The Unofficial Evolution of the Batmobile

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The Unofficial Evolution of the Batmobile

World’s Oil by the Numbers

The legendary Batmobile has evolved so many times since Batman first started fighting crime in 1939. Thankfully it just keeps getting better and better. Feel like driving your own Batmobile yet?


The world was first introduced to Batman in the spring of 1939 in Detective Comics’ 27th issue, The Case of the Chemical Syndicate. The cost of the issue was a dime. Batman was created with the purpose of being a “super-competitor” for the newest and most popular superhero at the time, Superman. Imagined by gag cartoonist Bob Kane, (hmm, Bob Kane sounds surprisingly like Bruce Wayne, doesn’t it?), Batman still earns the title of superhero, despite not having any superpowers.

The Batmobile has a few key features that stay consistent through its evolution:

  • Unique design
  • Powerful and imaginative crime fighting features
  • The latest Batman symbol featured … somewhere

For almost 80 years Batman has been fighting bad guys and winning our hearts. The image shown depicts the most impressive Batmobiles we have seen over the years. Everything from an eye-catching design to extreme crime fighting features goes into making the Batmobile the car everybody wishes they drove. Keep reading to find out what makes each Batmobile better than the last.

The Convertible Crusader

We saw the very first Batmobile in Detective Comics No. 48 in 1941. Unlike any other Batmobile, the first one was red and inspired by a popular car at the time, the Cord Roadster. Known for its innovative technology and streamlined design, there was no car was quite like this one.

Festooned with front-wheel drive, chrome-plated side-exhaust pipes, hidden headlights and a disappearing convertible top, the Cord Roadster was the luxury car of its day. If not for the golden bat ornament on the front as a giveaway, Bruce Wayne himself could have driven this version of the Batmobile around Gotham.

The first Batmobile was recognizable to Americans in the 1940s, any number of people could have hopped into their own cars and felt just like the caped crusader. But unlike the actual Batmobile, the Cord Roadster suffered from poor traction, and its inability to go faster than 80 mph. That’s okay, we would all rather drive the red Batmobile instead anyway.

Adam West’s Batmobile

If your mom ever handmade a Batman Halloween costume for your dad, he probably looked just like Adam West. Thankfully, his Batmobile wasn’t quite as frumpy as his outfit.

Modeled after the Lincoln Futura, this 1966 Batmobile was black with red striping. Like a police car, Adam West’s Batmobile had a flashing light at the top, giving him the look of justice. Following the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s, Batman was a defender of all people, regardless of race, gender, or religion, just as true justice calls for.

West’s Batmobile also had a few extra tricks up its engine, like the 180 degree Bat Turn. This feature allowed the Batmobile to completely turn around in an instant, lest any bad guys get away. Being the first drivable Batmobile, Adam West’s Batmobile moved away from the luxury style of the first Convertible Crusader and more towards crime-fighting efficiency.

Frank Miller’s Batmobile Tank

No more Mr. Nice-mobile, Frank Miller’s 1986 Batmobile was a full out military tank. Protected by “impenetrable armor,” an extensive medical bay, and an artillery with rubber bullets, this vehicle featured in The Dark Knight Returns, was not messing around.

Between the Watergate scandal of 1972, the 19-year long Vietnam War ending in 1975, uncertainty in the Middle East, and economic crisis at home, Americans were losing faith in their government and the world around them. Frank Miller’s Batmobile represented strength and power, something Americans were desperate to see. If they couldn’t get it from their government than Batman would have to do.

“Surrender now … or be destroyed!” was written in a panel featuring Miller’s tank-Batmobile. Representing military style strength and undeniable authority, this Batmobile was exactly what Batman needed in his reemergence as a dark and brutal hero, rather than a campy do-gooder.

Burton’s Batmobile

Spooky director Tim Burton is known for doing some outrageous projects, and his version of the Batmobile is no exception. Sporting a jet-black exterior, twin machine guns on the sides, and a sleek streamlined design, this Batmobile is a combination of the original flashy model and Miller’s down-to-business Bat-tank.

Featured in Tim Burton’s 1989 film, Batman Returns, the Batmobile certainly had returned and was ready for action! New additions like the grappling hook, and “shield mode,” kept up with Batman’s military-style defense and the shiny bat wings on the tail end was in tune with Bruce Wayne’s wealthy aesthetic.

Sleek and Streamlined Batmobile

Jumping back into the world of drawings, the 1992 Batmobile from Batman: the Animated Series was more gangster than the bad guys Batman fought. The long, almost hearse-like body of the car was jet-black and equipped with a smoke and tear gas dispenser, talk about deadly.

It also had wheel slasher hubcaps and ejector seats. I’m going to say that last one again, ejector seats. Can you imagine how cool it would be to literally fly out of your seat and jump onto a bad guy? Batman can.

The Flashy Batmobile

Flashy, indeed. This 1995 Batmobile looked like a legitimate bullet with its brass colored engine and detailing. With new and improved spikey bat wings and a ribcage-like design, this vehicle featured in Batman Forever is the Batmobile most of us know and love, plus the wheels lighted up, that’s just awesome.

If this car wasn’t cool enough it also had cables attached for vertical driving and a diagnostics display, giving Batman a new technological edge.

The Tumbler Batmobile

The grounded-in-reality and tech-savvy Batman came back in 2005 with the release of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. This time, the Batmobile featured was a military Tank/SUV-hybrid built for building bridges in a warzone. While Wayne Enterprises couldn’t get the bridges to work, “this puppy works just fine”. The vehicle then returned in The Dark Knight in 2008. Aside from Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker, the Tumbler stole its fair share of scenes.

A true combination of a military tank and a sleek, flashy design, this Batmobile could mess you up bad and look really good doing it. Just how Batman would have wanted.

The Jet controlled engine made it super-fast and the heavy armor plating made Batman undefeatable. And who can forget the scene in The Dark Knight where the Batmobile broke down into a motor-cycle dubbed the ‘Bat-pod”? If that’s not enough to blow your mind it’s probably because you’re just jealous. Don’t worry, I am a little bit too.

The Latest Batmobile

But if you think the Tumbler Batmobile was fast, just look at the Latest Batmobile. Featured in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, this Batmobile is the fastest one yet reaching speeds up to 200 mph. Although this Batmobile doesn’t have twin guns at the sides, it does have a twin .50 caliber machine gun turret front and center, ready to blow the bad guys away.

Despite the lack of success of the Batman vs. Superman movie, everybody couldn’t help but fall in love with the Batmobile. Fans swooned over the pre-released photos posted by director Zack Snyder of the new Batmobile, some wondering if they could build a model of their own. Snyder estimates a working model would cost about $3 million to create, just a tad outside of pretty much everybody’s price range.

The Batmobile may have evolved over and over again throughout the years, but fortunately for millions of fans it just keeps getting better and better. No matter where you stand in the never-ending Batman vs. Superman debate, everybody can agree that the Batmobile is by far the most entertaining way to fight crime.