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.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
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    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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