The competing coachbuilder’s wife just wouldn’t take no for answer. She was drinking in the features of Classic Limousine’s new Wild Life stretch at a recent limousine show, enthralled by the passion-pit ambiance, complete with sensuously curved lounges, animal-print upholstery, hand-laminated burlwood trim, twinkling mood lights, and a mirrored partition etched with a tiger head. She informed her husband in no uncertain terms, “I have to have one of these.” It’s not known whether he eventually convinced her that he could build something similar, but the point was already made: Nick Giacobone of Classic has a gift for crafting the alluring, the enticing, the unexpected. It may not be a limousine every operator needs, but it sure is one they all want.
Of course, inborn talent needs honing, and Nick cut his teeth on that distinctively American art form—street rods, along with some custom work on Ferraris and Lamborghinis. He was a dyed-in-the-wool car guy first, and a coachbuilder second. Press him to show you his personal favorites, and he’ll take you over to a ’57 Eldorado Brougham, one of only 703 in existence that he says cost $26,000 each to manufacture, sold for $13,000, and is now worth a jillion dollars. He’ll show you his Guldstrand-powered Corvette with a Ferrari-style body, and a ’57 Belair two-door hardtop. His daily driver is a V12-powered SL600 Mercedes that he takes Momma out for Sunday drives in—but usually at triple-digit speeds. She enjoys cruising in the fast-lane, a trait that obviously runs in the family.
Back in 1984, Nick turned his attention from customizing rods to luxury sedans, stretching his first Lincoln 60 inches. From there a series of groundbreaking custom designs emerged from his fertile imagination, culminating in 1996 with the Wave, one of the most copied cars in the industry, according to Ted Carlson, Classic’s VP of sales & marketing.
Today, while everybody else seems to have gone computer crazy, Nick’s CAD system is still found in the gray matter between his ears. He describes himself as an artsy type who enjoys working in mediums of clay, marble, paint—and coachbuilding, of course. New concepts come to him as easily as most people breathe, and he continues to create new designs as the mood strikes him. “I like things that flow, that are smooth,” he says. That’s obvious from the serpentine, seamless interior of the Wild Life, one of his latest models, based on 120-inch stretch of a Lincoln Town Car.
The outside of the Wild Life received some artistic touches as well, such as a five-color pearl striping and grille treatment, along with Euro-style, masked-out headlights. There’s even an illuminated tiger-head logo (or operator’s signage, if you wish) in the one-piece side glass. The custom wheels are not just for show—they exceed federal specs for heavy-duty load rating.
Trick looks are all fine and good you say, but what does it do for the bottom line? Clearly this is not a car for a large-volume operator. It’s a specialty limousine that enables the little guy to compete with the big guys by offering something extraordinary. That’s generally true of Nick’s signature creations. Time and again operators have praised Classic for the impact these rolling artworks have had on their business, generating top-dollar bookings. If that’s what a walk on the wild side means, then count us in.