Welcome to Fraser Fast Facts • Vol. 1, Issue 19
The 1990s Batmobile
Part Two of a Three-Part Series
Hollywood Reshapes The Batmobile To Be Stylish and Badass
While this is part two of our Batmobile series, it features the first “wave” of Batmobiles, conceived by director Tim Burton for the original Batman movie (1989) and Batman Returns, (1992). The design was essentially carried through by director Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever, (1995) and Batman and Robin (1997).
1989 Batman & 1992 Batman Returns – Tim Burton
The “Keaton Mobile” was the brooding musings of famed director Tim Burton, (Beetlejuice, Nightmare Before Christmas), and designed by Anton Furst. Driven, of course by Michael Keaton. Taking a hard left-turn into the Art Deco styling of the mythical Gotham City, it spurred a new view of Batman as powerful and undeniably cool. It brought swooping curves and coined the “Bat-Missile” moniker for a few of its stunts in the movies. It made its debut in the first Batman movie (1989), but returned in Batman Returns (1992). How fitting.
The production design featured a massive central turbine running down the center of the car, but it was all just for show. But that didn’t stop Batman enthusiast Casey Putsch, from creating a turbine-powered Batmobile replica , featuring a 400-horsepower Boeing turboshaft engine from a drone anti-submarine attack helicopter, mated to a four-speed semi-automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. It works like the turbine-powered Indy cars, and was noisy, a little scary, definitely uneconomical, but its completely street-legal.
A recent auction in Russia lists the original Batmobile for an opening bid of $1.1 million.
FRASER FAST FACTS (About the 1989/1992 Batmobile)
- Because the first Batmobile was hand-sculpted, the two back fins were noticeably different.
- At speeds over 90 mph, the rear of the vehicle beings to wobble, which the creators attribute to the asymmetrical fins.
- The Batmobile was physically scanned to make the toys, so they too, have asymmetrical fins.
- The actual film Batmobile can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.
1995 Batman Forever – Joel Schumacher
The “Kilmer Mobile” was brought to life by director Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever. His lighter, cartoonish, and family-friendly Batmobile was well-received after the dark, edgy Batmobile in the previous two movies.
The Batman Returns Batmobile was fitted with large, stylized fins and neon lights everywhere. It featured a Chevy 350 cu. in. ZZ3 engine, with aluminum headers, angled plugs, and a sultry valve grind. The 25-food long body was made of a high-temperature epoxy fiberglass laminate. It also featured (way-cool) hyperboloid-gear pivoting tires.
FRASER FAST FACTS (About the 1995 Batmobile)
- The illuminated bat hubcaps don’t spin when the Batmobile is moving, so the logo stays upright.
- The fender/fins were redesigned to have more of a bat-wing appearance.
- Blue, with red and yellow LEDs along the side of the Batmobile were used to make the car look like it was breathing.
- The turbine-engine film Batmobile was powered by a 25-gallon propane tank.
1997 Batman and Robin – Joel Schumacher
The “Clooney Mobile” in Batman and Robin was applauded as the most bizarre rendition that it was so bad, it was that good. Seriously, it was a convertible. What were they thinking? But, the difference between the “childrens’ toy” look of the Kilmer Mobile, and this iteration is the Clooney Batmobile was subjected to rigorous road testing, reaching a top speed of 140 mph. At 33 feet long, the beast boasted a REAL top speed of 350 mph, thanks to a Chevy V8 ZZ3 with a jet engine afterburner. The vehicle also included an ejection seat, and various weapons, including axel bombs and rocket launchers.
FRASER FAST FACTS (About the 1997 Batmobile)
- The Batman and Robin Batmobile had the most intricate interior cockpit, which was never shown on screen.
- Ironically, this was the only “single seat” Batmobile, which therefore had no room for Robin. (Apparently he rode in the “Battrunk”.
- The first design of this iteration resembled a bullet, with bat-wings emerging and retracting from the sides of the Batmobile, but ultimately were nixed.
- The 1997 Batmobile featured tires with the bat emblems engraved in, as the treads. Which certainly defeated the purpose of sneaking into the Batcave.
- Batgirl’s costume changed mid-filming so most of the action figure toys barely resembled the film character.
In closing, few know there was another Joel Schumacher Batman movie in the pipeline. “Batman Unchained”. Unfortunately was canned when the revenue from Batman and Robin fell woefully short of the already low expectations.
If you want to create a replica Batmobile of your own, bolt in a world-class FRASER remanufactured engine and speed through Gotham City!
Thinking about building a replica with an american-made engine? Fraser has the right engine ready for you!