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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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