Thursday, August 27, 2015

Feel the fame at the Hollywood Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg

If I didn’t have to work to pay for the electricity to run my television, I would spend a lot more time sitting around on my couch watching old car shows and movies. I don’t care about deep storylines and strong plots. Car jumps, crashes, and explosions are where it’s at. So when we went to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg, Tenn., I knew I was in the right place. Sure, this is a touristy area full of questionable attractions designed to suck your wallet dry. But if you like cars, especially famous cars, this museum was actually worth the price of admission. This review is so action-packed, we’re going to take it on two wheels!

There was a lot of George Barris influence at this museum, so it makes sense that they had his most famous car, the 1966 Batmobile. This isn’t the original Batmobile, but it still has all the charm of the TV show. In Batmobile circles it’s known as the Bob Butts car, and it was created from molds that were formed from one of the recreations that was used on the show. This car has been the center of controversy over the years due to its authenticity, but none of that matters here. It looks good. You would expect Adam west to slide down a pole and jump into it. Plus, you can go right up to it and take pictures. This museum is exactly the right place for this car to be.

The museum claims that this is one of 17 surviving 1969 Dodge Charger General Lees that were left when The Dukes of Hazzard went off the air in 1985. It has some odd traits that don’t really mesh with what you’d normally expect to see. The “01” on the doors is a little off. It has headrests. That Barris Kustoms badges on the front fenders look out of place. I’ve read that Barris had something to do with the orange color choice on the General Lee, but he did not design it. His shop apparently built some replicas to send to car shows in the 1980s. Perhaps this is one of those. It was a pretty nice car, though. And any day you can see a real life General Lee is a pretty good day.

This ’53 Buick Skylark wasn’t in a movie, but it was owned by a famous person. One of the cool features about these was that the owner’s name was embedded in the steering wheel, and this one says “Bob Hope.” They only made 1,690 of these in 1953, and they were more expensive than a Cadillac DeVille convertible. It makes sense that a popular entertainer like Bob Hope would own one. This car was perfect for museum life, but would probably take a little effort to get back out on the road. The suspension looked low and worn out. The interior had been redone years ago in vinyl. It wasn’t a knockout. But every one of these Skylarks is cool because of what it is, and the celebrity provenance of this car was a welcome added bonus.

We were just watching the movie Twister last week, and this ’82 Jeep J10 pickup got sucked up in a tornado. Well, one just like it did. They used three in the movie, and this is supposed to be the only survivor. It wasn’t a terrible old truck, and the fact that it had some real movie history behind it made it even better. It even had “Dorothy,” the weather surveying machine that the movie was about, packed in the bed. Helen Hunt was nowhere to be seen, but if she had been, I’m sure she’d be pleased to see that her truck was in such great shape even after the run-in with the tornado.

Who you gonna’ call? Of course, the Ghostbusters “Ecto-1” was a popular attraction in the Hollywood star cars museum. Just like the actual movie car, this was made from a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance. This one didn’t actually appear in the movie, but it is a pretty convincing replica. It has a Barris Kustoms badge on the fender, but it was actually built by Peter Moser. They’re actually making a new female-led Ghostbusters movie right now, and their car is going to be a mid-‘80s Cadillac hearse. Too bad they couldn’t have borrowed this car from the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. It has way more character.

I have to say, I really enjoyed our visit to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg, Tenn. It brought back some good memories of some fun shows, and there was some genuine star power associated with many of the vehicles. If you’re in the neighborhood, I suggest you go there. If not, I took 204 pictures. You can see them in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.

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