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Claudia Leisinger

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BATMOBILE FOREVER

Words: Leigh Singer

 

An overcast morning at a Northamptonshire racetrack suddenly brightens up as the car – or rather cars – come into view. Four ‘Tumblers’ were built for Batman Begins and two of these high-tech, streamlined urban tanks – basically a cross between a Lamborghini Countach and a Humvee – stand ready. Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould, a veteran of recent Bond and Tomb Raider movies, gives the lowdown of “Chris Nolan’s baby”: A 2 1/2 tonne monster with a 5.7 litre Chevy engine, capable of 0-60 miles per hour in about six seconds. The rear jet almost became a real one, but as Corbould explains, “with all the wall climbing and jumping, it wasn’t worth it from a safety point of view.”

Today’s experience is as close to the real thing as possible: Stuntman George Cottle, who did all the Batmobile driving in the film, is steering us around the track in the vehicle used in 95% of the film’s Batmobile sequences. Clambering into through the roof into the sunken passenger seat it’s clear what a difficult job he had. Two tinted windscreens, no bigger than the average computer screen, are all the visibility Cottle has. The control panel switches differ from the average family saloon too: “Start Flame”; “Release Hook”; “Fire Both Guns”.

Then the engine fires up. Some cars purr. The Batmobile roars like a pneumatic drill. “Car horns, sirens, you can’t hear anything in it,” yells Cottle. “It sets off car alarms.” As he guns us up to around 50 mph – only safety regulations stop us going faster – sweeping around the track contours. Minutes later the ride’s over and former Batman Val Kilmer was wrong. It’s not just chicks that dig the car.



September 2005

'© Future Publishing 2005. No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.'


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