By Joe Roberts @jrobertsjourno
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Videographer / director: Adam Gray
Producer: Joe Roberts, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Zack Loffert, of Littleton, Colorado, built what he calls the ‘Big Batmobile’ using the body of a 1973 El Camino, the frame of a 1976 Chevrolet K10 truck, and massive 44-inch tyres.
He now uses the car, which took three years to build, for charity events and to drive to children in hospital who need a special visit from “Batman”.
Zack told Barcroft Media: “When I’m driving it, I watch people’s mouths and they say, ‘Holy cow’ or ‘Look at that’.
“The biggest benefit of the Big Batmobile is when Batman suits up and he goes inside childrens’ hospitals – it’s just an unreal feeling. Seeing that is amazing.”
The car enthusiast runs a company that provides hot rods and classic cars for movie and photo shoots, and has been working with vehicles since he can remember.
“I have had a passion for cars since I was a kid.” said Zack. “I didn’t go to daycare. I went to auto shops and I have just been around them since I could walk.”
But it was his own son who inspired Zack to take on the task of bringing Batman’s legendary ride to life.
“My son was playing with his Batman monster truck toy,” he explained. “And I thought to myself, ‘We can use something like that here in Colorado’.
Once he got the idea, Zack hunted down a blue 1973 El Camino, which he set about customising by first trying to lift the car to give it the monster truck-feel of his son’s toy.
“My first problem was lifting a vehicle that was a foot off the ground,” he said. “I did a lot of research. Most people use a blazer frame to lift it because it’s easier.
“I used a K10 truck frame to give it a better look. Accompanying that was 44-inch tyres and that’s all. The rest took off from there.”
Once he’d lifted the car, it was time to give it the Batman look, which started with three layers of ‘Rhino Line’ paint on the exterior – a durable coating which Zack says makes the car like a “mini tank”.
He then added Batman decals to the wheels, sides, and interior of the car, and front and rear bumpers which he sourced from a semi-truck.
And for when Batman visits children’s hospital, there’s two rear-facing seats in the truck bed at the back of the car, so the kids can ride around with the Caped Crusader.
Zack explained how he managed to put the whole thing together.
He said: “I had help from friends, family members, anybody that was willing to help.
“Whether they were looking for parts for me or helping me on the weekends build the custom wheel discs, I was taking everybody that was willing to help.”
The 350 Chevy block engine and automatic transmission means the Batmobile can reach up to 70mph, and there’s four-wheel drive for particularly rough rides through Gotham City.
All of which means Zack spent a significant amount on putting the Big Batmobile together, but he prefers not to keep tabs on the overall cost.
“I don’t like keeping receipts,” he said. “The total cost of building it, it’s better not to know than to keep tabs. I had a dream and it wasn’t going to stop me building it.
“My favourite thing to build so far has been the Big Batmobile. The reaction this thing gets – people know it from Colorado to New Zealand. I get messages everyday from people all over the world.”
Zack has plans to build future versions of the Batmobile, and is currently focused on building a super hero-themed playground that will be the first handicap-accessible playground in the state of Colorado.
The project obviously means a lot to Zack: “The only reason I will sell the Batmobile is for somebody who is going to write a cheque to complete the super hero playground.
“The playground means more to me than anything, and I know it will be something amazing for the kids. That’s the only reason I would ever sell.”
The appeal to raise money to build the super hero playground can be found at www.superheroplayground.com