Archive Page 2


The Batmobile no one ever drove… part 3

The Batmobile no one ever drove… Part 3  Pulling the trigger!

In the custom or “Kustom” world, hot rodders of every shape and size spend their time, talents and money building their dream cars. They change their minds, start over, give up, and some actually finish their weekend warriors!   From “Rat Rods” to “Trailer Queens” lifted, slammed, the list goes on and on of all the directions customizing a car can go.  It’s the beauty of the hobby.   If you have ever been to a car show you have seen chromed engine compartments costing thousands of dollars.  Lifted trucks, lowered chevys, rusted racers – each one is someone’s dream ride. It’s what they wanted to bring into the world of cars.

Some guys have been in the game a long time, and now just “fix and flip” cars they know.  Get a heap, hot rod it up and sell it – then repeat. Mainly because very few of us can afford to keep every car we think is cool!

During my search for a donor “beater” or “Project” car, I had kept my eye on one amazing build that was perfect for my dream.   It was out of my price range and it was just too darn pretty!  But it had everything I wanted and more.     It had been on a journey before I saw it though.  Starting out as a project 1939 Dodge – it got the NHRA frame off overhaul.  New chassis, 400 hp motor, and a builder who was willing to tinker to get a car the way he wanted it.

First a new chassy, and a new crate 400 hp motor was built for the base. The car and body was stripped clean.  You can see in one photo there was a blower on the motor. That’s part of the process, trying looks and ideas, and then deciding to keep them or not!

Here is a set of different ideas for the front of the car. Swapping out original air vents, then sealing them up. The dodge had a center hinged hood, but it was converted to a solid one piece.  Had I found this car for sale, it would have been on the top of my donor list even at this point!

Custom side panels were made, then discarded, and another front grill was designed.

These are not in chronological order, but a few shots to show the body work being done to smooth it all out for paint.  A custom licence plate indent was added by the Rodfathers.

Lots of handwork, rust repair and sanding, priming and sanding again, until it was ready for paint!  wp-1468007063803.jpg

The builder/owner even took a black marker to a photo, to see what it would look like in black, with rear wheel skirts!

build photos

The whole process of searching for a project and seeing it through to your finished vision is a long and costly process.   Lots of work and yet another grill this time built by Dean Jeffries brought it all together!    Finishing touches of pinstriping and a new modern interior were added.  All the unique ideas and skills of many hands brought this new car to life!  Once done, it was taken to car shows and just “bombed around in” for a few years like this and enjoyed!    However, once a project is finished and driven for a while eventually it’s time to sell and move on to the next project!

I had watched the craigslist ad for months but never bothered to see the car because it’s list price was fair, but out of the range of what I wanted to spend on the project.  I was also in the mindset of doing a build up of a project car.    But then one day I was appearing in a parade in Burbank, and even though I knew it was too finished and the price was out of my budget I decided to go look at it in person.  The shots of the interior were so spot on to what I would do to match the Batmobile red stripes, I just had to see it in person.


Suicide doors, check! Red and black interior with custom point, SUPER CHECK! 


400 hp Crate HOT ROD motor and transmission pro installed, CHECK!


Cool from every angle? Oh yeah!


Super cool modded body with great paint, and custom red and black wheels? Check!  I fell for this car.  It was just too nice! The list of mods I would have to do to get it to MY dream car, was pretty short.  Just all the fun stuff!  I started making mental lists of what I would have to do with a few areas, like with the trunk, when I added a giant bat fin.

trunk open

And the dash was going to have to be bat-upgraded.  The steering wheel was out of a late model Jag, and there were Jag emblems on the wheels, and a Dodge emblem on the dash. Great signs that the car was a toy that had been played with and enjoyed!

Lots of fun modern upgrades, like courtesy lights all around, AC!!, hot rod door handles.driver side pedals

A beautiful headliner! How to add a fin without destroying it?

celing interior

The owner had been trying to sell for a couple years, and for various reasons needed it sold ASAP.  I knew I would never find a car like this again, one where so much of the work I was planning on doing was already done!  After a day or two of deliberation – this beauty was in my batcave!!    wp-1468955738069.jpg

And just as the modder before me, I had to do a quick sketch to see what my ideas might look like, down the road!


Let the Bat-transformation begin!    Stay tuned bat-fans, the best is yet to come!

PART FOUR:  The rise of the 1940’s N8mobile  “I like to personalize all my toys”


The Batmobile no one ever drove, part 2

on black 1940_batmobile

The building of the 1940 Style N8MOBILE part 2!  Read part one HERE!

By Nate Truman

How do you take an idea of a never built car and get to a finished car that’s legal to drive down the highway?  Focus.  Desire.  Time.  Creativity, and of course, CASH!  I had a lot of the first four, but not an unlimited amount of the last one.  Besides, if I had unlimited amounts of money I could just go to a custom shop and say “BUILD THIS” and throw money at them.  That’s a terrible journey.

I did also have a few rules: Rule #1. As a son of a “Car Guy” I knew a few things I shouldn’t do.  DON’T destroy a car that can be restored to it’s original condition. These are also known as OS, Original Steel.   I wouldn’t use a car like this because they are rare and if there is someone out there that wants to restore a car back to it’s original look, it should go to them.  So it had to be a car that would be near impossible to take back to stock.

Rule #2. RUST will drain your wallet.  Cars from 1939-42 are 75 years old. Rust happens and it costs a LOT to repair.  I don’t like to do it, I don’t want to do it, it’s not fun.  SO I must have a  car with no rust or the rust already repaired.

Rule #3. The closer the donor car is to your idea of a finished product the fewer variables there are to get it there.  This basically means that if a car has some costly work done the way I want it done, that’s a fixed price.  A finished interior or installed motor, etc. is work that is paid for in the purchase price.   It’s very easy to get way over budget by hoping for the best prices and no problems and then end up thousands of dollars in higher costs because of unforeseen problems along the way.   A cheaper donor car can often mean a lot more expensive finished car. Ask any Knight Rider replica builder!

I spent months scanning craigslist for about an hour a night.  I started seeing some cars that didn’t sell for months.  I figured out what was a good price, what was way too high, and what was a deal.  I didn’t buy anything, I didn’t go see anything, I was just learning. I was an expert on other cars, but not this era.

The odd part about this search was that I wasn’t looking for a specific make and model!    Ford, Dodge, Cadillac, Plymouth and Chevy were all on the table.  Details I had to have: 2 door coupes, with two windows on each side. Headlights incorporated into the fenders. That would eliminate a lot of cars.  For between 6-18 grand there were lots of choices of “heaps”.  That means it’s a body, and a HEAP of parts!   Maybe an engine inside, some ran, some were in great shape, others were barely cars.

I considered a lot of cars, but I knew I had to be patient to find the perfect donor car. I didn’t mind doing the interior exactly how I wanted it, but that opened me up to lots of cost overruns. These kinds of cars can be an endless project of broken parts and unknown problems.  I wasn’t going to pull the trigger until the perfect car showed up.  Besides, shopping for cars is pretty much the only shopping I consider “fun”!

As time passed, I found a few good possibilities.  I was searching about a 1000 mile radius, so if I just wanted to get a better  idea of the actual condition of the car, I would ask a friend who lived closer to go take a look at it for me.

Unfortunately, rust and the state of disrepair made most of them unsuitable.  In fact, the more I looked at the “heaps” the more I realized that starting that far down the ladder would really open me up to a lot of frustration, and money spent with little to show for it.  So I changed my parameters of my search.  Still 1939-1942, but now I added “Hot rod” or “Kustom”.    I started seeing chopped and channeled projects, cars with motors replaced with newer more reliable and powerful motors, and for about the same price as the “heaps”.


I was finding many more cars that fit my specific bill, and a few that I started looking at hard.  The best one was in Northern California, and a hot rod guy had started building a big horsepower 1/4 mile race car.  I didn’t want or need a car that was “tubbed” with 800 hp, but he had to stop his build for personal reasons, and it was at just about the point where I wanted to take over.  Motor and tranny were brand new and mostly installed, and the body was mostly straight. I loved the overall look of the car.  So we started to email back and forth, looking for any problems, haggling over price, and figuring out transportation.  I thought I had found THEE donor car for my Bat build.


I didn’t like the single window in the back, but I had toyed with the idea of just sealing that up.  Challenges:  A few missing panels, missing glass, ZERO interior other than a cage and a couple of really low racing seats.   At this point in the journey is when the rational mind needs to step in!  I really wanted to get started and this was the best donor I had found up to that time.  The price was fair, and I sensed he would go even lower, giving me some financial room to finish it my way without breaking the bank.  But there was the window, and several “mostly’s”.  I did some math, looked at how much I would have to do, and what would have to be undone. It just didn’t add up.  I sighed, and took a pass.  At the time I was disappointed, but in the long run it was a great decision to let someone else finish this for the race track, and wait for the street driver I wanted.  Another old rule, don’t spend ANY money for starter cars or cool extras that make your project less accurate to your idea. 800 horse power! Tubbed! Cool!! But I had to remind myself, not on my want list.  The search continued on…

NEXT PART 3: Nate finds the right car to get started!


The Batmobile that no one has driven…1940 style!



By Nate Truman

The hobby of star cars has grown from a few crazy people like me pre-internet looking for original movie and TV cars, sweating the details by scanning every frame of a show to try and recreate our childhood dream cars, to a world wide movement!   Since the 1970’s fans of famous cars have been recreating, or restoring the famous rides of the small and big screen to live out their childhood fantasies of driving the ride from their favorite film or TV show.  Even cartoon cars, like the Ninja Turtle van, Speed Racer’s Mach 5, the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, and Transformers have become real drivable vehicles when a fan with a dream decides to bring them to life.

I have been called a “Founding Father” of the star car movement. That’s a nice way to say I have been doing this a long time. Since the 1970’s. Because of that I am running out of cars to find or build that “float my boat”.    I still have a short list of cars I want to drive or see on the roads of Hollywood, but the list is getting smaller. Other fans have jumped in and are building most everything now, sometimes before the movie has even come out!      One that has yet to appear, however, is one I have been waiting for someone else to build for many years.  Because it’s hard, expensive, and not a car that everyone will even “get” except the big time Batman fans. Only a couple of people have tried it. Due to life getting in the way the few that have started builds have given up or stalled.  So I have stopped waiting and am building my own version!

Batman started in 1939 driving a couple of red sedans, but as the early artists and creators, Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang started to make batman stuff, like the Bat-plane, the Batarang, etc.  it was only a matter of a few issues of the comic books that the term “Batmobile” showed up.  Throughout the 1940’s various young artists drew the Dark Knight’s ride.  Even though they were pretty similar, it was when the Batmobile burst through the cover of the Batman comic #20 that the world knew Batman’s ride was something pretty special!

batman #20 batmobile

Believe it or not, the Batplane was created first! Made to look like a bat, Batman was flying everywhere in his custom bat plane, but just had an ordinary car for a short while.   As the early artists were young guys trying to work fast to finish more pages to make more money, continuity and conformity to previous art was not a high priority.  So the car was drawn based on each artist’s skills, and their favorite cars at the time.  In other words, it rarely looked the same way twice! No stripes, red stripes, blue stripes, the fin changed in every panel, sometimes with or without fender skirts, windows moved around, doors opened both ways but a few things stayed the same.  It had a big BAT face on the front, and a big bat wing/fin down the middle and out the back!
1925 round door rolls royce


I think someone saw the 1925 round door Rolls Royce and just took it a step further.




Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.55.12 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.55.19 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.55.29 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.56.51 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.57.02 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.57.09 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.53.13 PM  Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.53.29 PM  Batman introduced the Batmobile, then drove it off a cliff in the first story, but it was right back in the next issue!Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.54.44 PM  batman#5 first batmobile panel

For the sake of speed, many times panels were copied, or used as reference to draw the car like it had been drawn in previous issues, like these two panels.  Basically they played fast and loose with the details of the batmobile, as each artist tried to copy another version, or put a new spin on it for his panels.

For my 1940’s “N8MOBILE” build, I decided that I would use what inspired me from drawings from 1941 to 1948.  After world war 2, the new artists started updating the batmobile and the design changed almost every time the car appeared for decades after 1948.  (If you want to see all the different versions, go to a great site by a pal of mine,  Batmobile History.)

1940's black no bumper art Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 3.14.40 PMdc direct color drawing

As there were surprisingly few panels of the batmobile over the 41-48 years of the comics – a few versions emerged based on different artists. Some of those have become available as toys or maquettes and toy designers had to decide what a solid 3d version of these drawings would look like.  Above are some early designs for the toy versions from several companies.

Danbury Mint came out with the first high end detailed model and I like a lot of what they decided on in the real world!

The red stripe patterns, the four exhaust ports out each side and the coupe style with the swoopy back end was what I wanted to shoot for in my artistic “mash up” version.  The one thing I did NOT like was the bat fin.  TOO big. Rear skirts maybe, front skirts no. In several panels of the comic the doors had “suicide” front opening doors. I think reverse opening doors made it more custom and less like a car from the 40’s with a bat and a fin on it!

40's back1940 danbury mint engine bat     danbury 4danbury 6 danbury 7 danbury 8 danbury 9 bathead danbury

There have been a few other toy versions, Corgi, Eaglemoss, Mattel and a couple of model kits release as well.

Here is the 4 door Maquette version.

dc direct 2 blueprints dash dc direct4 dc direct5 dc direct6 dc direct7 top

Most of all the drawings had the car with two doors, but a few had 4 like this display piece.  I liked the split back window, and the fin on this version was a better design in the real world.  So my fin I would be built to look more like this version.

1940s batmobiles

Here’s a great line up of most of the toy versions. All the fins are different, there are versions with 2,3 and 4 exhausts on each side, stripes move around a bit, or all black, but it’s basically the same overall design.  I looked at how many times a detail appeared, and what I liked and didn’t like, as well as cost to come up with my final design that I wanted to bring to life.  I searched for shots of cars with the side hood exhaust in 2-3-and 4 versions and two looked stingy, three would raise questions of “Is this a v6? (no, they had v8’s but the two center exhausts were combined) so for various reasons mostly that it looked the coolest, I decided I would have 4.



In my quest to do my due diligence I also scoured old comics, one shots, and any source where I thought I might find another take on this era Batmobile.  A few items showed up, but my favorite was in a modern version of a Batman cartoon where his current batmobile is stolen and he has to use his “vintage” backup ride.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.37.14 PMHere is a frame that is a nice “nod” to Michael Keaton stopping his Batmobile from the 1989 movie.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.37.28 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.37.36 PM

As you can see, the red stripes and many of the details from the Danbury Mint version are included, other than adding an afterburner to the rear.  Because, afterburners are just cool. 🙂 

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.37.47 PM   Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.41.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.42.48 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.42.53 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.43.35 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.44.03 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.45.50 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.47.52 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.48.47 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.49.02 PM

Actually in this cartoon version, they swapped out the big curvy batfin and added a composite version fin.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.53.42 PMThis cartoon also brought something else to my attention, the interior of the car. In the comics all you see is a 1930’s “Banjo style” steering wheel, and a “circle” on Robin’s side.  Most cars of the day had a clock on the passenger’s side dash, and just a few dials for the driver.

Pretty simple by today’s standards but it’s just what cars looked like then.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.38.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.39.12 PM





In this recent cartoon take though, the animators decided to “gadget it up” for some Joker gags and add lots of switches and stuff.  I suppose Batman could have had this batmobile retrofitted with bat stuff over the years, he does tend to over prepare!  It was a fun bit, but the bat gadgets didn’t really get going until almost the end of this batmobile’s run – in the comics all they added during those years were some boat propellers and extra costume storage compartments. Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.39.02 PM40's police
The police of the day did have early CB like radio systems, so I would have to put in something like that in mine.




Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.19.51 PM

There was a blueprint dash that was just made up for one of the toys. It was cool, but it was also too busy for the time period and what I wanted the final product to look like.


Lastly I had to decide what my Bat symbol would look like. It has changed a lot over the years, and during the 1940’s batman often had NOTHING on his chest or a weird scribbled wing with no head. Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 5.54.34 PM I was amazed at how this iconic part of Batman was not really defined in the early years and it seemed almost an afterthought to the artists.  The Danbury Mint version had it’s own classic bat on the hub caps and on the motor.
Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 5.53.29 PM

I eventually combined a few designs, and cropped the ears to come up with a bat I liked.

Now, all that was left to do was find a donor car, and make this fictional cartoon car into my version of a street legal crime fighting monster!    STAY TUNED, BAT FANS, the best is yet to come!  PART TWO, the search for the CAR!

danbury bathead2


The making of a “REAL” Batmobile batcave!

Sometimes when you make your dreams come true, it triggers other projects you never imagined.  For me, when I finished my full size street legal Batmobile, I  now needed a safe place to park it.  Sure, a locked garage, but not just any garage!

Obviously, I needed a batcave!  Here’s a short rundown on how I built it.
So first I had to do some investigating, to see what was supposed to be in the batcave, and what elements I would want to include in mine.



All Done... Sort of!

Completion day! Well, it’s never finished, but this was a big day. My Bat-mechanic had done a great job, paint, wheels, and windshield – I was ready to fight crime!bat on beach
Nate Truman’s Batmobile at the local beach! Surf competition with the Joker!


The first time a “REAL” batcave was shown, in the original “Batman” serial films. Basically a desk, some chairs and a bat on the wall.


Several Batcave toys were made after the 60’s TV series was such a huge hit. Sliding down a batpole was the fastest way to get to the cave, but Alfred used the hidden stairs!


Over the decades there have been many Batcave toy sets, and some great “virtual” batcaves in drawings, cartoons and even video games.

In this new world thanks to the internet I have discovered that much of my “starcar” and crossgeeking work has usually been done already by someone else! I started a pinterest page to collect everything I would want in my dream batcave.

In my searches I did stumble across a great blog on the batcave and instead of reposting and commenting, I will just link to it. Great history and development over the years with photos and drawings.  And for a quick history from youtube of the “Bat’s Cave” you can watch this video!


Testing the afterburners in the batcave.

terry austin. batman's new home. 001

I doubt anyone would build a building like this, a lot of wasted space! But he could be Bruce on the top level, and under the building was a “in town” batcave!

One of the great mysteries in the Batman storyline is how did the batcave get built? Alfred? I don’t think so. The latest cave has levels that even Batman doesn’t know what is down there! So many adventures have included a trip to the batcave, or a fight, a new way in or out that it seems it would have to be part magic to do everything the comics have shown us. As much as I would like a beautifully decorated giant trophy room (I think there is a bit of Fortress of Solitude envy going on there) to stay in the realm of almost reality, the best versions are utilitarian.

The secret batcaves around the city, one under the Wayne Tower are the most useful. If Wayne manor is outside the city, Batman’s response time would be pretty bad, no matter how fast the batmobile or batplane/gyrocopter may be. As for a high speed rail car that diverts trains so he can use the subway systems? That seems pretty unworkable. To remove the need for a team of helpers to get him to the scene of the crime, everything seems to use “auto pilot” where planes, and cars can just drive home, or hover until needed. Then they have to have anti-theft out the wazoo to keep criminals from just taking them as they sit unprotected.

So as my house doesn’t sit on top of a huge underground cavern (saving MILLIONS in excavation costs) I had to settle for something smaller. A two car garage hidden behind gates, and about 500 square feet of bat-office space.

Also, Batman has more storage room, and I am guessing he doesn’t have to keep all the Christmas decorations, various holiday stuff and old furniture in his cave, but I do. So no turntable for the batmobile (with a car almost 20 feet long, it wasn’t doable. I checked. And Rechecked. Rats.) But the batcave that would be my design style was obvious, the TV batcave from the 1960’s TV series.

49d413dac1542e86aaf509c8814559e7 batcave off set

Adam West Batmobile Nate truman

The Man, ADAM WEST! We did a turtle wax commercial that never made air. Having Batman polish my batmobile all day, PRICELESS!

So I started building my list:
A smaller trophy cabinet is just fine to display memories.
Basic automotive tools,
some storage bat shelves,
bat-costume cleaning machines,
bat-computer area,
a big screen BAT-TV,
bat-sound system,
security devices. The list will never be finished, as many items have all ready been upgraded since my batcave has been built. But little by little, with no help from Alfred, I put together a pretty workable, secret lair to assist in my crime fighting and keep the batmobile hidden and ready for action. As well as a place to keep all the Christmas decorations! Ok, so I am no where near as “Dark” – this is the 60’s batman after all!
And Adam West isn’t always available to polish my car!

Now most “mancaves” are designed to be pleasant from a male perspective, and mostly about relaxing and entertainment. But there is no place for alcohol, dart games and neon in a batcave! Batman would have Protein shakes, Batarang practice target and a batsymbol instead!

(Of course there is always room for bat gadgets and batmobile toys!)

So after gathering info, photos, and ideas for my batcave, it was time to build the real deal, and at a perfect time, as the Batmobile was out getting it’s paint job done – I had room to work!     Stay tuned batfans, the best is yet to come!!!!  PART 2    The Building of the working Batcave!



StarCar phenomonon, dubbed “Carsplay” goes global!


One last blog for 2015, an end of the year wrap up!  Nate Truman’s was started around the turn of this centurty, and has been growing in leaps and bounds every year.  From a single 66 Adam West Style batmobile, the idea of building, sharing and driving iconic movie and TV vehicles has grown to include StarCarCentral members around the globe.

In the early years of the hobby, people would fall in love with a famous ride, and the lucky few would buy a piece of movie history from the studios.  A few Herbie the Love Bugs, a handful of General Lee’s from Dukes of Hazzard and a Barris replica batmobile were in private hands.  Occasionally a short lived star car museum would open up for a while, then close down a year or two later.  The cars would be put in storage, or scattered around.  George Barris was kean on keeping track of all the famous cars, both the ones he had a hand in building, and anything else that had been on the screen and caught the public’s eye.   A couple of big auctions at his Barris’ Kustoms city and at the Peterson, gathered together for a brief time star cars from all walks of media and entertainment in the 1970’s and 1990’s.

If you didn’t get to the museum in Hollywood, or go to these simi-secret auctions that only movie car guys knew about, you would never have a chance to see more than one famous car together.

A few years down the road, fans started gathering for reunions.  The biggest of these was “Dukesfest” that happened for several years, and rows of repainted Challengers gathered together.  Some other famous cars would show up as well for a group photo.  Then interest waned and the shows stopped.  Now a new “Fanfest” has been reborn.


Knight Rider fans also banded together and with the help of this new thing “The Internet” started finding other owners of Knight Rider KITT cars.  Rob Louisell, Mark’s Customs, Jay Ohrburg, sold fiberglass parts and the fans constantly improved the interior electronics and helped each other find rare parts to get their dream ride on the road.  A few gatherings of Knight Riders happened as well.  


With the advent of the world Wide Web, every individual star car fan found a home to swap stories and ideas with other owners and fans.  There is a Herbie page,  lots of Knight Rider pages,, basically there is a fan page for every famous movie and TV car that you can think of!

Even though Nate Truman had been tracking and finding screen used movie and TV cars since the 70’s, it wasn’t until 2003 at Crusin for a Cure that Nate finally decided to make his idea a reality.  “Let’s put them all in a pile, and play with them!” So over the last 12 years Nate has collected, connected, and introduced all the star car fans to each other!  It wasn’t easy, as many owners thought that their special car was cool, but didn’t want to park or do events with lots of “vehicular Unicorns”.    But Nate knew that seeing one amazing rare car out in “the wild” was amazing – seeing a HERD of them was mind blowing!  So out of that little new idea, and lots of detective work, Nate Truman’s has become the hub where all the starcars can play together for good.  Hundreds of charity events, police, fire, Autism, Make-A-Wish, Pediatric Cancer Survivors, etc. have been able to include a display of famous movie and TV cars never seen before in public. The first “Carsplay” panel at Long Beach Comic Con happened this year and Nate and his team outlined the history of the hobby, and where it’s headed.

scc display.jpg

So as a cap to 2015, Nate organized his lineup to set a new record.  The most famous movie and TV cars in a single parade.  Over 40 cars appeared in the 2015 Hollywood Christmas parade!  It was a driving, rolling star car museum – brought together for just a few hours, and then disappeared into the night!  A big thanks to all the fans, owners, restorers, historians, and bloggers who have helped the star car hobby grow, and make new friends around the world!   Here’s the Star Car Central video of all the cars on the red carpet in the 2015 Hollywood Christmas Parade!  We have another 20 cars that could have been included, but we were just TOO big!  2015 Nate Truman’s Star Car Hollywood Christmas parade

red carpet.jpg


So come join the fun in 2016, bigger and better!  Email or if you have a famous on screen ride!  With chapters across the United States and around the world, get your toy out and drive it!




is it the Nemo car or Nautilus-mobile? Nemo mobile? League of Extraordinary Gentlemen car? I just call it AMAZING!

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.

nemo screen car


Here is a shot from the film, with one of the two original cars built for the film.

The Nemo car used in filming has since been sold at auction, and here is what it looked like before the sale.

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 V-8 and Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission driving the rear wheels!

double axle

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!  

Here’s a short video to see it in action, and hear from Ken himself!



The “Miami Vice Daytona Ferrari” Story

Miami Vice Daytona Found

By Jim Suva


Speaking with Brian Gram from the Volo Auto Museum, he tells the story of how the first replica, known as “Car One” came to his family museum. This particular car was used primarily for the first two Miami Vice seasons, and was brought back for a few episodes in the third season.

Volo Auto Museum purchased this car many years ago from Jeff Allen of The Car Chasers, before Jeff had a TV show. It came with a lot of paperwork, and the car itself showed obvious signs of film use, as well as evidence that was unique to the Miami Vice car. When Volo bought it in very poor shape, basically they redid paint and interior. Please see pictures below:


Workers at Rainbow Collision Center in Volo, Ill., begin restoring the replica Ferrari Daytona Spyder that Don Johnson drove as Det. James Crockett during the first two seasons of the '80s television series "Miami Vice." The Volo Auto Museum has acquired the car and plans to debut it during the upcoming holiday season. Volo Auto Museum is home to more than 300 collector and Hollywood cars and is open  seven days a week.  (PRNewsFoto/Volo Auto Museum)

Workers at Rainbow Collision Center in Volo, Ill., begin restoring the replica Ferrari Daytona Spyder that Don Johnson drove as Det. James Crockett during the first two seasons of the ’80s television series “Miami Vice.” The Volo Auto Museum has acquired the car and plans to debut it during the upcoming holiday season. Volo Auto Museum is home to more than 300 collector and Hollywood cars and is open seven days a week. (PRNewsFoto/Volo Auto Museum)


Volo Auto Museum is planning to restore the car to the next level. They already removed the TPI motor and replaced it with a carburetored motor like it had in show, as well as the correct Momo steering wheel. Research is still being done on the interior. As in many TV productions, the interior of the car had some changes over the seasons.

VOLO REDONE INTERIORVOLO INTERIOR 2At those earlier days, Brian was not nearly as knowledgeable about the background of the Miami Vice cars as he is today. So when Volo Auto Museum listed the car as the one from the TV series, Brian got an earful from folks saying that this wasn’t the real car. There were a total of three Daytonas used, and there was a real Ferrari Daytona that was used briefly. The owner of the car didn’t like the way the car was being taken care of, so he withdrew the car. Universal Studios bought two Daytonas that were built by Tom McBurnie. Car #1, the first Daytona replica ever built, and Car #4. Both were built on Corvette chassis. Car #1 was built on a 1976 chassis and Car #4 on a 1981 chassis.

Ferrari didn’t like the fact that replicas were being used on the show. Ferrari ended up suing McBurnie’s company to stop them from building the replicas. Ferrari offered to supply their newest model, the Testarossa for the show. As part of the deal with Ferrari, the Daytona was blown up in the third season. They wanted the Daytona removed from the show, in a way that would put it out of people’s minds permanently.

The Daytona was also part of a real life Miami Vice story. A mechanic that had access to the car was arrested in a police sting. The mechanic was caught trying to sell an illegal gun silencer. Guess which car he was driving when he was arrested?

When they discontinued the Daytonas use, both cars went to a man named Carl Roberts. In exchange for the cars, he was to build a Testarossa stunt car. Carl got the title to Car #4, but not to Car #1. When Carl was trying to make a business by producing and selling Daytonas, he sold Car #4. Later he was hired to provide two Daytonas to go to Canada for use in the movie Speed Zone. The Volo Auto Museum car, and one other were sent to Canada for that movie. You need titles to get cars into Canada. After the two cars came back, they were pretty much abandoned. The owner of the property where the cars were left was able to get titles back in 1992, and he has owned at least the Volo Auto Museum’s car, if not both since. Jeff Allen discovered the car and Volo bought it. Many people were interested in find out what happened to Car #1.


Carl Roberts said the car was dismantled, the frame was scrapped, and the body was put on another chassis, but he doesn’t know which chassis it went on. So basically he was saying the car no longer exists. Then all these people started coming forward claiming “we have the car,” including Volo Auto Museum. But Brian felt strongly that theirs was the actual car because of the items on the body that were unique to the screen-used Miami Vice cars. For instance, the nose emblem, which was originally mounted in the wrong spot by the producers, and later relocated to the right spot. Volo Auto Museum’s body has the original emblem holes that were filled, from where the emblem was incorrectly placed. The body was 1-1/4 inches shorter on the passenger side than the driver’s side on Car #1 because of an accident. Volo Auto Museum’s car was 1-1/4 inches shorter. So it was determined and accepted that the Volo car may possibly be the #1 body but without a VIN there was no way to know for sure. Brian accepted this and left well enough alone.

Then Jeff Allen called up Brian and said, “Hey watch my show, lots of great McBurnie/Miami Vice information”. Brian watched the show and Jeff found the lost Car #1…which raised Brian’s eyebrows, because the car he bought from Jeff was thought to be Car #1. After talking to Jeff again he said no mine is the ‘81, Car #4, even though the ‘81 is accounted for. So that prompted Brian to start the investigation again. Brian wanted to research the VIN, which is a 1980 VIN number. Brian sent the number to GM Heritage, and got a window sticker back for a beige 1980 Corvette. But he then noticed the VIN tag was tampered with, which of course raised a flag. So Brian decided to investigate the frame numbers hoping to find a 1976 VIN. First he looked in the most likely spot, the rear frame rail on the driver’s side. Brian had the frame section cleaned to bare metal but found no numbers. Then he asked a Corvette buddy, who said the only other spot GM placed VIN numbers, was on top of the frame under the sill plate. Unfortunately, you have to remove the frame to see them. Brian was disappointed but determined. So he got a hole saw and cut through the sill. He cleaned the frame, found the numbers, and they were 1976 serial numbers! Then Brian noticed the original Corvette trim tag was still attached to the door jamb. He looked up the codes and it was a 1976 trim tag, green with black interior. That obviously didn’t match the beige that the 1980’s VIN tag called for. Brian was able to cross reference the date code on the trim tag to the serial number on the frame, and both were built during the third week of March in 1976. The frame and VIN number went together. Another piece of the puzzle fell into place.

The man who owns the other Miami Vice Daytona has the documentation that shows the original VIN numbers to the two cars. He keeps the documents and VIN numbers confidential to keep anyone from committing fraud and producing a replica. Brian sent him an email with the VIN number from the frame, asking if we have a match. After several days of nail biting, hoping he would hear from him, Brian got a phone call and … it was a match! The lost Daytona that was said to no longer exist had been found.


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