The Batmobile no one ever drove… Part 3 Pulling the trigger!
In the custom or “Kustom” world, hot rodders of every shape and size spend their time, talents and money building their dream cars. They change their minds, start over, give up, and some actually finish their weekend warriors! From “Rat Rods” to “Trailer Queens” lifted, slammed, the list goes on and on of all the directions customizing a car can go. It’s the beauty of the hobby. If you have ever been to a car show you have seen chromed engine compartments costing thousands of dollars. Lifted trucks, lowered chevys, rusted racers – each one is someone’s dream ride. It’s what they wanted to bring into the world of cars.
Some guys have been in the game a long time, and now just “fix and flip” cars they know. Get a heap, hot rod it up and sell it – then repeat. Mainly because very few of us can afford to keep every car we think is cool!
During my search for a donor “beater” or “Project” car, I had kept my eye on one amazing build that was perfect for my dream. It was out of my price range and it was just too darn pretty! But it had everything I wanted and more. It had been on a journey before I saw it though. Starting out as a project 1939 Dodge – it got the NHRA frame off overhaul. New chassis, 400 hp motor, and a builder who was willing to tinker to get a car the way he wanted it.
First a new chassy, and a new crate 400 hp motor was built for the base. The car and body was stripped clean. You can see in one photo there was a blower on the motor. That’s part of the process, trying looks and ideas, and then deciding to keep them or not!
Here is a set of different ideas for the front of the car. Swapping out original air vents, then sealing them up. The dodge had a center hinged hood, but it was converted to a solid one piece. Had I found this car for sale, it would have been on the top of my donor list even at this point!
Custom side panels were made, then discarded, and another front grill was designed.
These are not in chronological order, but a few shots to show the body work being done to smooth it all out for paint. A custom licence plate indent was added by the Rodfathers.
Lots of handwork, rust repair and sanding, priming and sanding again, until it was ready for paint!
The builder/owner even took a black marker to a photo, to see what it would look like in black, with rear wheel skirts!
The whole process of searching for a project and seeing it through to your finished vision is a long and costly process. Lots of work and yet another grill this time built by Dean Jeffries brought it all together! Finishing touches of pinstriping and a new modern interior were added. All the unique ideas and skills of many hands brought this new car to life! Once done, it was taken to car shows and just “bombed around in” for a few years like this and enjoyed! However, once a project is finished and driven for a while eventually it’s time to sell and move on to the next project!
I had watched the craigslist ad for months but never bothered to see the car because it’s list price was fair, but out of the range of what I wanted to spend on the project. I was also in the mindset of doing a build up of a project car. But then one day I was appearing in a parade in Burbank, and even though I knew it was too finished and the price was out of my budget I decided to go look at it in person. The shots of the interior were so spot on to what I would do to match the Batmobile red stripes, I just had to see it in person.
Suicide doors, check! Red and black interior with custom point, SUPER CHECK!
400 hp Crate HOT ROD motor and transmission pro installed, CHECK!
Cool from every angle? Oh yeah!
Super cool modded body with great paint, and custom red and black wheels? Check! I fell for this car. It was just too nice! The list of mods I would have to do to get it to MY dream car, was pretty short. Just all the fun stuff! I started making mental lists of what I would have to do with a few areas, like with the trunk, when I added a giant bat fin.
And the dash was going to have to be bat-upgraded. The steering wheel was out of a late model Jag, and there were Jag emblems on the wheels, and a Dodge emblem on the dash. Great signs that the car was a toy that had been played with and enjoyed!
Lots of fun modern upgrades, like courtesy lights all around, AC!!, hot rod door handles.
A beautiful headliner! How to add a fin without destroying it?
The owner had been trying to sell for a couple years, and for various reasons needed it sold ASAP. I knew I would never find a car like this again, one where so much of the work I was planning on doing was already done! After a day or two of deliberation – this beauty was in my batcave!!
And just as the modder before me, I had to do a quick sketch to see what my ideas might look like, down the road!
Let the Bat-transformation begin! Stay tuned bat-fans, the best is yet to come!
PART FOUR: The rise of the 1940’s N8mobile “I like to personalize all my toys”