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Monday, May 16, 2016

The Batmobiles: Hot Wheels 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL race car and 1975 Greenwood Corvette race car



Batman.  Everyone knows this caped superhero that comes out to fight crime overnight.  The mode of transportation depends on if by land, sea, or air, and Batman has lots of choices.  The prime mode of transportation for the road is the Batmobile.  Several different batmobiles have been made for the comic series and for the film and TV series, and Hot Wheels has been committed to making nearly all of them.  However, between the 1960's TV series and the 1989 movie there has been no Batmobile during the 1970's and early 1980's; instead two race cars took the nomination to be called the batmobile in the 1970's: the Greenwood Corvette and BMW 3.0 CSL race car.





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BMW 3.0 CSL race car

BMW was looking to stretch the coupe bodysyle even further by introducing a 4-passenger grand tourer of a coupe called the New Class coupe, or 2000, in 1965.  The sleek coupe has BMW styling and despite the size it still has that BMW performance that gives the company the Ultimate Driving Machine terminology.  But things got even more brighter for the new mid-size coupes in the 1970's thanks in part to the European Touring Car Championship.  In order for the car to race a number of roadgoing versions must also be built.  The CSL adds revised front and rear bumpers, rear spoiler, and decontented interiors to save weight.  The bodypanels were either thinner gauge steel or aluminum alloy to also save weight.  The engine was given an increase in displacement to meet the 3 liter requirement for racing: a 3.2L DOHC I-6 that produces at least over 500 hp in race trim and through a 4-speed manual transmission.  With the flared fenders and aero add-ons the car was nicknamed "the batmobile."





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When I first saw the sample images of the 3.0 CSL I was kinda skeptical about the use of plastic front and rear ends and how well that would play out for a white-colored car.  Turns out its not a problem and the car looks fantastic!  The front has the sharply-pointed front-end with twin kidney grille the only metal part of the front, flanked by quad round headlights and inner grille slots that are part of the window trim; while the lower bumper is part of the base, thicker than stock, and adds brake cooling ducts.  The car is painted white with the traditional blue and red BMW colors and 68 logos on the doors to denounce the birth year of Hot Wheels.  The windshield has a centrally-mounted wiper blade and just like the Ford Fiesta rally car the upper portion of the windshield that would house the sponsor name is part of the meal roof.  The sides show off a higher stance with slightly raked rear-end and on the passenger side dual-tip exhaust that exit out.  The rear has the tall rear spoiler, taillights that are also part of the window trim, smooth rollpan where the bumper used to reside, a smaller rear spoiler just above the rear window, and two vents on the trunk that I believe are aerodynamic aids to reduce backpressure at the rear of the vehicle.




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The look is amazing and adds to that the interior which is a race car without a rear seat, rollbars behind the front bucket seats, and no carpeting or sound deadening materials; yet the rest of the interior remains.  The familiar 3.0 dashboard layout still remains as does the 3-spoke steering wheel and typical BMW-style gauges.  The radio and HVAC controls are absent, but the shifter still has the stock car's handle!  Even more cool is the level of detail that Hot Wheels adds to the rear of the car, which would be empty without the rear seat, to add a full-size spare tire with lace wheel pattern (the Real Riders lace wheels, not the BBS-style ones).  The base shows off the engine and rear fuel tank and spare tire cover, but the amount of information required in the center interrupts the side-exiting exhaust tip.  Now a high-riding car like this would make for terrible handling on the track, right?  Not so as this car was glued to the track during testing, no oversteer or understeer or even body roll!  If there was faults on this casting it's how the taillight bar mounts between the bumper and body as my tester had a slightly-crooked look and how well can the base color match the body color in future variants.





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1976 Greenwood Corvette

The Corvette is no stranger to racing having been through many iterations over the years, and even when motorsports banned factory manufacturers from racing their own vehicles GM still found a way to get the Corvette in racing.  In fact, if it wasn't for Zora-Arkus Duntov and his mindset to get the Corvette into racing the first Corvette would be a limited-run dream car that would only last for so long.  Now the Corvette has past sixty years and still goes on strong.  While there has been many Corvette's racing in the 1970's, none more famous than the Greenwood Corvette of 1976.  What they did was take a stock Corvette and literally flared the heck out of it to add handling and aerodynamics to the Corvette.  The look resulted in the nickname "batmobile" for it's wild looks that accent the sharp lines of the C3 Corvette.  The car had a rear diffuser, vented rear wheelwells, and wide fenders that were against the IMSA rules but somehow they managed to get away with it.  The powertrain is a big-block V8 that was designed for racing with custom-built carbs, headers, and side-exiting exhaust for at least 725 hp through a 4-speed manual transmission.



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This Hot Wheels casting was planned for the short-lived Hot Wheels Racing premium line at the end of 2012, but last minute cuts made the line only available in limited quantities and without the new Toyota 2000GT coupe (it would end up in the mainline for 2013).  Over the years the Greenwood Corvette's have adorned the mainline with much fanfare and style, starting with the 2013 version in yellow with brown and orange graphics that looked great alongside the newly-released 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe.  In 2014 it was released in orange with side graphics and none on the hood to show off the lines much more, and if you were like me and found the Super Treasure Hunt that same year you get the same version but with added roof graphics, a metallic brown color (like root beer-colored), and those cool 8-spoke wheels in light brown with slick tires in real rubber.  This year the Greenwood Corvette goes for a racing deco with the famous 68 for Hot Wheels birth year in metallic red, Wal-mart only ZAMAC bare metal, and (not shown) the upcoming black with red windows and wheels.  Interestingly enough the 2016 version comes in a Mild to Wild series that has a stock Corvette Stingray outfitted in the same colors.



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This Corvette is long and wide with flared fenders that aid to the stocked doors for a beautiful pinched waistline.  The front has concealed headlights for aero aid in clear round covers that are part of the windows, with the lower slim grille and side scoops for the brakes.  The hood has a domed stance next to fenders with vents to exit air out of the front wheels and a wraparound windshield that gives the hardtop a helmet-style look.  After the side exhaust exit the rear fenders contour the coke-bottle look with a lip spoiler that spans across the rear, vents at the end of the rear fenders to divert air out of the rear wheels, and the only familiar stock Corvette look is the rear-end with the pointed plastic bumper with quad taillights, plate area, and gas cap.  From the side profile the look is emphasized by the chisled bodywork and the raked rear end.  The base shows off the engine, transmission, rear axle, and fully-connected exhaust system.  The interior, unlike the BMW, is more cramped and less on content.  There is only one seat for the driver, the stock dashboard remains yet it is more spartan with just a few gauges, 3-spoke steering wheel, toggle switches, and shifter.

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The look of these two really do define the Batmobile image: sharp, aggressive angles that add depth and aerodynamics to the stock bodywork, and no matter what recolor it comes in it will always look good with them amazing lines!

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