Many years ago my dad and I stopped in at the Country Music Hall of Fame (CMHOF) during one of our visits to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. I remember that it was a nice little place packed with memorabilia, and a car or two on display for good measure. Since then, they’ve built a new, 350,000-sq/ft. Hall of Fame, with more rhinestones, banjos, and vintage steel guitars than you’ll ever see in one place again. As you probably have guessed, there are also a few country music-related cars in there. That’s Alan Jackson’s ’55 Thunderbird in the picture. Of course you want to see the other cars, so here we go.
I remember looking at this ’61 Pontiac Bonneville convertible when we visited the old CMHOF. It was donated to the museum by the family of honkey-tonker Webb Pierce. This is exactly the kind of car I picture an old country music star driving. It was customized by Nudie Cohen, who was also responsible for most of those glittery old country music star suits. This car is wonderfully garish, with silver dollars, six shooters, and steer horns throughout. It even had a fancy horse saddle where the console would go. My wife wasn’t really into this car, but I think it’s perfect.
We all know that the greatest movie ever made was Smokey and the Bandit. Smokey and the Bandit II was, well, it was a sequel. It still had Jackie Gleason chasing Burt Reynolds in a new black Trans Am, though. And here, in the museum, was one of the 1980 Turbo Trans Ams that was used in the movie. The real Bandit and Frog sat right there! Later, Jerry Reed owned this car before it made its way to the museum. The condition is that of a pretty clean 34-year-old used car. This makes me want to get out my Smokey and the Bandit DVD.
The most spectacular car in this place, and probably the most spectacular artifact of any kind, was Elvis Presley’s famous “Solid Gold Cadillac.” This was a ’60 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine that George Barris, the King of the Kustomizers, built for the King of Rock ‘n Roll. The knobs, telephone, emblems, and wheels were all plated with real 24-karat gold. I really love the interior, because that gold-threaded, button-tufted fabric is exactly the stuff Barris Customs was supposed to use on a famous person’s car. I know, horrible pictures. But in my defense, the lighting was pretty bad in there, and it was displayed in a Plexi-Glass box.
They had a big Kenney Rogers “Through the Years” exhibit going on while we were there. This is a script and a little Ertl die cast from the 1982 movie Six Pack. The movie starred Rogers, Diane Lane, Erin Gray, and Barry Corbin, and was about a dirt track late model racer who made it to the Winston Cup Series with the help of his delinquent child pit crew. And as bad as that sounds, it’s actually a good movie. The racing scenes are pretty authentic. Kenny Rogers isn’t as bad of an actor as you might think. And I still have a little crush on 1982 Erin Gray. All said, if you haven’t seen this movie, you should check it out.
I took 134 mediocre pictures during our visit to the CMHOF. A few of them are of costumes and guitars and stuff, because there really weren’t that many cars (plus that stuff is cool too). Anyway, you can see them in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.