An Arizona man with a special fondness for Batman and Robin bought the original Batmobile for $4.2m (£2.6m) at an auction on Saturday. Rick Champagne, a Phoenix-area logistics company owner, bought the car that featured in the much-loved Batman series, which ran from 1966 to 1968 and starred Adam West and Burt Ward, following a flurry of spirited bidding in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I really liked Batman growing up and I came here with the intention of buying the car,” Champagne, 56, said 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 had been put up for public sale. In addition to the $4.2m bid price, Champagne will have to pay $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, it was bought for a nominal $1 by noted customizer George Barris, who had 15 days and $15,000 to transform the vehicle for the show. He has owned it ever since. Barris told Reuters that he had supplied vehicles for movies and television shows before, but this one had to be markedly different.
“With every pow, bang, wow, wee, I wanted the car to do something just like the actors,” said Barris, 87, before the auction. “The car had to be a star on its own. And it became one.”
The Batmobile has a V-8 engine and instruments in the steering wheel, and innovative items like a push-button transmission. But generations may remember it best for the gadgets that were added for the series, including a car phone and the ability to deploy oil, smoke and nails to thwart villains – not to mention twin rear parachutes to enable quick Bat turns.
Barris said the vehicle had toured the country after the series and a subsequent 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.
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