What is believed to be the first officially licensed Batmobile, a 1956 Oldsmobile 88 customized by then 23-year-old Forrest Robinson and his friend, Len Perham, is headed to auction as part of the Vicari sale scheduled for October 5-7 at Biloxi, Mississippi.
Vicari reports that the car was sanctioned by a DC Comics licensee — All Star Dairies/Green Acres — and was built in the Robinson family barn in New England. It was completed two years before George Barris and his team created the first Batmobile for the television series.
“Although many people associated the Batmobile with the cars seen in the recent Batman movies or the late ‘60s Batman TV show, Robinson’s earlier car is instantly recognizable as ‘more authentic’ by comic-book lovers,” Vicari said in its news release.
“It has features seen in DC’s Batman Comics from the 1940s and ’50s, including the prominent front-end bat-nose and rear-end single fin.”
The car was built on the chassis of a ’56 Olds 88, retaining the 324 Rocket engine but replacing the sheet metal with a fiberglass body. Robinson, who was in the U.S. Army, was stationed overseas before the car could get more than a white primer coat and before he could complete its glass-dome roof.
Robinson finished the car after returning to the U.S. in 1966, and the vehicle toured on behalf of All Star Dairies and its Green Acres Ice Cream brand, believed to be the first licensee sanctioned by DC Comics. The car toured in the eastern U.S. until late 1966, when the Barris-built TV car became available.
After the car was returned to Robinson, Vicari said, he painted it a space-age silver color and drove the car until selling it in 1967.
Eventually, the custom Batmobile was abandoned in a field in New Hampshire until it was discovered in 2008 by Bobby Smith of Swanzey, New Hampshire. The car then went through several owners before being acquired by the Toy Car Exchange LLC in 2013.
The Toy Car Exchange had the car restored by Mario Borbon of Borbon Fabrications in Sacramento, where it was unveiled at the 2014 Sacramento Autorama, winning the hand-built sports class. It also was displayed in October, 2014, alongside three other Batmobiles at the Pasadena Classic Car Show.
The car sold at auction in December 2014 and will be offered again this fall at Vicari’s Biloxi Auction. In the meantime, the car will be displayed at the Vicari auctions held May 4-6 at Nocona, Texas, and July 8 at New Orleans.