The Batmobile
of the 1950's

The cover of DETECTIVE COMICS #156, February 1950. Art by Dick Sprang.
This is a slightly different interpretation of the '50s Batmobile from BATMAN IN THE SIXTIES, 1999. Art by Rick Keene, coloring by Tom Ziuko.

It took Detroit a few years after World War II to switch from wartime production back to turning out new cars. But by 1950, new, sleeker designs were hitting the streets and the Batmobile of the '40s was starting to look a little old-fashioned. So it probably wasn't a big surprise that the February 1950 issue of Detective Comics (see cover at right, click on thumbnail for larger image) told the story of the creation of a brand new Batmobile.

Bruce Wayne is attending a fashionable roof party (apparently rich people had parties on the roofs of their mansions in the '50s). His date is beautiful, blonde and boring. He finds the evening's entertainment, a stage magician, boring as well. The distracted Bruce notices burglars running from the neighboring mansion. He cleverly volunteers to step into the magician's cabinet and vanishes, but doesn't reappear as the magician expects. Instead, he changes into his Batman costume and calls Robin, telling him to bring the Batmobile. As Robin roars out of the Batcave, Batman swings into the crooks getaway car and starts to pummel Snake and Zoot. But Smiley is prepared for Batman and snares him in a weighted net and then shoots him with a pistol. Robin arrives and exclaims over Batman's wound, but Batman shrugs it off as a mere flesh wound. They give chase in the Batmobile, but the wiley Smiley is prepared again. He has mined a bridge with dynamite and as the Dynamic Duo pursue them across, he triggers it. The explosion blows out the center span of the bridge, dropping the Batmobile a hundred feet. Robin jumps free of the falling vehicle and lands in the water, but Batman doesn't make it out and the Batmobile smashes into a riverside dock. The next panel shows Robin at the hospital, waiting for a report on Batman's condition. A nurse calls him in and he is relieved to find Batman has only a broken leg. Batman says not to worry, the Batmobile will take him where he needs to go. Robin shakes his head, and Batman says "Wrecked? So what? I'm talking about the new Batmobile, the one I've been planning for a long time!"

Smiley's gang reads a newspaper headline that says "Batmobile Crash May Leave Batman Invalid for Life," and crows over their accomplishment. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin begin construction of the new Batmobile, in the Batcave. It is interesting to see that they do all the work themselves. Later stories had the Batmobile built by a mechanic who owed his life to Batman, but in 1950, they didn't need outside help. The new Batmobile is sleek and modern looking (by the standards of the time) and it is equipped with a large array of crime fighting equipment, including rocket tubes in the rear for super-acceleration and speed, radar antenna in the fin, radar and television screens in the dash, a complete crime laboratory in the rear, a search light that shines a Bat-signal or a special infrared beam, and a razor sharp blade in the Bat-mask on the front of the car to cut through barriers. As Batman says, "It's ten years ahead of anything else on wheels."

Batman and Robin use the crime lab to locate the crooks. Batman is restricted to the Batmobile by his broken leg but he watches an image of the action broadcast by a portable TV camera (about the size of a breadbox, their idea of "portable" was a lot different back then) that Robin wears strapped to his chest. The crooks overpower Robin and are going to through him in the river when Batman smashes through the wall in the Batmobile. Smiley and his gang are shocked to see a new Batmobile but they make their escape. The Dynamic Duo give chase. Smiley tries the bridge trick again, but this time the Batmobile's rocket tubes let it jump across the gap. Then it lays down a smoke screen which blinds the gang but is clear as day to the Batmobile's radar. In no time, Smiley and his boys are in handcuffs and turned over to Commissioner Gordon and his men in blue. The new Batmobile has made an auspicious beginning.

Model of the 1950's Batmobile

1/24 Scale

Click here for more pictures and description of the construction process for the Batmobile.

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The character of Batman, the emblems and the comic book panels on these pages are the property of DC Comics. All text and photographs are 2001-2013 Dan Thompson, except where otherwise noted. This homepage is not intended to infringe on the copyright of DC Comics to its characters, but was created out of gratitude to all the talented writers, artists, and editors who created the Batman.