If you are a child of a certain age and the Batmobile is brought up, there is just one thing that comes to mind.
“Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed!” Robin advises.
“We can move out,” says Batman, played by Adam West in this scenario, squeals the tires and out of the Batcave the dynamic duo roars on to fight crime in Gotham City. Of course, the Caped Crusader and his trusty sidekick have driven a variety of cars during his decades of crime fighting, and you can check them all out in Warner Brothers, “The Batmobile Documentary,” which is running for free on YouTube right now.
The hourlong documentary takes viewers through the various iterations of the Batmobile starting with the original: a two-door hardtop he and Robin built together in the comic book in 1939. The movie versions from the last two decades clearly draw from that original.
However, when the two moved from page to screen in the 1940s, he rode around in a convertible Cadillac. With the top down, he was Bruce Wayne and top up, it was fighting crime as Batman. However, the gadget-laden Batmobile that so many have grown to appreciate throughout the decades came from the mind of famous custom carmaker George Barris.
Barris, who also made other famous cars for television shows like The Munsters, The Beverly Hillbillies and Knight Rider, was a car customizer in California and was given just 15 days and $15,000 to build the Batmobile for the 1966 TV show starring the aforementioned West.
Always enterprising, Barris manage to buy the Lincoln Futura concept car from Ford Motor Co. The Futura was sitting around collecting dust since its debut at the 1955 Chicago Auto Show, and apparently that figured into the price: $1. Barris and his team put it together, including all of the buttons, switches and labels for the crime-fighting aids inside the car.
The film goes from there to chronicle the other versions of the Batmobile driven by notables Michael Keaton, George Clooney and Val Kilmer. Those vehicles all seem derived from the original drawn for the comic book in 1939, especially with the large wings on the back of the car.
Those two also featured a slew of gadgets, including wheels that turned pivoted 90 degrees allowing the car to move sideways in one movie. A 90-degree turn at high speeds was accomplished by another model with a grappling hook and a cable attached to a light pole that slung the car through the turn without slowing down.
The last Batmobile gets a little darker and more militant … or military. Ben Affleck’s Batman takes on Kane to save Gotham in the Tumbler which came with a slew of goodies as well and could pretty much drive over anything while being stunningly nimble and quick.
The documentary gives us plenty of insights from the men who designed the cars, including Barries who was still alive when filmed. The only downside to the documentary is it’s too old for a sneak peak at the next Batmobile or a look at the new Batman, Robert Pattinson.