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2011-07-25 10:10

LEARN TO DRIVE: Batman may be able to save Gotham city, but he sure can’t drive properly.

If you’re the producer of the 'Batman Live' show, who better to consult on your Batmobile fleet of crime-fighting vehicles than the man who designed the greatest supercar of all time – ex-Durbanite Gordon Murray.

The legendary former McLaren chief designer has a portfolio that may possibly (probably) never be equalled.

Murray originally designed a series of Brabham F1 racing cars that won 22 Grands Prix, enabling Nelson Piquet to clinch the World championship in 1981 and 1983. In 1986 he joined McLaren International as technical director.

Two years later his Hond- powered McLaren MP4/4 won 15 out of 16 GPraces and gave Ayrton Senna his first Driver’s championship in 1988. By then Murray’s reputation as one of the greatest F1 designers of all time was beyond doubt.

SUPERCAR MASTER...

From 1991 -2004 Murray headed McLaren's automotive division with the aim of designing road-going supercars, a passion which had hardly waned since he left South Africa in 1969.

Murray’s McLaren F1 supercar – despite the later Pagani Zonda, Ferrari Enzo and Bugatti Veyron – is still considered the greatest road-going supercar yet built, blending efficiency, practicality and performance like no other car before or after.

Of late, despite being obsessed with producing a workable low-impact (yet rewarding to drive) city car, Murray still dabbles in some outlandish car design when the opportunity presents itself. When the 'Batman Live' show (an elaborate stage production chronicling the rather camp first contact, and subsequent relationship, between Batman and Robin) required an authentic Batmobile to roll around on stage, producers contacted Murray to craft and construct Bruce Wayne’s midnight ride.

BUILDS ONE FOR A SUPERHERO

Murray’s creation, unsurprisingly, draws its inspiration from the designer’s long association with F1.

The Murray stage Batmobile features carbon-fibre surfacing, dark and contrastedby LED strips that quite cleverly serve as the car's virtual wheel spokes. The signature bat logo is emblazoned across the rear cross section. Powering the stage Batmobile is a hydrogen fuel stack augmented by lithium-ion batteries.

With a cast of 43, 'Batman Live' begins its life in Manchester, England, before travelling to the cities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Glasgow, Sheffield, Birmingham and London’s O2 arena before embarking on a long tour of the rest of theUK and Ireland. The producers hope that it will continue touring until 2016 – going worldwide.

Before all the theatrics initiate, there is the little issue of a crashed Batmobile to repair. During rehearsals at the Manchester Arena it would appear Batman’s driving was questionable and Murray’s Batmobile was crashed into a Bank of Gotham set piece, incurring substantial damage. Due to its limited-edition status, spare parts are not in abundant supply.

Fortunately, Murray built a spare Batmobile just in case of a crash; so, 'Batman Live' should still be able to honour its August 10, 2011 opening night commitment to fans of the superhero franchise.

Superheroes: They can save the world but can they drive? Apparently not…



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