DALLAS (REUTERS) - Holy smokes! The earliest known officially licensed car of comic book superhero Batman is up for auction on Saturday.
The 1963 Batmobile is believed to be the first custom car to be licensed as Batman's swanky ride and could fetch up to US$500,000 (S$661,350), according to officials with Dallas-based Heritage Auctions. The opening bid is US$90,000.
This is the first time this vehicle has been put up for auction since it was cast off and forgotten for nearly 50 years.
"This is a great piece of lost Pop Culture and Americana," said Margaret Barrett, director of entertainment and music at Heritage Auctions. "There is a lot of interest in it."
The car was put up for auction by Toy Car Exchange LLC, an online marketplace for collectible cars, that bought it and had it restored to its pristine condition, Barrett said.
This Batmobile was the creation of 23-year-old Batman fan Forrest Robinson, who along with a friend, spent three years customising a 1956 Oldsmobile 88 with a 324 Rocket engine to resemble the single-fin vehicle in DC's Batman Comics from the 1940s and 1950s.
Robinson's Batmobile was completed two years before George Barris began customising a car to become the Batmobile for the 1960s ABC TV series "Batman". The Barris Batmobile sold at auction in January 2013 for US$4.2 million.
The television show's popularity made Robinson's Batmobile such a sensation that a DC Comic Book licensee leased the car from Robinson and rebranded it Batman's Batmobile for touring, primarily in the eastern United States.
Eventually, replicas were made of the TV Batmobile and Robinson's car was returned. He sold it a few years later.
It didn't resurface until a man found it in a New Hampshire field in 2008, Heritage officials said.
After changing ownership several times, Toy Car Exchange bought the car in February 2013, Heritage said. Borbon Fabrications, a vintage car restorer in Sacramento, California, restored the car.