joi, 16 iunie 2011

The Batmobile (c.1966)

Time to drive the Batmobile

To the Batmobile! ‘Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed!’ as Robin would say. In fact, the only advice I get from Mark Perkins is, ‘The gearshift’s sticky and the brakes are a bit severe.’
When the engine starts you know this car belongs in the 1960s muscle era. The Firebox Batmobile comes with a brand new 5.7-litre GM V8, and when it fires it makes that big, lazy blub-blub-blub noise like a waiting tugboat. Slot the gearbox into ‘D’, gently squeeze the throttle, and the car wafts down the road as effortlessly as a featherbed on a train. You sense vast potential under your right foot, but it feels wrong to burn up the road like a drag racer – this is a car that was born to cruise. 
This interior is like no other I’ve ever encountered. Aside from all the crazy Bat-gadgets, the steering wheel has no top rim, which is disconcerting when you come to a roundabout and grab thin air. It has terrible visibility, thanks to the roll bar arch between the occupants, and (despite Batman’s supposedly ‘brilliant analytical mind’) there are no windscreen wipers and no heater.
And yet, teeth chattering on this foggy day, it’s hard not to smile. The sheer lunacy of the experience is then amplified and loudhailered down the street like a police warning when we drive through downtown Windsor. This is a car that makes people literally stop and shout out in the street: ‘It’s the Batmobile! Look! It’s Batman!’ And when we park up and climb out to let the madness unfold, the pavement immediately clogs with crowds of folk, every last one taking pictures on their mobile phones. Until now, the wiry, waspish Ariel Atom was my Number 1 Crowd Stopper, more effective than any Ferrari or Lamborghini when it comes to creating a scene. But the Batmobile is in a class of its own: a crowd-pleasing superpower-amongst-supercars.

  • How much? £120,000.
  • Engine: 5687cc 32v V8, 280bhp, 326 lb ft.
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive.
  • Performance: 5.0sec 0-62mph, 90mph, 6.0mpg.

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