Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Inside Batman's Tumbler

As a stealth fighter with tires, the 
Tumbler is very real, very 
fast...and surprisingly agile

Today I have the pleasure of combining two of my posts....Cars That Were Never Made and Truly Great Films.

Of course, the Tumbler from Batman doesn't really count as a failed concept car...but does anyone really care?

I have been a long-time fan of the Tumbler, Batman's ex-military bridging machine, since Batman Begins came out in 2005. Great movie, but honestly...I liked Dark Knight a lot better. 

And both flicks had the Tumbler, a totally new ride for Bruce Wayne to tool around Gotham in. 

A post about the Batwing from Dark Knight Rises is here, and the Bat-Pod here.

On to the Tumbler...

Hell, I even remember when the Tumbler was an official pace-car at a NASCAR race in June 2005.

Wanna race?

Bruce Wayne: What's that? 
Lucius Fox: The Tumbler? Oh, you wouldn't be interested in that. 


In the world of motoring, the Tumbler is highly unique. It's different, it gets attention, and it's like nothing anyone has seen before.

Bruce and Lucius check out the cupholders

The are two facts I like very much about Batman's ride. Number one: It has a believable back-story as a vehicle originally designed as bridging machine for the US military.

Why is that believable to me? 

Well, anyone that knows me is aware that I collect and restore military trucks. 

The Russian military, in general, has built nearly every vehicle they have with the ability to cross water obstacles. Other countries take rivers seriously, as well.

M2 Alligator

The United States does things a little differently, by constructing dedicated trucks that literally unfold like a friggin' transformer and turn themselves into a mobile bridge.

Long story short, the military does indeed want to cross bodies of water quickly, and have spent a lot of money designing and building strange contraptions to do just that. 

So dropping a few million on a specialty vehicle like the Tumbler is not really science fiction.

Ironically, to make the movie version a reality did actually cost several million dollars. 

Six Tumblers were built, at a cost of 250,000 each. 

But a lot more money was spent on development, because as you can imagine, making a vehicle from scratch ain't cheap.

Terradyne Gurkha

Pictured above is the Gurkha, an armored personnel vehicle used recently in the movie Fast Five

Imagine the cost savings if Batman director Chris Nolan had chosen to go in this direction instead of the fictional Tumbler. 

The Gurkha is based on a Ford F-550 chassis, and is kinda cool....but it isn't unforgettable like the Tumbler.

I think Nolan made a wise choice.

Pictured below is the business end of the Tumbler. 

Those are the same monster-mudders you see on a weekend warrior Dodge 4x4, and the power is shunted through shortened heavy truck axle, which is connected to a special-built tranny.

The second fact I like about the Tumbler, yeah, you guessed it - it is a real working vehicle and not computer-generated.

The Tumbler, powered by a Chevy big-block, will do 0-to-60 in five seconds. 

That's Porsche territory. 

One of the production Tumblers really does have a propane-fired jet engine. So, you have a vehicle that weighs in at 5,000 pounds, will smoke the tires and has afterburner capability. 

How cool is that?

The front-end, the hardest part of vehicle designer Nathan Crowley's Tumbler build project, really does steer - although it failed miserably during the first jump tests and had to be reconstructed.

Did I say jump tests? 


Several of the movie production Tumblers were required to actually perform stunt jumps, though a 1/3 scale model was used in the rooftop scenes of Batman Begins, and in the garbage truck scene of Dark Knight.

That the Tumbler exists at all is a direct result of Chris Nolan's commitment to making his Batman trilogy the best it can be.

My hat is off to you, Mr. Nolan....and to your design crew, for giving us movie - and car - lovers something to drool over.

As my readers know, Joy Osmanski - an Academy-Award winning actress and former NASA engineer, reviews cars for us.

Joy Osmanski had this to 
say about the Tumbler:

"Please let me have one. Because 
today I run over some Caucasians."

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