The Batmobile’s evolution, according to designer Frank Stephenson
One of the most famous superheroes in DC Comics’ portfolio is Batman, whose life of privilege and wealth ensured a healthy budget for a customized vehicle worthy of his noble vigilante pursuits. Noted transportation designer Frank Stephenson, on his highly entertaining YouTube channel, just directed his critical eye to several versions of the famous Batmobile. Vehicles like this, as Frank suggests, remind us that some designs elevate cars to something more. They can rise to become a byproduct of the theme, cultural moment, and tone of the movies that created them.
The early (George Barris) Batmobile was an aggressive re-think of the 1955 Lincoln Futura, clearly diverging from the original designers’ (John Najjar and Bill Schmidt) visions of the future of mass-produced vehicles. Perhaps the Futura was more fitting for a movie about the Jetsons, given that such a radical Lincoln makes for adequate transport for the Mrs. Jetsons Mrs. Spacelys of the world. Later Batmobiles had the luxury of being bespoke creations, which gives more material for Frank to deeply study. As all good designers do, he puts these vehicles into the context of the times in which they lived.
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So without any further ado, have a watch at the video and learn how the Batmobile evolved over time. Certainly there’s a big delta between the Barris original and the Nolan-era “Tumbler.”