Travel back in time at Wheels of Yesteryear
BY KRISTYN WINCH
Whether you own a classic car or just like to look at them, there’s a place in Myrtle Beach that has plenty for you to enjoy. Wheels of Yesteryear, at 413 Hospitality Lane near the Myrtle Beach Speedway, is a sprawling car museum featuring classic and muscle cars from the 1940s to today. North Carolina natives Paul and Carol Cummings opened the museum in Myrtle Beach nearly 10 years ago. Starting a car museum had been a longtime dream for Paul. “All his life, he always liked cars and speed,” Carol said. “He’s been collecting cars between 45-50 years. The year he turned 65, I said, ‘When are you ever going to [open a museum]?”‘ Paul’s passion for cars was sparked at a young age. “It all started when my dad bought me a 1940 Ford Coupe,” Paul said. “The car bug bit and continues to this day.” The couple chose to move to Myrtle Beach to start this venture because they wanted to open in a tourist town. The building is a labor of love, with all the lumber coming from the couple’s farm in North Carolina and sawmilled and installed with the help of neighbors and friends. “We sawmilled it all,” Paul said. Paul’s car collection is quite large, and all cars cannot be displayed in the museum at one time. Wheels of Yesteryear closes for about four weeks, from mid-January to mid- February, each year so that the staff can switch out inventory. “People always like to come back to see what we’ve changed,” Carol said. “That brings a lot of repeat visitors.” The couple is working on an expansion to the museum “because we have more cars than we have room for,”Carol said. “We will hopefully open the new addition this year,” Paul said, with the expansion holding roughly 40 additional vehicles. “That’s going to run us up to about 100 units.” The new showroom will feature a Route 66 mural on the wall, painted by one of Paul’s friends. Cars currently on display include a Superbird with Richard Petty’s autograph, a 1969 “Dan Gurney Special” Mercury Cyclone, a 1958 Chevy Impala (which Paul said is “the ultimate collector car for Chevrolet now”), a 1976 Cosworth Vega, a 1962 bubble top Chevrolet (a model that is “highly sought after today,” Paul said), and more. The oldest vehicle currently on display is a 1941 Plymouth. The most current car in the collection is a 1986 Grand National Buick, which Paul described as “the younger generation’s muscle car.” “It’s fast, fast, fast,” he said.
Cards in front of each car give visitors a little more information
about each vehicle. Carol creates all the signs
for the museum. “She’s the glue of the operation,” Paul said. “When we came here, she didn’t know a Nash from a Ford. She does pretty good for a rookie now.” It’s hard for the couple to pinpoint a favorite vehicle in the museum. “We have favorite cars for different applications of driving,” Paul said. “It is hard to name one favorite out of the whole collection. I like them all.” Some of the most popular
vehicles among guests include the HEMI ‘Cuda convertible, the ‘63 split window Corvette coupe (“They only made them one year,” Carol
said. “They were ultimately deemed unsafe.”) and the Superbirds. Paul and his team do restoration work themselves in a shop on the premises to make vehicles museum ready. “It is hard to say about
how long it takes to restore a car. It all depends on the condition the car was in before we started the restoration process,” Paul said. “Some of them actually needed no restoration but still had to be detailed. On average, we spend approximately 160 hours per vehicle.”
Some of the cars in the museum are completely untouched. “We call ‘em a ‘survivor’ if there was no restoration work done,” Carol said. “People like these survivor cars,” Paul said. “They don’t care about the glamour and the money.” All cars on display at
Wheels of Yesteryear are factory colors, from the vibrant teal blues to the wild lime greens. “We put them all back to the factory configurations,” Paul said. “They’re all driveable. We don’t take out anything. We try to keep everything as close as possible to original condition.” When you spend time walking the museum with Paul, it’s clear to see how passionate he is about his collection. He has personal stories to go with many of the cars, including a prized 1963 Chevrolet his father helped him order when Paul was a senior in high school. “My daddy thought you wouldn’t get into heaven if you didn’t drive a Chevrolet,” Paul said. A new vehicle in the showroom this year is a 1966 F100 that Paul “used to haul around pine straw in.” From the sparkling clean looks of it, you’d never know. In addition to the cars, the museum is filled from floor to ceiling with car-related memorabilia and pop culture items that Paul has collected and been given over the years, including license plates that guests have brought in from all over the world. In the museum’s shop, visitors
can purchase die cast collectible models, tin signs, bumper stickers and hats and t-shirts featuring popular car models. The couple enjoys meeting visitors and hearing their stories. “We get ratification by sharing our collection with people who appreciate the cars of yesteryear,” Paul said. “I’m humbled by what the good Lord has given me. We’re here to share what we’v’e been blessed to keep.”
Wheels of Yesteryear is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Easter. Admission is $10 for adults. Kids 5 and under are admitted free. For more information, call 843-903-4774 or visit www.wheelsofyesteryearmb.com.