Cruising the Batmobile around in public is not for shy and retiring types – this machine is the most outrageous thing on four wheels.
Car nut Marke Kemp decided to recreate the caped crusaders’ cruiser after he tired of building and selling Mad Max replicas. “I wanted to do something different,” he reckons.
TO THE BATCAVE!
After considering size, power and price, Marke chose a chop-top V8 Valiant convertible – an ex-Street Machine feature car (Jan/Feb 1987) – to start his Batmobile project, and using offcut pieces of pipe, sheet metal and a truckload of fibreglass, he built the whole deal in his modest double garage.
“I haven’t got too much equipment here,” Marke says, “so the steel was bent in jigs then checked against the chalk sketches on the floor. I had to get both sides similar before I framed them on the car.”
It was a big job. Working three evenings a week, and every Sunday, the build took two years, seven months and three weeks. “There was lots of bogging and sanding,” he says. “There are 65 kilos of resin in it!”
Underneath it’s all Valiant, with a 360ci Chrysler V8, 727 Torqueflite transmission and BorgWarner differential to keep it reliably patrolling Gotham’s mean streets. But to keep it road legal in NSW, Marke had to consult with an engineer, and had the windscreens built out of optically correct (and tagged) aircraft-spec material from the USA.
HOLY SPRAY-GUNS, BATMAN!
Anyone who’s wielded a spray-gun knows that black is the worst colour to prepare for, as any blemishes in surface or shape are easily seen. And the Batmobile, of course, only comes in one colour. Mick Judd of Old School Bodyworks was given the nod to coat the Bat-Valiant in black and red. “At first, it was a job between others,” Mick says. “But for the last three weeks, it was full-time and full-on.”
After that, Marke took the car home and assembled it, adding all the Batman bling bits he’d collected over the years, from the jet nozzle in the tail to the Batphone in the cabin.
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
Even though it consumed more hours and dollars than anyone could imagine, the finished product is exactly what Marke wanted. “After all, I built it to go to car shows and have a bit of fun!” he says.
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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