Bennett Classics Antique Auto Museum, Forest City

Even someone who knows little about cars, trucks, and tractors can appreciate elegant, solid designs. A classic museum in Forest City showcases 80 items.

People who can’t perform an oil change or tell the difference between four- and eight-cylinder engines still are awed by the vehicles on display at a museum in Forest City, North Carolina. Bennett Classics Antique Auto Museum houses some 80 cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles—even bicycles, tricycles, and children’s pedal cars.

All are in splendid condition, lovingly restored and maintained. Most are drivable.

Vehicles of All Types

Guests marvel at the shiny assortment of collectibles. Among the ritzy cars, a 1928 Buick sedan, 1931 Model A roadster, and 1956 Ford Crown Victoria are among the owners’ personal favorites.

Not far away is a line of trucks—wood-fenced old reliables from the farm alongside bright red long-haul cabs dating to the 1950s. (Most notable among the latter is the Mack B Series.) Iron-wheel Fordson tractors are parked next to legendary John Deeres.

John Deere also manufactured bicycles. One is on display at the museum, as is a mid-century Western Flyer.

Some of the items were discovered abandoned in old barns and weed-grown yards. Others are unrestored originals with minimal mileage.

The Bennett Brothers Display Their Lifelong Passion

Brothers Buddy and Joe Bennett as young men worked for their Uncle Joe Young at his Ford dealership in Burnsville, North Carolina. They began collecting, rebuilding, and trading old vehicles. Over the years, they’ve kept many in their personal collection.

In 1969, the brothers started a trucking business in Forest City. They still operate it, but in 2006, they turned a 20,000-square-foot warehouse on the property into an exhibit hall. Visitors have discovered the destination via the Internet, by word of mouth, and from features in broadcast and print media. They’ve included people from most U.S. states and from Ireland, Switzerland, The Philippines, and other countries.

A Century of Automotive History

A 1913 Ford Model T is the patriarch of the collection. Some of the earliest models may represent the first automobile in a small town during the transition from horse to motor on dirt streets. Depression-era coupes and roadsters likewise stir the imagination: Were they driven by bankers or bootleggers? Did they take courting couples on pastoral picnics?

Colorful Ford, Chevys, Plymouths, and other popular models of the 1950s undoubtedly were parked at many a drive-in movie and curb-service diner. (One period car is presented with a theater speaker on one front window, a hotdog tray on the other.)

Christie Hutchins, the manager, points out that many guests personally connect with the vehicles they see—models in which they dated, tractors they operated when growing up on a farm. “Very few people leave here without some memories.”

One end of the warehouse replicates a 1920s village. Bare yellow bulbs light a folksy street scene. Vintage signs are nailed to weatherboard siding salvaged from a 19th-Century house. An antique pump reminds of the age when gas cost 20 cents a gallon. Strolling visitors hear radio hits of the 1950s in the background.

An Evolving Automobile Collection

The Bennett brothers still collect, restore and sell. By continuing to trade, they ensure that repeat visitors likely will find new/old treasures on their next trip.

Buddy Bennett muses, “Anything with wheels interests us.”

The museum is on Vance Street just off West Main Street. The hours are Monday-Saturday, 10-5. Admission ranges from $4 for children to $10 for adults; senior and group discounts are available. For details, visit the Website or call (828) 247-1767.


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