YORK, PA -- It took a 200-person crew a few weeks to create the Tumbler - Batman's latest ride - in Tinsel Town. It took Bob Dullam, a guitar maker from Kalamazoo, Mich., five years to make a replica from scratch. He has the mechanic's vocabulary and welding burns to prove it.
On Thursday afternoon, Dullam showed off his handiwork at Frank Theatres Queensgate Stadium 13 in York Township. The final installment of Christopher Nolan's trilogy - "The Dark Knight Rises" - premiered at theaters early this morning.
"Batman Begins," Nolan's 2005 flick that rebooted the Caped Crusader's story, inspired Dullam.
Before, he was a casual fan of the comic franchise, which surfaced in 1939.
He considered making a replica of the car driven by Michael Keaton five decades later in 1989's "Batman."
Other Batmobiles are impractical. Some lack windshields. Others have 10-foot fins.
But the Tumbler, billed in the movies as a military prototype used as a bridging vehicle, was more realistic, so Dullam tackled the task of building his own in his two-car garage. The book "Batmobile: The Complete History" and a feature on the special edition of the "Batman Begins" DVD became his guides.
He made many parts himself - including the flamethrower and triangular suspension. He tried to make sure parts he purchased were made in America.
About $50,000 later - don't ask how much manual labor would have cost - it was done.
In 2006, Dullam sat behind the wheel for the first time. He shifted it into gear, eased his foot off the brake and prayed.
He got to his mailbox before he put it in reverse and pulled it back into the garage. Then, he cracked open a beer to celebrate. Then, it was back to work.
With some of his own modifications, the car comfortably seats two. It's been on the road - Dullam gave local cops a heads up. But he said he would have to mar his creation with taillights and a license for highway driving. So, he hitches a trailer to his red truck to haul it around.
Queensgate Stadium 13 general manager Kevin Scott said that Frank Theatres corporate offices contacted Dullam and arranged for him to stop at four regional movie houses, including one in York and one in Gettysburg, before "The Dark Knight Rises" opened.
Scott said he expects the latest movie to be one of the biggest openings of the year. About 800 tickets had been snapped up as of Thursday. Superfans had the option of watching a 9-hour marathon that included all three Batman flicks.
But some fans, like Jason McIntyre of Windsor Township and his 5-year-old son, Roan, only came out to see the Tumbler. McIntyre, a Marvel man, said Batman is the only D.C. character he follows. He grew up on Adam West. Now, Roan's a fan.
"You get to be a kid again," McIntyre, 41, said.