It was Thursday night in the summer time. That means it was time for the weekly car cruise in the prettiest location in Nashville. The Fontanel Mansion hosts this event, and they always do a nice job. As usual, there was live music, food to eat, and beautiful, tree-covered hills in the shadow of Barbara Mandrel’s old house and amphitheater. Cruise participation has been a little light lately, which seems strange to me considering the enjoyable location and nice weather. But the car owners and their families that did show up were all having a nice time.
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!
The Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, Tenn., has something for everyone. You like looking at fuzzy chickens? They’ve got them. You like smelling pigs? Take a whiff at the fair. Chocolate-covered bacon? Yep. Want to be so violently spun around on a ride that you puke? Tell your friends to stay clear of projectile corn dogs. Personally, I wanted to go there for the same reason I want to go anywhere—for the cars. The Mid-Tenn Regional Car Club hosted a big, one day car show, and it was a good one. More than 200 cars greeted visitors right at the entrance of the fair. It almost made me forget to check out the world’s tiniest woman in the carnival area.
We were headed down to Dollywood for a little family fun, and as we passed through Sevierville, Tenn., I blurted out, “Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum. We need to go back there!” It’s a good thing we did, because this place is the real deal. This is a pretty well-known collection of cars, so stumbling across it like we did was a major stroke of luck. The museum claims to have 90 muscle cars worth a total of $8-million. If they told me they were worth more, I’d believe it. There were plenty of big engines, unusual options, and rare vehicles in this bunch. If you like vintage iron, you won’t be disappointed here.
I’m spending more time in the Memphis area for work lately, so last Tuesday night I checked out Tom’s Cruise in Germantown. As is the norm these days, it was an incredibly hot day, which may have had an impact on attendance. That being said, there was still a good number of nice cars at this cruise, and most of them stayed there for quite a while. High heat isn’t enough to keep real car folks at home. They just pack a few more bottles of water. Let’s take a look at some of the rides they packed that water in.
Most people don’t really consider the mid-1990s to be a high-water mark in the history of the automobile. It’s an era of bland, jellybean-shaped appliances and soulless Toyota Camrys. V8, rear-wheel-drive performance cars were out, and the word “horsepower” was being replaced with “fuel economy.” Luckily, General Motors was quietly building cars under the radar that bucked the trends of the time. The 1994-1996 Chevrolet Impala SS was a holdout from another era. It was big. It sat on a full frame. It had a 260-hp V8 when 100-hp four-bangers were the norm. Its sinister, monochromatic looks were like a big middle finger to the wheezy turd-mobiles with which it shared the road.