If you’re a regular here, you know that I’ve taken you to major automotive museums from California to Michigan. But in 28 years of living in Kansas City, I was never able to show you a public car museum that wasn’t in business to sell cars. That changes right now, with the opening of the Kansas City Automotive Museum in Olathe. This isn’t a huge museum, but it has some high-quality cars and interesting Kansas City automotive history. And as nice as this place is, it’s just a start. They’ll continue to refine and improve this location until they move into a larger facility sometime in the near future.
My family is in the final stages of our transition from Kansas City to Nashville, and I was back in KC over the weekend to meet up with family and friends. I also managed to take in a car activity or two, including the Longbranch Cruise in Overland Park on Friday night. They’ve usually got some nice stuff at this one, and since I haven’t been in town since the beginning of car cruise season, much of it was new to me. One of the things I’m going to miss about Kansas City is the collection of exceptionally nice cars out there. Here are a few examples.
When you come to this website, you probably expect to see big ‘50s cars, Corvettes, Kustoms, hot rods, and muscle cars. You will see none of those in this story. Today we’re visiting the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tenn. This 132,000 sq.-ft. facility was formerly a Sunbeam bakery, but today houses more than 330 mostly vintage European cars from the private collection of Jeff Lane. But these aren’t the typical Mercedes, Porsches, and Ferraris that you might expect. The Lane Museum contains an eclectic mix of microcars and Communist dictator limousines. If it’s quirky and interesting, you’ll probably find it here. Let’s take a tour.
Ever since I moved to Nashville and people learned that I write about car shows, everyone has asked me if I would be going to the Goodguys Nashville Nationals. Well, of course I went there. Casual car lovers and out-and-out fanatics all make it to this 2,000-car extravaganza held in the Tennessee Titan Stadium parking lot. And maybe the best part of it is that you are surrounded by Nashville’s impressive downtown skyline. This is a cool place for this event, and this is by far the best car show I’ve been to in the Music City so far.
Every other Sunday, there’s a really small car cruise in Nashville, but the location is cool enough that it should be bigger. It take place at the Marathon Village. And if you like cars or antiques, this is a place you need to check out. You see, Marathon Village is actually an old factory that built a car called the Marathon from 1907 to 1914. It’s also the site of Antique Archaeology, which is the store Featured on American Pickers on the History Channel. Add all the little shops and the overwhelming sense of history, and you have a must-attend event.
The big car event in Nashville last Thursday night was the weekly cruise at the Fontanel Mansion. Like most of these places, I had never been there before, and didn’t really know what to expect. What I found was one of the coolest places to have a car event I’ve been to in a long time. The Fontanel was originally Barbara Mandrel’s 27,000 square-foot log home, but now it’s used for private events. There are zip lines, restaurants, an amphitheatre, the world’s only Goo Goo Clusters store, and much more. And everything is surrounded by rolling hills, lush grass, and green trees. It’s really pretty out there.
Saturday night I decided to forego the bigger, closer cruises in the Nashville area to try out one I hadn’t been to yet. This was the Fairview Cruise in the Tractor Supply parking lot there. They had a few nice cars, but honestly, there were not very many there to look at. I don’t regret going, though, because I drove through some very nice scenery to get there from my home base in Old Hickory. Plus, you know I’m always game to see cars I’ve never looked at before. It was a bit of a drive, but I can think of worse things to do on a Saturday night.
For most people, Spring Hill, Tenn., is famous for one car—Saturn. Back in the day, the state-of-the-art assembly plant in Spring Hill cranked out hundreds of thousands of these plastic-paneled eco-mobiles to what was at the time a rabid fan base. There were people out there who loved these cars. They loved the no-haggle pricing strategy. They lovd being part of the Saturn family. Don’t believe it? Back in the 1990s, as many as 50,000 Saturn owners and lovers would converge on Spring Hill for the annual Saturn Homecoming shows.
No matter where you go in the United States, people who love cars will find a way to get together. Take Goodlettsville, Tenn. Every Saturday night throughout the summer, a big group of car nuts meet up at the Goodlettsville Cruise, which takes place behind the Publix grocery store. And true to form, when you get this many cars together, you’re bound to see some good ones. Let’s take a look at a few of them that stood out.
Gallatin, Tenn., is a quaint little city with an historic downtown area. And every April they close that area down for their annual Square Fest celebration. Their website says there are crafts, food vendors, and live entertainment. I’ll have to take their word for it, because I never actually got to the main area. I was too distracted with the Gallatin Square Fest Car Show, which took place in a couple of parking lots near the center of the action. I think you’ll see why, though, because there were some pretty nice rides out there.