DRIVE ON blog | Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
When George Barris' original Batmobile goes on the block at Barrett-Jackson next month, auctioneers are already predicting it will fetch millions.
They are billing it as a heaping slice of "Americana." It will be interesting to see if the 1966 Batmobile from the TV series still seems relevant, or even interesting, against the hot rides in the multiple Batman movie franchises since then, including Christopher Nolan's latest Dark Knight trilogy. Some fanboys may still love the original, but the first Batmobile risks becoming a comic-book footnote.
The slick-black car was a startling idea for its time -- both for the original and the Barris customization. The car took shape as a 1955 concept, the Ford Futura, and went on to make appearances in car shows of the era. Then, under pressure to come up with something quick for a studio a decade later, Barris gave the old Futura a complete workover to become Adam West's Batmobile for the ABC series. Holy overkill! The completed 1966 Batmobile has a Bat Ray projector, car alarm, Detect-a-scope, Batscope, Bat Eye Switch, antenna activator, police radio band cut-in switch, automatic tire inflation, the remote Batcomputer, Batphone, emergency Bat Turn lever, fire suppression, Bat Smoke, Bat Photoscope, and, of course, the Bat Turn lever.
It was a gimmick-mobile. The problem is that today, it's sure to be compared to the cool factor of Batman's latest ride, the Tumbler, or the jet-powered, finned beauties of the Batman movie franchise that were more true to the look of comic books.
There is no doubting the car's rarity.
"There is only one, Number 1, original Barris Batmobile and this was the one that was on the series Batman," said Craig Jackson, CEO of Barrett-Jackson. "While it's hard to put a dollar figure on this piece of true Americana, we would expect that it would sell for multiple millions of dollars."
To raise interest for the Jan. 19 auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., Barrett-Jackson compares the original Batmobile's significance to that of the original James Bond Aston Martin, which fetched nearly $5 million at auction. We have our doubts
The difference was that the original James Bond Aston remains undeniably cool, so cool, in fact, that it shows up again in the latest Bond epic, Skyfall. Imagine the hoots if Nolan had inserted the original Batmobile in the Dark Knight Rises.
It will certainly do well at auction, but we'd be careful about tossing around the idea of a sale in the millions.