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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The First Ever Batmobile Comes Up for Auction



This may not be the car that comes to mind when you think of the “first-ever” Batmobile. That distinction is often awarded to the car George Barris famously built for the 1966 TV hit “Batman.” However, make no mistake, this is one special ride. 
This Batmobile, finished in 1963 by 23-year-old Forrest Robinson, carries the unique honor of being the first Batmobile ever officially toured and promoted by a DC Comics licensee. It was built over the course of three years, spent time up and down the East Coast, and has since been restored and offered up for auction on eBay. A portion of its proceeds will benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation.


The car itself is a stunning creation, but the story behind it is just as fascinating. It begins with Robinson, a young New Hampshire machinist who had grown up with the Batman comic books in the ‘50s. By 1960, he decided he would experiment with the idea of building a car out of fiberglass. Guess what comic book car he would try to create?
Robinson’s Batmobile body incorporated a dorsal fin in the rear and a bat nose in the front, differing from the classic comic book’s Batman mask front end. He mated the sleek body, which remained unpainted, to the chassis and running gear of a Rocket V8-powered 1956 Oldsmobile 88. He used it initially as a daily driver—imagine that—until he transferred during military service, at which point the Batmobile was stored.


Upon his return in 1966, the Batmobile emerged from its slumber and caught they eye of Green Acres Ice Cream, a DC Comics licensee, which leased the car and painted it in an official Batman color scheme, now adorned with special decals. It was pressed into promotional service and returned to Robinson at the end of the year, though with a business to run, he later sold the car in 1967. Unfortunately, it would lay abandoned in a New Hampshire field for the better part of four decades.

In 2008, it emerged from its resting place in very rough condition and exchanged hands multiple times, finally ending up in the ownership of Alicia and Sid Belzberg. They enlisted restoration expert Mario Borbon to bring the car back to life. It took Borbon a remarkable 11 months of non-stop, full-day work to bring the car to its current splendor…though that effort certainly shows.