Holy Cow, Batman: George Barris Customized Batmobile Auctioned
This winter you might have seen on television the original Batmobile auctioned at the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction for $4.2 million dollars. Well here is more background on the car and the sale.
Actually, the final selling price is officially $4.62 million dollars, because at this auction (like many others) the buyer is charged a premium on the winning bid. Plus, since he is from Arizona, he most likely was also charged a combined sales tax of around $400,000. So the buyer is now actually in to the car for over $5 million. The sale did set a world’s record for the highest-selling car from a television series or movie.
While many remember and knew the car from the 1966 TV Batman series, it actually already had a prestigious car pedigree. This car started out as a Ford concept car, the 1955 Lincoln Futura, which was first seen at the 1955 Chicago Auto Show. It had been hand made by Ghia Body Works in Italy. It later was in a Debbie Reynolds’ 1959 movie It Started with a Kiss but it had been re-painted from the original white paint, technically referred to as Frost Blue, to a more photogenic brilliant red.
George Barris, already established as a car customizer, bought the concept car for a whopping $1 in 1965 through Ford and executive Lee Iacocca. When he was approached by the TV show producers to procure a Batmobile, he only had 15 days and $15,000 to work with. So a quick black paint job and some modifications produced the Batmobile that we saw on the television series.
The Batmobile helped solidify George Barris’ role for Hollywood as a car customizer. After the series was over, the car sat in Barris’ garage until it was cleaned up for the auction. It was outfitted with a 390 cubic inch 1956 Lincoln V-8 engine with a B&M Hydro Automatic transmission. Like many cars produced for Hollywood, the car could best be described as rough. The car was actually never seen on the tube in extreme close-ups and the attention to detail and panel fit was not all that important. It was more important that the car drove and functioned, so that production wasn’t stalled by a balky carburetor.
After the car was sold at the auction, the local valley resident did not waste any time before displaying it at a local car show in Chandler, AZ. It also was seen at the Spring 2013 Good Guys cars show in Del Mar, CA. So, at least hopefully this car will be seen by the public in the years to come.
See ya’ on the road.