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Car Barn in Abingdon seeks to fill unique auto enthusiast niche

Car Barn in Abingdon seeks to fill unique auto enthusiast niche


ABINGDON, Va. — Gleaming, metallic eye candy fills every corner of the Car Barn.

From sleek, familiar silhouettes of the nearly new — BMW, Cadillac, Corvette, Infinity, Lexus and Volvo — to the classic curves of a candy apple red 1954 Corvette, blaze orange 1973 Camaro, a distinguished green MG, a flame red 1958 Chevrolet Impala complete with fender skirts and a Continental kit and a 1938 Lincoln Zephyr powered by a 12-cylinder engine making 110 horsepower.

Some are for sale, and some are just to appreciate.

Located a stone’s throw from Interstate 81’s Exit 13 at 18100 Lee Highway, the Car Barn is the newest venture for Jim McGlothlin, CEO and chairman of The United Co., owner of The Olde Farm golf course and partner in the forthcoming Hard Rock Bristol Resort and Casino.

The 32,000-square-foot former antique mall is now part of United’s leisure division, which includes golf courses, RV parks and the casino project.

A lifelong car enthusiast, McGlothlin said the new business is aimed at filling a regional niche.

“I collect antique cars, and I know a lot of other people do too. It’s so much fun, but we don’t ever seem to see each other. I thought the Car Barn would be a great place for us to get to meet each other, sell, trade, and swap and have a good time together,” McGlothlin said.

His current collection — about 25 strong — is now on display on the museum side of the Car Barn. Asked to select a favorite, McGlothlin named three: the 1958 Chevrolet, a 1957 Buick Roadmaster and 1949 Buick.

Among the more unique cars on display is a former Carroll Shelby Mustang that once served as a race car and sports Shelby’s autograph on the hood and headrest of the passenger seat.

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“I bought that car at Barrett-Jackson [auction]. That was Shelby’s personal car that he had all these race drivers race, and the word was they won 17 races in that car,” McGlothlin said. “He signed it, the drivers signed it, and some of his family signed it. After they retired it he rebuilt it into a driver, and it’s so much fun to drive.”

A surprise was in the trunk, where McGlothlin later discovered a Shelby-autographed electric guitar.

His plans for the new venture include selling luxury and collector cars, selling cars on consignment, occasional auctions, offering climate-controlled vehicle storage and expanding the museum to include about 100 cars.

David Cook, who has worked in the car business for 40 years, serves as general manager.

“Nothing like that has ever been done in this area, under one roof,” Cook said Monday. “We haven’t had our grand opening yet, basically been open for going on three weeks — nobody knew we were going to sell cars — and we’ve sold four cars so far.”

The collector car market is “very strong” right now, Cook said, in part because many classic and antique cars are being purchased and shipped overseas.

“Our niche, we’re trying to have high-end, luxury cars and SUVs at a fraction of the cost of a new one — where you could buy something with under 100,000 miles for under $25,000. Anymore, finding anything with under 100,000 miles are few and far between,” Cook said.

Plans also call for a Car Barn car club, with the business serving as a gathering spot with food and fellowship. McGlothlin is also considering an annual show and auction at The Olde Farm.

“I hope a lot of people will come out and see the cars and look at what we have to sell,” McGlothlin said. “This is a place to have some fun. If you don’t buy a car, that’s OK. We hope everybody will come out to have a good time.”

A grand opening, including a DJ, food and a car auction is planned for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The business will operate from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. | 276-645-2532 | Twitter: @DMcGeeBHC 

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