I've been aware, for many years now, that I have a secondary identification system for the roads that I regularly drive on. Firstly, I will remember them by name, but the 2nd rung of classification involves any vintage cars that might be on the road. So I think of them like this: "That's old highway 70S to Sparta or the one with all those old farm trucks about halfway there." Anytime I happen to find myself driving a road, I will always look to see if a specific vintage car or truck is still where it's been for X number of years.
1920's era Pure Oil Service Station at the corner of North Spring and East Morford Streets in McMinnville, Tennessee. Photo by: Chris Breeden
Recently I noticed that I also look for the presents of old automobile related buildings as well. Service stations and garages in particular. I pay close attention to see if the business that's now in them has changed and if it looks like any remodeling is about to take place.
Sam Shull's Gulf Service Station on Lind Street in McMinnville, Tennessee. Probably built in the late 1940's or early 1950's. Photo by: Chris Breeden
It's pretty common to see a for sale or lease sign in front of these, now over 50 year old buildings. I find myself making note of the real estate company and then I'll look it up and laugh at the ridiculous prices they want for them.
This was most likely originally built as a Mobile Service Station in the 1960's. It's located across the street from the Gulf station in the above picture on Lind Street in McMinnville, Tennessee. Photo by: Chris Breeden
While I have no intention of buying one of them, in addition to always being way over priced they are usually located in fairly urban and difficult to get to areas, I always feel like I should look... just in case it has a logical price. They never do!
Hunt Brothers Garage, est 1952. Located at the junction of Tennessee Highways 41 and 53 in Manchester, Tennessee. Photo by: Chris Breeden
The prices are surprising, but understandable. Most of these buildings are zoned as commercial structures so they appeal to a different sort of buyer. Business space always goes for a premium.
Located in Quebeck, Tennessee, beside State Route 1, this country general store was built in the 1940's with selling gas in mind. Photo by: Chris Breeden
These kinds of buildings are rarely, if ever, still being used for their original purpose. They are buildings full of that sort of "character" that is popular in my region right now. Small businesses will open up a restaurant, salon, dog groomer, antique store or vape shop in these well worn places. It suits their business model and branding.
Above: Located in Sparta, Tennessee this Chevy dealer sign may not be a building, but it is a pretty neat relic of the 1950's. The dealership has been updated over the years and looks nothing like it would have when the sign was set up. Despite receiving multiple, large dollar offers for the sign, the dealership continues to let it deteriorate.
So while I'd love nothing more than to remodel one and live in the offices and work on my cars in the garage, others are prepared to pay more to keep them as a business. But one of these days, I just might get one!
Keep on Cruisin'!
Art by: Chris Breeden
Thanks for reading!
About the Author:
"Chris Breeden is a Social Media content creator for Custom & Hot Rod Life on DRIVETRIBE, YouTube and Facebook. After spending 5 years in Southern California, a.k.a. Hot Rod Heaven, while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Marine Corps, he moved back home to Tennessee with an even greater love for Hot Rodded Vintage Tin. Since then he has worked in retail sales and the transportation and logistics industry. In 2018, seeing a gap in Hot Rod and Custom Car coverage on DRIVETRIBE, Chris began advocating for their inclusion on the platform. During the summer months, he can be found all over the Tennessee region covering car shows, meets, and cruise-ins. During the winter months, he can be found in the garage working on his custom 1949 Ford two-door sedan and 1954 F100 truck."