Friday, February 13, 2015

The Batmobile

The Batmobile is the automobile of DC Comics superhero Batman. The car has evolved along with the character from comic books to television and films reflecting evolving car technologies. Kept in the Batcave accessed through a hidden entrance, the gadget-laden car is used by Batman in his crime-fighting activities.

The Batmobile made its first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939).
Batman drove high-performance cars since his debut, but the term "Batmobile" didn't appear until 1941's Detective Comics #48. The car was a bright red convertible. It sported a supercharged engine capable of tremendous speeds and a heavily reinforced nose capable of smashing through buildings without suffering damage.

The design was based on the Cord 812, a revolutionary design that featured America's first front-wheel drive with independent front suspension, a 185HP V8, a semi-automatic transmission with overdrive, retractable headlights, variable-speed wipers, and a sleek, low-slung body.
The first live action Batman film was a serial produced by Columbia in 1943. These were low-budget affairs that were run once a week, featuring "cliffhanger" type endings to draw audiences back for the next installment. Lacking the funding of later Batman projects, the "Batmobile" was simply a factory-stock automobile.

For the 1943 serial, a 1939 Cadillac was used as both the Batmobile and as Bruce Wayne's personal car. Generally the position of the convertible top signified which the role it was playing: "top up" mean "Batmobile," while "top down" meant "Bruce Wayne's car."
In late summer of 1965, an all-new Batman TV series was gearing up. George Barris decided to use the Ford Motor Company's abandoned Futura concept car as a basis for what would go on to become one of the most famous cars in the world.

The Futura worked perfectly as a Batmobile, as it had many "bat" features built into the design already, such as the long fins and bubble canopies. Three replicas were eventually built by Barris' shop for promotional and exhibition purposes.
The sale of the #1 Barris-built Batmobile at the Barrett-Jackson car show and auction was held in Scottsdale, Arizona. The vehicle fetched $4.2 million on January 19, 2013.
In the summer of 1989, Batman came to the big screen for the first time since 1966. Warner Brothers had Tim Burton bring his unique style to the movie, and Anton Furst was hired as production designer for Gotham City and the Batmobile. To build the car, the production team spliced together two Impala chassis, and the car was powered by a Chevy V8.
The third Warner Brothers Batman movie was released in 1995; Batman Forever. Joel Schumacher was the new director, and created a very different film from his predecessor. One of the changes was a new Batmobile, designed by Barbara Ling.

Despite its many defenses, the life of this Batmobile was relatively short. It was destroyed partway through Batman Forever when the Riddler deposited a sack full of explosives in the cockpit.
After an eight year hiatus, Batman returned to the big screen for Batman Begins in 2005. Among the new ideas to appear in this movie was an all-new Batmobile, designed by Crowley & Nolan. Their focus was to make the Batmobile as real as possible: at 9 feet wide and 15 feet long, the car weighed in at 2.5 tons but was still capable of 0-60MPH in under six seconds with a top speed of 110MPH.