2002.09.04 Forget a Corvette, I'm buying the Batmobile

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I recently ran into a friend who owns a Buick Regal Grand National, one of my dream cars of the mid 1980s. Black, turbocharged V-8, and only door numbers and a few stickers short of being able to compete on the Winston Cup circuit.

My friend said he had only put about 6,000 miles on the car in the seven years he’s owned it and probably spends more time keeping it spotless than driving it. I offered to swap him a perfectly good Chevy Caprice he could drive year-round with no fear of having to keep it clean. When he was able to stop laughing, he politely turned down my offer, but ever since, I keep being reminded of classic cars.

Later at home, I came across a catalog I received some time ago from the Corvette business in Napoleon, Ohio. They claim to have over 150 classic Corvettes in stock, and the catalog lists more than that. I never was a huge Corvette nut, but I liked the mid-1960s body style so I checked out that section to see what was available.

Sure enough, they had a 1965 Corvette coupe, red with black interior, automatic, air, AM/FM radio, etc. “Looks, runs and drives excellent…$36,995.” Do you suppose they’d take a 1985 Caprice in trade? Then I’d only owe them, say $36,900?

No chance of that happening, of course, but the catalog is fascinating reading. The company’s customers include Olympian Todd Eldredge, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Dale Earnhardt, who bought wife Teresa a 1958 Corvette just weeks before his fatal accident.

They have recently sold cars belonging to Burt Reynolds and Reggie Jackson. Country singer Alan Jackson stopped in to test drive a few Corvettes, but apparently hasn’t found any to his liking yet.

I got the biggest kick out of the description of a 1953 Corvette, which the company had recently purchased. The previous owner, who had held onto the car for 32 years, “stored this prize in a missile silo, where he lived.” You know there’s got to be more to this story than just an old man with a Corvette, but no further details are given.

If I had really been interested in a classic car, the place to be would have been Auburn, Ind., last weekend. That’s the annual site of what’s purported to be the “World’s Largest Collector Car Auction and Show.” With over 5,000 cars expected to be displayed and/or auctioned, the claim is probably valid.

Auburn is the home of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum and their annual ACD Festival takes place the same weekend as the auction and show. Having toured the ACD Museum, I’d make the trip again just for that. The rest of the festivities would make for a great mini-vacation.

The auction website offers listings for everything from Jaguars to Jeeps, Cords to Crosleys and Saturns to Studebakers. There’s even a list of cars that won’t be at Auburn, but are available for sale including a 1976 Rolls-Royce originally owned by Reggie Jackson, a 1968 Shelby Mustang once owned by Jimmy Conners and Reggie White’s 1955 Chevy Bel Air.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far, however, pales in comparison to one car that was on display at Auburn, but not available for sale there but instead from Warner Brothers: the Batmobile from “Batman Returns” and more recently, television commercials for OnStar.

I love the option list: Jet turbine, smoke screen, oil slick, voice-actuated control, twin machine guns and grappling hooks, just to name a few. It’s the perfect car when you have to go Christmas shopping at the mall.

Warner Brothers, of course, or probably their lawyers, is selling the car for display only and certain restrictions and contract requirements must be met, with Warners reserving the right of buyer approval. But since this is the Batmobile, I’d bet they’re just trying to keep it out of the hands of The Joker. After all, how are they going to enforce their restrictions after the car leaves their hands? Send Bugs Bunny along to guard it?

The more I think about this, the more I’m considering calling Warner Brothers for their buyer approval package. When the deer start running across the highways this fall, I’m planning to be prepared.

    – Sept. 4, 2002 
  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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