Back Roads & Side Streets

If you can get away from speeding down the massive interstate system that crisscrosses our great country and slow your speed to fit into the state or county highway system, you will find some really great automotive jewels. Whether these jewels are in the shape of a small hometown automotive museums, the custom shops that you don’t see on television or the occasional rusty relic that really catches your eye, they are there to be found if you just slow down and hit the back roads & side streets.

Stage II Max Wedge

1963 Plymouth Savoy
Article and photos by Larry Crain

Okay the first line of the title should have gotten your attention right off the bat if you are a true fan of muscle cars. This fine example of a factory-produced true muscle car is owned by Rich and Paige Udell, who live in The Villages, Florida. If their name sounds familiar it is probably because of their Great 8 Award winning 1932 Ford Roadster known as “Timeless”, or their other well-known car “Instigator”, which is a 1934 Chevrolet sedan. When I saw Rich and Paige recently in Panama City Beach, Florida during the Spring Emerald Coast Cruizin’, they were riding in, not a street rod, but this awesome little Plymouth Savoy.

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Cool Blue and Aged Well

1957 Chevy Truck
Article and photos by Larry Crain

I had to come up with a title that was catchy and quick to grab your attention, plus pertain to the vehicle that this article is about and the title fits this truck very well. The truck was built by Kirk Peterson about 15 years ago, and then about 8 years ago it was given a good going over to make it all fresh again. That’s right! This awesome looking, show-winning machine was last freshened up that long ago and still kicks butt!

The truck that Kirk built, which has stood the test of time, is a heavily modified 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Series stepside. The frame is a modified stock piece that has been reinforced with square tubing and then powder coated. The front suspension is a Heidts IFS with rack and pinion steering. The rear section of the stock frame was altered so it could become the home of a Cadillac Allante disc brake rear end that is equipped with 3:73 gears. The powder coated rear suspension is a four link equipped with Eaton three inch drop springs. Raising or lowering the truck for show or cruising is taken care of by a Shockwave system from Ridetech. The brake system on the truck is all Corvette from the power brake booster assembly to the disc brakes on all four corners. The wheels for this custom chassis are Foose Fishtail with 18’s on the front and 20’s on the rear.

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The Griffey’s 1954 Corvette

The Griffey’s 1954 Corvette
Transitions Concept 546
Article and photos by Larry Crain

The road to building an award-winning vehicle can be a long one with a lot of twists and turns. The travel down this road is attempted by many but not all follow it to the end. Larry Griffey, owner of Larry Griffey’s Hot Rods & Restorations, has traveled this road many times in his business of building vehicles that are as varied as his taste in them. He has built everything from weekend cruisers to Great 8 winners and a First Place winner at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Eight years ago Larry came across a 1954 Corvette project car that was just a pile of parts and a custom Jamison Chassis. It took a while and quite a bit of negotiating with the owner, but Larry finally got the deal he was looking for and the Corvette found a new home in his garage. The car sat for a few years then Larry and Chuck Powell began a six-year journey down a road that saw a whole lot of custom fiberglass work take place on the car. Larry’s wife Robbie was a major factor in keeping them focused on seeing the project to completion during those years. With the initial fabrications and body modifications completed at Larry’s home it was time to move the car over to the shop for final fit of the body and disassembly for the car to be painted. At this stage all the talents of Kevin Riffey and Dustin Boone were brought into action completing the car with all of the equipment on hand at Larry Griffey’s Hot Rods & Restorations. The group effort at Griffey’s saw the Corvette transformed into what would become a 2017 Great 8 Award winning car.

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Pro Auto Custom Interiors

Knoxville, Tennessee
Article and photos by Larry Crain
Additional photos provided by Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop

When you look at a car, two things about it are the most prominent. Your eyes will tell you really quick whether the car is a winner or not just on those two items. These two items should complement each other on many levels to make the vehicle stand out from the rest of the crowd. These two points of interest that I am talking about are paint and interior, which can turn an ordinary vehicle into a show winner.

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Tool Time 1923 C Cab

Article and photos by Larry Crain

While doing a photo shoot of a private automotive collection of very diverse original, customs, classics and hot rods I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. I know a huge number of auto enthusiasts watched the TV show Home Improvement just to see what vehicles would turn up in Tim “The Toolman” Taylor’s garage or on his show “Tool Time”. The show ran from September 1991 through May 1999, and Tim Allen was just awesome in his character’s role as a guy that really wanted to be a hot rodder even though he was just a bit challenged mechanically. Over the series there were many vehicles featured, some more prominently than others, and what I saw in this private collection is supposedly one of the first vehicles to be featured on the show.

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What’s In Your Car Collection?

Article and photos by Larry Crain

Automotive enthusiasts usually have one or two vehicles in their garage or shop that are their pride and joy. Sometimes you will find someone that has a really cool garage or shop that has maybe ten vehicles of assorted manufacturers and years. Somewhere along these lines is when you can start calling yourself a collector of cars and trucks. Collecting means that the number of vehicles that you own is always growing, never diminishing and that entails having the space to store them plus the time to maintain them. Most owners of large, private collections are very private individuals that only show their vehicles by invitation.

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City Garage Car Museum

Greeneville, TN
Article and photos by Larry Crain

Being an auto enthusiast I know that there are many automotive museums, both big and small, scattered across our great country. I am also pleased to say that there is an automotive museum within a 15 minute drive from my home. I enjoy seeing what unique vehicles these museums have on display, and just sometimes the museum is also a part of automotive history like the one in Greeneville, Tennessee.

The City Car Garage Museum building did not start out with an automotive connection unless it was the cars and trucks that came to it to pick up seed or other farm related supplies. The first building on this location was a Kasco Feed Store in the 1930’s, but in the 1940’s it was purchased by W. R. Bullen and his business partner Jack O’Keefe. These two gentlemen bought the property and building after their Plymouth-Dodge dealership in town burned down and turned this location into a new dealership and garage.

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American Graffiti Race: Who Really Would Have Won?

Article and display photos by Larry Crain
Race photo supplied by Ken Buckner Jr.

The title of this article alone should tell you that I’m taking you back to 1973 and one of the all time great car movies American Graffiti. The movie was actually set in 1962 when cruisin’ the boulevard and hanging out at the local drive-in diner were the things to do on weekend nights. Of course, there were the really cool cars used in the movie including Milner’s yellow ’32 Ford coupe; the local king of the street race scene. Then a new guy named Falfa shows up in a bad black ’55 Chevy ready to show Milner who really has the baddest car around. Well if you have seen the movie you know they end up on Paradise road for a grudge race with (spoiler alert!) Falfa losing car control of his car, totaling it and Milner wins by default. So the question has always been: if there had been no wreck, who would have won?

I’m lucky to know Ken Buckner Sr. and Ken Buckner Jr., owners of two of the most correct American Graffiti cloned ’32 Ford and ’55 Chevy. This father and son duo have been showing these two cars for years, including at autograph sessions with most of the original cast members, at one time or the other, all over the eastern and southern part of the country.

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2017 Winter Angel Expo

White Pine, Tennessee
Article and photos by Larry Crain

Small town indoor car shows hardly ever get much exposure in print or on the web, and that is a shame, especially if they are for a good cause. In this case, the Annual Winter Angel Expo Vehicle & Motorcycle Show that was held in January at the Great Smoky Mountain Expo Center in the rural town of White Pine, Tennessee.

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12th Annual 2016 Emerald Coast Cruizin’

Panama City Beach, Florida
Article and photos by Larry Crain

Every November for the past 12 years Emerald Coast Cruizin’ has continued to grow by leaps and bounds with more participants, spectators, and big name vendors. This event grows because of a great host city like Panama City Beach, an awesome event site like Aaron Bessant Park and a perfect backdrop for cruisin’ like the beautiful gulf coast beaches.

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