Cobbled together by Nate Truman
I have been following many star car builds over the years, and one of the most exciting and ambitious is Ken Freeman’s scratchbuilt replica of the Nemo car from “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” which took him nearly five years to build.
The original movie car designed by Carol Spier, who also penned Captain Nemo’s Nautilus for the movie, is the four-door six-wheeled fiberglass-bodied 22-foot-long Nemo car (Nautilus car too, but NOT the Nemomobile) was built on a Land Rover fire tender chassis with an extra axle up front and a Land Rover V-8 engine for power, a removeable hardtop, and elaborate Hindu decoration, particularly on the front and interior of the car. Two were reportedly built for the production, though the studio fitted one of the two with extensive rigging for interior shots.
Here is a shot from the film, with one of the two original cars built for the film.
Rather than a Land Rover, Freeman started with a pair of 1979 Cadillac Fleetwood limousines which he then combined into one chassis, powered by a Cadillac 425-cu.in. V-8 and Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission driving the rear wheels!
Like the original, the body that Freeman built for the car was made from fiberglass, though his measures 24 feet long and a little narrower than the original at 102 inches. The decorative work he created himself first by sculpting it out of Spanish clay, then taking molds and casting the end result “in aluminum filled resins and cold-cast plated in aluminum and pewter, and further trimmed in bronze, brass, and 18k gold. This is truly an accomplishment in workmanship and attention to details. A tremendous project and well executed!
Ken Freeman is a body shop owner from West End, North Carolina. He put about 6,500 hours of work into the car—which he calls the Spirit of Nemo—over the last 4-1/2 years, interrupted at one point by a fire in his shop! Undaunted, he recently finished the car, calling it “more art than automobile” and claiming it to be the first and only replica of the Nemo car. I sure wish he lived in Hollywood, so we could do starcar events together, I hope to see his amazing work of art someday, but until then I will just have to stare at the photos and marvel at the amount of work he did to drive his dream car! Congrats Ken!