Batmobiles. What is the real story?

July 10th, 2008 · 8 Comments

Lots of reproductions of the original BZ Batmobile body out there. Lots of misrepresentation about such thin Lexan bodies mounted over original or Charlie Almond produced chassis copies. What to believe?

Lloyd Asbury built both the BZ (Beck & Zimmerman) forming tools (4 of them, I own one of the original), but also a couple for use by the Lancer company. The visual difference is in the license plate on the back of the car, smooth on the Lancer, engraved “BZ1966” on the BZ tooling.
All the BZ bodies were made of thick, 30-thou butyrate, and they were always sold completely trimmed and ready to use including the side mounting holes, in either clear or painted form. Of course BZ used most of them to build their RTR cars, the famous Batmobile RTR:

Many have survived in fair to excellent condition, a few with their original and fragile clear plastic 2-piece box, the same box used by K&B for their late-issue RTRs, the same as used by Western Hobbies for their RTR cars, and this box was also used by another couple of manufacturers for various purposes. In other words, the plastic company which made the box tooling had a good salesman. Current market value of these BZ RTR cars, mint in mint original box with the yellow and blue insert, the car unused with its original “white-line” Riggen-produced rear tires, oscillates between $450.00 and $1250.00 depending on how many bidders there are and how bad they want one. The original bodies sell factory painted for as much as $100.00 and clear for as much as $60.00.

Meanwhile, Lancer also produced the body (sans license plate) also in butyrate, also trimmed, but sold in the usual white and blue Lancer boxes. These generally go for about $40.00 but are actually rarer.

When the BZ company collapsed like most of the larger-volume slot car manufacturers did in 1968, one of the body tools was in the Lancer shop for repairs and never made it back. This is the tool that I inherited many years later.

Lancer eventually closed their doors in 1969, and all the body tools were unceremoniously piled into two large 100-gallon drums and left outside the vacuum forming plant in San Bernardino, CA. In 1973, Robert E. Haines (REH) was offered the tools by Lloyd Asbury’s former “partner” (as usual, Lloyd got the short end of the stick) and bought the tools for a song.
Since then, REH has pulled thousands and thousands of bodies, using thin Lexan (and not butyrate) as a material. Lexan being very hard on epoxy tools, most of these are now seriously worn out and much of the original fine detail is gone or seriously diminished.

This means that EVERY SINGLE “Batmobile” body made from LEXAN (VS thick butyrate) is a reproduction, most made from new demand in the late 1990’s to now. Their basic value is simply their wholesale price: around $3.50.
Anyone paying more than the $6.95 retail price is a SAP, and it amazes me to see that there are still so many fools paying twice as much (or more!) PLUS shipping & handling for something they can get at their local REH retailer for a lot less.

There were a total of 4 licensed “Batmobile” produced as slot cars in the 1960’s: the Aurora HO, the 1/24 BZ, K&B and Classic. Of these, the K&B is by far the most scarce, and it very seldom comes to auction. It sports a peculiar injection molded cockpit affixed with “melt-on” tabs onto the vacuum formed body. It is also the only one with a working dome light. Here is a picture of the rare beast inside its original packaging:

And a picture of the chassis featuring a functional “disc” brake:

A view of the injected cockpit (don’t bother buying a car without one, you will never find a suitable replacement…):

Note that the K&B and the BZ have the same “Bat” hubs (sold by one company to the other, not sure of which sold to whom but likely K&B sold to BZ) while the Classic NEVER came with them. Many Classic Batmobile owners did fit the Bat hubs that were sold separately by BZ, 5 of them in a little bubble pack, but one had to fit longer axles to the chassis to do so as the stock ones were far too short to accommodate the little bats. Today, many Classic “bat” owners are in complete denial, claiming that “theirs came that way”. Pure delusions from confused teenage memories.

Tags: Vintage Slot Cars

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Randy Asbury // Mar 2, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I am lloyds son.I came across this site , looking
    up info on Dad.Well you have done the family proud, by naming my Dad as the original and best mold maker! Ty he lives in Mexico now and is 78 years old–still making tooling-TY

  • 2 Robin Dart // Nov 23, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Curious about the Aurora T-Jet 1385 Batmobile do you have any info on this car, i.e. value, when manufactured, etc., mine is in great condition, works, and is in original case. Would appereciate any feedback. Thanx Robin

  • 3 Joe Martin // Mar 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I have a BZ Batmobile that my Dad bought for me in the mid 60s. I ran it a little at the local slot track then, when it closed, put it away for good. It is still in the clear plastic 2-piece case complete with the BZ Official Batmobile RTR sticker. It looks like your top photo except the cardboard insert the care sits in has no printing, only another of the stickers. There is no cockpit, only see-through windows. It does have the BZ 1966 license plate though. The frame is different than the one you show here, being stamped steel. Everything is still original, even the tires and brushes. (The brushes may have been replaced but I honestly don’t think I ran it enough to replace them, I ran a Cox Chaparral most of the time. I was offered $500 for it some years ago (probably around 20-25 years) but didn’t let go of it because my Dad bought it for me.
    The body seems thinner than .030″ but I haven’t measured it to check. I do know for a definite fact that this car was bought new in the mid 60s because I was there when my Dad bought and handed it to me.

  • 4 Sheldon Brunn // Sep 2, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    i have a K and B. do you have a picture of the decal sheet that come with it?

  • 5 Dean // Aug 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I am looking at an “original” BZ batmobile slot car. The grill is silver and so are the screws that hold the body on. Is it really original? I thought the grills were all black.

  • 6 ANDREW ZIMMERMAN // Aug 22, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    I have THE 1st BZ Batmobile produced. How do I know I have the 1st Batmobile? I also have the original and only photo of my Dad and his partner Vernon Beck IN THE ORIGINAL BATMOBILE on the set of the TV show. My name is Andrew Zimmerman and it was given to me by my Dad, Richard Zimmerman. He and his partner Vernon Beck owned and created BZ INDUSTRIES and produced some of the most memorable slot cars ever made. Along with the Batmobile, The Banshee, The Little Red Wagon and the Green Hornet Black Beauty made up one of the most impressive collections of classic slot cars even known. Dad passed away in 2007.

  • 7 Museum33 // Jun 26, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    The BZ Batmobile’s grille decals are a combination of black patchwork over silver background. The body mounting screws are black anodized machine screws. Many have been replaced over time with “silver” self-tapping screws.

  • 8 Museum33 // Jun 26, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Yes, please contact us on the LASCM facebook page.

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