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Batmobile fetches £119,000 after bidding war in London

A shopper with £119,000 ($233,000) to spare went away with a vehicle fit for a superhero when a Batmobile from the 1960s television series „Batman” was sold at auction yesterday.

The car was the sixth of an unspecified number built for the 120-episode ABC series based on the DC Comics hero, according to Coys auctioneers in London. Four or five bidders helped drive its price more than 50% above the upper estimate, said Chris Routledge, an auctioneer at Coys. The car, which is almost 6 meters (20 feet) long, is black with scarlet lines to highlight its contours and winged chassis. „It's a fantastically iconic piece of machinery – the Batman appeal spans more than 30 years,” Anthony Godin, auction manager at Coys, said yesterday in a telephone interview prior to the sale. „It's the Batmobile! Who wouldn't want to own it?” Coys declined to identify the seller, a private collector. The winning bid came from a private museum based in the Cayman Islands, Routledge said late yesterday in a telephone interview. The Batmobile was the 144th of 163 lots, and had a lot number of 241. The sale included vintage cars and automobile memorabilia such as posters and branded souvenirs, and ran until past 9 p.m. London time yesterday.

The first Batmobile was built by George Barris at three weeks' notice after ABC decided in 1965 to serialize Batman, according to the catalogue. The television series ran from 1966 to 1968. Barris, described by Coys as „the greatest custom car builder of all time,” modified a Ford Motor Co. Lincoln Futura car for the original. Because of the needs of filming and promotional tours, a number of copies were made, Godin said. While four were made of fiberglass, the model for sale yesterday is made from steel and is a functioning car with a Ford V8 engine, he said. It was built by Jay Ohrberg, a colleague of Barris and builder of KITT, the car in the Knight Rider TV series, he said. The original Batmobile, which Godin said is valued at more than $1 million, is on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Coys had estimated the Batmobile for sale yesterday would fetch £50-75,000. The final sale price included commission of £14,000, Routledge said. „These guys just had to have it,” he said. „It was a ‘Kapow!' moment.” (Bloomberg)