Panther Creek State Park hosts car show

Faye Snowden with a 1962 Corvette at the inaugural Panther Creek State Park Car Show.

Automobile aficionados traveled from all over the region to show off their vehicles on Saturday.

For the first time, Hamblen County vintage automobile fans got to view classic as well as newer vehicles at the Panther Creek State Park Car Show sponsored by JTEKT and the Hamblen County Car Club, with the proceeds going to the Friends of Panther Creek.

Vehicles from throughout East Tennessee were present at the event, including a red 1986 Nissan 300ZX driven by Skip Ray of Morristown, a family heirloom dating back to when the vehicle was purchased off the showroom floor in Ohio.

“I might have the only foreign car (at the car show),” said Ray, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm while serving in the U.S. Army. “I’ve got pictures of my aunt in the car when it was brand new.”

Ray said everything mechanically inside his sports car is original except for the transmission, which has been replaced twice. The cloth seats have been replaced by black leather seats with red trim to match the exterior of the vehicle.

Ray acquired the vehicle from his wife, and said the car has been in the family since day one – and he plans to keep it that way.

“She didn’t want it anymore, so I got it off her,” he said. “It’s not for sale. That’s grounds for divorce.”

Ray’s Nissan was far from the only vehicle displayed during the show. Some of the cars featured were a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, a 1964 Chevrolet Impala, two 1967 Chevy II Novas, a 1967 Shelby Cobra, and a rare 1971 Chevy Impala. Also featured were three Ford Mustangs from 1966, 1967 and 1993. Newer cars provided by Tarr Chevrolet and Tarr Hyundai GMC were also displayed.

One well-known vehicle at the Panther Creek Car Show was a 1916 American LaFrance fire truck, the first fire truck in Morristown. The truck was purchased in 1916 by the Morristown Fire Department for $9,000, which is around $220,000 in today’s currency.

“That truck replaced the horse and wagon,” said Lt. Darrell Hodge, of the Morristown Fire Department. “Departments were making that switch all over the country, not just Morristown.”

“(These trucks) didn’t have joints back then. To get the power from the engine to the ground, you needed a chain drive and pulleys,” said Lt. Danny Case.