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Batmobile
Batmobile - Batman 1966

The Batmobile as seen in the original 1966-1968 Batman television series.

Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)
Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane
In story information
Type Vehicle
Element of stories featuring Batman

Robin

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.[1] 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). Then a red sedan, it was simply referred to as "his car". Soon it began featuring an increasingly prominent bat motif, typically including distinctive wing-shaped tailfins. Armored in the early stages of Batman's career, it has been customized over time into a sleek street machine.

Publication history Edit

The original version of the Batmobile.The vehicle that became the Batmobile was introduced in Detective Comics #27, the first Batman story. Originally, the vehicle was a simple red convertible with nothing special in its functions. Although the Batplane was introduced in Detective Comics #31, the name "Batmobile" was not applied to Batman and Robin's automobile until Detective Comics #48 (February 1941). Other bat-vehicles soon followed, including the Batcycle, Batboat and Robin's Redbird.

The car's design gradually evolved. It became a "specially built high-powered auto" by Detective Comics #30, and in Batman #5, it began featuring an ever-larger bat hood ornament and an ever-darker paint job. Eventually, the predominant designs included a large, dark-colored body and bat-like accessories, including large tailfins scalloped to resemble a bat's wings.

Batman #5 (Spring 1941) introduced a long, powerful, streamlined Batmobile with a tall scalloped fin and an intimidating bat head on the front. Three pages after it was introduced, it was forced off a cliff by the Joker to crash in the ravine below. However, an identical Batmobile appeared in the next story in the same issue.

The live action television series was so popular that its campy humor and its Batmobile (a superficially modified concept car, the decade-old Lincoln Futura, owned by George Barris whose shop did the work)[2] were quickly introduced into the Batman comic books. But the high camp and general silliness of the television show did not sit well with long-time Batman comic book fans. So, when the series was canceled in 1968, the comic books reacted by becoming darker and more serious, including having Batman abandon that Batmobile. Its replacement for a number of years was a much simpler model with a stylized bat's head silhouette decal on the hood being the only decoration of note. The 1960s TV style Batmobile still appears from time to time in the comic books, most recently in Detective Comics #850 and the issues of Batman Confidential. In the Bronze Age of Comic Books, the source of the cars was explained in The Untold Legend of the Batman as the work of stunt driver Jack Edison who volunteered to personally construct Batmobiles for Batman after being rescued from a burning wreck.

In mid-1985, a special variation of the Super Powers toyline Batmobile appeared in both Batman and Detective Comics.[3] This design had a full set of front and rear canopies, "Coke-bottle" sides, integrated fins, and generally rounder features, just like the toy. The only difference between this car and its toy counterpart is the nose, which was occasionally drawn to appear longer and more pointed.

In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the Batmobile has been modified into a tank-like armored riot control vehicle, complete with machine guns shooting rubber bullets, a large cannon mounted on the front, and large tank treads in place of tires. According to Batman's narration, the only thing that can penetrate its armor "isn't from this planet." Batman also mentions that it was Dick Grayson who came up with the name. The tank-like vehicle appears to take up two lanes of traffic on a normal road, evidenced when returning from Batman's initial fight with the leader of the Mutants, and thus is too big for normal land travel around Gotham. In the scenes prior to Batman's last stand with the Joker, Batman uses a motorcycle to traverse the city, using the tank again after the attempted nuclear strike and fires in Gotham. This Batmobile reappeared in All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #4, which shows its construction by robots in the Batcave.

Beginning in the 1990s, the number of comics featuring Batman mushroomed with spin-off titles, limited series, and graphic novels. At the same time, there was considerable experimentation with styles of illustration. With different illustration styles in so many different books, there was naturally a corresponding diversity of designs for the Batmobile. This has continued with designs for the Batmobile ranging from conservative and practical to highly stylized to outlandish.

During the Cataclysm storyline, it is revealed that Batman has hidden a number of spare vehicles across the city just in case. A Humvee serves as a primary mean of transportation to cross the earthquake-ravaged city during the Aftershock storyline, as most of the Batmobiles are wrecked by the quake. These vehicles are not as sophisticated as the Batmobiles, but some of them are armored to withstand weaponry mounted on military automobiles.

In the Batman: Hush storyline, a splash page by Jim Lee shows all the previous Batmobiles (from comics, movies, and all TV series) in storage in the Batcave. In addition, some incarnations of the character, such as Batman: The Animated Series, establish that Batman has a large ground vehicle fleet of various makes and models as well as utility vehicles to use when the Batmobile would be too conspicuous. In issue 9 of the third volume of Teen Titans, Robin and his friends use a Batmobile that he shipped out to San Francisco, hiding the expense "in the Batarang budget".

In Frank Miller's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, the car can morph into a harrier jet and a submarine. Dick Grayson comments that the name Batmobile is "totally queer".[4] However, in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which exists in the same continuity,[5] Grayson was stated as the one who invented the name.[6]

The metafictional Batmobile Owner's Manual, released in 2008, gives theoretical specifications of the car as if it were real. The book states that the Batmobile's five cylinder engine is more powerful than turbine jet engines, and capable of achieving up to 1,700 horsepower (1,300 kW).[7]

In the new series Batman and Robin, a new Batmobile is unveiled. This model is capable of flight, although is not as maneuverable as the Batwing.[8] It can fire 19 types of projectiles, one of which is a flame retardant non-toxic foam, and features a concussive sonic blast device.[8] The new Batmobile was designed and constructed by Bruce Wayne; however, its construction was the source of great frustration to him, as mentioned by Alfred. In Batman and Robin #1 it is revealed that Bruce's son, Damian Wayne, solved the problem of its inability to fly.

Film serialsEdit

BatmanEdit

Main article: Batman (serial)In the 1943 serial film Batman, a black Cadillac was used by Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, as well as their secret identities Batman and Robin. Alfred chauffeured the Dynamic Duo in both identities. Eventually a limousine replaced the Cadillac.

Batman and RobinEdit

Main article: Batman and Robin (serial)In Batman and Robin, the 1949 successor to the original serial, the duo drive around in a 1949 Mercury.[9]

Tour carEdit

The first car ever publicly toured as a Batmobile was several years before the Barris Batmobile of the TV series.[10] It was inspired by DC comics and was created in 1960 by two young men in New Hampshire by using a 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 chassis and building a handmade custom body. The car was initially used as a driver and then later on it was rented by DC comics licensee All Star Dairies repainted in Batman Colors and toured as the DC comic book Batmobile throughout small towns on the East coast of the United States. After the TV batmobile was created the first Batmobile was returned to the owners in New Hampshire and a few years after that languished in a field for fifty years a long lost forgotten piece of American history. The very poorly preserved car was sold in February 2013 and the car is being restored by expert car restorer Mario Borbon of Borbon Fabrications in Sacramento California.

Live-action television Edit

Main article: Batman (TV series)The Batmobile as seen in the 1960s Batman TV seriesIn late 1965 20th Century Fox Television and William Dozier's Greenway Productions contracted renowned Hollywood car customizer Dean Jeffries to design and build a "Batmobile" for their upcoming Batman TV series. He started customizing a 1959 Cadillac, but when the studio wanted the program on the air in January 1966, and therefore filming sooner than he could provide the car, Jeffries was paid off, and the project went to George Barris.[11]

What became the iconic Batmobile used in the 1966–1968 live action television show and its film adaptation was a customized vehicle that originated as a one-off 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car,[12] created by Ford Motor Company lead stylists Bill Schmidt, Doug Poole Sr., and John Najjar[13][14] and their design team at the Lincoln Styling Department.

In 1954, the Futura prototype was built entirely by hand by the Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy, at a reported cost of US$250,000—the equivalent of approximately US$2 million in 2009.[15] It made its debut in pearlescent Frost-Blue white paint on 8 January 1955 at the Chicago Auto Show.[16] In 1959, sporting a fresh red paint job, the Futura was featured in the film It Started with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford.

Barris was trying to get Hollywood's attention with the Futura, which he had purchased from Ford for the nominal sum of $1.00 and "other valuable consideration",[17] but aside from its film appearance, the Futura had been languishing in his Hollywood shop for several years. With only three weeks to finish the Batmobile (although in recent years Jeffries says that his car was dropped because he was told it was needed in "a week and a half",[18] he was quoted in 1988 as saying "three weeks"[19] as well), Barris decided that, rather than building a car from scratch, it would be relatively easy to transform the distinctive Futura into the famous crime-fighting vehicle. Design work was conducted by Herb Grasse, working as an associate designer for Barris.

Barris hired Bill Cushenbery to do the metal modifications to the car and its conversion into the Batmobile was completed in just three weeks, at a reported cost of US$30,000. They used the primer-painted, white-striped car in October, 1965, for a network presentation reel. Shortly afterward, the car was painted gloss black with "fluorescent cerise" stripes. Barris retained ownership of the car, estimated to be worth $125,000 in 1966 dollars,[20] leasing it to 20th Century Fox and Greenway Productions for use in the series.

When filming for the series began, several problems arose due to the car's age: it overheated, the battery went dead, and the expensive Mickey Thompson tires kept blowing. By mid season, the engine and transmission were replaced with those of a Ford Galaxie. The most frequent visual influence of this car is that later Batmobiles usually have a rear rocket thruster that fires as the car makes a fast start.

In November 2012 Barris Kustom and George Barris announced the sale of the Batmobile at the Barrett-Jackson car show and auction held in Scottsdale, Arizona. The vehicle fetched $4.2 million on January 19, 2013.

Technical specifications =Edit

  • Curb weight: 4500 lb
  • Wheelbase: 126 in
  • Length: 226 in
  • Width: 90 in
  • Height: 48 in
  • Fins: 84 in
  • Engine: 390 in³ Ford FE V-8
  • Transmission: B&M C-6 Automatic (2nd transmission)

FeaturesEdit

This Batmobile's gadgets include a nose-mounted aluminum Cable Cutter Blade, Bat Ray Projector, Anti-Theft Device, Detect-a-scope, Batscope, Bat Eye Switch, Antenna Activator, Police Band Cut-In Switch, Automatic Tire Inflation Device, Remote Batcomputer—radio linked to the main Batcomputer in the Batcave, the Batphone, Emergency Bat Turn Lever, Anti-Fire Activator, Bat Smoke, Bat Photoscope, and many other Bat gadgets. If needed, the Batmobile is capable of a quick 180° "bat-turn" thanks to two rear-mounted ten-foot Deist parachutes. The main license plate seen throughout the series was 2F-3567 (1966). Some changes were made during the run of the series, including different license plates (TP-3567; BT-1), removal of the Futura steering wheel and substitution with a 1958 Edsel steering wheel, and the addition of extra gadgets such as a net in the trunk, remote-controlled driving, a rear-facing camera under the turbine exhaust port, and the Bat Ram.[22] Other devices included:[23]

  • Emergency Bat-turn Lever (releases the Batmobile's parachute that enables quick turns)
  • Bat-ray (capable of many tasks, such as remotely opening quarry's vehicle doors)
  • Automatic fire extinguisher
  • Mobile Batcomputer (in trunk)
  • Bat Beam
  • Emergency tire inflator
  • Bat Smoke Screen
  • Bat-tering Ram (also known as the Bat-ram, used for knocking down reinforced doors)
  • Voice Control Batmobile Relay Unit
  • Bat-photoscope (works in conjunction with the Microfilm Crime File in the Batcave. Through this device a photo from the crime file can be reproduced remotely in the Batmobile.)
  • Batphone
  • Police band cut-in switch
  • Mobile tracking scope
  • Remote Bat Computer Switch
  • Anti-theft switch

Appearances Edit

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