Without A Net

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40 things you never knew about the Batmobile as the original goes up for auction (photo slideshow)

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With the original 1966 Batmobile going up for auction, we spoke with the creators of the Batmobiles used in every one of the Batman movies to get the secrets you never knew about each of these vehicles. All five are on display from Friday, Nov. 30 until Friday, Dec. 14 at L.A. Live. (You can see all the Batmobiles, plus the Bat-Pod, costumes, props and more in the photo gallery above.)

Batman TV series/1966 movie Batmobile (driven by Adam West)

  • The vehicle was built from a nonfunctioning 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car that cost $250,000
  • Car customizer George Barris bought the concept car for $1 and had three weeks and $15,000 to turn it into the Batmobile, which included adding a Ford Galaxy chassis
  • The oil slick sprayers on the car were made from lawn sprinklers
  • The “jet engine” on the car is actually a 5-gallon paint can
  • The car was originally painted a dull gray with white stripes, but when they first shot the car coming out of the Batcave with Adam West, Barris felt the vehicle didn’t pop — so he went back and repainted it with 40 coats of super gloss black paint and orange stripes
  • The Bat-parachutes on the back to slow the vehicle actually worked
  • George Barris got a ticket driving the Batmobile
  • There were six cars used during the shooting of the TV show and the movie, including two tour cars, a stunt car, a crash car and a “hero” car used for close shots

The original 1960s TV Batmobile is being put up for auction on Jan. 19. The auction house won’t say how much it hopes to get for the car, but creator George Barris says that if Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from “The Seven Year Itch” could sell for $5.6 million, the Batmobile should sell for even more.

Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) Batmobile (driven by Michael Keaton)

  • One of the Batmobiles used in the films was bought by comedian Jeff Dunham
  • Dunham’s version is street legal, including a license plate that drops down when the car starts
  • He also added a video screen that actually works, but instead of computer data, this screen has video from rearview and side cameras since the car doesn’t have any mirrors
  • Dunham takes it out, including getting gas at public gas stations
  • Because this Batmobile was hand sculpted, the fins on the back are slightly off from each other, with one more curved and one straighter
  • When you get the vehicle up to 90 miles per hour, the back wobbles, which creators attribute to the difference in the back fins
  • The Batmobile was scanned to make the toys, so the toys also feature asymmetrical fins
  • The black paint has a hint of green in it because Tim Burton wanted the vehicle to seem alive, even though the sheen isn’t very visible in the film
  • This Batmobile can go 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds
  • Production designer Anton Furst’s design was inspired by Salt Flat racing vehicles and Stingray cars from the 1950s

Batman Forever (1995) Batmobile (driven by Val Kilmer)

  • 3 patents were issued based on the design of this Batmobile
  • The illuminated Bat hubcaps on the wheels don’t spin when it drives, so the Bat symbol is always seen upright
  • The fenders and fins were designed to create a visual effect like a real bat’s wing or Batman’s cape
  • Blue LEDs and alternating red and yellow lights on the side ribs of the vehicle were designed to make it look like the vehicle was breathing
  • The full-size Batmobile was powered by a 25-gallon propane tank
  • When fired at full capacity, the engine can shoot a 25-foot flame out of the rear exhaust

Batman & Robin (1997) Batmobile (driven by George Clooney)

  • The tires are covered with bat logos that show up in the dirt when the vehicle is driven
  • It has one of the most intricate interiors of the Batmobiles, most of which isn’t shown on screen
  • This is the only Batmobile that was a single-seat convertible — there’s no space for a Robin
  • The first design of this Batmobile resembled a bullet, with wings emerging from the rear of the vehicle when it started and retracting when the vehicle came to a stop

Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Tumbler (driven by Christian Bale)

  • The movie studio wouldn’t greenlight the new films until it was shown the Tumbler could do the things required in the script
  • The Tumbler isn’t suitable for military use — being made of fiberglass, its armor plating wouldn’t stop a bullet
  • The Tumbler was first created by production designer Nathan Crowley and director Christopher Nolan — they bought a bunch of model kits and put them together until they created a hybrid of a Lamborghini and a Humvee
  • This is the only Batmobile to not be called the Batmobile in the films
  • There were plans to destroy the Tumbler in “Batman Begins,” but it was decided after shooting started not to destroy the vehicle — it was ultimately destroyed in a later film
  • The Tumbler was stress tested by an aircraft company
  • Six Tumblers were used in the films, but only four running vehicles remain following the shooting of the series
  • The various Tumblers used in the film actually do most of what you see them do on screen, and all the shots use physical vehicles — there’s no CGI
  • The Tumblers were strengthened in different ways for various uses
  • These Batmobiles were able to be built using computer data, rather than the hand molding of older Batmobiles
  • The Tumbler uses Hoosier racing tires in the front and Super Swampers in the back
  • The Tumbler is taken out of the garage every 2–3 weeks to keep it in good running condition, and they’re also regularly dusted

All of the Batmobiles, plus the Bat-Pod motorcycle, costumes, props, models and production art from the modern Batman trilogy are going to be on display at the Dark Knight Legend Exhibit at the L.A. Live Event Deck from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., for free.

The exhibit also includes Batman art from the DC Comics art exhibit “Darkness and Light.” You can also find out more about the Batmobiles in a documentary feature on the new “The Dark Knight Rises” DVD/Blu-Ray, which comes out Dec. 4.

Correction: A caption on this story earlier misstated which film the Batman costume in that photo was seen in.

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