Jay Leno knows cars. He has more vehicles in his garage than most car dealerships have in stock, and many of them are incredibly rare. And while he hasn’t managed to add it to his garage (yet), Leno can now add the Batmobile to the list of cars he has driven.
The late night host owns just shy of 200 vehicles. He frequently writes about cars and motorcycles in various publications, including Popular Mechanics, and he created his own website called Jay Leno’s Garage, which also has a popular YouTube channel with over 500,000 subscribers and dozens of regularly updated videos. For the latest video episode, Leno met up with two of Warner Bros. transportation experts and got a chance to check out Batman’s whip from the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.
Along with showing Leno behind the wheel, the clip also highlights a few cool tidbits about the car itself, and through it the movie-making process. In the case of the Batmobile, or the Tumbler as it was called in Batman Begins (the script does label it as the Batmobile, even if it is never called that in the trilogy), the prop is a fully functioning car, one of seven created for various purposes. One is specifically for jumping, another is for background shots only and doesn’t have an engine, while another was built for speed.
The one Leno drove was built to be functional. It weighs about the same as a Chevy Suburban, and although the top speed hasn’t been recorded, it can go at least 85 mph. Everything in it was custom built by a garage that specializes in special effects cars, and everything works – including the dual fire suppression systems. Sadly though, it is revealed that the Tumbler is not actually jet powered as it was suggested in the film. The flame coming out the back is actually part of a helium-based controlled burn similar to what you would see on a hot air balloon.
The cost of the prototype is difficult to put an exact figure on, but it falls somewhere between $500,000 and $1 mil. Each model after that would have cost less to build, but not much less. But even if you are in a position to afford one, say you are, just for example, a wealthy comedian and talk show host with a penchant for vehicles, you’d still be out of luck. Six of the remaining Tumblers are back in England, while the one in the video below is now part of a Warner Bros exhibit, which is open to the public.