CAPTAIN NEMO'S MONSTER CONVERTIBLE
LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
IS FOR SALE
Ken Freeman is the best custom car builder you've never heard of. The owner of a body shop in West End, North Carolina, Freeman is the man behind Spirit of Nemo, his take on possibly the most challenging movie car of all time: Captain Nemo's (played by Naseeruddin Shah) 24-foot-long convertible from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And guess what?
Normally, when someone builds a movie car, the result is a lot like a typical concept car—good from afar, but far from good. (Why not? It just needs to look good on camera.) Freeman's Nemo, though, stands up to close scrutiny. The details are impeccable and, amazingly, the car drives way better than you'd expect of a six-wheeled convertible with quad front steering and the width of a Peterbilt. It tracks just fine, the 425-cubic inch V8 happily thumping away like it meant to propel this leviathan. You could drive it on the street, provided you have a plan for where to turn it around. And I can vouch for that, since I'm one of the few people to drive it.
The car is loosely based on two Cadillac limousines, but it's not like this is a re-bodied Caddy. The frame, for instance, is based on steel I-beams from a dismantled bridge because the low-slung ride height wouldn't allow for the underbody bracing of a typical convertible. The hood and various other structural areas are reinforced with carbon fiber or Kevlar. The mammoth hood rises on struts—no prop rod necessary. The car's ornate details, from the elephants to the interior trim, were carved in reverse by Freeman and cast in molds. There were no shortcuts on this car.
So what's it gonna take to get Nemo and its custom trailer aboard your personal submarine? Well, reserve is met, and the reserve is $165,000. As I told Freeman the day I drove it, wealthy people covet an object that nobody else can have, and there's only one of these. It's a beautifully executed car, but it took him 6,500 hours. He's not building another one.