Automotive Tim Burton Batmobile front

Published on November 22nd, 2021 | by Subhash Nair


1 Of The Burton Batmobiles Is Now In A Private Collection In California

If you’re a fan of the 1989 Batmobile that featured in the Tim Burton films, note that one of them has changed hands recently.

The Batmobile has undergone many, many iterations over the years in loads of different mediums. There are versions from various comic books, video games, films and cartoons. However, one of the most iconic Batmobiles over the years is undoubtably the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s two Batman films, Batman and Batman Returns. This was the one version that probably was seen by a large amount of people worldwide for the first time.

Five examples of this particular Batmobile was made. 2 were made for the original Batman film and 3 more were made for the Batman Returns film. One of the cars from the first movie is on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum (like this Lego McLaren) in California while the other is retained by film producer John Peters. Of the three from the sequel, one has been in a private collection in Japan since 1992, another belong to comedian Jeff Dunham and a third was just sold by Carl Casper (who made the vehicles for the second film) to a private collector in California.

What Defined the 1989 and 1992 Batmobiles

While the Batmobile of today’s adaptations tends to favour a more militaristic interpretation, earlier versions of the superhero’s car wasn’t quite as aggressive. That being said, they still were over-the-top in presentation. The 1989/92 Batmobile features styling that puts it comfortably in the Art Deco styling that defines Gotham City in these films.

The vehicle measures 6.62m in length and 2.39m in width with a height of 1.3m and a wheelbase of 3.58m. It was designed by Julian Caldlow, built by John Ewans’ team for the first movie and Carl Casper and Tom Oberhaus for the second film.

In the films, the Batmobiile featured loads of specs and equipment that might not have been feasible in the real world. It was said to accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds and have a top speed of 530km/h with its jet booster. It had a jump distance of over 2km and derived power from a 10,000hp jet turbine. It also featured an underbody carjack that could lift the car up and rotate it 180 degrees, as well as grappling hook launchers on the side that enabled it to turn sharply at high speeds.

Other equipment includes 2 M1919 Browning machine guns, batdisc ejectors, shinbreakers, oil slick dispensers, smoke emitters, an onboard computer, a CD recorder, voice-command recognition, and shields. In the second movie, the car was shown to have a “Batmissile” mode that retracted the wheels and shrank the car’s width down by ejecting its fenders.

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Making This Batmobile

Part of this Batmobile’s appeal was its over-the-top styling that still felt grounded in the real world somehow. That was possible by using components that were in existence and modifying them to suit the design. The chassis was taken from an abandoned 1967 Chevy Impala found in a London junkyard. Actual power for this vehicle came from a 5.4L V8 Chevrolet engine that was mounted low in the chassis to accommodate the vehicle’s low hood line. To create the jet turbine at the front of the car, a Rolls-Royce jet engine was used with turbine blades taken from the Harrier fighter jet.

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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