Posted on January 16, 2018 by Amanda Surowitz
Savannah is proud to offer its own pit stop for car buffs: Savannah Classic Cars. Part museum, part consignment car shop, the big grey building on E. Lathrop Avenue just west of Downtown Savannah showcases a collection of classic automobiles you won’t find for another 100 miles. Just look for the red panel truck sitting outside!
“You’d have to go to Charlotte of Jacksonville or Atlanta to get a classic car museum,” Tony Vazquez, owner of Savannah Classic Cars, explained. “We’re lucky to be the only ones in Savannah to serve this area. Everybody who comes here is excited, saying, ‘This is perfect! We needed this!'”
Before opening the museum last October, Vazquez ran an online dealership for classic cars. He started with a small warehouse that held only eight vehicles before expanding to accommodate 18. The warehouse wasn’t open to the public, but travelers and visitors called to ask if they could come look at the cars.
He was surprised to find so many within the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry interested in having a destination showroom for classic car lovers. After discovering several car clubs and getting in touch with their members, he found thousands of car collectors in Hilton Head, Darien and Statesboro.
“Why don’t I have a place where people can come look at the cars? Let the community enjoy these old vehicles,” Vazquez thought. “That’s when I decided to find this place, and now we can fit 30 cars. And then we partnered with a restoration shop next door, so people can look at the cars, then see how cars are being built. That’s a cool experience for people.”
Since all but two cars on the museum floor are for sale, five or six new cars are put on display every month. From Model Ts and Model As to Bel Airs and Thunderbirds to Mustangs and Camaros, Savannah Classic Cars has anything automotive from the 1920s through the 1970s.
“Everybody that goes back there, there’s something different,” said Kim Hunsinger, the museum’s marketing coordinator. “Each one of them finds a different car that they get excited about for a different reason.”
“I see certain Thunderbirds and Mustangs, and I think of my dad and it makes me happy,” she went on. “Everybody sees a car and it brings back great memories. It just makes people happy. Good memories of good times.”
For Vazquez, it’s the 1968 Camaro—his first car and the one he took drag racing.
“That’s all I did in high school. I was just a car nut at that time,” he said. “I painted cars, I fixed engines and did all that stuff. That was in me since I was a teenager. Now I see a ’68 Camaro and I go, ‘Hey, I had one of those!'”
“Cars are good memories.”
Savannah Classic Cars is located at 249 E. Lathrop Avenue and is open Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit savannahclassiccars.com or call (912) 235-2347.