Holy Historical Background, Batman!

A Summary of Corgi Batmobile Variations
Updated 3-14-09

Updates are coming to this page soon. Thank you for your interest and patience!

One of my hobbies is collecting Batmobiles. I consider my Corgi Batmobiles to be the most important part of my collection. As a hobby, I have restored many of these cars for myself and other people.
Batmobile parts. I am frequently asked about the different versions of the Corgi Batmobile. So below is my interpretation of all versions that I know about. I've seen many eBay auctions describing Corgi Batmobiles as "first issue", "second issue", "Corgi 267A", etc. Unfortunately, such terms have not been applied consistently and what one seller describes as "second issue", somebody else describes as "third issue". So below, I 've described all the variations I know about. My interpretation of the various versions may be incomplete or incorrect. If you know the facts to be different from the way I've described them, feel free to contact me and let me know your interpretation.

Basically, there were six versions of main body styles that I know about. These were created from essentially four versions of upper body moldings and three versions of lower body moldings which were used in combination to produce the six complete body styles. But in addition to body molding variations, there were differences in paint, wheels, windshield color*, suspension, bat stickers, exhaust flames, Batman & Robin, and (very importantly) quality of workmanship. With all these other factors, I consider that there were 14 variations. NOTE: There may have been seven versions (resulting in 15 possible variations). A possible version that I have never personally seen is discussed below in the context of the 1973 Red Tire version.

* In regards to windshield color, I consider that there were 4 colors of windshields: aqua, blue, light violet, and clear.

In my opinion, you can consider your Corgi Batmobile collection to be fairly complete and adequately show the evolution of the Corgi Batmobile if you have the following versions:

1. 1966 "Matte Black" or 1966 "Gloss Black" Version
2. Any version with bat hubs, rubber tires and a tow hook
3. 1973 "Red Tire" Version
4. 1973 or 1976 "Whizzwheel" version
5. 1979(?) "Wide Whizzwheel" version

Corgi Batmobile Versions That I Know About...


Body Style 1

Original style Batmobiles (Body Style 1). The upper photo shows the boxes for the Batmobile 267, 1967 Gift Set 3, and first version Batboat 107.

Distinguishing features of the original style Corgi Batmobiles include (lower set of photos): hollow or recessed nostrils in the bat nose, rubber tires and gold wheel hubs with red bats, a "BATMOBILE" label on the underside of the car, a turbine exhaust nozzle, a pulsating exhaust flame, longer tail fin tips and recessed taillights. In later versions, eventually each one of these features changed.


1. 1966 "Matte Black" Version

The Car

This was the first version of Corgi Batmobile, and in my opinion, the most desireable. It featured gold wheel hubs with red bats, rubber tires, pulsating exhaust flame, no tow hook, and was the only version painted matte black. As far as the body style is concerned, it is the most detailed. The defining features of the body style are the fully recessed tail lights and longer tips on the tail fins. Also, near the front of the hood, both of the "nostrils" on the bat nose were recessed. Batman was molded in grey and although not painted with precision, Batman and Robin were painted more carefully than they were later in the 70s and 80s. The reason for the matte black, I believe, is that early on in the production of the "Batman" TV series, the original Batmobile was only painted in black primer or matte black. But by the time they actually began filming, the car had been painted gloss black which leads to the next variation.

The Box

1966 fold-out display box. This is the box that most people seem to want. It has the nicest graphics on it and the inner fold-out forms a nice display for the car (which will leave your car vulnerable to collecting dust if it's not protected inside a larger display case). This box included a small envelope containing an instruction sheet (printed in light purple and black) which also had an application for the Corgi Model Club on the reverse side. The envelope also contained a small leaflet which described features of the the Corgi Batmobile. It also had an adhesive "Batman" sticker which Corgi referred to as an "owner's badge" (shown being worn on a lapel). Finally, the envelope contained a sprue of 12 red missiles for the Batmobile to launch. I've received reports from some people that yellow missiles were also sold with this car originally.


2. 1966 "Gloss Black" Version

The Car

This version is identical to the original matte black version, but is glossy black. All Corgi Batmobiles from this point on were painted glossy black. This is my choice for the second most desireable version, but you don't need it if you own a matte version and a glossy bat hub version which followed.

The Box

1966 fold-out display box. See description above.


3. 1967 "Tow Hook" Version

The Car

In the fall of 1966, the "Batman" motion picture was released which featured the Batboat. Therefore, Corgi created a Batboat for their Batmobile and a trailer for the Batmobile to pull the Batboat on. They didn't explain how the physics of towing a boat behind the jet exhaust was overcome. But the real downside to this and the second change Corgi made to their Batmobile (in a long series of changes mostly for the worst) was that Corgi soon gave the Batmobile and ALL subsequent versions of Corgi Batmobiles a tow hook molded onto the jet turbine exhaust. The first version Batmobile to feature this integral towhook was identical to the original matte black version except for gloss paint and the tow hook. Batman was often molded in a light blue with this version but the older light grey Batman is also a possibility. This version MAY have actually been available in 1966 (I don't know for sure), but it wasn't featured until Corgi's 1967 catalog. So I call it the 1967 version.

The Box

1966 fold-out display box. See description above.

1967 Gift Set 3

The Car, Boat and Trailer

The car is the tow hook version mentioned above. The Batboat was the first version or "tin fin" version. Although the Batboat was blue in real life, Corgi chose to mold their Batboat in black. This first version Batboat did feature a "flame" sticker on the side of the hull similar to the real Batboat. The rear deck and fin were covered with a tin lithograph which displayed the yellow and black bat logo and was roughly correct for the actual Batboat. Like the Batmobile of this era, the trailer had metal hubs and rubber tires, although they were smaller than those of the Batmobile. The Batboat was held in place on the trailer by means of two "spring loaded" plastic "hooks" that grabbed two corresponding tabs on either side of the boat hull. All Batboat trailers were painted gold.

A Note About Batboats Sold Separately: The first version Batboats were sold with a little plastic "trailer coupling" that fit over the first version Batmobile's turbine exhaust (held by friction). This coupling provided a hook for pulling the trailer. Those trailer couplings are very rare these days. But at least the first version Batmobiles were able to pull around the Batboat and trailer.

The Box

1967 Gift Set 3 box. The box featured a graphic of the Batmobile and Batboat which folded down flush onto the box for shipping purposes. The insert was a yellow vacuum molded piece of plastic.


Body Style 2

Body Style 2 Batmobiles. The distinguishing features of this version include a filled-in right nostril on the bat nose and taillights that are half-filled in.


4. 1970(?) Version

The Car

I'm guessing on the year this version appeared. Previously, the paint and tow hook had been changed, but this version represents the first change to the actual body molding. Based on the random sampling of Corgi Batmobiles I've dealt with, I conclude that this is not a very common version. At first, it appears identical to the 1967 version (bat hubs, pulsating exhaust, etc.), but the body molding was changed in the area of the bat nose and tail lights. The more obvious change is that the recess for the tail lights was not as deep as before (but it also was not filled in completely as it was in the next version). Less obvious is the fact that the right "nostril" was filled in although the left nostril was still recessed. No doubt this was a mistake and probably explains why this version is not that common. This version is often mistakenly passed off as a "1966" or "first issue" and it seems like folks always want to display this on a fold out box. But, in reality, this is not a first issue. For the collector, you need one of the bathub Batmobiles with a towhook (1967, 1970 or 1972 version). By the way, you also need a Batboat.

The Box

1970 window box. Although this box itself shows a 1966 copyright, I call this a 1970 box because it almost certainly came out at the same time as the second version Gift Set 3 box which has a 1970 copyright on it. Both of these boxes show a similar revised color scheme and new style Corgi logo. Although I suspect a lot of Batmobiles were sold in this box, it is fairly rare now as people apparently didn't like saving it as much as the older fold-out display type. The rear of this box shows a picture of Batman apparently about to be run over by a Batmobile speeding out of the Batcave. An advantage of this box and all other window boxes is that it displays your car and protects it from dust. This box included the same envelope, purple & black instructions, feature leaflet, "Batman" badge, and red missiles as the earlier versions.


Body Style 3

Body Style 3 Batmobiles. The distinguishing features of this version include a filled-in nostrils on the bat nose and taillights that are also completely filled in.


5. 1972(?) "Final Bat Hub" Version

The Car

I don't know when or for how long this final bat hub version was issued. I'm calling it the "1972" version because it almost certainly was sold in 1972 just prior to the 1973 version. But it may have been available earlier than 1972. But I don't think it was much earlier than 1972 because if it were available earlier, I think it would be more common. But of all the Corgi Batmobiles I've bought, sold, or repaired, (and we're talking dozens and dozens) I've only seen ONE copy of this car. Thanks to Joe F. of FORMEDIA in NYC for providing it to me! This car still featured bat hubs and a pulsating exhaust and it had essentially the same lower body molding as all previous versions. But in Corgi's continued efforts to lessen the detail in its Batmobiles, the upper body molding differed from it predecessors by having the tail lights completely filled in and the tips of the tail light fins were shorter than on earlier versions. This helped solve the problem of the tips bending and breaking off. Both nostrils on the front of the car were also filled in from this point on.

The Box

1970 Window box. See above.


Body Style 4

Body Style 4 Batmobiles. The distinguishing features of this version include whizzwheels and a non-moving exhaust flame.


6. "Red Tire" Version

The Car

In about 1973, for reasons which I don't understand (but I've heard it was a production mistake Corgi liked and decided to keep for a while), Corgi produced a Batmobile with red hard plastic tires. These were actually whizzwheels on a thin, flexible axle so the car would roll very freely. Unfortunately, this meant the pulsating exhaust flame was eliminated. Also, the spacing of the axle posts was closer together to accommodate the thinner axle and the molding for the plastic seats and suspension changed to account for the thinner axles and non-pulsating exhaust flame (but these latter two changes are not visible from an external perspective). Batman seems to have been typically light blue but I've seen some grey Batmen in this version as well. This version has the reputation of being the most scarce. I'm not sure that's true because some of the other variants are pretty hard to find. But (even though I don't like the red tires) this version is a must have for your "complete" collection.

Note: Every red whizzwheel Batmobile I have seen had short tailfins and filled-in taillights. At one time (back when I paid attention to Corgi Batmobile auctions), I saw an auction for a red whizzwheel Batmobile that had long tailfin tips and seemed to have recessed taillights. The photo showing the underside of the car looked as though the rivets had not been tampered with. If this was indeed an untampered-with Corgi Batmobile, then it would be a whole other body style and variation. The body would differ from short tailfin cars and it would probably differ from the bathub versions by having the axle posts spaced differently. It would actually also seemingly contradict the pattern of evolution suggested by the "1972 Final Bat Hub Version". However, since I have not been able to personally examine any red whizzwheel car with long fin tips, I'm not counting it as a legitimate version.

The Box

1970 window box. See description above. The red tire Batmobile definitely came in the 1970 style box. The instruction sheet for this car was printed with red and black and did not show a pulsating exhaust flame (because the exhaust did not pulsate any more). The separate feature leaflet was eliminated but its text was printed on the instruction sheet.

1973 window box (possibly - I'm not sure). I've seen some red tire Batmobiles auctioned off on eBay in the 1973 box, but I don't know if the red tire car was ever originally sold in this box or not. The car and box both date from about 1973, so it could be OK.


7. 1973 Version

The Car

This version is structurally identical to the red tire version. It differed only in the color of its tires (they're black) and it came in a different box with yellow missiles instead of red. This was the last version to feature the sort of aqua colored windshield that had been featured since the original Corgi Batmobile. From about this point on, Batman was molded in a darker blue (as opposed to light blue or grey) and he and Robin were painted less carefully than in previous versions. Among Batmobiles sold on eBay and described as "MIB" (mint in box) these days, this seems to be the most common version available with its original box.

The Box

1973 window box. The rear of this box showed a couple of pictures of a James Bond Moon Buggy and Aston Martin DB5. This box contained an instruction envelope, "Batman" owner's badge, and sprue of 12 yellow missiles. Curiously, the instruction sheet was a cheap black and white photocopy of the original 1966 (purple and black) instruction sheet which showed a pulsating exhaust. If Corgi wanted to be cheap, it would have made more sense to have included a black and white photocopy of the instructions for the red tire Batmobile since it did not show a pulsating exhaust.


8. 1973 Version with Clear Canopy

The Car

This version is identical to the standard 1973 version except for a clear canopy (or windshield). It's not extremely hard to find but is less common than the blue canopy 1973 version.

The Box

1973 window box and probably the 1973 GS 3 box.


9. 1973 Version with 1976 Whizzwheels

The Car

This version is identical to the standard 1973 version but has (what I call) the 1976 style whizzwheels. Of the many dozens of Corgi Batmobiles I've bought, sold, or restored for others, I've never seen this version, but it has been reported to me by a couple of Corgi Batmobile owners. So I'm including it. They both reported that it came in a 1976 style window box.

Corgi made roughly 4 million of these cars over the years and they probably had bins of certain types of older parts still on hand when newer parts were being manufactured. So there's probably a number of crossover combinations possible.


10. 1973 Version with 1976 Whizzwheels and Clear Canopy

The Car

I hesitate calling this it's own version. But I've owned three of them, so I'm including it. This version is identical to the standard 1973 version except for a clear canopy (or windshield) and 1976 style whizzwheels. I'm using this version to speculate the following:

1. That the clear canopies began showing up late in the production of 1973 body styles.
2. That they were still using clear canopies when the 1976 style whizzwheels showed up.
3. That the 1976 Versions (Body Style 4) only had clear canopies early in their production.

The Box

Unknown. The 1973 or 1976 GS 3 and 267 window boxes are all possibilities for both of these versions.


1973 Gift Set 3

The Car, Boat and Trailer

Apparently, in 1973, Corgi sold both the "Red Tire" whizzwheel Batmobile and the standard 1973 black whizzwheel Batmobile. With both of these cars, the Batboat was still the first version or "tin fin" version and the trailer was the same as before. See Batboat and trailer description above.

The Boxes

The 1973 red tire Batmobile and tin fin Batboat were sold as a set in the 1970 style GS 3 box (see above for 1970 box description). The red tire car and tin fin boat MAY also have been sold in the newer 1973 dark blue and yellow GS 3 box (also shown above). However, the 1973 black whizzwheel Batmobile and tin fin boat were only sold as a set in the 1973 style box. The 1973 style GS 3 box featured a couple of James Bond vehicles on the reverse side. Inside, the box had a white styrofoam insert.


Body Style 5

Body Style 5 Batmobiles. 1976 (or so) saw the introduction of a Batcopter and the second version Batboat. The Gift Set 40 included all three vehicles.

The distinguishing features of this 5th version Batmobile include new tires and new hubs (they were still whizzwheels) and the Batmobile label on the underside of the car was revised to include a copyright stamp for National Periodical Publications.


11. 1976 Version

The Car

This version is similar to the 1973 version but differs in a few ways. The 1976 whizzwheel version featured a different tire tread and different style hub than the 1973 version. Also, the windshield was more light blue as opposed to aqua. The lower body molding differed from earlier versions with replacement of the word "Batmobile" with a rectangular copyright molding that says "Batmobile" and "National Periodicals Publications, Inc." near the turbine exhaust. For the Batmobile collector, I think you should have either a 1973 version or a 1976 version to round out your collection.

The Box

1976 window style box. The backside of this box showed a photo of the actual Corgi Batmobile. By this time, Corgi apparently decided it was too expensive to include the instruction envelope, etc. So the instructions were printed on the box. It included a sprue of 12 yellow missiles.


12. 1976 Version with Clear Canopy

The Car

This version is identical to the standard 1976 version except for a clear canopy (or windshield). I speculate that clear canopies were only included during the early production of this body style.

The Box

1976 GS 3 and 267 window boxes are the most likely possibilities.


1976 Gift Set 3

The Car, Boat and Trailer

The car was the 1976 style Batmobile, possibly with a clear canopy. The Batboat was the second version Batboat which featured a red plastic fin with a black and yellow bat logo sticker attached to it. The sticker on the hull featured a geometric pattern of red, black, and yellow. Following Corgi's tendency toward cheaper manufacturing processes, the beacon no longer had a metal cage on it. The trailer was still painted gold but it now had plastic whizzwheels on it. The boat was attached to the trailer by means of two posts on the center rail of the trailer fitting into two corresponding holes in the bottom of the boat.

The Box

The 1976 style GS 3 box was also dark blue and yellow and featured a graphic of Batman, the Batmobile and Batboat on the top of the box. This graphic extended above the top of the box, similar to the fold-down flap on the 1967 box, but on the 1976 box, the graphic did not fold down. The rear of the box showed a photograph of the Corgi Batmobile and Batboat. The box had a white styrofoam insert similar to those of the 1970 and 1973 boxes.


1976 Gift Set 40

The Car, Boat and Trailer and Batcopter

The car, boat and boat trailer were the same as in the 1976 GS 3. The Batcopter was a Corgi Batcopter #925. The Corgi Batcopter 925 was based on the Corgi Police Helicopter 921 which was based on the real-life Hughes 500 turbine-powered helicopter (military designation OH-6). The Corgi Batcopter was painted glossy black and featured red-orange scalloped rotors (resembling bat wings) and an operating winch. Inside the Corgi Batcopter was a little Batman but no Robin. There were actually two versions of the Corgi Batcopter. At first glance, they appear identical but there is a subtle difference visible in the body molding at the top of the windscreen. The first version Batcopter shows an elevated ridge in the body molding near the top of the screen that is not present in the later Batcopters. There is a more obvious difference between the two version in the construction of the winch but it is only visible if you disassemble the Batcopter. Based on the random sampling of Batcopters I've owned or repaired (roughly 20), the first version Batcopter is much more common. In the 1966 Batman movie, the Batcopter was really a Bell 47 piston-powered helicopter. Since the Corgi Batcopter didn't at all resemble the "real" Batcopter and since I think the scalloped rotors are hokey, I am not a fan of the Corgi Batcopter and do not consider it to be a "must have" item for the Batman enthusiast. I only own some examples because they were packaged with the very cool Corgi Batmobile.

The Box

The 1976 style GS 40 box was an elongated version of the GS 3 box. It was primarily dark blue and yellow and featured a graphic of the Batmobile, Batboat and Batcopter on the top of the box. This graphic extended above the top of the box, similar to the fold-down flap on the 1967 box, but the graphic did not fold down. The rear of the box showed a photograph of the Corgi Batmobile, Batboat, and Batcopter. The box had a white insert made of styrofoam with a piece of white cardboard that helped to hold the Batcopter in position.

 

Body Style 6

Body Style 6 Batmobiles. The distinguishing features of this version included a wider slot for the chain cutter which was slightly dimpled at the top of the slot) and wider whizzwheels that extended out beyond the car's fenders.


13. 1979(?) "Wide Whizzwheel" Version

The Car

I'm not sure exactly when the wide whizzwheels showed up. It appears to me to have first appeared in 1979 but it wasn't until the 1981 Corgi catalog that the Batmobile is shown with wide whizzwheels. I consider this version very optional for the collector due to its similarity to the 1976 version. There are two basic differences. The body molding is slightly different in the area of the bat nose. The slot for the chain cutter blade is wider and slightly "dimpled" near the top of the slot compared to the corresponding area on the 76 version. The most obvious difference is the wider whizz wheels. The hubs are the same as in 1976 but the tires protrude out beyond the wheel well fenders. By the time this version appeared, I guess the popularity of the car had dwindled and it seems to me there are fewer of these out there than other versions. In terms of quality of construction, this is the worst. From about 1976 on, the "rivets" particularly those inside the car were often not as tight as on previous versions. Also, I've seen dashboards that were simply never chrome plated with this version.

The Boxes

A couple of window style boxes with copyright dates of (possibly) 1979 and (definitely) 1981. These boxes included 12 yellow missiles and no instruction sheet, etc. The "1979" box was predominately dark blue and yellow like its 1973 and 1976 predecessors but it incorporated a removeable header card with a picture of smiling Batman on it. The rear of the box showed a very stern (non smiling) Batman. The 1981 box was predominately black, yellow and red. This box was intended to have a header card attached to it. But from what I understand (and thanks to Jeff G. for bringing this to my attention) it was up to the shopkeepers to attach the header cards and often they didn't bother with them. So this style box with a header card is rather rare. The front of the header card showed Batman running with cape unfurled. The rear of the card showed a fuller view of the same Batman.


Set 1360

The Cars

In about 1981, Corgi sold the Corgi Batmobile 267 together in the same box with a Corgi Jr. Batmobile 69. The larger Batmobile was the wide whizzwheel version and the smaller car was the later (and quite common) whizzwheel version.

The Box

The 1360 box was a slightly enlarged version of the 1981 black, yellow, and red Corgi Batmobile box. It featured a removeable header card similar to the 1981 box.


1979(?) Gift Set 40

The Car, Boat and Trailer and Batcopter

It appears to me that sometimes the 1976 whizzwheel car may have been sold in this set and at other times, the wide whizzwheel car may have been sold in this set. In any case, the boat and trailer were the second version Batboat and trailer that were also sold in the 1976 GS 40. I'm guessing that the second version Batcopter was probably sold in this set.

The Box

The box was very different from its predecessor. The three vehicles were held in place by a vacuum-formed yellow plastic insert. The upper left of the box featured a picture of the "stern" Batman that was on the back of the 1979 Batmobile box. The Batcoper was placed in the upper right corner of the box; the Batmobile in the lower left; and the Batboat in the lower right. The rear of the box showed the operating instructions for the three vehicles. This style box only appears in the 1981 Corgi catalog but the 1981 boxes were very definitely not this style (they were black, yellow, and red). So I'm uncertain about the year this box appeared. It is similar to the 1979 Batmobile box so I'm inclined to believe it appeared in 1979 or 1980. But the 1980 Corgi catalog still shows the 1976 style box for the GS 40 (It turns out the Corgi catalogs aren't a very accurate source of information). This GS 40 box along and the 1360 box with its header card are probably the rarest boxes in which Corgi Batmobiles were sold.


14. "Wide Whizzwheel" Version with Batcopter stickers

The Car

It's hard to consider this a seperate version. It's identical to other wide whizzwheel versions but instead of having red bat stickers on the doors, it has yellow and black bat logo stickers between the doors and rear wheel wells. This is the same sticker that was used on the Corgi Batcopter. I don't know if the last Corgi Batmobiles off the production line had red bats on the door or yellow Batcopter stickers. But the 1983 Corgi catalogue pictured a wide whizzwheel Batmobile featuring red bat stickers on the door. 1983 was the last Corgi catalog that featured the Batmobile. The 1983 catalog did not feature a Batboat or Batcopter (it did feature the Corgi Jr. Batboat, however).

The Boxes

1981 window style boxes. These boxes included 12 yellow missiles and no instruction sheet, etc.