Manitoba-made Batmobile makes its debut at World of Wheels

A Manitoba man spent the last two years building a replica of the 1966 Batmobile in his workshop. The car will have its public debut this weekend at the World of Wheels car show at the RBC Convention Centre.

Rod Warkentin built a replica of the 1966 Batmobile from scratch

Man builds his own Batmobile, because it's 'the coolest thing ever' 2:30

A Manitoba man spent the past two years building a replica of the 1966 Batmobile in his Batcave, err, workshop. The car will have its public debut this weekend at the World of Wheels car show in the RBC Convention Centre.

It all started when Rod Warkentin was 12 or 13 years old watching Adam West play Batman in the TV series.

"I always wanted to have that car. I thought the car was the coolest thing ever... Some 35, 40 years later, I got one," said Warkentin.
Rod Warkentin spent the last two years building his very own Batmobile, a car he has wanted since he was 13 years old. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Warkentin estimates he did about a year's worth of research on the car, and spent between 300 to 350 hours working on it.

"I probably know more about this car than I ever thought I would," said Warkentin.

He took apart a 1979 Lincoln Town Car and started from scratch.

"Literally ripped everything apart. Took the whole body off, all the wiring, threw everything out. Just started with the frame and the chassis and the drive train," said Warkentin.

The rest of the car was rebuilt piece by piece. The only thing that Warkentin didn't fashion himself was the Fiberglas body, which was bought as a kit online.

Warkentin found others who had also built Batmobiles online and used them as a sort of support group.

Warkentin tried to recreate almost every detail of the car, upgrading things along the way to make them work with modern parts. He also added a back-up camera, since the car does not allow for rearview mirrors.
Warkentin says he hopes to take his Batmobile to car shows throughout the summer. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"I've tried to keep it as close to the original car as possible," said Warkentin.

For those who remember the car from the TV show, it's pretty close. From the bat phone, to the radar on the dash, to the bat symbols on the hub caps.

The only thing it doesn't do is shoot flames from the back, for well, safety reasons.

"I've tweaked the motor so that it's more bat-like than the original motor that was in the car," he said.

"I painted it red and black and put a couple of bat symbols over the Ford emblems."
The car has many original details including the Batphone, emergency Bat-turn lever, and turbo hand throttle. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Warkentin said the car is 99 per cent complete, needing only a few details. The car is not yet eligible to drive on the road, but Warkentin is working with Manitoba Public Insurance to get the car properly insured.

"I'm hoping that we can actually take it out a few times during the summer. We're probably going to do all the car shows with it," said Warkentin.

I'd love to be able to cruise down Portage with this on a Saturday night- Rod Warkentin

Warkentin credits his friends for helping him along the way, and his wife for letting him begin the project in the first place.

"My wife is probably the most understanding woman that I have ever met and I thank her profusely for allowing me to actually build this," said Warkentin.

"She loves the car, without a doubt. She can't wait to get into her Batgirl suit and cruise the city with it," he joked.

But don't expect Warkentin to dress the part when he's cruising up and down Portage Avenue.

"The car was cool, the Adam West suit was kind of not cool," he said, drawing the line.

Warkentin said that after he rides it around for the summer, he may think about selling it.

"If the right price comes along, I'll let it go. I know I can build another one if I need one," he said.