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The Batmobile Review: 2009 Wayne Industries Tumbler

Posted: Jul 18, 2008 10:44 a.m.

It's 8 inches wider than a typical semi truck, weighs almost as much as a Hummer H2, and accelerates from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in five seconds.  Oh, yeah, and it can jump 30 feet.

The film The Dark Knight's newest Batmobile, known as "The Tumbler" is without a doubt the most capable car on the road.  And yes, it's real. 

Somewhat.

How Stuff Works tells us the film's makers "manufactured four complete, street-ready race cars," which use an actual 5.7-liter Chevy V-8 engine. "This engine has been tuned so that it can provide the power necessary to take a 5,000-pound vehicle from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds."  Those enormous tires are real.  "The rear tires are 37-inch-diameter, off-the-shelf, 4x4 mud tires called Super Swampers made by Interco," while the front features a set of Hoosier racing tires.  The rear uses a standard truck axle, but the front wheels are not mounted on an axle at all.  Each is instead mounted on "independent suspension elements inspired by the long-travel suspensions of Baja racing trucks. When airborne, the front wheels pop out about 30 inches on their suspensions to absorb the shock of a 30-foot fall."

The Batmobile's body is made of "65 carbon-fiber panels."

Batmobilehistory.com (wow, someone spends their time on this?) gives us a glimpse of the caped crusader's crime-fighting cabin:  "The cabin seats a driver and one passenger, with a unique arrangement for the driver: for normal driving situations, the driver simply sits in the left seat. In 'attack' mode, the driver's seat moves to the center of the car, and the driver is repositioned to lay face-down with his head in the center section between the front wheels."  Nissan is reportedly considering this configuration for the GT-R Spec V.  Alright, we made that up.

Back to Batmobilehistory: "This serves two main purposes: first, it provides more substantial protection with the driver shielded by multiple layers of armor plating. Second, the prone position reduces the risk of injury a driver faces when making extreme driving maneuvers (stunt drivers are at risk of spine compression when doing jumps - laying down virtually eliminates this risk)."

Safety is also a concern.  We found no report on the number of airbags in the Tumbler, but How Stuff Works does note, "there is no side or rear visibility. So the team mounted side and rear video cameras, and the driver uses monitors to see outside."

The actual working Tumbler has appeared outside the movies.  The U.K.'s Telegraph reports, "Motor Racing fans were treated to an appearance by the Batmobile and Batpod bike from upcoming movie The Dark Knight" at the famed Silverstone raceway earlier this month.  "The superhero's car, known as the Tumbler, completed a lap of the famous racetrack alongside a Toyota Formula 1 car prior to the British Grand Prix."  Toyota Racing driver Jarno Trulli was the lucky driver selected to take Batman's ride around the track.  He reportedly didn't fire the pair of machine guns embedded in the vehicle's nose, nor did he comment on the vehicle's reported 110mph top speed.

How long until you can buy your own Tumbler?  MSNBC comments that the Batmobile may not be something in GM showrooms any time soon, but it "hews much more closely to the real-life vehicles being developed for the military. … Someday similar vehicles could be riding the roads in Iraq or Afghanistan."

You could always build your own.  Scientific American tells us that it is possible to become a real-life Batman, but only for a handful of us.  "If you found the percentage of billionaires and multiply that by the percentage of people who become Olympic decathletes, you could probably get a close estimate" of the number of people in the world who could pull it off, kinetics researcher E. Paul Zehr tells SA.  "The really important thing is just how much a human being really can do. There's such a huge range of performance and ability you can tap into."

They're referring to human performance, but we're more interested in how to get a Chevy V8 to move 5,000 lbs from 0 to 60 in five seconds.  And if the Tumbler can jump 30 feet with that powerplant, what could it do with the Bugatti Veyron's V16?  After all, How Stuff Works tells us "Each of these four cars cost about $250,000 to build," following a "design and development process [that] had taken about nine months and consumed several million dollars."  What's another million to buy a Bugatti for parts at that point?

Research the best Exotic Cars, though nothing quite as exotic as this, with U.S. News' car rankings and reviews.