Where does he get these wonderful toys?

Local builder delivers crime-fighting cruisers

By Tim Anderl

Budding caped crusaders and masked vigilantes looking for the appropriate vehicle for striking fear into the hearts of evil villains and bad guys need look no further than Dayton replica builder Doug Hines. Hines’ Gotham Cruisers has been producing replicas of the Dark Knight’s 1966 and 1989 cars, as well as the 1966 motorcycle, for seven years.
As a young man growing up in Springfield, Hines was captivated by television and cinema.

“I grew up watching all of the 1960s shows like Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Monkees and Batman,” said Hines. “I always liked the cars and props from those shows.”

After buying his own kit several years ago, the former letter carrier was bit by the building bug and launched his own business fabricating kits for crime-fighting cars. Gotham Cruisers is located on Keenan Avenue in Dayton and Hines said he works with two guys who are “tops in the fabrication business.”

“I worked at a body shop in high school, and learned fiberglass skills years later,” Hines explained. “The first full build that (Gotham Cruisers) did was a full ’66 Gotham Cruiser similar to the one from the TV show Batman. It had every bell and whistle we could throw at it.”

Since launching his business, Gotham Cruisers’ success has result in full-time employment for Hines.

“There is an old saying that ‘If it can’t be made in Dayton, it can’t be made,’” Hines boasted.  He added that much of his success is as a direct result of access to the best and brightest builders and fabricators located right here in the Dayton area.

“We have world-class machine shops, fabrication guys, body shops and upholstery all in the Dayton area,” he said. “Almost everything we need to build the cars and bikes is in a five-mile radius of our shop.”

Gotham Cruisers has delivered replicas outfitted with such accessories as flame throwers, working canopies, machine guns and working parachutes. And customers from New Mexico, to here in Dayton and New England, and including both collectors and museums, are delighted with Hines’ imaginative craft.

One such cruiser can be spotted at Carl’s Body Shop, located at their appropriately titled Wayne Avenue location. The cruiser is similar to the one piloted by Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne.  The shop’s owner, Matt Miller, purchased kits from Gotham Cruisers for several vehicles, including the 66-era motorcycle that recalls Adam West’s television cycle.

“Customers tell us that when they take out their finished kits or full builds from us that they are a one-car car show, which is good to hear,” Hines added.

Though Hines said Gotham Cruisers hasn’t visited Comic Cons or car shows yet, he said he’s interested in attending those with his creations in the future.

Hines also attributes much of his success to blessings from God. Hines’ website proudly states that Gotham Cruisers is a Christian-led business.

“We let everyone know that even in this economy, God is the main reason we are still in business,” Hines explained. “We have been blessed to do what we do and it is still going. God has placed us where we need to be.”

The cruiser kits aren’t the only projects inspiring Hines builds.

“To be completely honest, I was always more of a Lost in Space fan growing up. So one of my past projects was building the show’s robot.”

Hines said he has also built replicas of Captain Kirk’s Star Trek captain’s chair.

On the home front, Hines said his family (wife, stepdaughter and stepson) have been incredibly supportive of his endeavors, and that he and his family are currently in the midst of their own group project: “My stepdaughter is an artist and she, as well as my wife, are crazy about 1950s kitsch. So we’re currently decorating our home in 1950s décor and furniture.”

For more information about Gotham Cruisers, visit their website at www.gothamcruisers.com or visit their Facebook page.

Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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