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Back in 1997, I purchased a 4 foot x 2 foot (1/4 scale) one of a kind Batmobile model from a collector in Las Vegas, NV--sight unseen. I was told that the model was built for George Barris and came with the documentation to prove it. Being very excited about the prospects of the model/prop and the history behind it, I gladly paid the big price tag. Three days later the huge package arrived in the mail. After opening the box I was less than thrilled.
Yes, it did come with some documentation (original letters from George Barris, etc). Yes, this styrofoam mass was shaped crudely like the Batmobile, but lacking any detail to speak of. This model was roughly 20% finished! Everything from the wheel wells to the back-end to the interior and even much of the overall shape of the car was in need of a major facelift. Even the tires were those that you'd see on a child's "Little Tykes" toy (see the two top left photos for an idea of what needed to be done).
It was basically a disaster, but what could I do? Following some initial denial, I accepted the fact that I'd overpaid for this vague replica of a car I loved and it was unlikely I'd recoup my investment any time soon. After all, I'd agreed to buy it sight unseen.
Happy the car also came with some interesting and unusual letters and photos (which I still have), I decided to make the most of my pricey model and embark on the journey of finishing it on my own.
Not having much practical knowledge of custom model building (nor having a garage or studio at the time), I spent most of my free weekends and nights over the next 18 months completing it. My work area for this large project turned out to be our ironing board placed in the living room of our old apartment. Slowly, the car evolved from a raw, rough piece of styrofoam in to a smooth, shiny, gloss black finish. The smooth finish was accomplished by using gallons and gallons of expensive epoxy resin. All the car's details were done by studying ENDLESS photos of the #1 Batmobile and by watching scenes from the Batman TV show over and over.
Some of the features included real aluminum pipes, a flashing beacon, cloth parachutes, aluminum rims and rubber tires. The final cost was over $1,000.00, but enjoying each moment of the restoration was worth every last penny!
In the end, you could say this labor of love is what drove me to build this website.
The model is currently owned by George Barris.
A special thanks to Dean Franchi for his assistance in building some of the key parts.
1/25 Scale Models
"Caped Custom" garage kit beautifully made by Jim Apitz.
The work of TonyMoe
Courtesy of Marcelo Ribeiro
The work of "Chopper"
A Lunar resin model customized by Michael R. Spressler
A montage of a "T&T" model customized by Scot Fleming