Robot 6

Original 1966 Batmobile sells for $4.62 million at auction

On the set of "Batman" in 1966 (from Life.com)

Ever since Rick Champagne was a kid playing with his toy replica of the Batmobile, he’s wanted to own the iconic car from the 1960s Batman television series. On Saturday, that dream at last became a reality.

The Arizona businessman, and lifelong Batman fan, shelled out $4.62 million for the customized 1955 Lincoln Futura, the second-highest amount ever paid for a vehicle at the famed Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions (a 1966 Cobra Super Snake owned by auto designer and racing driver Carroll Shelby sold for a record $5.5 million in 2007).

“I’m going to keep it at home,” Champagne told SPEED TV. “Maybe take it out for a Sunday drive.” Asked whether he’d store the Batmobile in his garage, he said he’ll probably put it in his living room.

The Lincoln Futura concept car was originally purchased from Ford for $1 by legendary customizer George Barris, who transformed it into the Batmobile in just 15 days with a budget of $15,000. After the TV series ended, Barris purchased the 19-foot-long automobile and placed it on display in his North Hollywood custom-car shop.

Barris, now 87, also built vehicles for such TV shows as The Munters, The Beverly Hillbillies and My Mother the Car, but the Batmobile is by far his most famous creation. “I saw the script and it said, ‘Bang,’ ‘Pow,’ ‘Boom,’” Barris recalled in an interview last fall. “That’s exactly what I wanted the car to do. I wanted it to be as big a character as the actors.”

The Los Angeles Times has a nice photo gallery devoted to the construction of the Batmobile, while Life.com has behind-the-scenes shots from the TV show used for its 1966 cover story

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7 Comments

It really is a great design. I remember when I was working on DC we could never put this version of the Batmobile in any comics–issues with the legal rights of the television show. A shame because the look really does hold up.

The amount paid is just monumentally stupid.This car is only worth about 400.000 tops.Barrett and Jackson are just overhyped pirates,but I guess it’s buyer beware.

Mental. For $4.2 mill I could BUILD you a FLEET of Batmobiles.

Barrett-Jackson didn’t set the price nor tell anyone what to pay. The winning bidder chose to shell out that much. Keep in mind he was in competition with one or more others willing to pay a high price for it too.

That said, and if not mistaken, Barris himself may have had a reserve on it, but can’t remember if he did or what it was. So he is the one setting the price. Take into account he may have had to figure in the commission fees for B-J too.

The buyer is also paying for history and importance for the car as well, not just the car itself. It’s too bad he’s not owner of a museum that would have been perfect for it and give everyone a chance to see it. I wonder if Barris thought to donate it to some such museum – even the Smithsonian – or at least sell it to same for his cost plus a reasonable profit. I don’t think I would have paid more than 2.7 million (3.2 tops), if I had that money of course, and only if I had a place to display it for others to enjoy. Is there any great place for Hollywood TV and movie memorabilia this could have gone to?

@ Chris M: I think the lack of a museum to place this in is a real shame too.Too much of our cultural heritage pop culture or otherwise is still in the hands of private collectors and putting it the hands of the Auction crowd leads to this.Never think that high profile auctioneers aren’t part of the problem.It’s all about the commission fees.Actually it’s fortunate that Barris was able to keep this for as long as he did.I thought I heard that the vehicle was in bad shape and rediscovered and refurbished a few years back,but maybe that was Black Beauty I read about.Maybe this will get donated to the Smithsonian for a sizeable tax write off,but then our taxes end up picking up the tab at some point.This still is another example of why the world looks at us spending millions on what is essentially crap and wonders what the heck is wrong with us.I wonder if anyone knows what happened to Forrest J Ackerman’s collection?

@Alton – The buyer pays what they want to pay. That’s how it works for auctions regardless of whether an item is rare, historical, or commonplace.
You may only want to pay $400 or $400,000 but that doesn’t mean the guy next to you doesn’t have the cash to bid higher and actually pay for the item!
There’s also a thrill to auctions… It even happens when you bid online. How many people have waited to raise their spending limit in the last few seconds before an e-Bay auction closes?????

Sorry, Alton, but last I heard we still have free market practices in this country — for the moment. You may not like the auction business but the rules have been established and all participants have agreed to bide by them. You can’t just use somebody’s space without paying a fee… Auctioneers have to pay their rent, too. This is a for-profit industry that works on percentages. People have to understand that before they go play in the sandbox. Online auction is like that, too.

If you can’t pay or don’t want to go by the agreed-upon rules, then don’t play to begin with! Just don’t expect everybody around you to agree with if you start bitching and complaining about how unfair auctions are. People really resent it when you criticize their professions and hobbies.

Also, for goodness, don’t tell people how to spend their money or say they’re wasting it — that’s just bad manners. It’s THEIR business; good for them that they can afford to play like this! That means they worked their asses off and can have a bit of fun recapturing part of their past. I don’t gamble, myself, but I am as far from authoritarian as can be. I just don’t like being told how to live my life or spend my money nor am I going to waste my time trying to control what other people do with their lives and money.. There are words to that effect in the Declaration of Independence…

I’m glad Americans are NOT Europeans. I hate being told what to do or being informed that because I’m not rich and related to other wealthy people that I can’t aspire for something more. I despise mediocrity and don’t want to settle for the Mean/Lowest Common Denominator. I dislike that mentality and entitlement.

You may think some of these collectibles and props are trash but to other people they’re nostalgic moments from their childhood and potential future investments.

Forest Ackerman had a hard time getting people interested in his collection. There just wasn’t a big interest back then. Collections generally have to be parted out; there’s just few people willing to pay for complete collections. Even high-rolling collectors generally only want a few pieces or a specific item. Also, people make a lot more money piecing out collections and selling items individually. They make a lot more money selling items by themselves than in a big lot. You can never know what an item used in a movie or historical event will net at auction.

People trade out their collections/collectibles all the time for something bigger or different. How many people have owned the best-quality copies of old comics only to sell them later to raise cash or get another item they prize more? This is what people do all the time with their collections!

There is value seeking out auctioneers to help sell collections. Auctioneers can get news about collections out to their high-rollers and people can potentially gross a lot more from a well-advertised event than going to a swap meet, flea market, or going online to sell on unknown websites.

Wow, that’s crazy. I would love to own that car. I love the old Batman series. Too bad I didn’t have $4.62 million to buy it.

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