Many of you have probably heard of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and may have had the opportunity to visit its various museums. But did you know there are museums dedicated to the history of the muscle car?
There are three main museums in the United States showcasing muscle cars and their history and what I would call another one that is up and coming. As you might guess, all fourare located in the Southeast.
One of the first museums that opened dedicated to muscle cars is the Floyd Garrett Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville, Tenn., just above Pigeon Forge. I have visited this museum and met Mr. Garrett while there, and I can attest that it is a shrine to the rarest and most valuable muscle cars.
The museum is host to around 90 cars worth more than $8 million. It cost $9.75 for an adult ticket, and of course you’ll also find a memorabilia and souvenir shop. There is a wide variety of muscle cars with all the major makes represented (Ford, GM and MOPAR) and even a couple of AMC products. The website is musclecarmuseum.com. The next time you go to Dollywood or Gatlinburg, you might want to check this museum out as it’s very close to both of those attractions.
The Wellborn Muscle Car Museum is in Alexander City, Ala., which seems like kind of an out-of-the-way place but it’s well worth the visit, especially if you are a MOPAR muscle car fan. Mr. Wellborn has a special place in his heart for the Dodges and Plymouths that tore up the asphalt in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The museum’s website ( wellbornmusclecarmuseum.com) indicates that the largest collection of 1971 Hemi Chargers resides here. The museum has a unique feel about it – it is located in what was an old dealership building from the early 1940s. This museum has a $10 admission charge, but take note that it is only open Wednesday through Saturday.
If you like your muscle of the Bowtie (Chevy) persuasion, then you need to visit Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City Museum in Punta Gorda, which is in southwest Florida. This museum may be the largest at 99,000 square feet and is located in an old Walmart. Mr. Treworgy’s museum puts special emphasis on Chevrolet muscle from the 1950s to the early ’70s. I would dare say that every important and collectible Chevy muscle car is represented in this collection. Admission price is $12.50, and the website is musclecarcity.net.
Earlier I mentioned an up-and-coming museum, and it’s located in Myrtle Beach on Hwy. 501 near the Tanger Outlets. Wheels of Yesteryear opened in September 2009 and showcases roughly 50 different muscle cars. It is open seven days a week, admission is $9 and the website is wheelsofyesteryearmb.com.
No matter which flavor of muscle you prefer, you can rest assure that you will see an example of it in the aforementioned museums. Some of these museums even rotate out various cars at different times of year so you always see some that are different. Have fun looking!
Bill Deaton of Fort Mill is the owner of B&D Business Services in Rock Hill and also a classic car enthusiast.