1989 BATMOBILE REPLICA FAQ
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1989 BATMOBILE REPLICA FAQ Expand / Collapse
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Posted 8/17/2005 1:48:33 AM


"Tardmonkey of the Year"

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UPDATE

More recent and updated information can be foud on Kevin's 1989 Batmobile Site:

http://www.batmobile89.com/BatmobileKit.htm
http://www.batmobile89.com/FAQ.htm

=======================================================================

BATMOBILE REPLICA FAQ
“I want one! Where do I get it, how much will it cost, and who will build it for me??”

Ok, so this is gonna come as a surprise to many of you, but those out there who build these replicas are constantly being BOMBARDED with the same general questions, OVER and OVER again. They have been grilled thousands of times in the past by potential clients, friends, and semi-curious passerbys. In fact, I am not sure you could come up with a question that has not been asked a million times in the past! It is redundant, repetitive and just plain irritating.

Of course, 99% of the time, most curious on lookers are just harmlessly seeking information. Most people do not have any secret agendas, and are not out to cause any problems for anyone. However, the fact remains that most people are not interested in answering the same questions OVER and OVER again. So ENTER THE FAQ. This is a brief intro into the replica world, and should give you some point of reference if you are seriously interested in purchasing a Batcar replica for your personal collection. Of course, it is subjective and not all inclusive, but it is a good start. So let’s begin!


Q: HOW MUCH DOES A 1989 KEATON CAR REPLICA COST?
A: This number is incredibly volatile, and is determined by a number of factors. For instance: who you are talking to, what materials are used, etc. As a general point of reference, if you pay $12k for a body shell, or $65k for a turnkey, you are in pretty good shape. Keep in mind – the amount of money you spend on your “kit” will determine how much money you spend in the end, and not always in a positive way. For instance, you can find yourself a body kit for $7k that is made from a splash mold with many imperfections. You are going to spend thousands of dollars in bondo and bodywork to get that body straight and clean before you paint it. However, if you spend the $12k outright on a good, clean body shell that is in little need of repair, then you will have a much easier time prepping it for paint and in the end, you will spend less money.

Q: WHO WILL SELL ME A BODY KIT?

A: First of all, you need to understand the use of the word “kit”. For the purpose of referring to the 1989 Keaton cars, we are taking a great deal of liberty with this word. A “kit” basically means you are getting a body shell and a canopy, a firm handshake and a positive “GOOD LUCK!” You do not get parts or accessories, and you most certainly do not get an instruction manual. The actual construction of the vehicle is up to you, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Well, actually…. If your car has five wheels and is painted green? That is wrong. Now that we have the whole kit issue settled, let’s get to the heart of the matter. At this moment, there are about three people who have the confirmed ability to provide a 1989 Keaton kit, and about three more who can PROBABLY provide you with a kit. By that, I mean they have a body they can mold, and they have the knowledge and experience to do it if the price was right. Out of these six people, at least FOUR of them lurk or post on this message board. Out of these six, I do not know of ANY who are willing to give you their contact information without knowing who you are for at least several months.

Having said that, do not ask me or anybody else “Can I have the number of someone who can provide me a body?” The answer is NO, plain and simple. Of course, money speaks volumes, so if you in a desperate hurry, you could always send $1,000 to one of the people on this board who knows a builder, and we will pass it on to the builder and the builder will contact you. This is the only way to know for sure if someone is SERIOUS about buying a kit, and that they have the cash to back it up. If time is not an issue, just hang around for awhile, post a lot, and you will eventually find out who the builders are. After everyone knows who you are, we will be a lot more willing to share this privileged information with you. I am also going to start an I WANT TO BUY A KIT thread. Post your info there if you want one of the builders to contact you (but do not be offended if they do not. Remember, they usually don’t NEED to sell you a car. Most of them have real jobs and have enough money already. One more sale is just gravy). If you want to be taken seriously, post your e-mail, occupation, and any other pertinent information. Once you are contacted, be prepared with some cash if you expect any sort of detailed information about the kits. This industry is not fair. It is based on who is privileged enough to have access to a car, or who has done business with who to acquire a set of molds. Unfortunately, those with the molds make the rules.

Q: ARE ALL REPLICA BODIES THE SAME?
A: Well, yes and no. For instance, YES they all descend from the same lineage and therefore are exact replicas of the original car, but NO they are not all made of the same materials, or adhere to the same strict quality standards. Almost every set of molds in existence today can be traced back to Jay Orhberg’s original dealings with WB, and his subsequent breach of contract with them for selling illegal kits to private collectors out the back door. The exact details are irrelevant, but all you need to know is that Jay is the man we should all be thanking for making this car available to the public. For a price. Currently, there are SEVERAL sets of molds floating around, each in different stages of disrepair. This is one factor that can affect the final cost of the kit in question.

In addition, the method of production and materials used will also affect the price. Most bodies are made using POLYESTER RESIN and fiberglass, which is the industry standard in the kit car world. Polyester resin will last for years, but can never compare to the strength and durability of VINYLESTER RESIN. Do your homework, run a few Google searches, and BAM, you’ll be a resin and fiberglass expert. At the very least, you’ll know what I am talking about. The upside: vinylester resin will last a LOT longer and stand up to the daily punishment of being an automobile much better than polyester resin. The downside: vinylester resin is 2-3 times more expensive than polyester resin, and therefore your kit price goes way up. Is vinylester resin necessary? Not a chance. A large number of kit cars made today are made with this inexpensive alternative. The next thing that sets some replica bodies apart is the amount of finishing work that had been done to the body PRIOR to its initial molding. Many splash molds have been taken off of rough bodies that maintain all the minor and major imperfections of the original body. Fun fact: Most of the Keaton car bodies I have seen do not line up perfectly with the canopy. That is, the canopies do not sit flush with the body. Also, many bodies are warped and bent enough to cause problems during construction. Ask many of the replica owners out there what they went through to get their bodies straight or their canopies flush, and you might start to appreciate the value of paying an extra $5k for a kit that was taken from a correct mold. A correct mold would be counted as one that was taken from a car AFTER all the bodywork and straightening had been done to it, instead of before. There are almost NO correct molds in existence today, but there are several people who are prepared to pull a set once they have customers with cash in hand.

The final issue to address in kit quality is the method of pulling the body. The most popular and fastest method to pull a fiberglass body from a set of molds is to blow the chopped fiberglass into the mold and pull it out when it is dry (there is a lot more to it than that, but you get the idea. Again, hit up Google for more information). The BETTER method is to HAND LAY the fiberglass and resin, but this method takes longer and more people involved to get a quality body laid up in the mold. This method is more expensive, but the final product is stronger and lasts longer than blown fiberglass. Is a hand laid body better? Most of the time (if they only hand lay a thin layer, then it doesn’t really matter. The body will still be weak, despite the superior build method). Is it necessary? No way. Many boats and bath tubs are made with blown fiberglass and last for years. It all depends on “WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?” (Capital One knock off…)

Q: ARE THEY ROAD LEGAL?
A: It all depends. Yes, you can certainly make them road legal. Heck, if you don’t believe me, check out the threads devoted to the CARMEL REPLICA. This car is one of the few documented and driven regularly to shows and about town. Apparently the owner takes his car out a LOT. With a few modifications to the original design (the addition of practical headlights, airbags for ride height mods, the consideration of rear view mirrors, etc) you can even get your replica titled. One thing to consider – here in California we have a law that allows a certain number of custom vehicles each year (I believe the number is 50, but I am not sure) to be registered based on the CHASSIS and ENGINE that the car is based on. For instance, if you sacrifice a 1994 Caprice Classic to make your car, you can title and register it as a modified CAPRICE CLASSIS, and NOT a “Batmobile kit car”.

“But the car is way too big to drive on the streets!” Oh, rubbish. Check out these stats (provided by our master of numbers and photo manipulation – Tim, and our resident Gotham Avenger builder, JACK!):

Dodge Ram 350 Quad cab...

Here are the numbers:
Batmobile wheelbase: 140"
Dodge Ram wheelbase: 160.5"

Batmobile Length: 236.25"
Dodge Ram length: 249.7"

Batmobile width: 92.5"
Dodge Ram width: 96"

Q: WHAT DONOR CAR IS USED TO BUILD A KIT?
A: You can really use whatever you want to base your car on. Heck, if you are so inclined, you can even custom fabricate your own chassis to get the job done. Would I recommend this method? Nope. I would recommend finding a car with a similar wheelbase to the Batmobile (somewhere between 141-144”, I believe more on the 144” side. Have I measured a body to see how long it is? No. But Dave has! Ask him) and modifying it for your own use. A 1994 Chevrolet Caprice Classic is a great choice, because during that year they were equipped with the Chevrolet LT1 engines (same as used in the Camaros, and a modified version of the Corvette design). The wheelbase is close enough that having it stretched is no big deal, and they are as cheap as dirt. You can also use 70’s style Impalas, or whatever else you wish, or you can strap a carbureted engine in there instead of an EFI block. It doesn’t really matter when you get right down to it – it is all a matter of personal preference.

About the issue of using a Corvette donor car… I guess you should really ask a professional car guy about this, but I have heard it been said that it is not a good idea. The original car was NOT based on a Corvette, and Corvettes (I am only thinking Stingrays here, I do not know much about other Vettes) are so damn short that lengthening them that much becomes a major ordeal. Why not start with a car that is much closer to the original wheelbase to begin with? Can it be done with a Corvette? Sure. Is it the best idea? That is up to you. Your best bet is to visit a few chassis shops and see what they say.

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Well, that covers a few of the most commonly asked questions in the industry. Is it all inclusive? Of course not. Like I stated before – it is simply a guide to get you started. If you need answers to any other questions, like how this is done or how that is done, then browse through the many pages of threads on this site. There is a good chance your question has already been asked, argued and answered. Good luck in your quest!

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Post #34251
Posted 8/17/2005 3:16:08 AM


Forum Guru

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Last Login: 5/6/2010 10:26:42 AM
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yeah, what he said.

A little song, a little dance..... Batman's head on a lance.
Post #34252
Posted 8/17/2005 3:27:45 AM


Junior Member

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Very well done.
Post #34253
Posted 8/17/2005 3:42:34 AM


You reap what you sow

You reap what you sow


Last Login: Yesterday @ 8:46:32 AM
Posts: 5,481, Visits: 26,479
Can you set the questions in bold, Justin?



 

    

Post #34254
Posted 8/17/2005 3:51:59 AM


Forum Member

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Last Login: 2/21/2009 6:39:31 PM
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Awesome....

One question.....!

Does it come in black?

Now running away from flames

Cheers from down here!
Post #34255
Posted 8/17/2005 3:53:17 AM


You reap what you sow

You reap what you sow


Last Login: Yesterday @ 8:46:32 AM
Posts: 5,481, Visits: 26,479
Justin,
You forgot to mention that you have built few of these already and also how you are writing a guide to be published soon.


 

    

Post #34256
Posted 8/17/2005 6:31:42 AM


Whose goin 4 a pint???

Whose goin 4 a pint???


Last Login: 8/8/2014 2:58:55 AM
Posts: 2,890, Visits: 4,002
Excellent composition of Q N A Justin. That was a well thought out and cleverly compiled post. All Batmobile wanna be builders should be thanking you buddy.

DE 89 IS COMING........

Believe and succeed
Post #34257
Posted 8/17/2005 7:16:54 AM


Resident CLTC

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Last Login: Yesterday @ 8:17:55 PM
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Well-said buddy, I hope you put this on your sight!
I also get very tired answering these same questions over and over again.
Post #34258
Posted 8/17/2005 7:28:21 AM


KITT For Now

KITT For NowKITT For NowKITT For NowKITT For NowKITT For NowKITT For NowKITT For NowKITT For Now


Last Login: 11/30/2011 2:53:25 PM
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Excellent read! Sounds like you've heard these questions before or something...
Post #34259
Posted 8/17/2005 7:48:21 AM


Yipee-ki-yay...

Yipee-ki-yay...


Last Login: 8/14/2013 8:15:11 PM
Posts: 3,604, Visits: 3,397
Where can I get a Batmobile kit to for my Trans Am?


Very well written. This should be a sticky post, but I would suggest setting it up so people cannot post replies to it, and move these replies to a seperate thread. You could add a FAQ button above, but we want to make it easy to modify and add to it. DH, can you set up a post that multiple people can edit?

By the way, I got those Dodge numbers above from Jack...
Post #34260
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