Battle of the Star Cars: The Original Batmobile vs. Clark Gable’s Gullwing
Not all winged things are exactly alike, but George Barris’s original “Batmobile” has a lot in common with Clark Gable’s 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe.
Both classic cars come from the same era. Like Gable’s purdy-bird Benz, Barris’s tricked-out Lincoln Futura concept car, famously driven to points of absurdity by caped crusader Adam West in the campy ’60s TV series, carries the same model year: 1955.
Both cars come loaded with star-power: one is made exclusively for Hollywood, the other is made exclusively of Hollywood.
And last week both sold for millions of dollars during the massive Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Here’s how the two glitzy gas-guzzlers stacked up:
Gable’s Gullwing, a six-cylinder, four-speed silver fox with cherry lipstick interiors, which the big-screen stud picked up for several thousand dollars more than a half century ago, fetched an appropriately cool $2.035 million.
Meanwhile, Barris’s Batmobile, an eight-cylinder, three-speed funky black factory concept, which the celebrated car customizer bought for just a buck and later spent $15,000 to equip with made-for-TV gadgets and gimmicks, rang up at more than twice the price of its off-screen contemporary — a whopping $4.62 million. (Note: both figures include hefty buyer’s commissions above and beyond the sum when the hammer sounded.)
What put the Batmobile over the top? A bonus offer of outerwear, it turned out.
When the pace of bids began to slow after the $2 million mark, the Bat car’s creator and longtime owner grabbed the auctioneer’s microphone. “Whoever gets the Batmobile, I want to give my Batman coat, off my chest, off my body — here!” Barris shouted, stripping off his shiny personalized track jacket emblazoned with the TV show logo.
The promise of additional memorabilia seemed to pay off. The final sales price even surpassed the sky-high $4.1 million figure paid at a London auction for the original Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond film “Goldfinger.”
The winning bidder on the Batmobile, an Arizona native who identified himself during the live cable TV broadcast as (no joke) Rick Champagne, invoked childhood nostalgia as justification for his extravagant purchase.
Asked if he planned to keep the Batmobile in his garage, the man with the bubbly name replied, “Actually, I might put in it my living room.”
Ideally, it would go right beside the TV.