A red teardrop coupe. That was the very first ‘Batmobile’, though it was never referred to as such. Making its first ever comic book appearance in 1939 was a “specially built high powered auto” driven by The Batman: a cross between a 1938 Talbot-Lago teardrop coupe with the front grille from a 1937 Ford Coupe. The car, not Batman. Batman was definitely not a cross between a 1938 Talbot-Lago coupe and Ford Coupe.
So, from the very outset, Batman was a proper helmsman. A vigilante with a taste for opposite lock. And, it seems, a soft-spot for the romance of 1940s open-air motoring: the very first car referred to as the ‘Batmobile’ that followed this teardrop coupe was actually a bright red convertible that looked like a cross between a Cord and a Graham ‘sharknose’.
All topped off with a little bat symbol on top of the bonnet and a supercharger underneath it. Because Batman.
And thus, the legend of the Batmobile was born. It went through various comic-book incarnations (including a stream of cars with actual Batman masks as the grille), the live-action versions opting for a 1939 Cadillac in the first ever serial broadcast in 1943, and then a ‘49 Mercury.
Then a bomb dropped, because in 1965, the first - and arguably most famous - Batmobile of all landed, driven by Adam West and featuring in the jolly, podgy and hilarious television series. Batman would never be the same again (until Tim Burton arrived).
So, as the new issue of Top Gear magazine - out now - celebrates 25 movie car icons, here, we bring you the brief history of one of TV/cinema’s most iconic. Basically, all the Batmobiles you need to care about.