this year, however, Just 4 Kids shuttered due to a lack of funding, and Parmley moved to Denver. She gave the car to a guy in Key West who had plans to refurbish it. That's when Key West police slapped a sticker on it, identifying it as an abandoned vehicle. They hoped to find the owner to avoid having to tow the vehicle. 

Parmley says a friend planned to pick it up, but before she could get to it Friday, someone stole it, carted it down to Duval Street, and parked it in front of the 801 Bourbon Bar, which hosts nightly drag shows. Parmley's friend Carol Callowhill told the Florida Keys Keynoter she wants to refurbish the vehicle and use it for Woman's Club events.

Callowhill, for her part, says the rich history of the Flintstones mobile will be respected.

"We're not going to let this go to waste," she told the paper. "Not on my watch."

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jessica Lipscomb is the former news editor of Miami New Times.