I’ve been a fan of the Batmobile since I first saw it on TV as a kid in the sixties! When I found Bob Butts was selling fiberglass copies from a mold of the original car in the mid-‘90s, I jumped onboard, thinking it would be an easy side project. Luckily I have a movie effects shop so I had access to the tools and talent because this was not a DIY project. Steve Frakes, one of our key craftsmen, supervised the build off and on for 6 years.
Legendary Car Craftsman, Gene Winfield, set the body in place on a ’71 Lincoln Town car chassis and we took over from there. The goal was to not just make a Batmobile, but to capture exactly what you’d expect in every detail as if the car was real and it was still 1966. And we went crazy on details! I had access to stills and slides from 20th Century Fox and the UCLA Television Archive as well as videotapes of the original series. And once convinced I wasn’t a nut, George Barris, King of Kar Kustomizing himself and creator of the original iconic Batmobile, allowed access to his #1 car so we could take rubbings from grill work, tracings of details, measurements, and photos!
Completed, in Spring 2000, everything works; from the dash-mounted monitor that shows a reversed rear view mirror view or DVD feed, to screen-accurate buttons that play sound effects from the series, to the afterburner with propane-fueled flame that matches the size and burn pattern of the original!
One of the first things we did was to haul the freshly finished car to Bronson Caverns in LA, site of the original Batcave exterior, to shoot our own recreation of the car exiting the famous cave. Since then, it’s been put to use for car shows, charities, driven by Adam West himself in the film, Super Capers, and even a wedding!
Even after 13 years on the road, it looks as fresh as the day it was painted. And sometimes the best view isn’t from the driver’s seat; it’s from outside the car in the evening just as the sun is dropping and the neon striping comes to life! Holy Replica!
Tom Woodruff, Jr.