Monday, November 15, 2010

Branson Auto Museum provides relief from the crowds of Silver Dollar City

'41 Graham-Hollywood Supercharged
My folks are having their 40th wedding anniversary next weekend, so we booked some log cabins on the Silver Dollar City property to celebrate. My mom always talks about how much she likes log cabins, so that was the impetus for this plan.

Silver Dollar City was OK, but extraordinarily busy over Veteran’s Day weekend. But for me, the highlight of the trip wasn’t a rollercoaster or the blacksmith—it was our short detour into Branson’s Highway 76 “Strip”, and a visit to the Branson Auto Museum.

We actually visited the museum back in April, but the selection of cars on display had changed considerably in seven months.

Men in Black Crown Victoria
 Overall, I think there were fewer cars, and certainly some of their marquee movie rides were MIA. The Branson Collector Car Auction was held shortly after our first visit, and I can’t help but think that several cars were sold at that event.

That’s not to say there still wasn’t plenty to look at. There are some 100 different cars in the collection, including a couple of movie rides. The Crown Victoria that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones drove in Men in Black, as well as a scary looking Taurus from Robocop were there, so that’s a little taste of Hollywood for those of us who rarely see the ocean.

El Morocco '57 Chevy
 In addition to the movie cars, the Branson Auto Museum also features several “famous” vehicles, including Evel Knievel’s Cadillac pickup truck, George Jones’ ’78 Thunderbird, and a ’42 Chevy pickup that was once owned by Steve McQueen. There was also a ’57 Chevy El Morocco that I’ve never seen before, and an impressive-looking Graham-Hollywood.

Another great feature of the museum is the gift shop, which houses hundreds of rare old car and truck toys. This is a very impressive group of Smith-Miller, Tonka, and Wyandotte toys, just to name a few. If you’re a collector, you could probably spend another hour or two just looking at these. Bring your wallet, though, because these old toys aren’t cheap.

'55 Buick Century
 If you have a real car, there is also a neat little speed shop just off the lobby. Everything from engines to chrome valve covers are available there. It reminds you of the little mom & pop speed shops that used to be in every city before the Internet, although it did seem cleaner in there than you might remember.

There were even several more cars for sale outside. They typically weren’t as nice as the cars in the museum, but some of them weren’t all that bad or at least had some potential. There was a ’55 Buick Century four-door hardtop out there that my dad seemed to like more than anything in the place.

If you are planning a trip to Branson anytime soon, don’t miss the Branson Auto Museum. Most of the cars are for sale, so the collection changes regularly. But mainly, it is just a way for a car-lover to feel at home between the Soji Tabuchi show and riding the Ducks. Check out the Branson Auto Museum’s official website for more information.

In the meantime, enjoy the slideshow below!

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