By Nate Truman
By waiting and buying the perfect donor car, I had jumped over months of work! I skipped taking the car to and from shops, and haggling over price and workmanship. So I found myself in a great place starting with the fun details and the finish work!
After registration with the DMV, looking for insurance, it was time to go over the car.
I went through all the paperwork to see what had been done. As the dash was all custom, I had to get acquainted with all the switches, find the fuse box, etc.
The door handles had no locks, but I had been given a set of new replacement hot rod handles.
There were no windshield wipers.
A gas leak had emerged from the rear of the car.
The trunk wouldn’t open, and it had no lever, just an electronic switch.
The battery was dying because the lights would come on when I had the door open, but the battery was locked tight in the trunk!
The door handle could be a blog by itself! Figuring out how to remove a door panel in a “regular” car is hard enough, but a hot rod with custom interior, shaved doors, custom glass and reversed hinges proved to be a long learning curve! After many attempts I finally got the interior panel off, only to discover why the new handles had never been installed. There was no way to get to them!! Surrounded by sharp metal, there was a clamp like paperclip to hold the handle together. A custom metal piece held the handle in place with two screws. If you removed the screws, it fell down into the door with a thunk. So I used magnets, dental instruments, tiny clamps along with a lot of sweat and attempts to finally operate on the driver door and successfully replaced the door handle. After not being sure if I would ever get the door to close and latch again, I decided to wait on replacing the passenger side for now. I had an interior lock on that side, so I could at least key lock the car now.
Next I knew I needed some bat hubcaps to replace the jag emblems, and a bat in the steering wheel if I was going to keep that. It came with what I think was the original horn, but was rusted beyond recognition. I will try and restore, but it may be hopeless.
I would have to find a 1940’s police siren anyway, you know, for crimefighting! Also I wanted to make another big bat somewhere on the motor, and the whole dash needed the batman treatment! To the Bat-garage photos!!
So first things first, off with the Jag center caps, on with some period bats I designed and cut by my friend, the late great Eddie Paul. (He was my “brain builder” and we had started the project a few weeks before his passing. I love that guy, and I am proud that his talented hands worked on this final project. He will be sorely missed.)
I swapped out the Jaguar logo for a bat in the steering wheel, until such time as I want to swap it to either a banjo type classic wheel (They are very big, so not leaning that way) or some other custom bat wheel! A custom car is never finished!
The couple of drawings in the comics of the dash in the car were a brown dash of the basic variety, (The shot above was the most detailed drawing of the era) but I know bat fans wouldn’t go for just a plain dash! So out it all came, and I wrapped it in bat black, added a ww2 aircraft panel and dug into my magic box of switches and dials. I had to have a FEW bat-gadgets! Just for me! I moved the stereo into the glove box so the modern stereo couldn’t be seen, but I could still play batman music!
Ace the Bathound stood guard by the car most days, powered by what else? Gentle Giant Dog food, created by Burt Ward!
Remember that shot from the 40’s cop car? Well, I got a ww2 hand unit to connect to the dash, and a period linesman phone for when Batman had to make a call. With this piece of crime fighting equipment, Batman could clip into any phone line anywhere, and dial anyone, while being untraceable! It was very nostalgic to spin the dial and have that feeling again to make a call! I know it will be a fun attraction to show kids!
Found the smallest blades 9″ and the smallest arms from a 70’s VW bug. Batman’s ready for the storm! The car was sliced in the back and the front of the roof was lowered, so the windshield had to be custom cut and it’s not very tall!
Finally I made a bat for the back wall like in the toy, but I dropped it on the air cleaner, and liked it way better there. I had one spot in the dash I didn’t have figured out, but once that was filled in I could reinstall the dash. Then I would have a cool bat themed hot rod, ready to take to car shows! I think I have to start driving this thing soon! Sorry for the cliffhanger, but that’s all for now!
Next episode: Making custom side panels, getting that dash back in and working, sourcing and making side pipes and figuring out the giant bat-face, with light up eye headlights! Stay tuned bat-fans, this may take some time!