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American Classics

Holy Smokes, It’s the Batmobile!

To this day, the mystery surrounding Batman’s existence remains unsolved.

Sure, the Batmobile is technically classified as a fictional car by authorities but many eyewitness accounts suggest otherwise. This mythical car is not only real to those who have seen it, they report several changes over the years.

Some of the most notable and commonly described Batmobile sightings provide details about what the different models might look like. Rumors of the Batmobile’s existence date all the way back to 1939. Sadly, technology was not able to catch up with it until much later.

Back to the Futura 

Actual footage of a drivable Batmobile became very clear in the 1960s. At first, the project was under wraps but eventually legendary automotive designer George Barris confessed it took him 15 days to finish it. This version of the Batmobile uses a 1955 Lincoln Futura as the foundation.

There are many potential reasons why the Lincoln Futura never went into production. Conspiracy theorists speculate the possibility that Wayne Enterprises paid Lincoln to never produce it after turning a Futura into a Batmobile.

There is no doubt the Futura-based Batmobile made a lasting impression. It even starred in the Sixties live-action Batman television series. At one point, the George Barris Batmobile sold through a Barrett-Jackson auction for over 4 million dollars.

The Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer Era

A few animated and comic book renditions of the Batmobile followed suit. Then, out of the depths of Arkham, Tim Burton’s Batman paved the way for a darker breed of the Batmobile. Anton Furst is responsible for the vigilante’s superhero car design

Based on a Chevrolet Impala chassis, this version of the Batmobile takes gothic styling to the next level without sacrificing sophistication. After all, Bruce Wayne was a millionaire in the 80s, so he had classy taste. Of course, he has since become a billionaire but that is a story for another day.

That same Batmobile stole the show again in Tim Burton’s sequel, Batman Returns in 1992. Legend says this Batmobile can achieve a top speed of 330 miles per hour. Only a Joker would be foolish enough to attempt outrunning it.

A Darker Knight Begins

More movies, cartoons, and comics popped up with new takes on the vehicle since the Burton-era Batmobile. The evolution of the Caped Crusader’s primary transportation continued into an almost tank-like metamorphosis. By the time you see the Batmobile on the silver screen again in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, you barely recognize it.

Perhaps it’s better this way. Lucius Fox, Alfred, and Master Bruce certainly understand the importance of discretion in the modern world. As Batman’s Tumbler roars on the scene, you realize this machine features powerful weaponry with mercenary capabilities.

Believe it or not, as bulletproof as it looks, the Tumbler in the Christopher Nolan trilogy features a fiberglass body. Just do not let Carmine Falcone in on that little secret. A fiberglass body made stunts and repairs easier for the Tumbler Batmobile.

Obviously, if this Batmobile were really made of impenetrable steel, it would be too heavy for a small-block Chevy V8 engine. Luckily, it is just fiberglass, so a Chevy small-block is all it takes to bring the Tumbler to life.

Horsepower estimates are between 400 to 500 from the 5.7L LS1 Chevy V8. It features an automatic transmission and is capable of reaching a top speed of 160 miles per hour. Just to build a prototype the team needed an entire year.

Okay but the one question on every motorhead’s mind: is the afterburner real? No, but it definitely looks cool. It is actually just a propane burner from a hot-air balloon. 

All in all, the studio made seven different Tumblers for the movies. The design incorporates racing tires up front and those massive meats in the back are 44-inch super swampers. 

At one point, a very skilled custom builder made a replica of the Tumbler that sold for over a million dollars. It features a Chevy LS1 5.7L V8 engine and somehow it is street legal. Keep in mind, this is just a replica.

To actually build the Batmobile Tumbler up to fictional movie specifications, it would cost about $18 million according to Moneysupermarket.com. Don’t worry, Bruce Wayne can afford it, the streets are safe.

From prowling the streets of Gotham to sightings all over the globe, people everywhere love the Batmobile when they see it. They are also willing to pay a pretty penny whenever Bruce Wayne decides to move on to a newer Batmobile model.

The next time The Dark Knight Rises with moonlight shining through the overcast sky, keep one eye open for the signal. If you should be lucky enough to catch a glimpse, rest assured the Batmobile is on its way to save the day.

To the Batmobile, let’s go!

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