Vintage Batmobile sells for £117,000

01 September 2023
Japanese Yonezawa tinplate car goes for ten times its estimate

A 1966 Japanese Yonezawa Batmobile has sold for a record-breaking £117,000 ($150,000) at a sale held by Heritage Auctions in the US. 

The tinplate car featured a friction-powered motor and a painted plastic Batman at the wheel. The hubcaps were lithographed, as were the blue seats. It was sold with the original Japanese writing box with artwork of Batman and Robin on the front. The car was in excellent condition with some light age discoloration on some chrome areas, with only a few small surface scratches on back seat and the plastic Batman had a few small marks on his head. The box was solid with some wear and creases on the cover.

Louise Harker, of auction house Vectis, says: 'There is growing interest among baby boomers who want to own favourites from their childhood. Film and TV shows that have stood the test of time – such as Batman – add to the appeal, as a new generation of fans also gets interested in related merchandise.

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'This increased demand pushes up prices of the limited number of surviving items.'
The Teesside-based auctioneer believes that the six-figure price for the Batmobile was exceptional, as it is possible that no other example in that condition with the original box exists. However, it could still have a knock-on effect, boosting values in the toy car market.
Harker says: 'Movie spin-off merchandise is doing well at the moment, with those who were brought up in the 1960s and 1970s harking back to a time when they enjoyed the simple pleasures of life – such as playing with toy cars on the carpet.

'But a collector is rarely satisfied with buying just one diecast model. What you tend to find is that when a better condition example of a favourite piece comes up for sale then they will snap this up as well. This is why we always recommend investing in the best quality car that you can afford. And if you can find one with original packaging this is best of all.'