Nashville: Old car capitol of South Georgia

October 26, 2006

Nashville -- A stroll through Hemme Heads explains whyNashville has a classic car reputation. From 1937 Chevy Coupes to 1950 Studebaker Champions, you can find dozens of collectible cars in all stages of restoration.  

Five businessmen work together to turn out these beautiful, pricey works of art. 

"We've got obsolete Chevrolet here, we've got obsolete Ford, we've got the old truck store," says Hemee Heads OwnerRon Ganster.

When you step inside Hemme Heads in downtown Nashville, it's a trip back in time. "We restore antique and classic cars," Ganster says. 

And there are some real classics. "It's a '39 Plymouth Coupe. Fastback we call it. It's a two door sedan turtleback."

And while it may not be much to look at right now, when Ron and five other experts here finish it, it'll be a beauty. Inside the body shop, they consider themselves physicians, of sorts. "We're doctors of cars. That's what we do from the inside out."

From the inside out, they transform these rusted out, decades-old vehicles into shiny, new collector's items, like Bill Turner's 1948 Willys Jeepster. "Most people called them ugly when they were new. They are kinda ugly, but they're a collector's item now," Ganster says.

It's not cheap to have a vehicle restored, think of it as an investment. "This particular car up there, that Challenger, could be bought around $3,000 new and if you have a Hemi-powered Challenger today it's a five million dollar car."

Yep. He said up to five million for restored 1970 Barracudas and Challengers. Part of their value comes from their engines, original Hemi's. "This engine here was designed in 1948 to put in the American tanks going to war in Korea, and never got into the tanks, so Chrysler decided to put them in the cars. They're very powerful, very reliable, and very, very costly so they only made them five years."

And the Hemi is at the heart of Hemme Heads shop in Nashville, where five separate businesses are set up to restore old cars from bumper to bumper, top to bottom, inside and out. "Depends on the money you want to spend. Nothing is beyond repair. Money will buy anything. You got it."

And if you've got the money, Hemme Heads has the time and the expertise.

Ron Ganster has been doing this for about 40 years. And he's worked on cars owned by some pretty famous people-- George Foreman, Dan Rowan, even Lucille Ball-- who had a gold Rolls Royce. Hemme Heads restores between 100 and 150 vehicles a year.