The 1960s was a different time in the super hero community. Citizens could go-go dance with their favourite good guys. Crime fighters were able to battle unarmed henchmen with the accompaniment of music and wacky screen captions. A public in general would blindly trust supervillains to the point of knowingly sell military equipment (such as a submarine). Finally yet importantly, a man dressed in a costume could run around a city in daylight alongside a costumed boy without anyone suspecting something inappropriate was taking place.
However, the 1960s super hero was also permitted to have a sharp looking automobile with a full array of crime-fighting tools. In the mid-1960s TV series Batman, the caped crusader and his heroic companion Robin rode in the most famous customized Lincoln ever built. A car originally created from a Ghia-designed 1950s show car called the Lincoln Futura, the television show’s vehicle was modified by legendary automotive customizer George Barris. Buying the show car from Ford Motor Company for only a dollar, Harris added many of his own touches (including a metal pail to represent a turbine jet port to create the iconic Batmobile. Running for 120 episodes between 1966 and 1968 with a full-length movie added for good measure, the George Barris-designed Batmobile remains a favorite among fans even as several new iterations at the vehicle appeared in media.
Since the television network ABC would only rent the Batmobile from George Barris, the customizer retained ownership of the creation when the show went off the air. At the 2013 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, the vehicle would change hands for the first time in almost 50 years.
Attracting an immediate buzz prior to the sale at Barrett-Jackson, the Saturday night auction of the most famous Batmobile lured a massive scene fit for the guardians of Gotham City. As The Batmobile was wheeled onto the Barrett-Jackson auction stage, it came apparent that the vehicle was unlike any other. A sea of people surrounded the actual television-used Batmobile and its ultimate creator George Barris who rode onto the auction stage inside the vehicle (perhaps for the final time). With a bang, bidding rocketed past the million dollar mark and it was not long until the Batmobile flew into the multiple million-range.
Before the auction, it was noted the Batmobile was selling as a reserve lot (meaning bids needed to meet or exceed a minimum amount in order to sell). Shortly after the Batmobile received a 2.7 million dollar bid, it was announced that the auction lot’s reserve was lifted. When the auctioneer’s hammer fell, the dark knight’s 1960s Batmobile sold for $4,200,000 (becoming a $4,620,000 vehicle once the buyer’s commission was tabulated).
After the auction, an interview with the new owner of the famous TV series’ Batmobile stated his plans were to display the vehicle in his living room. Unclear whether he was joking, the comment does fit nicely in the light-hearted content Adam West and Burt Ward delivered as the caped crusaders in the mid-1960s.
Information and photo source: Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, Ford Motor Company