In my smallish city, I am always on the lookout for things that my 8 year old and 4 year old grandsons might enjoy. When I saw a recent advertisement for a promotion of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, I contacted my daughter and let her know the boys might enjoy seeing these replica cars from the film. Plus, it would be a great photo op. Both of them have dressed as Batman for Halloween, and wear the costumes on many other days as they role play the superhero. The day before the car event was scheduled to take place a horrible tragic massacre happened at a midnight showing of the film in Aurora, Colorado. I was glued to the news trying to understand the senseless violence inflicted by the gunman on a theater full of innocent movie-goers. Then I thought of my sweet grandsons and their excitement of seeing the cars. I am glad my daughter and son in law decided to go forward with their plans and took the boys to see the vehicles. These are the images I choose to remember when thinking of theBatman movies, the innocent smiles of children enamored with good triumphant over evil.
The vehicles — a red Batmobile, a black "rumbler" and a still-in-construction Batpod — all are the creations of Lodi resident David Dickson.
Dickson runs a pool company, Aquos Pools, in Lathrop. He's been working on his Bat motorcade since before "Batman Begins," the first film in director Christopher Nolan's reboot of the franchise, hit theaters in 2008. Dickson always has liked cars, and after some unsatisfactory work was done at custom shops, he decided to try his hand at it himself in his home garage.
But what kind of car to make?
"I just thought, what's the coolest car I think of, and this was it," he said.
His first custom job was modeled after the 1989 Batmobile from the Tim Burton movie. Dickson's is painted candy-apple red instead of the original black but has all the sleek swoops and sharp fins the eye could want. He calls it the Crimefighter Extreme.
"It's funny to see the grown men act like kids," Dickson said. "But my favorite is still the kids. It's just satisfying to see people's reactions."
Dickson hasn't built the Bat cars for profit, although he did have posters of them for sale. And he occasionally shows them off at various events and car shows.
Nor does he create any custom vehicles for others. Instead, he said, the Bat cars are a labor of love. The red Batmobile took two years to build; the Bat "rumbler," fashioned after the Tumbler that Batman drives in all three of Nolan's films, took 3½ years. Dickson said he almost quit while making it, but found outside inspiration that pushed him through.
"I was talking with my minister and said, 'I think I'm going to quit,' and he suggested I make it a tribute vehicle," Dickson said. "So I made it in tribute to the military."His father was a 28-year Marine Corps veteran and Dickson served in the Navy. His father's American flag from his military service is perched on the back of the car.
Dickson estimates the three Bat vehicles cost about $300,000 to build. Both cars are street legal, though Dickson says he rarely drives them because they attract too much attention. He says people have gotten into accidents while staring at them on the road.