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Updated: September 20, 2023

The history of the Batmobile is a long one. Starting in the 1940s, the Batmobile has been constantly revised. To understand its appeal and rich history, you'll first need to learn about the evolution of the Batmobile in television and film over the past 75 years. Due to its long run, it's hard to know exactly how many Batmobiles there have been.

Through the years, the Batmobile has looked different in each comic series, film and television show. To have a broader understanding of how the Batmobile has evolved, you'll need to have a good idea of the most popular television and film versions, along with the ways they've been redesigned or modified.

Changes to the Batmobile have ranged from simply adding new modifications to an older model to completely redesigning the entire vehicle. A fan's favorite Batmobile is likely from the era in which they were introduced to Batman. However, serious Batman enthusiasts will likely have all the Batmobiles ranked. After reviewing the following iconic Batmobiles, you can develop your own rankings for the legendary vehicles.

Probably the simplest Batmobile ever used, the 1943 model holds a special place in Batmobile history, since it's the vehicle that started it all. The 1943 Batmobile model was first featured in the Columbia serial Batman movies that ran each week. The series chose the 1939 Cadillac Series 75 convertible, originally designed by Harley Earl of General Motors. As it was a car designed for the general public, there were barely any modifications or gadgets included.

Unlike future versions of the Batmobile, the car doubled as both the Batmobile and the personal car of Bruce Wayne. As such, the producers of the movies had to figure out how to differentiate between the vehicle as the Batmobile and as just a regular car. To illustrate the difference, they decided when the top was up, the car was the Batmobile, and when the top was down, the car was Bruce Wayne's.

The next and final serial run for Batman introduced a new Batmobile. Like the previous version, this new Batmobile was a stock automobile that came straight out of a factory. Though the series added the Bat Cave and Wayne Manor to the series to bring the Batman universe to life, it didn't have the budget to trick out the Batmobile.

Ford's 1949 Mercury Convertible was selected to take over for the 1939 Cadillac Series 75. As there weren't any modifications to the vehicle, the convertible top was used again to signal when it was the Batmobile, and when it was Bruce Wayne's personal car. Over the filming of the show, the Mercury was switched out six times due to the car's poor handling when cornering. The combination of power and inadequate handling resulted in the car getting wrecked several times.

After the 1943 and 1949 Batmobiles, fans had to wait a while before Batman hit the small or big screen again. When fans finally got their wish in 1966, the Batmobile they saw would blow the previous versions out of the water. In fact, many now consider the 1966 Batmobile to be the first real Batmobile.

The first modified Batmobile appeared in the 1966-68 Batman television series and the 1966 Batman movie. Adam West's iconic performance as Batman brought Gotham and the Batmobile to a whole new audience. With the star power of West, the people behind the show knew they had to have a stunning vehicle to compliment him.

As West's Batmobile was the first to sport multiple gadgets and modifications, many consider his to be the prime version of it. The design for the car ultimately fell to George Barris, a legendary American designer of classic Hollywood cars, who was given the job of designing the car within a deadline of three weeks. To come up with the design for the vehicle, Barris drew from Ford's 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, which was never released to the public.

The baseline design of the Futura " with its bubble canopies and long fins " made for a perfect base for the Batmobile. Along with the base design of the Futura, Barris added modifications that would add to the visual theme of Batman. The car was painted black with red trim to really make the car pop on screen. Finally, the red Batman logo on the doors of the vehicle and in the center of the wheels tied the whole design together.

Barris would go onto add other gadgets such as rockets, lasers, a computer, a police beacon and a telephone. The car also had a chain splice placed on the nose and a couple of parachutes installed in the rear. With the parachutes, the car could make a complete 180 degree turn with ease.

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