The grounds of Asheville, North Carolina’s elegant old Grove Park Inn holds a surprise—a museum which showcases vintage cars in an historic building. Originally built in 1923, the headquarters of the Antique Car Museum was home to Biltmore Industries’ weaving shop, where forty looms turned out high-quality homespun cloth. In 1953, Biltmore Industries was purchased by Harry Blomberg, owner of one of the first Cadillac dealerships in North Carolina. Harry was an antique car aficionado and in 1966 he converted the old weaving shop to house his collection of vintage autos.
Today, visitors can feast their eyes on a bevy of pristine antique autos, all in running condition.
In addition to iconic models like Ford’s Model A and the infamous Edsel, the collection includes lesser-known vehicles like the Chandler Sedan and the LaSalle Phaeton, as well as a 1923 American LaFrance fire truck.
Museum manager Tom Anders, who is in charge of cranking the cars twice a year, is particularly partial to the 1940 Packard Coupe which, he says, always starts right up. Visitors tend to gravitate toward the 1950 MG TD Roadster or the fabulous 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. This blue beauty came equipped with cruise control, power seats and windows, and a lovely set of fins. No seat belts, but the absence is more than redressed by a perfume atomizer chock-full of Arpege.
The museum is occasionally visited by vintage auto clubs, including one from Indiana, as well as the local Model A club. A couple of years back, the Grove Park Inn hosted the Rolls Royce Meet, which brought a swarm of aficionados to admire the vintage wheels.
The Antique Car Museum is part of Grovewood Village, a collection of historic buildings located at 111 Grovewood Road on the grounds of the Grove Park Inn. The museum is open seven days a week from April through December. Admission is free and donations are much appreciated. For more information, check the website at grovewood.com.
Photos by Jack Purser