SUPERHEROES Batman and Robin have taken a week off fighting crime to drive almost 800 miles in the Batmobile for charity.

For the next seven days, Gary Franks and good friend Robin Julian will be disguised as the Caped Crusader and his trusty sidekick, as they make their way to Lake Como in Italy in an old Ford Cougar done up to look like the Batmobile.

The pair have spent the last year transforming their wacky roadster and on Friday they set off from Liden Community Centre in the hope of reaching the Italian lakes by Tuesday tea time.

The trip is in aid of Help for Heroes, a charity that helps injured soldiers when they return home from duty.

Gary, 47, who lives in Faringdon and works in Swindon as an electrician, said: “I wanted to do something wacky and completely outlandish.

“I’m a bit nervous because if it breaks down I will feel responsible. But we have done all the work together and I am very confident. It’ll be really good fun and it’s for a fantastic charity."

Gary and 51 year old Robin have spent the past year building the Batmobile, which is actually a Ford Cougar year 2000 model that Gary bought in February 2015. It needed a lot of work doing, including copious amounts of welding just to get it through the MOT. Miraculously, it passed.

“It was dirty and disgusting,” said Gary. “I think we have probably spent about £1,000 buying it and doing it up.”

They have added an extra 350 metres of cable and have fitted it with LED lights, flashing strobe lights and rockets that come out the sides.

In a bid to ape the real Batmobile seen on the big screen, the pair have also given it six wheels and a slick black paint job.

Fans of the BBC motoring show Top Gear will no doubt see similarities in Gary and Robin’s mission and the infamous challenges undertaken by show’s presenters on a weekly basis.

“That the car might not make it is itself part of the challenge,” admitted Gary. “It’s the gamble we’re taking that will hopefully encourage people to donate money.”

Gary spent 12 years in the Territorial Army and feels a very close affinity to Help for Heroes. “Because of the work they do for injured servicemen and women, it is an exceptional charity and as an ex-serviceman it is quite dear to my heart.”

The pair, who will be doing the trip with 18 other cars, will stop at designated camp sites along the way and intend to continue on to Monaco afterwards before returning home, hopefully, with the car in one piece.

Gary added: “It’s not a competitive race, the only competition will be whoever raises the most money for their charities.”

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