5th-Annual Tennessee Motorama brings Nashville cars out of hibernation
The 5th-Annual Tennessee Motorama opened up at 10:00 a.m., which was right about the time we pulled into the parking lot. Already, there was a quarter-mile-long line of guys standing at the door waiting to get in. Clearly, people are ready for some kind of old car action. All it takes is a modest indoor car show and swap meet to bring everyone out of hibernation. And as each one of them plunked down their ten-dollar admission, they were greeted to a number of interesting cars and potential treasures in the Mid-Tenn Expo Center in Murfreesboro. Don’t let the ritzy Park Avenue address fool you. This place was down-to-earth enough to host a few rat rods on a nice January day.
This ’32 Ford pickup was so nice it almost made me nervous having so many people crammed around it. This is one of those hot rods that you can tell the owner sweat every small detail to make it right. There were so many perfect late-‘40s touches, like the capped headers, the steering wheel, and the gauges. The Hemi looked great with those finned valve covers and four carburetors. Even the color was right—shiny and smooth, but not too flashy. I even liked the fact that it was a truck, as you see a lot fewer of them than coupes and roadsters. It was just a very slick little rig.
This ’56 Corvette has enjoyed some notoriety, because it 2015 it was built to compete in the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition. Of course, this was part of the huge SEMA Show that takes place every year in Las Vegas, and the competition was featured on the Velocity Channel. Other than the giant chrome wheels, big brakes, and contoured seats, it would be hard to tell this from a stock Corvette at first glance. But it was pretty modern under the fiberglass, with an LS6 Chevy engine, Street Shops chassis, and independent suspension.
I’ve never been a huge fan of these bulky ’53 Dodge pickups, but one as nice as this has an adorable, oafish, tough-guy charm. Dodge had the words “Job Rated” embossed in the middle of the painted grille, so clearly this was not meant to be a luxury vehicle. It was meant to work, and this one could work harder than most with that big, old “Chrysler Industrial” Hemi beneath the side-opening hoods. This was just a great looking shop truck, and it was probably even nicer in real life than it appears in the photos. The only problem with it now is that it’s so nice, you wouldn’t actually want to press it into heavy-duty service and beat it all up.
This Indian Turquoise-over-Colonial White ’59 Ford Fairlane 500 four-door sedan was pretty interesting. I get tired of the term “barn find,” but I suppose you could use it to describe this. The paint looked original, and the interior was obviously original. All of it looked old and showed wear, but there wasn’t any rust to speak of, and it looked like an overall solid car. It has a horrible-looking new aluminum radiator in it, so someone spent some money to get it rolling again. If you favor old Ford fordors, this one would make a pretty decent project. Or just sink into the heavily broken-in three-tone driver’s seat and drive it like this. Either way, this car would draw plenty of attention.
By 1961, Volkswagen had already hit the five-million mark in Beetle output. That’s pretty amazing when you consider that it would still be in production for more than 50 more years virtually unchanged. This little ’61 here was pretty slick, with nice black paint and wide whitewall tires. Beetles kind of just look friendly, happy, and familiar anyway, these earlier models even more-so. You have to admit, it is a cute little bugger. Heck, for all I know the phrase “cute little bugger” was coined because of these cars. Anyway, I guess I’d have to give it my award for favorite foreign car of the show.
I took about 200 pictures of the show cars and swap meet from this year’s Tennessee Motorama, and you can see them in the slideshow below. Or, click this link for a nicer version.