The Batmobile. Yep, pretty much the coolest concept car ever dreamed up. While that’s a pretty bold statement, this superhero ride is so wildly popular that even real-life celebrities like Justin Bieber try to imitate the design with their everyday cruisers. But, while replicas play a big part in how the Batmobile makes its name around the world, the vehicle also enjoys an intriguing history. Like the actors who step in and out of Batman’s shoes over the years, the Batmobile has boasted a different look since original concept was placed in the pages of Detective Comics in 1941.
So how did the Batmobile look when it first revved its engine? Scroll below to see the evolution of the car… and to be convinced to start saving your hard-earned money for one of your own. (If only our superpower was becoming the CEO of Wayne Enterprises!)
Batmobile Model No. 1
Model: The first model — a surprisingly bright red convertible — appeared in Detective Comics #48 in 1941. According to BatmobileHistory.com, design inspiration was based on the Cord 812.
Special Features: A supercharged engine that allowed Batman to reach incredible speeds. Plus, it was more powerful than any locomotive Superman could beat — It could smash through buildings withstanding damage.
Where It’s on Display: Collectors of old cars still have models of the Cord 812 that have been preserved.
Cameos Over the Years: A Cord 812 appeared in the video game “Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven,” and in the 1965 flick Where the Spies Are.
Up Next: The ’60s Version!Batmobile Model No. 2
Model: The vehicle that made its debut in the Batman TV series in 1965 was a souped-up Lincoln Futura.
Special Features: Automatic Turbo engine, chain cutter, lasers, rockets, car phone, dash monitor, radar, smoke machine, ram used to take out doors, backwards camera, a 180-degree Bat-turn, and (gasp!) a computer. Which means 1965’s Batman was still more technologically advanced than we are. Get on it, Watson!
Where It’s on Display: A replica can be seen at the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Keswick, England.
Cameos Over the Years: The car appeared in the 1979 show Legends of the Superheroes, but have shown up in The Simpsons, Rock Star, The Man Show, The Benchwarmers, and the comic series Justice. To the TV pop culture vault!
Next Up: Movie Takeover! Batmobile Model No. 3
Model: From the 1989 movie Batman, this model was powered by a V8 engine and had it’s own body style designed by Anton Furst.
Special Features: Recognition system controlled by Batman’s voice, Browning machine guns, spherical bombs, ability to use hooks and spin itself in a 180-degree turn, armor plated body, dispensers for oil, smoke machine, a Batmissile mode that allowed the car to fit through narrow areas, and a self-diagnosis system. So the Batmobile no longer had to go on WebMD to find out it either had cancer or was pregnant.
Where It’s on Display: Replicas can be seen at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia and Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill.
Cameos Over the Years: OnStar commercials, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action.
Next Up: Movie Takeover — The Sequel! Batmobile Model No. 4
Model: The 1995 Batman Forever machine was a unique design created by Barbara Ling. She attempted to make it look like the car actually had ribs and wings, but, thankfully, not Batnipples.
Special Features: The car has multiple specialty defense mechanisms. It can make quick turns via a multi-wheel locking mechanism, and it can scale vertical walls by utilizing its grappling cables and jet exhaust. Take that, Spider-Man.
Where It’s on Display: The car was purchased by a private buyer in 2011 from Warner Bros, according to Paul Fraser Collectibles. But the purchase agreement prevents the buyer from driving the car in public unless he is taking the machine to get repaired. Legalities, schmegalities.
Cameos Over the Years: The car has been seen in The Drew Carey Show and not seen in Russell Brand’s 2011 flop, Arthur.
Next Up: Movie Takeover — The Threequel! Batmobile Model No. 5
Model: The version used in Batman & Robin in 1997 was based on a Jaguar D Type and Delahaye 165.
Special Features: Bladed fins, two way video chat screen (is this where Apple got it’s technology idea from?), Redbird cutoff switch, radar, and the ability to turn George Clooney into an A-list star in spite of an embarrassing Batsuit.
Where It’s on Display: Thousands of nerds got a chance to feat their eyes on the car at Comic-Con 2012.
Cameos Over the Years: None! Clooney isn’t he only one who’d prefer to forget about Batman & Robin.
Next Up: Movie Takeover — Part 4: Electric Boogaloo! Batmobile Model No. 6
Model: The Batman Begins prototype that debuted in 2005 was based on a military vehicle called The Tumbler. It’s powered by a 500-HP Chevy 350 V8 engine and likely costs more than the amount of money you spent to see the film 63,973 times.
Special Features: This car features a system that switches the car into attack mode in the course of one second. While under normal conditions, the driver controls the car from the left side of the vehicle, in attack mode, the driver moves to the middle of the car and lies face down with his head between the front wheels for protection. The car is also equipped with a pair of machine guns in the front. So, essentially, it’s badass.
Where It’s on Display: In 2008, the Tumbler was shown off at the Scotiabank Theatre, Toronto. ComicBookMovie.com also has a schedule of where the Tumbler and Bat-Pod can be seen throughout the rest of the month of July.
Cameos Over the Years: A souped up version appears in The Dark Knight, and is also said to appear in The Dark Knight Rises.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros., WENN.com, Goldenagecomics.org]