Motorama: Home of the extraordinary, the unique, and the extraordinarily unique
Making Motorama S2 E1 - The Extraordinarily Unique
From monster trucks, to classics, to one-of-a-kind cars: if it has a motor, you can bet it'll be at Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama.
Take for example one of the most unique vehicles you'll ever see: a custom-made horseless chariot, pulled by a Hemi engine with decorative horses stacked on top. It's quite the sight to see on the roads around its home in Portland, Tenn., and it'll be on display at this year's edition of Motorama.
"It goes down the road pretty good," said Joey Collins, who owns the horseless chariot. "When you get up to speed you can get a little bit behind on the steering with the way the hydraulics are setup, but it rides pretty good."
The horseless chariot is part of the huge collection of motorized relics collected by Collins, his son and his wife.
"We've been here for 14 years. I've actually been collecting for about 31 years," said Collins. "We've been all over the country picking this stuff up. There's only about six local pieces inside."
The items are now housed inside Collins' Days Gone By Museum, located just a few miles from the Kentucky border in Northern Tennessee. The collection grew from a fascination that hit Collins at a young age.
"I grew up around heavy machinery and my dad and grand-dad did their own mechanic work so I was always trying to help," Collins said. "I think I picked that up from them and I've always liked to fool with mechanical stuff."
When Collins found the horseless chariot, it didn't need any tinkering; it was already complete. As Collins looked to add the uncommon vehicle to his collection, he learned the story of how it came to be - and the man who built it - was just as uncommon.
"The man's name was John Combs. He was a disabled Vietnam vet and this was his passion," recalled Collins. "He actually lived in a van in front of the shops that this thing was built in and he was also an artist and a sculptor from what I understand. So he would sell some pieces and then he would work in the shops and work the time out to where he could use their facilities to get this thing built.
"From what I understand he took 10 years off and on to get this thing done."
According to Collins the horseless chariot changed hands when John Combs fell ill and the story goes that Combs left town, his fate unknown. Still, Combs' horseless chariot remained and found its way to Collins, who as a mechanically-inclined man himself has a special appreciation for Combs' work.
"When you can get up close you really just gotta look at the detail. It was a real thought-out process and the workmanship is great," said Collins. But really, whenever anyone comes across the horseless chariot it stands out.
"Every time we have it out it keeps a crowd around it and gathers a lot of attention. And of course everyone wants a ride," said Collins. "They rubber-neck and hit the brakes and blow the horn. I've never run into anybody who didn't like it or appreciate it."
It's fair to say you don't see a vehicle like this every day, which means it'll be in good company at Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama. The horseless chariot will fit right in at the celebration of anything with a motor.
"We've not had it at a big event like that so we're really looking forward to April and having a good time when we get down there."
Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama returns for its seventh year on April 25-26, 2020. For more event information and to purchase tickets, visit www.atlantamotorama.com or contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 770-946-4211 or 877-9-AMS-TIX.