The Batmobile, a souped-up 1955 Lincoln Futura used in the 1966 series, now has a new owner for the first time in decades. And it most likely does not come with a bumper-to-bumper warranty.
Rick Champagne, who owns Champagne Logistics in Tempe, Ariz., paid $4.6 million for the car that has had only one previous owner — customizer George Barris, who originally created the Batmobile for the television series.
Buying television and movie cars can be problematic, because many times multiple cars are used for a single production. That means finding the primary car used in a series or movie can be difficult, if not impossible. Not to mention that multiple cars being in existence can dilute the value of one car purchased.
But that wasn’t the case for the Batmobile. Only one Futura was purchased, only one was souped up, and only one was used by Adam West and Burt Ward in the original television series. That makes the Batmobile — especially in the mint shape that it’s in — a very valuable car.
Not too much is known about the buyer, Champagne. He started his trucking company in 1996, and maintains offices in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas. According to a bio on his company’s website, Champagne got his first job as a commissioned salesperson for Mayflower Van Lines in New Hampshire in 1977 selling household relocation services. He would become one of Mayflower’s top sales agents, and in 1989, relocated to Arizona and joining Atlantic North American.
The Batmobile itself has an amazingly fascinating history, especially with its life in Hollywood. The Futura was originally built as a concept car for $250,000 ($2.1 million today) by the Ford Motor Co. Its original color was white, but was painted red for the 1959 film “It Started With a Kiss.”
The original Batmobile was actually supposed to be a Cadillac redesigned by Dean Jeffries. However, when the network decided it was going to premiere “Batman” earlier than expected, Jeffries wasn’t able to complete the work, and instead producers turned to Barris. Barris had already purchased the Futura, and was hoping to help it gain attention, so he was able to create the Batmobile from it within days.
Barris painted the car black, and added red striping, but would maintain ownership of the vehicle during the run of the series, leasing it to the studio. The car needed a lot of maintenance during those filming years, with constant tire changes, overheating, and the replacement of engine parts from a Ford Galaxie.
It’s not clear how much Barris originally paid for the car, but his upgrades cost $30,000, or $219,000 today.
The original Batmobile remains an iconic car — even reproduced as a toy for decades afterward by Mattel. Newer, more advanced versions of the Batmobile were created for the later movies that began in 1989, but many find nostalgic bliss in the original Batmobile that was a part of 120 episodes of television folklore.
Champagne told Speed TV that he would dislay the car in his living room. It’s unclear whether he was serious, or if he intended to make the original car available to the public.