Inside the Coker Museum
Coker Tire has been providing tires for all things vintage for 60 years. They’ve been the go-to company for whitewalls that fit motorcycles, hot rods, and ‘50s classics as well as muscle car tires from BF Goodrich and Firestone. Coker even makes military tires fitting everything from ¼-ton Jeeps to troop transports. However, Coker’s hidden secret is the museum near the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, headquarters that houses an impressive collection of cars and motorcycles. More importantly, the entire collection of cars, engines, and artifacts is open to the public five days a week, with two free tours daily.
We stopped by the Coker Museum the same day the Hot Rod Power Tour was heading through town, so it drew a pretty large crowd but there was still plenty of room as our guide lead us through the maze of buildings that contains the collection. Our tour guide was Steve Anderson, a former Hot Rod magazine staff editor, and he gave us the rundown on everything from brass-era race cars to a immaculate restored International Harvester Scout II, before he let us wander around the huge warehouse of cars, motorcycles, and even a couple planes.
If you happen to be near Chattanooga, make sure to stop by the museum. It’s open Monday-Friday and admission is $10 for the self-guided tour. When you’re done you can head next door to Honest Charley for some vintage hot rod swag and your museum entrance ticket is good for a discount. We’d also be remiss not to recommend a stop for breakfast at Aretha Frankenstein’s for monster pancakes. Until then, here are some highlights from inside Coker.
Coker’s museum is filled with hot rods, pickups, motorcycles, sports cars, touring cars, and even a couple planes.
Surrounded by examples of the stamped steel wheels offered by Wheel Vintiques, a vintage racing engine brought back to life by Coker, and a selection of collector car tires, Steve Anderson starts the tour with a brief history of Coker Tire.
This 1909 Lozier model J is the only one known in existence.
Known for its V-twins and inline-fours, the Excelsior motorcycle company built just one straight-eight engine prototype.
This 145-horsepower 1934 Packard straight-eight would have been found under the hood of a Packard Super.
Three of these massive Packard V-12s were used to power WWII-era PT boats.
Greeting the museum guests as they enter the largest room in the collection are a row of European roadsters from brands including Porsche, MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey, and Jaguar.
An entire wall of the main vehicle warehouse is filled with motorcycles stacked three high. This 1926 Super X is one of many Excelsiors in the collection
These two generations of White trucks were both used as tour busses at Yellowstone National Park.
Coker is one of the few companies still building wooden wheels and the entire process is on display behind a large window viewable on the tour.
Coker even makes restoration-correct tires for aircraft.