Old Car City U.S.A. Is Part Graveyard, Part Playground for Fans of Abandoned Classic Cars

This story initially ran in 2014 on Hot RodFor extra barn discover and basic automotive content material, take a look at Hot Rod Network.

You’ve most likely seen pictures from this place earlier than. Big finned Cadillacs sinking slowly within the loam, a 1967 GTO peering out from waist-high weeds, vines curling across the mirrors and out and in of hood scoops, pre-safety glass windshields starred and fogged from many years of quiet resting within the woods. There are greater than six miles of trails in and across the Georgia forest land that homes these picturesque scenes of abandonment, and the proprietor of all of it, Dean Lewis, is aware of precisely how hanging it’s.

There is an indication on the fence that reads “CARS, ART, NATURE, HISTORY.” That sums up Dean’s method to his 34-acre classic automotive scrapyard fairly properly. Actually, calling it a scrapyard may result in the fallacious impression; perhaps “adventureland” could be higher. Dean calls it “Photographers Paradise,” and that works too, though you don’t need to be behind the lens to take pleasure in strolling the wooded trails of Old Car City, USA. For a automotive junkie, it’s a bit like strolling the Louvre, if that well-known museum had left the Mona Lisa exterior for 25 years.

The enterprise began again in 1931, when Dean’s mother and father opened a small basic retailer in White, Georgia, a tiny city solely fashioned just a few years earlier. The Lewis’ added a scrapyard enterprise to the shop, and Dean says his childhood was spent taking part in with automobiles in that junkyard. His of us had moved out of the junk enterprise by the point Dean bought serious about taking on the property within the 1970s, however there have been nonetheless some ‘40s cars sitting around in the woods. Dean started buying cars from auctions and private parties and recycling yards. He expanded so much he had to buy more land to keep everything on. The area became a playground for Dean, his friends, his children, and his grandchildren. A creative group, they’d use scrap steel to construct towers and airplanes and different oddities in and across the rusting frames of muscle automobiles and ‘50s classics. Eventually, the place became more of an art project than a working salvage yard, and that’s when Dean realized he may make more cash charging admission like a theme park than parting out the shows.

Like all good artwork, Old Car City just isn’t with out controversy. Collectors hoping to attain a discount go away the place grumbling and dissatisfied. “Everything is for sale,” Dean informed us, “But only at a price that makes it worth it for me. If I sell this, it’s gone. I don’t have it anymore. I can’t replace it.” The Internet appears cut up between individuals who suppose Dean owes one thing to the passion to get these automobiles within the fingers of people that will restore them, and those that suppose it’s cool simply to have the ability to see a photogenic spot with so many unimaginable cars in a single place. Patina hounds and Ruin Porn aficionados can have no complaints concerning the set-up.



We aren’t right here to inform you methods to really feel, so we’ll simply inform you how we felt strolling by way of the deserted automobiles and moss-covered engine blocks. It’s extremely peaceable, a little bit unhappy, and really inspiring. A thick layer of pine needles cushions the well-maintained trails, and the sunshine filters down gentle and inexperienced by way of the bushes. We went on a weekday and wandered for greater than an hour with out ever seeing one other individual, our solely firm the ghosts of the automobiles’ earlier house owners, and a brightly feathered fowl that watched us suspiciously from his perch on the uncovered valve practice of a lichened small-block Chrysler. Dean says he’s heard experiences of the occasional bear sighting, however the scariest creature we noticed was a spider the dimensions of the beforehand talked about small block making an internet within the inside of a late 1960s station wagon.

Old Car City is loosely divided by make, right here a row of Fords and Mercurys, across the bend a clearing with AMCs and Chryslers, however you by no means know what you’ll discover peeking out from a blanket of leaves, or tucked inside a weathered picket lean-to. The selection is staggering, we noticed particular bundle choices we had forgotten about—Hornet Sportabout, anybody? Gold Duster?—in addition to excessive efficiency automobiles that we thought had all been restored by now—’68 Super Bee? Olds 442?—it doesn’t even appear potential that these automobiles ever ended up in a junkyard.

Most of the time, the patina and decay simply highlighted the great thing about the automotive’s authentic design. Moss creeping over a taillight or ferns wrapping round a door deal with draw the attention to styling parts in a approach you may ignore for those who had been a restored automotive. Every as soon as in awhile we did succumb to the sense of loss that seeing these automobiles rot away can encourage within the “Save the Whales” facet of your mind. The sight of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, its egg-crate grille twisted round a small sapling, its wood-grained door panels crumbling into mud made us miss our personal automobiles, and need to rush dwelling and rebuild a 440 to get ours again on the street earlier than it joins its sister in returning to the earth.

Maybe that’s the actual lesson that automotive lovers ought to take away from Dean’s place. You are fortunate to have your venture automotive, and it’s fortunate to have you ever. Treat it properly, don’t let it waste away in your storage ready for sometime. Get it operating, get it on the market. Do it for the misplaced automobiles of Old Car City.

If you’re close to White, Georgia (about 1.5 hours from Atlanta), don’t miss an opportunity to undergo Old Car City for your self. We advocate displaying up with good strolling footwear, a giant reminiscence card in your digicam, and a number of bug spray. Old Car City is open Tuesday by way of Saturday and prices $20 for admission (or $30 for those who plan to take footage). Don’t neglect to take a look at Dean’s artwork gallery within the upstairs part of the museum.

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