Saturday, May 12, 2012

MattMobile FAQ

Many questions come up time and time again in this project, as with any other project of this complexity. In order to save everyone some time, I'm going to collect commonly asked questions into this post, and will link to it from the side menu on the blog. Please don't hesitate to submit questions for this page, as I expect this list to grow as time goes on.

Q: Is the Mattmobile going to be street legal?
A: Heck yes. There's a lot of confusion about what it means to be street legal, and what it all boils down to is this: will your local state register the car. I've learned that the answer to that is almost always yes, but costs will vary. California has a limited number of special registrations it gives out to custom cars every year, which grant the builder a lot of freedom with their customizations. I hear some people say "no way, it's too long!!" or "no way, it's too wide!!!" To this, I challenge them to find a Hummer Limo that is smaller than my car :D

Q: DUDE! You should drop a {insert name of your favorite big block engine here} into that thing to get some REAL power!
A: While I appreciate suggestions and input, I am not going to be putting a different engine in this car. No amount of whining, begging, threatening, or pleading will change this, and I'll tell you why: I don't need a bigger engine. I am not going to be racing this, I'm not going to be chasing criminals. Heck, I'll barely even be driving it. There's just no reason for me to put a different engine in this car. Also, new engines cost money. They cost money to install too. That's money I could be spending on things that are more important to me on this build, like getting it street ready.

Q: You should add some kind of crazy exhaust system so it sounds crazy loud and stuff!
A: My answer to this is similar to the question about putting in a new engine. A loud car is not what I'm looking for.

Q: Can I ask what cam you are using to film your videos?
A: I am using a Canon Vixia HF S200.

I would say it's the nicest consumer camcorder I've ever owned, though it has it's limitations. After having worked on the Batgirl webseries recently, and seen what kind of footage you can get with a camera that isn't that much more expensive, I'm tempted to upgrade. However, what you gain in quality, you lose in ease of use. Auto focus is both a boon and a curse. For my purposes though, this camera is great, and I love it. Oh, my main criticism of it is that it outputs files in a proprietary format that not all editors can manage, even with the "right" plug in.

I probably should have gone with a Sony that outputs in .mov, which are extremely transportable.

Q: When do you plan on having it finished?
A: "Finished" is a very relative concept. I am doing this build in multiple phases, with the requirement for phase one being that it is drivable. I hope to reach this by Nov 18, 2012. This is my birthday, by the way. "Drivable" simply means that when I get in the car and turn the key, I can drive it around the block without it falling apart. It might mean that the paint isn't done, or that the interior isn't finished. I just don't know. I would LOVE to have the entire build finished by Nov, but that seems very ambitious.

Q: Will you car have machine guns that raise, lower, and fire?
A: Certainly not for phase 1. To be honest, the machine guns are very low on my priority list, and as of right now, I have no plans to include them. While definitely a hallmark of any 89 car build, the added complexity and cost makes it unattractive at this time. Maybe later.

Q: What car did you use as a donor?
A: I am using a Chevy Caprice, from 1996. It was dressed to look like a cop car, and appeared in numerous movies and TV shows. I got it from a used car lot in Torrance who were letting it go for a good price. The car was pretty much perfect for my needs, as it was in great mechanical condition, but was an utter disaster cosmetically. I doubt anyone in the world but me or a police car enthusiast would have bought it.

Q: Where did you get your shell from?
A: Lots of information with in the builders community is guarded closely, mainly to reduce liability. If you are interested in learning where to get a kit from, your best bet is to do some research and reading on the good ol' internet. Your best starting point is a forum dedicated to Batmobile building, called Chicks Love The Car.

Q: How much does it cost to build a car like this?
A: As with anything, costs will vary wildly from builder to builder. There's just so many variables involved, not only from choice of materials, but where you get it from. For example, I bought my tires and rims brand new. Another builder could have spent some time on craigs list and found slightly used tires for a fraction of the price. Or he could get them from a friend. Or whatever. I would think you could cobble together a low end build for 30k, if you are VERY frugal, and good at horse trading. From there, you could pretty much spend as much as you wanted. If you went all out, did everything top notch, and went nuts with it, I'm sure you could easily dump 150k into a build like this.

Q: What color are you going to paint yours?
A: I'm going to combine the look of the car in Batman Returns with some modern day practicality. I don't want to spend a million bucks on the paint job, nor do I want to spend five years sanding the body. For these reasons, I'm going to be going with a satin black.

Q: Can I drive your car when it's finished?
A: Sorry, but absolutely not. For all the time and effort I've put into this, combined with the fact that it's pretty much my biggest childhood dream come true, the last thing I need is for something to go wrong at the hands of someone else. Even the best intentions often go awry, and I'm just not willing to take that risk.

Q: Will you take me for a ride in it when it's finished?
A: Yes, absolutely.

Q: What are you going to do with it when it is done?
A: Honestly, I plan on doing a whole lot of looking at it, and not a lot more. I don't plan on ever driving this thing on the freeway, or for long distances. If you live in my neighborhood, you might see me going for midnight drives to and from the grocery store, the gas station, or Yogurt Land. I will also make it available to friends who might want to use it in a fan film or something. The main use of the car will come from appearances with the Star Car Central organization, which not only does some great charity work, but also makes owning a movie car a ton of fun.

Q: I'd like to use your car for a photoshoot, as a backdrop for some costuming work I've done. Can you help?
A: Yes, absolutely. I would love to see the car get some use and attention for costuming endeavors, though the logistics of it could prove problematic. For example, if the shoot is anywhere other than Southern California, it's not going to happen.

Q: What kind of putty are you using for your body work?
A: Primarily I'm using a product from Evercoat called "Everglass." You can find it at professional body supply shops, or get it from amazon. You won't find it at Home Depot or Lowe's. After using Bondo products for years and years, I swore off them the minute I found the Evercoat line. The stuff is just much better in every way. It goes on smoother, sands better, smells less, cures faster... just a great bunch of products.

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