This article on Andrew's Batmobile tribute was originally published in the October 2018 issue of Street Machine
BY DAY, Andrew Cox from South Perth is a mild-mannered, number-crunching financial advisor. But at night, he likes to don the Batsuit, hop into his 1966 Batmobile, and cruise around ensuring the streets of Gotham City, Western Australia are safe.
Andrew’s recently completed Batmobile is a childhood dream come true for the 44-year-old, who became enamoured with the car 40 years ago when he would watch re-runs of the Batman TV show in his native Scotland.
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“It was my first dream car, and I decided I would one day buy a car like Batman’s,” he recalls.
The working flamethrower out back was achieved through no small amount of trial and error. “Few gas fitters are qualified to fit such, or even dared get involved,” Andrew says. “After many months of tinkering and experimenting with gas fitters, we eventually achieved the desired effect, with safety controls fitted on the dash”
Of course, the original Batmobile was built by custom guru George Barris from a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, but finding details about it in the pre-internet age proved impossible for Andrew. It wasn’t until 1996 that he found the answer he’d been seeking.
“I plugged a telephone lead into a dial-up modem and connected to the internet for the first time, but I was disappointed with what I found,” says Andrew. “My dream car was a one-off Lincoln concept car named the Futura. I was crushed, but not deterred.”
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A further search revealed a handful of enthusiasts building replica Batmobiles in North America. “Some were better than others, and the better ones were pretty good,” Andrew says. “As my father, David Cox, owns and operates Argyll Restorations, I knew we could produce a replica ourselves. I just needed the time and money to do it.”
Sourcing the two safety ’chutes proved problematic. “I ordered two black Deist packs from the same supplier to find each was made from different material,” Andrew says. “I then ordered a third pack and received a different one again! I eventually acquired a total of six packs, of which only three were made from the same material”
It took another 18 years for the planets to finally align, and about another year for Andrew to convince his dad to get onboard with his crazy scheme. The first step was to purchase a rare 1979 Lincoln Continental Collector’s Series to use as the base. Andrew and David then built a steel birdcage frame onto the chassis to attach to a dimensionally accurate fibreglass body imported from Canada.
“It was moulded by Don Currie, a Batmobile builder who has spent much of his life carefully researching the car,” explains Andrew.
“Unfortunately, by the time the shell arrived in Australia it required extensive repairs. My father warned me how expensive and time-consuming it would be, but all I could think about was how amazing the car would look when we were finished. Despite his advice, I had no idea of the enormity of the project.”
The Batmobile was built on weekends, with most of the work done by Andrew and David in the Argyll Restorations workshop. Andrew estimates that when you add up the hours spent, the build took a full year out of their lives.
“Pretty much everything we built, bought or had engineered needed to be modified, replaced or remanufactured for one reason or another,” he says. “Often a perfectly good part would arrive, but due to a modification elsewhere on the car, it would also need to be modified. For this reason each day felt like two steps forward, one step back.”
Much of the Continental’s drivetrain was retained to incorporate as much Lincoln DNA as possible. The Ford 400M motor was rebuilt by Roger May using stock internals, while a custom radiator with twin electric fans and modified filler neck was made by Ross Chisari of Leo’s Radiator Service. MCE Motorsport fashioned a custom twin exhaust to accommodate the RHD conversion.
“After spending my whole life looking at a left-hand-drive Batmobile, my right-hand-drive version took some getting used to,” Andrew admits. “Moving the brake system and master cylinder over was no simple exercise, and credit to Roger May who made it possible.”
This Batmobile has been built with the kind of diabolical trickery that not even the Joker and Riddler combined could match, and it would take an entire series of comic books to detail every modification.
The interior signage was done by Fiberglass Freaks and Allmark. Perth Stripes & Signs labelled the full complement of anti-crime Bat-sprays: Anti Lethal Fog Bat-spray, Bat-nesia Gas, Bat Sleep, Bat Wake, Barracuda Repellent, Whale Repellent, Manta-Ray Repellent and Shark Repellent
One of the bigger challenges was redesigning the steering shaft to accommodate seven wires that feed into the half-shaped steering wheel and control the embedded indicator switches and warning lights, which required some out-of-the-box electronic genius from Rory Smith at RRS Installations and engineering by Roger May.
Likewise, strengthening the floor and securing it to a rollbar – so there is no flex between the front and rear when the doors are open and the car is jacked up on any corner – was an involved process.
The 1979 Lincoln Continental Collector’s Series that sits beneath Andrew’s Batmobile was once a restored beauty that he bought from Queensland. Only 2040 were produced in white, and Andrew took no pride in hacking it up. “Tearing down a beautiful car to use only the chassis, engine and gearbox still feels like a crime,” he says. “I found a long letter from the previous owner detailing the car’s history and how he went about restoring it. I felt terrible reading it while the car produced a symphony of screeches as Dad’s grinder cut through three thick skins of steel”
Fitting bonnet hinges so they’re not visible when the bonnet is open, and symmetrically shaping the half-diamond front beak so it slides into the stainless-steel engine compartment while maintaining a tight gap to the bodywork when closed took countless hours. As did the fitment of a working roll-top dash that wouldn’t interfere with the electrics, rollbar, steering column and dash switches.
The 6.6L (400ci) Ford engine was souped up by Roger May and now sits inside a custom-built stainless-steel ’bay. Atop the Holley carby is a K&N air filter modified to fit under the bonnet, while temperature sensors and the radiator filler cap also needed relocating to allow the bonnet to close
Andrew reckons the element that caused the most sleepless nights was the window canopies. “I originally purchased a set of canopies from North America, but when they arrived the front was cut in half and the rear was rippled like the ocean. So we made fibreglass moulds to fabricate a fresh set. There was only one company in Perth that dared take on the challenge, BCJ Plastics, and it would have been an expensive experiment if they failed, but instead they created two unique canopies that look amazing.”
West Coast Automotive Supplies kindly donated the DeBeer Super Jet Black Refinish and HS Clear, which were laid on by Carmelo Anello along with the Testarossa Red stripes and bat symbol murals.
The half-shaped steering wheel is a modified US-sourced Fiberglass Freaks item with working indicator controls and warning lights. Skateboard ball bearings were inserted into redesigned aluminium wheel hubs to allow the centrally located bat symbol to spin and land face-up when the car is parked. “This consumed a lot of aluminium machining and a week of trial and error to ensure they don’t fly off while driving,” says Andrew
“Carmelo applied the black base coats and five coats of HS Clear all in one afternoon,” Andrew says. “We then cut it back with 1000-grit paper, and a further five coats of clear were applied before compounding with super-fine paper and applying plenty of wax.”
Charlie Vinci at Kustom Chrome chrome-plated David’s handmade door sweeps that replicate those in the original Batmobile while angling correctly to meet the dashboard. They bolt through the leather-covered fibreglass door skins, which are screwed into place from under the doors so no screws are visible
The upholstery was handled by Dan Westcott at Perth Trim Torque, who covered a pair of customised Jaguar XJ6 frames in sumptuous Bentley Beluga leather. The interior was then painted a shade of flat-black to match the leather, while the custom shark repellent and other anti-crime bat-sprays signage was done by Perth Stripes & Signs.
“I started the project with an expectation of spending between $100,000 and $120,000,” Andrew says. “I stopped counting halfway through at $150K. Without putting a value on the time my father and I spent on it, I estimate it has easily consumed over $200K. Obviously it’s worth a lot more to me, and completing a project like this with my father was priceless.”
A rare 1979 Lincoln Continental collector's series was sacrificed to create Andrew's Batmobile, with the chassis, engine and gearbox forming the basis of his meticulously detailed Bat-replica
The car made its show debut at the recent West Australian Hot Rod & Street Machine Spectacular, where it won People’s Choice.
Andrew enjoyed the full support of his wife Servane throughout the build, although she is slightly concerned about what his next batty project may be.
“It’s fantastic that Andrew was able to work on this project with his dad; it’s a huge accomplishment,” Servane says. “But I’m relieved it’s finally finished and nervous about what crazy idea Andrew will cook up next!”
As for what that might be, Andrew already has a couple of concepts swirling around in his head.
“A Batcave complete with two fireman’s poles located behind a secret door in the study is number one on my list,” he jokes. “While I’m tempted to make a Bat-boat, I think a replica of the three-time Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type is more likely – if I can ever convince Servane it’s a good idea!”
1966 BATMOBILE / 1979 LINCOLN CONTINENTAL COLLECTOR’S SERIES
Colour: DeBeer Super Jet Black
Type: Stock Ford 400M V8
Induction: Holley carburettor
Inlet: Edelbrock Performer
Fuel pump: Upgraded
Exhaust: Custom twin system
Cooling: Custom radiator
’Box: Stock C6 three-speed auto
Diff: Stock 9in, 31-spline axles
Seats: Jaguar XJ6 frames, Bentley Beluga leather
Instrumentation: Smiths custom, 1958 Edsel speedometer
Steering wheel: Fiberglass Freaks modified
Shifter: Jaguar XJ6
Ignition switch: 1966 Jaguar MkII
Bat-sprays: Anti Lethal Fog Bat-spray, Bat-nesia Gas, Bat Sleep, Bat Wake, Barracuda Repellent, Whale Repellent, Manta-Ray Repellent, Shark Repellent
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Coil springs: Lovells Suspension (f & r)
Brakes: Discs (f), drums (r)
Master cylinder: Stock, chrome-plated
Wheels: Radir 15x7 (f & r)
Tyres: BFGoodrich 235/70/15 (f & r)