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The Batmobile Evolution.

Updated on October 3, 2014

The Batmobile and how it has evolved.

Batman was first introduced in the detective comics in 1939 but it took another two years for him to be aided by a car, the Bat Car or the Batmobile as it has become known which appeared with him in 1941 in the detective comics 'DC Comics' issue number 48, which was February 1941. From that moment on the Batmobile and Batman have been almost inseparable, although Batman has pretty much remained the same with the exception of the gadgets which are updated when a new film is released, the car has definitely had the most changes along the way and has been transformed from a humble red convertible to what we know today, a car full of gadgets and almost indestructible.

All batman fans will have their own favourite style of car they enjoy or remember the most. I remember, which is my favourite is the one in the picture you see, this is the one from the 1960's series with Adam West as batman.

The comic versions of the cars did vary quite a lot from the TV series and the films, On this lens we will take a look at the start of the comic versions of the batmobile, it would probably take another lens to go through them in more detail, so after a brief look at the comic version we will continue further with more on the TV and film batmobiles. To find out more about the cars and the transformation i hope you carry on reading through the lens to discover some of the major changes and enjoy. Comments are always welcome.

Batman comics.

1941 comic book Batmobile.

short lived.

Though this was the first car to be used by batman, it only appeared in comics and was short lived. The design was based around the 1936 'cord', though it was a typical car and not really bat designed, it only had a bonnet figure in the shape of the bat that associated it as the batmobile and linked it to batman. This car was fairly soon replaced in the comic books by a more conventional batmobile.

Starts to look like a Batmobile.

Holy Batman !

This is where the batmobile starts to represent it's requirements as the batmans car and as such we recognise this with the bat mask on the grill and the bat fin on the roof of the car.

This particular shape and design did stay as it is, with very minor changes but nothing too drastic so we did not really notice much of a difference, until 1950 in the comic books. The one introduced before this car in the picture was basically all black in colour, the red strips were added in 1944. This design was Drawn by Dick Sprang and as stated previous retained this overall shape until a complete redesign in 1950 when came the all new batmobile.

Comic book batmobile starts to take shape.

Holy batmobile.

In 1950 the detective comic books introduced an all new batmobile, this is when some of the famous gadgets started to appear with the car. The car itself was considered to be loosley based on a 1950's Studebaker but crossed with a Cadillac, it had now taken on the long and slender shape with a couple of trademark designs on the outside that we know to be a batman car. On the inside it had a complete labratory with cabinets and stool and a counter to work on. There were also inside televisions and radar screens. The outside contained the trademark bat mask but now with a knife edge nose to cut through barriers etc'. It had a searchlight mounted on the roof of the car which also doubled up as the bat signal projector. Rocket thrusters, a futuristic windshield, The bat fin was also present as it was in the last version of the car.

This basic version of the car, as in the basic long and sleek design would carry on for the rest of the 1950's and into the early 60's, there would be some slight changes with the interior of the car as with the inside layout, after all, you cannot carry a labratory all the time can you? The gadgets got smaller but more refined.

The batmobile comes to life on film.

first film serial batmobile.

Serial 1. -

Lets bring the bat car, or the batmobile to life, it was in 1943 that the first action batman film created, it was produced by Columbia, and it was a serial. Like a lot of other serials in these times, they were pretty much low budget and were once a week with the usual endings of the cliff hanger type which ofcourse got the audiences back week afetr week. Just like the first comic strip batmobile the film car was a simple stock car of the time, it was a 1939 Cadillac convertible.

This car was also used as Bruce Wayne's personal car. The only way you could tell when it was the batmobile was when the top was up it was the batmobile, top down it was Bruce Wayne's car. This was once again, low budget and use what you have, but it worked for the audience at the time.

Serial 2. -

In the second serial run of batman in 1949 the car used was a 1949 Mercury convertible which was maroon in colour. It was again a low budget project and no special effects to the car, you still could not recognise it as the batmobile, but this was still early days.

Ka-Pow! New Batmobile.

Holy new Batmobile Batman.

In 1966 the batmobile took on it's TV series again and the all new batmobile was a great and futuristic sight, it was fantastic for TV and got the audiences by the droves.

The car was designed by a custom car builder, George Barris. The car used was taken from a Ford project of a concept car called the Futura concept car. Some of the features on the concept car were ideal for the new batmobile such as the ready made rear wings which were long fins and became the notable batwings, the bubble canopies or windshield were already on the car and remained. The car had a few more minor body work changes such as the front to give it that bat feature and look and a couple of fin extentions toward the doors and it was then complete and ready to paint the famous gloss black with the red trim that we now know.

The bat gadgets came out also with this new custom car, There was the atomic turbine engine (not real of course). the modified nose of the car had a slicer that could cut through chains, other features include - rocket, lasers, radar, a monitor mounted on the dash, in car telephone, a computer and a police beacon.

Can you remember the car turning around on the spot ? if so this is because it had a quick 180° "bat turn" thanks to two rear-mounted 10 foot parachutes. When the batmobile was being presuid it had at it's dispence a nail spreader to stop the car being followed. A smoke machine could also do the same which it was fitted with. Along came also the idea of changeable number plates while on the move, not really sure why with this one because it's not a car that you would need a number plate to recognise ! A camera was fitted to face the rear of the car and also a battering ram was fitted. Not a bad car ! I believe the car was last used in 1979 for a show called 'legends and super heroes'.

The car still evolves in the comic books.

The basic shape of 1966.

While this popularity had grown with the new batman, robin and his new car, the comic book was still in a full flourish and was also changeing it's car. Once again, although the car had several changes it now was based basically around the shape of the now famous batmobile of 1966 with the odd exception.

Batman the cartoon also appeared along side of the comics, with it's yet again batmobile changeing and gadget gaining ability it was a very successful show to have, and continues to do so today. What with the past versions of batman and his car, and the popularity of the 1966 version of the batmobile, the franchise was still popular and kept being so. However, from the last TV batman in 1979 there was a much needed update which came in 1989 with a new film and an all new car in the new film 'Batman' (more of this later in the lens).

With the emergence of the new film had to come along new versions of the car in the comics, as with the 1966 batmobile, the car stayed basically the same design in the comics as with the new film, but in my opinion a few of the comic designs suffered some serious changes and somewhat drastic, too futuristic looking, one or two almost space ship like ! On the whole the comic batmobile was based around the new film design which could be related to the film version.

Batman and Batman Returns.

1989 all new Batmobile

It is now 1989 and the need for big screen movies was delving into the past and what could make a good film, so out came batman, revamped, updated, gadgets galore, same enemies but updated also, but most of all, a new car, but still long, sleek and smooth looking as it should be. This time the curves were in the right places, no sharp edges and nothing to dent the new look, this really was a new breed. What is the car ? in a nutshell it is, Two chassis of the Impala spliced together and powered by a chevy V8, the body of the car is a custom built fabrication and custom wheels.

The nose of the car was dominant with the large jet turbine intake while at the back were a pair of short fins which were sculptured to suit the looks of the car, and inbetween the front and back, there was one curve that flowed into another curve and to the next curve to give it that very sleek new look it needed to throw away the past.

Inside the car was very much simplified from the very early days of the labratory and so on. This car contained a two seat cockpit with aircraft-like instrumentation, a monitor on the passenger side, also a self-diagnostics system, CD recorder, and voice-command recognition system. The gadgets were obviously more updated along with the special effects that could produce some of them, but the car contained -

spherical bombs, forward facing machine guns, disc launchers which were side mounted, chassis mounted shinbreakers.

The 180° turn came back with a lifting foot capable of doing this almost at an instant. It had side grappling hooks launchers which gave it more severe and quick turning. Armor plated body and an armor cocoon whcih could cover the car. Some of the older style tricks came back with a twist, such as an oil slick dispenser, smoke and a batmissile mode which basically narrows the car to fit through narrow gaps and openings, this batmissile mode did have a flaw though, once this was employed, the car is as much as destroyed because of the reshaping of itself and therefore the car has to be rebuilt, this is basically a last option to use the batmissile mode when being persued and no escape was in sight.

This car was used for the film 'Batman' in 1989 and the 'Batman Returns' film in 1992 and became just as popular as the 1966 TV series car.

Cool new car !

Batman Forever Batmobile 1995.

Holy Bat smoke Batman.

Here we go again, an all new batmobile for another big screen movie of batman. This new design batmobile came in 1995 in the film Batman Forever.

The most obvious changes to the eye were the rib effect body work and the new, but yet old design of the batwings on the car, a more obvious statement that it was the batmobile. It had a split cockpit canopy, a jet exhaust, the bat logo stood still and upright on the wheels even when the wheels were turning. The cockpit on this version of the batmobile included, rear-view monitor, system diagnostics display, a custom gauge cluster. One of the most spectacular effects of the car was if in pursuit, the car could effectivly climb vertical walls by re-routing it's jet exhaust under the front end of the car and launch grappling hooks at high sided places to enable it to climb. It did also have all four wheels to have the ability to turn 90 degrees to enable it to change direction at an instant.

However this batmobile was destroyed in this film by the 'Riddler'. In my opinion, not the best looking car that batman has had!

It was 1997 when the big screen gave us batman and robin and a new batmobile, continue to find out below.

Batman and Robin film 1997.

The best thing from the last film is that the car had to be re-disgned as it was destroyed in the last film, so here is another all new batmobile, better than the last version for me that is.

This car was one of the longest batmobiles to hit the screen, it was 30 feet long and it certianly looked it's length. it was also this time a single seater. As you can see from the picture the car lit up and did look quite spectacular when lit up. This car featured a more sleek design than the previous and the bat wings also made the car stand out as the ever lasting batmobile.

The tyres on this car had tread that was cut as the bat logo, how cool is that ! The bat mask came back with this car, but you did have to look for it to notice it. Bat gadgets were at a minimum on this car, it had bladed bat fins on the front wheel fenders and the nose of the car, a two way video conferencing screen a radar unit.

This was the last film in a fairly close succession of batman films until a new arrival in 2005 hit the big screen.

THE COMIC BOOKS.

The comic books and cartoons kept this version alive with the basic template under various guises until the next film arrived with a complete new look altogether.

The Batmobile Owners Manual.

The Batmobile Owner's Manual, every batmobile fan wants to know how it works, so here you have the chance to find out it does. This book take you to the depths of the Batmobile which includes the mechanical structure, the gadgets, how it was created, how batman makes it fit in with him and the rest of the batman saga.

2005 gave us the Tumbler.

Batman Begins.

Batman was back in this new screen movie, Batman Begins. The film itself was considered to be a new start for batman after a break of eight years from the big screen, It was like a new beginning, a fresh start and begin all over again.

The car was deffinetly a new start and something totally unexpected, the batmobile known as 'The Tumbler' - not the most pleasing batmobile to look at, but did the job on film. This car weighed in at 2.5 tons and reached a top speed of 110 mph, it was capable of making jumps of around 30 feet with no assistance from anything except it's own engine. If you have seen the film you will know how the car came to light and how the tumbler became the Batmobile.

The car is capable of taking two people, the driver sits in the usual position until it goes into attack mode, in this case the driver then assumes a central position but laid down and face forward, this gives the driver more protection with the armor plating and virtually eliminates the risk of injury to the driver while in bat mode and making fast and sudden maneuvers. This Batmobile or 'Tumbler' was capable of attack with a pair of machine guns which were mounted at the front inbetween the wheels.

This is a car with tank features in it's armor and attacking ability. It can go on rough ground and through some obsticles. It is not the most flamboyant Batmobile and it does stand out from the previous Batmobiles, but it strangly works on film, not my favourite, but it works !

The Tumbler also appeared in the next movie 'The Dark Knight' - see below for more information.

2008 The Dark Knight.

This is a little awkward really, although the Tumbler appeared in the dark knight movie briefly, i think the thing that grabbed more attention was the new Bat Pod. This was a recreation of the 60's (i think) Batcycle. This is going away from the Batmobile, but i think it is worth a small section in this lens.

The bike has 20 inch wide front and rear tyres. The bikes engines are located in the wheel hubs. The rider lies down on the tank. The bike is armed with cannons, guns and grappling hooks.

On the whole a nice gadget for Batman to have.

Batman Toys.

The Batman has given us loads of different toys over the years, here are a small selection to browse around and bring back some of those Bat Memories.

Take Part In Our Poll.

Which TV & Film Batmobile Is Your Favourite ?

See results

The length some people go to!

The batmobile is truly a fantastic car no matter which version you choose to like, as i said earlier, my favourite is the 60's version from the TV series, Some people like it so much they go ahead and have one of their own, even if they have to build it from scratch. Take a look at what people have done.

If you remember the Batmobile in any stage of it's life, why not leave a thought here for others to read and remember. Which was your favourite and why ? We need your Bat memories.

Comments Welcome.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens! I think the 1966 Batmobile is the coolest tv/movie car in history. I read somewhere that the modified Ford Futura was so heavy they kept blowing tires out on set. Pretty wild!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 7 years ago

      Interesting. I like the way you put this entire history together to show the evolution of the BatMobile. That was a big leap in 1966. I guess if it didn't keep changing as time passes, it wouldn't have any "cool" factor at all.