Imagine seeing a NASCAR pit road, a 1930s service station, a 1950s-era café, and a moonshine still under one roof. Sounds interesting, right?
Well, there’s a place in Greeneville where you CAN see all that. And interestingly enough, they’re not even the stars of the show.
I’m talking about the City Garage Car Museum on Main Street. The real stars here are the 40 cars, ranging from the super-fast to super-expensive to super-eccentric. It’s the kind of place that inspires an infatuation with automobiles, even if you’ve never been a “car person.”
You’ll see everything from a 5-horsepower 1901 Oldsmobile (manufactured 7 years before the invention of the Model T) to the Morgan-McClure Winston Cup car—which Sterling Marlin used to win the 1994 Daytona 500. You’ll see a 1940 Ford “moonshine hauler” (made famous by the likes of Junior Johnson), a 1933 Hudson Essex Terraplane (that won the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb in 1933), and an incredibly rare 1964½ Mustang V8 Convertible.
There’s the 1972 Rolls-Royce Convertible, used in the movie “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. There’s a limited-production 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner Super Bird, worth more than $150,000.
And there’s the lowest-mileage DeLorean in existence (with only 722 miles on it).
And believe me, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Owner/Curators Kent and Bettye Ann Bewley of Greeneville have spent decades assembling one of the most amazing private collections you’ll see anywhere. And they’ve spent countless hours outfitting the inside of the museum with décor as unique and fascinating as the cars themselves. Well, almost…
Now I’ve always been a car-appreciator (and not so much a car-lover), but as Kent walked me through the museum, I was in awe. He pointed out his favorite car, a 1972 deTomaso Pantera, with a 435-horsepower Cleveland 351. For those car-novices out there, that means it’s super fast. In fact, it’ll do upwards of 170 miles per hour!
“I’d NEVER sell that car,” Kent says.
And Bettye Ann’s favorite? A 1930 Ford A-Model with a rumble seat. Nicknamed “Miss Daisy,” it originally sold for $57.50!
As for my favorite car in the collection, I’ve got a few of them:
The “Evil Twin”—a replica of Ed Roth’s 1966 Druid Princess. This thing has TWO 350 V8 engines, two transmissions, and one rear-end. Those engines combine for a whopping 1,200 horsepower. (To put that in perspective, a NASCAR Sprint Cup car has about 800)
A 1964 Rolls-Royce, customized for and owned by Sir Elton John. This baby has a Tonowanda 454 engine with 500 horsepower, capable of exceeding 180 miles per hour. Rocket Man!
A completely original 1955 Ford Thunderbird with only 16,000 miles. Original paint, original chrome, INCREDIBLY rare.
And a 1948 Chevrolet Custom Coupe, built from the parts of 14 cars! It’s got an all-aluminum 327, capable of producing 350 horsepower. Its got a Corvette’s grill and bumpers, Volkswagen hood and trunk lid, ’52 Cadillac tail lights, and ’55 Thunderbird hood scoops. If all that sounds familiar, then you’ve probably seen it in custom-car magazines. It’s been in plenty of them!
Of course, I could go on and on about the cars, but to get the full effect, you need to see them for yourself. The museum is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 to 4, and by appointment. You can even rent it out to throw parties, a common occurrence amongst car clubs, civic clubs, and women’s groups in the area.
Wait a minute…women?
Allow Kent to explain: “Women’s groups like to throw parties here, because they know their husbands will come and enjoy themselves!”
And enjoy themselves, they do. Just stop by and have a look for yourself. Even if you’re not a “car person,” just one trip through City Garage, and you just might become one!