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The Batmobile Project: Tracing the history of an AFL icon

The Batmobile became part of the fringe festival parade, had skulls and rainbows attached to the Duco and most notably led a union-backed anti-asbestos march along Swanston Street in the early ’90s.

Then it disappeared from sight in Melbourne, a town that might have once been called Batmania.

A consortium of Hawthorn fans including successfully purchased the Batmobile last month.

A consortium of Hawthorn fans including successfully purchased the Batmobile last month.

Off the grid, it failed to appear when Kerrie Hayes engaged Kath and Kim to appear before the 2004 grand final and the league decided the pair should enter the MCG on Angry’s Batmobile.

The AFL ran competitions on radio as they searched for the original without success. Eventually they were forced to commission a North Melbourne company, Solution Red, to build a replica of the infamous vehicle.

A couple of grand was spent on getting a car and designers added the rest to carry Kath and Kim for the pre-game festivities the year when Port Adelaide and Brisbane played in the grand final.

With its job done, the replica headed to the ill-fated AFL World and Sensation exhibition in Lonsdale Street where it sat until the company went broke, leaving the replica in the hands of Grocon rather than at the MCG, where most of the other footy exhibits headed.

Perhaps spurred on by the sight of the replica, the original Batmobile appeared in a Port Melbourne tow yard to be bought by a surprised car collector from Gisborne, Michael Monaghan, who stumbled across the vehicle in the mid-2000s when answering an ad for a Valiant.

Stunned at the Batmobile’s dilapidated condition he took it home and wondered what the hell to do with it until The Footy Show got wind of the fact the car was still alive and asked whether he would take it to their grand final show. Initially Monaghan refused but with family spurring him on he orchestrated a backyard blitz to restore the car to its former glory, with only the bonnet badge, a grand version of the AFL logo, missing.

The Batmobile was back, but most of the public ignored it as it courageously made a rare TV appearance in the lead-in to the 2015 grand final between Hawthorn and West Coast.

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Eventually Monaghan, sick of the sight of it and the space it was taking up, asked his mate Nathan Young about five years ago whether he could store it in his garage in Campbellfield. There it sat silently, a curio among workers and an eyebrow-raiser for visitors at Young’s business, Rubbertec.

That was until last month when Young, having got the car started but left it unregistered, put it up for sale on eBay and the bidding quickly passed $20,000.

For a moment Snap Shot feared it was the replica that had been sold, so we contacted Grocon to ask what came of the replica and they kindly directed us to former Collingwood player Paul Tuddenham, the only person from that period who might know the answer to that question.

Tuddenham laughed when contacted. He remembered the replica but didn’t know what had happened to it. One thing he was clear about, however, was that the replica would have – unlike the original – collapsed quickly under the weight of a hammer.

The replica’s whereabouts remains unknown.

But the original Batmobile is alive and well, ready to be transported soon from Campbellfield to new owners who want to make it available to a nostalgic public.

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