‘Bat’ Fan Buys Original Batmobile with $4.2 Million Auction Bid

by | January 20, 2013 at 11:13 AM | TV News

Car customizer George Barris in the original Batmobile (Photo: Getty Images)

PHOENIX (Reuters) – An Arizona man with a special fondness for caped crusader Batman and his sidekick Robin bought the original Batmobile driven in the iconic television series with a bid of $4.2 million at an auction on Saturday.

Rick Champagne, a Phoenix-area logistics company owner, came away with the black, futuristic two-seater featured in the “Batman” series starring Adam West and Burt Ward from 1966 to 1968, following a flurry of spirited bidding at the Scottsdale, Ariz., auction.

“I really liked Batman growing up and I came here with the intention of buying the car,” Champagne, 56, told Reuters in a brief interview moments after he bought the car. “Sure enough, I was able to buy it. That was a dream come true.”

The Barrett-Jackson auction was the first time the car was put up for public sale. In addition to the $4.2 million bid price, the buyer will have to pay an additional roughly $420,000 in premiums.

The Batmobile is based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura, a concept car built in Italy by the Ford Motor Co.

In 1965, the concept car was bought for a nominal $1 by noted customizer George Barris, who had a mere 15 days and $15,000 to transform the vehicle for the show. He has owned it ever since.

Watch the Batmobile in this trailer for the campy 1966 “Batman” movie:

Barris told Reuters he had supplied vehicles for movies and television shows before, but this one had to be markedly different than the others.

“With every pow, bang, wow, wee, I wanted the car to do something just like the actors,” said Barris, 87, in an interview before the auction. “The car had to be a star on its own. And it became one.”

The car has a V-8 engine and instruments in the steering wheel, plus innovative items like a push-button transmission.

But generations may remember it best for Bat gadgets added for the series, including a car phone and the ability to deploy such things as oil, smoke and nails to thwart villains – not to mention twin rear parachutes for quick Bat turns.

Barris said the vehicle toured the country after the series and a movie and then was housed in a private showroom in California. He said it was time to part with the popular car and let a new owner have the Bat keys.