Collector Tim Wellborn, whose collection includes more than 60 high-powered muscle cars from 1969-1971 has opened the Wellborn MuscleCar Museum in an old auto dealership in Alexander City, AL.
Below is the article as it appeared on The Birmingham News website.
Muscle Car Collector Opens Museum in Alexander City
By VAL WALTON The Birmingham News
Published: Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Tim Wellborn fell in love when he was 12.
His father bought a pre-teen’s dream, a 1971 Dodge Charger Road Tracker with a 426 Hemi engine and enough muscle to move a mountain.
Wellborn watched it and washed it. He polished it, but when he turned 16 he didn’t get to drive it.
His first set of wheels was a tan 1976 International Scout, an early-type sport utility vehicle with wood grain paneling on the side.
"That’s because my dad knew it wouldn’t go fast," Wellborn said.
Times have changed.
Wellborn, 52, owns more than 60 high-powered muscle cars from 1969-71, the period when the high performance cars were at their peak. He has so many that he has opened a museum in an old auto dealership in Alexander City, where he showcases them. Mixed in the collection is the olive green Dodge Charger he coveted so as a teen, but his late father, Doug, wouldn’t allow him to drive.
"That’s why the car is still here in the collection, and I’m still here," he said. "That was too much horsepower for a 16-year-old. This is the car that started my love for collecting."
Wellborn, whose family has been in the kitchen cabinet business and now charters two airplanes, said he has been collecting cars for more than 30 years, acquiring muscle cars from virtually all American manufacturers.
Wellborn’s MuscleCar Museum, which officially opened in January, boasts the largest collection of Dodge Chargers in the nation. Housed in the old Darwin Dobbs Chevrolet dealership on Broad Street, the museum is like a ¤’70s showroom.
"I like cars from that era because of the big engines, the wild colors," he said. "You look at these cars, and they are all striped up. Back then, they had distinctive styles."
The big engines are lined up everywhere, in Chargers, Dodge Super Bees, Plymouth Road Runner Super Birds, with original factory color schemes such as Panther Pink, Sassy Grass Green, Plum Crazy Purple and Lemon Twist Yellow.
Though Chargers are the bulk of Wellborn’s muscle cars, his collection is varied with a LS6 Chevelle, a Ford Mustang Boss 429, GSX Buicks, Cutlass 442 W30 convertibles. In the museum sits a red, white and blue 1970 AMC Javelin.
Some are rare, he said, such as the Pontiac Ram Air IV and a 1971 Plymouth Cuda. Some are personal such as the 1970 Dodge Charger RT that he used to court his wife, Pam.
Hanging from the ceilings are vintage Dodge signs. On the car windshields are actual neon dealership signs from three decades ago. Strings of fluorescent orange and pink miniature flags are attached to car antennas, drawing the eye to the shiny, flashy cars. The classic line of cars have sticker tags leaning in front of them on the showroom’s floor, indicating what the price of the cars were 40 years ago.
A Dodge Daytona sold for a whopping $4,724.30.
"What we want you to feel is a 1970s vibe," he said. "We want people to feel like you went back in time, like if you were to walk in a dealership in 1970, this is what you would see on display and drive out the door."
Bill Conner Jr. of Trussville toured the museum with his father, Bill Sr., and his daughter, Erin, on a recent day. He owns an antique Chevrolet hot rod.
"This brings back memories," Conner said. "When I was in high school, I almost bought a (Plymouth) AMX, which is the equivalent of the Javelin back there. The car cost $1,000 used, and it cost $18,000 a year to insure it being 16 years old. It’s kind of nice to come and reminisce.
Not just cars
The museum has more than cars.
Wellborn has a collection of motorcycles and a collection of NASCAR memorabilia, including Richard Petty’s race suit when he won the 1966 Daytona 500 and the race suit worn by Richard Brickhouse, who won the inaugural Talladega 500 in 1969.
Wellborn has placed on loan with the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte the No. 71 K&K Insurance Dodge Charger Daytona that was driven by 1970 Grand National Champion Bobby Isaac.
The museum, which has a stockroom with shelves of original parts, old parts catalogs and a tune-up room, is always changing. He rotates out cars in his own collection and with other collectors.
The cars are not static, but ready for the road, said Phillip Love, who, with Jerry Vickers and Gary Pemberton, helps in the museum. The cars have batteries, antique tags and insurance. "A few have been restored, but there are a lot of them that are original with low miles," Love said.
Wellborn said he acquires cars mainly through word of mouth, rarely through auctions.
When asked his favorite car, Wellborn chuckles.
"Whichever one I’m driving at the moment," he said. "Every one of them was bought with a passion. There’s a story behind every car and why I bought it."
The Wellborn MuscleCar Museum is off Broad Street in downtown Alex City. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9-5 and on Saturday from 10-4. Cost is $10 for adults and $6 for children 17 and younger. The website is www.wellbornmusclecarmuseum.com (currently under construction).
To read this article on The Birmingham News website, visit http://blog.al.com/birmingham-news-stories/2010/03/post_90.html.