Batmobile replica prowls the streets of Atlanta
by Paul F. P. Pogue
Among Batman fans, the feeling is nearly universal: Cars just don't come any cooler than the Batmobile. It's been reimagined many times over the years, but for Bat-fans such as Joey Moran of Atlanta, one version stands out:
The 1966 edition from the television series starring Adam West. The sleek design is both timeless and a product of its era, when giant tailfins ruled and everyone thought the year 2010 would bring flying cars and jetpacks.
Moran has owned many classic cars, starting with a 1965 Mustang when he was 15. But his custom-built replica of the 1966 Batmobile, dubbed the Batlanta Crime Cruiser, is by far his favorite.
"Even kids who have never seen the show see the bat symbol on the door and know what it is," he says. "The appeal crosses all lines - rich, poor, young, old, black, white. Everyone loves the car."
Moran says he's more of a collector than a mechanic, so he didn't build the car himself. Instead, he commissioned it in 2006 from custom-car builder Mark Towle, who operates Gotham Garage in California.
Towle built the fiberglass frame from a mold drawn from one of the cars used in the series. The innards are mounted on a 1985 Corvette chassis that had to be lengthened to accommodate the body.
"It still drives a like a Corvette," Moran says. "The upkeep isn't different than any other car."
The Batmobile proved its endurance when Moran drove it cross-country for Towle to repair it after a fender-bender at a car show (with Herbie the Love Bug, no less).
He also drives the car around town or uses it to pick up his 8-year-old son at school. "He'll always ask, 'Daddy, can you pick me up in the Batmobile today?'" Moran says.
Moran displays the replica at several charity events each year, such as hospital visits or the annual Children's Healthcare of Atlanta parade.
"It's not easy to stand out in a parade that also features live reindeer and giant balloons, but Joe's Batmobile holds its own and is a true crowd pleaser," says Meg Flynn, public relations coordinator for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
It's also a frequent sight at police public outreach events. In fact, Moran says police officers are some of the car's biggest fans. "I have officers asking to look at it and get pictures all the time," he says.
"I had one policeman pull up to me at a stoplight and say, 'I've been following you for two miles trying to come up with a reason to stop you so my dashboard cam could catch me pulling over the Batmobile!'"
In 2008, the Crime Cruiser led the Dragon*Con science-fiction convention parade when Batman himself, Adam West, served as grand marshal. "He told me, 'This is one of the best replicas I've seen, and I've seen them all!'" Moran says.
Moran loves the attention his Batlanta Crime Cruiser receives. "There's always a big audience," Moran says. "The people smiling, cheering, honking and taking pictures make it worthwhile. It never gets old."