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5 generations of Batmobiles on display at World of Wheels car show

Batman returns, in a way, to Pittsburgh this weekend.

Five generations of the iconic Batmobile are on display at the 63rd Annual MAXmotive World of Wheels at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

The quintet are reminiscent of an original 1966 Batmobile, the one driven in “Batman Returns,” the one driven in “Justice League,” a Batmobile Tumbler and the one driven in “Batman Forever.”

There also are two Bat­cycles, including one with a sidecar for Batman’s sidekick, Robin.

For the first time, all five are on a show circuit. The vehicles made their first stop in Cincinnati last week. They were definitely popular at that show, said Larry Way of Canada, publicist for World of Wheels.

“Baby boomers really like these vehicles,” said John
Sbrigato of New Jersey, a car show enthusiast who owns all five. He’s a supplier of television and movie show cars. “They grew up watching the shows and the movies, and it’s like their childhood Matchbox cars have come to life.”

Seeing them unloaded on Wednesday from the three tractor-trailers that transported them brings back visions of the beloved Batman, a definite staple in this city with films being made here and, of course, Pittsburgh’s own Michael Keaton starring as Batman in Tim Burton’s films. Four of the five cars are driveable.

Sbrigato hopped in the four and drove them to their designated spots on the show floor. They’re arranged on a black carpet in a way that they can be viewed from all sides.

Sbrigato said he can’t say that these actual vehicles were in any “Batman” productions because DC Comics, which created the superhero, is the copyright holder — even to automobiles.

They look similar to those seen in the action-packed stories on the big and small screens. Some have autographs from actors and actresses such as the “Val Kilmer — BATMAN” signature on the “Batman Forever” car.

Julie Newmar, the original Catwoman in the television series “Batman,” signed the Batcycle with her name and the word “Purr…fect.” Adam West and Burt Ward, the original Batman and Robin, signed both the motorcycle and the original 1966 Batmobile. Many other cast members have signed several cars.

The original black Batmobile is sleek, with its red stripes and bright red Batman insignias that spin as the wheels turn. It has long bat fins and a curved windshield. A red bat phone sits between the driver and passenger seat.

George Barris, famous in the car world and known as the “King of Kustomizers,” built television and movie cars in North Hollywood, Calif. He built the 1966 Batmobile for Sbrigato.

The Tumbler car was designed to do just that — it was able to be rolled over and back upright on its wheels.

Sbrigato’s passion for cars came from his father, Joe Sbrigato, who supplied a car to the “Ed Sullivan Show” for the band the Beach Boys.

His 1931 Chevrolet Roadster had won Best of Show at the New York Coliseum Rod and Custom extravaganza. He was asked by General Tire to display the vehicle at the New York World’s Fair, which is where Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys asked if the car was for sale.

It wasn’t, but Wilson inquired if it could be used as a prop for a national TV show for the group’s performance of the song “I Get Around,” his son said.

“My dad inspired my passion for cars,” said John Sbrigato as he stood among the five distinguishable exhibition vehicles.

Sbrigato said he and his team work on the vehicles every day to keep them in pristine condition. It took him two decades to collect the five.

“They are cars, but they are also pieces of art,” said Way, the car show publicist. “Working with John (Sbrigato) and his team has been wonderful. I can’t wait for Pittsburgh to see these cars.”

Sbrigato said he loves all five vehicles the same and can’t put a price on the collection.

“They are priceless,” he said.

The Batmobiles and Batcycles are two of the hundreds of custom cars, classics, hot rods, trucks, motorcycles and race cars on display at the show. In addition, there will be feature exhibits and celebrity guests.

Show sponsor MAXmotive of Cheswick brought 14 vehicles this year, more new inventory than in past years, said Bobby Maxwell, of MAXmotive.

One of the vehicles he brought was a 1972 Chevrolet C10 custom-built truck.

All of his vehicles are for sale.

“My favorite part of this show is that we all get together to display our vehicles,” he said. “And it shows all the time and effort we put into them.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a TribLive reporter covering the region’s diverse culinary scene and unique homes. She writes features about interesting people and a weekly column about things to do in Pittsburgh. The Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist began her career as a sports reporter. She has been with the Trib for 26 years and is the author of “A Daughter’s Promise.” She can be reached at jharrop@triblive.com.

This article was originally published by a triblive.com . Read the Original article here. .

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