Nestled in a north Georgia forest, more than 4,000 classic cars decorate 32 acres that have been turned into a junkyard museum. Old Car City owner Walter Dean Lewis' parents started the business in 1931 as a general store that also sold auto parts. Lewis grew the collection, which had just 40 cars in the '70s, over time. "The only thing I ever knew was cars and trucks," Lewis says. "I like to say I work for tomorrow, always thinking about the future. Someday they would be valuable." Lewis stopped selling parts about six years ago, soon after realizing he could sustain the business more as a museum, charging $15 for visitors just looking, and $25 for photographers. He estimates that 95% of the people who come through the six miles of trails are photographers.
Visitors are greeted by various artworks and hand-painted messages. On occasion, Eddie McDaniel, who goes by "Fast Eddie," a childhood friend of Lewis, plays blues piano next to a shotgun and a bear mounted on a wall. In the 30 or 40 years that many of the cars have never moved, trees now grow through them and, in some cases, even lift them off the ground. One of Lewis' more popular vehicles is a 1946 Ford truck used in Murder in Coweta County, a 1983 film starring Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith. "It's history. I saved them when other people were crushing them," Lewis says. "I don't know what I would do if I couldn't get up every morning and look at old cars."