RM Auctions recently declared James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 to be “the world’s most famous car,” but there's no doubt another contender for that title – the Batmobile. One thing that muddies the waters a bit is the fact that the term “Batmobile” actually describes at least three different vehicles: the modified Lincoln Futura concept car from the 60s TV series, the vaguely Corvette-shaped 1989-and-beyond movie cars and now the car from the most recent two movies, the military-spec Tumbler. Michigan-based movie props artist Bob Dullam really likes the Tumbler, so he did what any of us would do in his position – he built one of his own from scratch.
Dullam has been working on his Tumbler over the past five years, using nothing but a chop saw, a reciprocating saw, a drill press, and a Mig welder – all in his non-heated, non-air-conditioned two-car garage. He had no prior car-building experience and nothing but movie DVDs and production stills to go by. Nonetheless, he now has a fully-functioning, incredibly accurate-looking Batmobile.
“Every aspect of it was pulling a rabbit out of a hat,” Dullam told Gizmag. “You have to mount the engine in reverse, so now you’ve got a transmission that’s pointing towards the front of the car, how are going to get a drive shaft to go underneath it and drive it in reverse?”
Challenges like that aside, the car is up and running. He now plans on working on the interior, along with parallel steering within the vehicle’s nose cone, so it can be driven from that area too, just like the car in the movies. Dullam has even been contacted by defense contractors about using their transparent aluminum in the windows. It’s not surprising that he thinks the vehicle will never really be “done,” per se.
“It’s not there yet,” he said. “It may never be there unless I decide I’m tired of the whole thing. It’s an ongoing experiment.”
"If all I did was costumes and busts and things like that... a lot of people do that kind of thing. I want to build a brand name for myself, and to do that, I think you have to rise above and beyond the pack.”
Bob Dullam’s Tumbler specs
- Engine: 350 V8 with four-barrel carburetor
- Transmission: 3-speed turbo
- Top speed: 150mph (241km/h)
- Body panels: Epoxy resin reinforced with fiberglass mat
- Tires: 44-inch Super Swampers (rear)
- Steering: Rack and pinion power steering via detachable aviator style pistol-grip steering device
- Weight: Approximately two tons (1.8 metric tons)
- Dimensions: 15’L x 9’W x 5.5’H (4.5 x 8 x 1.7 meters)
- Visibility: Round-vehicle video cameras
- Production cost: Approximately US$50,000 to $100,000
- Street legality: Nope!
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