Get inside a Batmobile

NEW YORK • Holy superhero mash-up! A reporter slips behind the wheel of a Batmobile in a secret place outside Gotham City. Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed!

But absolutely nothing happens. This sounds like a job for... Ms Debra Schmidt Bach, curator of a museum exhibition about superheroes.

Holy time-flying history. A Batmobile, one of the props from the 1960s TV show, is now so old it is going to a museum.

Curses! The batteries-to-power and turbines-to-speed thing did not happen for Ms Bach, either. "I was so thrilled to be sitting in the car that the whole topic of turning it on didn't come up," she said.

Has it really been 50 years since the United States was caught up in Batmania?

Almost. Batman went on air in January 1966. Apart from the Batmobile, the New-York Historical Society is borrowing lots of Superman stuff too. Still, this sounds like a job for...

The car. As Mr George Barris, the automobile customiser whose California studio gave life to the Batmobile, once declared: "The car had to be a star in its own right." It was. It is so much a part of the exhibition that the society will take out the floor-to-ceiling glass panels inside its front doors for the 2.7m-long Batmobile. The exhibition opens on Friday and is on till Feb 21.

Ms Bach said: "What we were trying to do was to find artefacts to tell the story (of New York in the 1960s), but might also be a little surprising in some way."

She found the car in a collector's garage in New Jersey. It has every gadget imaginable: a Bat-beam, a Bat-eye TV screen, a Bat-ray projector and an emergency Bat-turn lever.

Under the fibreglass fins, it is nothing but a 1966 Ford Galaxie 500, although the original steering wheel was removed and replaced with an older Edsel.

The Batmobile is known as No. 3 and is owned by a man who has amassed 1960s TV memorabilia. No. 1 was the regular on Batman. Nos. 2 and 3 were versions built to promote the show at events.

The No. 3 owner said: "It's difficult to drive. I don't think it was designed with the driver in mind."

No. 3 runs on gasoline, but it is not street legal. So all Ms Bach could do was slip behind the wheel and say she was "excited" to spend a few minutes in the garage, where the car sits next to a replica of the Munsters' Koach - another car relic from another show.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2015, with the headline 'Get inside a Batmobile'. Print Edition | Subscribe