The first touring Batmobile, which started life as a 1956 Oldsmobile 88, with the famous 324 Rocket engine – the predecessor to the muscle cars of the early 1960s – languished in a New Hampshire field for decades before being rescued and restored, and will be auctioned for the very first time on Dec. 6 at Heritage. It could now bring $500,000 or more. The opening bid is $90,000.
“This is a great piece of lost Pop Culture and Americana,” said Margaret Barrett, Director of Entertainment and Music at Heritage Auctions. “After it was removed from the field, it went through a few owners before the most recent owner, Toy Car Exchange, put the car through a painstaking frame up restoration with the original engine and other original parts lovingly restored and rebuilt.”
This is the earliest DC-licensed Batmobile known to exist. Work on the original touring Batmobile was finished in 1963, two years before the George Barris-designed TV Batmobile had begun in December of 1965.
The car, which measures 17 feet by 83 inches, took three years to build. It was stripped and given a newly created body, replete with the large fin, front end and pocket sliding doors. The high-concept design was, ultimately, highly-reminiscent of the DC comic book cars.
When Batmania started in earnest in the early 1960s, ALL STAR Dairies, a DC Comic Book licensee, approached the owner of the car about renting it, repainting it and rebadging it in official Batman colors and labels and then touring it as the Batmobile. The car was toured in small towns in the Eastern U.S. as “Batman’s Batmobile” according to a 1966 Keene Sentinel newspaper clipping.
“This is from before replicas of the Barris TV Batmobile were made and available for touring,” added Barrett. “Those were known as ‘ABC TV Batmobiles,’ and later on as the Barris Batmobile or 1966 Batmobile.”
The original ‘63 Batmobile was returned to the owner in late 1966 and subsequently retired, eventually being sold for less than $200. Within a few years it would lay in a New Hampshire field and, for several decades, would remain a long forgotten piece of American Pop Culture history.
The car, or what was left of it, was re-discovered in 2008 and dug out of the dirt by Bobby Smith of Swanzey, NH. It was sold online to a Chicago Car rare auto dealer, who sold it to auto historian George Albright, who meticulously researched and tracked down the original builders of the car, retired DC Comics executives, as well as former ALL STAR Dairies executives, all of whom had very distinct memories of the car. Albright supplemented the research with other ALL STAR Batman memorabilia, such as milk cartons and ice cream containers with the National Periodic Publications copyright (then owner of DC Comics).
In February 2013 the car was purchased by Toy Car Exchange LLC and transported to Borbon Fabrications in Sacramento, CA, a company that specializes in vintage car restorations. Restoration was beautifully and accurately completed more than a year later and the car made its debut at the renowned Sacramento Autorama, America’s longest running indoor car show, where it won first place in the hand built sports car class, ahead of such legendary classics as the Shelby Cobra.
Toy Car Exchange LLC is an online auction marketplace for rare collectible toy cars and real 1:1 collectible automobiles. Visit toycarexchange.com for more information.
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