For Sale By Owner: The Original Batmobile. Comes complete with oil squirter, Batiichutes and nail spreader. Expected selling price? Around $2 million.
It might be the most famous car listing ever written. Yet when this iconic car (from the live action TV series 'Batman') hits the auction block for the first time on January 19, 2013 (at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Ariz.), collectors, entertainment enthusiasts and average Joes will be clamoring for this prized piece of television history.
When it comes to Hollywood's most famous TV cars, only a few come to mind. There's KITT from 'Knight Rider', the 'Dukes of Hazzard' hero car and this one, the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car that classic car "kustomizer" George Barris originally bought for $1 from the Ford Motor Company in '65. That's right before 20th Century Fox asked him to produce a "Batmobile" for a new series -- which he did in 15 days with a $15,000 budget.
The result was this bad boy that Adam West and Burt Ward would eventually make famous.
Hours before the Batmobile left Barris' Batcave for the last time, I met with the 87-year-old "King of Kustomizers" at Barris Kustom Industries, his shop in North Hollywood, Calif. Barris stood surrounded by some of his other creations, which also include the 'Beverly Hillbillies' truck and the Munster Koach. Crazy, this guy was designing cars for monsters long before 'Monster Garage':
Q & A With George Barris:
So, why are you selling it now?
Barris: We've enjoyed it in our family for years here in our showrooms in North Hollywood. I think it's time that people around the world enjoy what we've enjoyed.
What made the Batmobile so popular?
Barris: The way I marketed it when I went to [William] Dozier and he showed me the script. It said, "Pow!" "Bang" "Wow!" ... I said, I'm going to make the car do the same thing. So "Pow!" -- I'd have rocket tubes go off. "Bang!" -- I'd have chain slicers and gas knobs. I wanted the car to become a star.
What was the first car you ever customized or designed?
Barris: I was 14 years old and regretfully, I wasn't a good student in school because I wanted to do cars. I built a '32 Ford with cat-eye taillights and made $10. I said I'm going to be the richest customizer in the world.
How do you think your car changed the nature of the way people went about casting cars in pop culture?
Barris: I found one thing that was really of importance is that it's a people car -- it made people happy. Batman was happy. Adam West, Burt Ward, they'd jump in the car. Today it's become a little bit different, it. A little bit more violence, a little more bang bang.
Are you happy with the current Batmobile?
Barris: Well, I think they all have what they were created for ... the Tumbler is an engineering masterpiece done by a man in Canada. He did a super job. Wonderful guy engineering-wise, but it was a Tumbler -- it was not a Batmobile -- so that makes a lot of difference.
Do you still do specific jobs for individuals or mostly custom job for higher-profile people?
Barris: We undertake jobs for people personally. But I'm kind of choosy. I mean, if they want me to build something that I feel uncomfortable with, nope, I won't do it.
So what's next?
Barris: My grandson, who just graduated college and knowing the interest of what we're doing -- got together with Galpin Ford. And we're now going to make a Ford Bat Truck. And it's going to be sold by Ford dealers. It's a whole different concept.
The Bat Truck is going to have what exactly?
Barris: The big features are that it's affordable and available. And it's priced to be enjoyed -- not up into a million dollars. We want it to be a street driven truck.
[The interview ends here when Barris' cell phone rings -- with none other than the theme music from the '60s TV Series -- 'Batman'. Classic.]
Are you a well-off fanboy? Place a bid for the Batmobile at Barrett-Jackson, the "World's Greatest Collector Car Auction".
The Batmobile's Special Features & Gadgets:
- A 390-inch, Lincoln V-8 engine and a B&M Hydro Automatic transmission
- A nose-mounted aluminum Cable Cutter Blade
- Bat Ray Projector
- Anti-Theft Device
- Bat Eye Switch
- Antenna Activator
- Police Band Cut-In Switch
- Automatic Tire Inflation Device
- Remote Batcomputer
- The Batphone
- Emergency Bat Turn Lever
- Anti-Fire Activator
- Bat Smoke
- Bat Photoscope
- Two rear-mounted, 10-foot Deist parachutes for 180-degree "bat turns" -- the Batiichutes.
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