Famous Movie Cars: The History of Herbie, the Batmobile & the DeLorean

 

They’re among the sirens of the silver screen. Watching them in action is likely to make your heart race and your energy surge, or maybe spark feelings of nostalgia.

We’re not talking about beautiful leading ladies. We’re talking cars from movies, some of the most famous being Herbie, the Batmobile and the DeLorean from “Back to the Future.” You know them from their featured roles, but where are these hot rods now?

Herbie

Herbie, a race car, was the primary character in a series of Disney movies, starting with “The Love Bug,” released in 1969. In his debut film, Herbie found his way to an over-the-hill race driver played by Dean Jones Six Herbie movies were produced between 1969 and 2005.

Vehicle vitals:

  • Type of vehicle
    • Herbie was a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle painted pearl white, although Beetles from the 1950s through the 1970s were also modified to act as Herbie throughout the films. Herbie’s original engine had a mere 40 horsepower.
  • How Herbie was created
    • The iconic Volkswagen Beetle was chosen by the crew on the film. According to the producers, the crew tinkered with several cars. The decision to choose the Beetle was quickly made when crew members’ initial reaction was to reach out and pet the cute looking vehicle.
    • Many modifications were made to the Beetles that played Herbie. For instance, the interior was painted gray instead of the standard-issue white to reduce camera glare. Also, due to the small engine and need for the car to race and perform tricks, crews replaced the original powertrain with more high performance engines.
    • No Volkswagen logos appeared in the “The Love Bug” because Disney didn’t have permission to use the name. Volkswagen logos did appear in subsequent films.
  • Where Herbie is now
    • There were multiple versions of Herbie, including those that appeared on screen and some that were specially designed for Disney parades. They are now scattered all over the world, owned by museums and private collectors.

The Batmobile

This famous movie car has gone through many evolutions since its first appearance in the Batman comic strip of the 1930s. As TV directors, film producers and subsequent comic book illustrators interpreted the story of Batman, they each added their own spin to his signature vehicle. The original 1960s TV show featured an aggressive version of a large sedan. Tim Burton’s film franchise, which launched in the 1980s, showcased a Batmobile with machine guns and a defense shield. By the 2000s, the Batmobile more closely resembled a heavily armored military vehicle. It carried more firepower and even had an ejection pod.

Vehicle vitals:

  • Type of vehicle
    • The first Batmobile built for the 1960s TV show began as the 1955 Lincoln Futura, a concept car. The shark-like Futura featured an angular front end and extreme tail fins.
  • How the Batmobile was created
    • Like many concept cars, the Futura was so costly and extravagant that nothing ever came of it. The prototype ended up in the garage of George Barris, a custom car builder. He was known in Hollywood for his work on custom cars and happened to get the call when the television series “Batman” was green lighted in 1966. He had only three weeks to complete the car, so he turned to the aggressive-looking Futura. By adding bat-like accents and some black and red paint, it was ready in time.
  • Where the Batmobile is now
    • The original Batmobile is on display at the Cayman Motor Museum on the island of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.

The Back to the Future DeLorean

With 1.21 gigawatts of power and a traveling speed of 88 MPH, a 1981 DeLorean went back to the future and took America by storm. This famous movie trilogy of the 1980s told the story of a teenager, his eccentric professor friend and their travels through 1955, 1985 and 2015. Their time- travel machine of choice was a modified 1981 DeLorean DMC-12.

Vehicle vitals:

  • Type of vehicle
    • The DeLorean DMC-12 was the only car ever produced by the ill-fated DeLorean Motor Cars company. John DeLorean was a successful executive at General Motors who left to start his own company. The DMC-12 was produced for two short years, from 1980-1982, before the company surrendered to financial struggles.
    • The DMC-12 was a sports car with a stainless steel body, angular look and unmistakable gullwing doors.
  • How the DeLorean Time Machine was created
    • The DeLorean was chosen for its space age look. The time machine version of the car was created by adding extra buttons, lights and various time machine components, like rear vents, extra piping and tubing, and the famous flux capacitor.
    • In addition to aesthetic enhancements, the DeLoreans used in the film were also outfitted with better engines that could travel faster than 85 MPH, which was the original car’s maximum speed.
  • Where the DeLorean Time Machine is now
    • The cars from the movies still reside at Universal Studios in Hollywood. At least one is on public display.

Learn more about car insurance for your own car

Your vehicle may not be capable of time travel or other supernatural feats; however, you should still take care of it. You don’t have to install a flux capacitor or larger engine, but do make sure you have quality car insurance. If you’re unhappy with your current coverage, you can always get online quotes for auto insurance coverage from other companies.

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