Coker Museum: A Hidden Gem Tucked Away on the Southside

Attractions, Stories

Consider putting the Coker Museum, a hidden gem of History, on your list of ‘must visit’ places in Chattanooga.  When you visit, you can take a walk-through history and discover a vast array of vintage vehicles and nostalgic memorabilia.  The world-famous Honest Charley Speed Shop serves as your entry point to this one-of-a-kind museum. It is home to Corky Coker’s personal collection of over 150 vintage cars, hot rods, motorcycles, trucks, buses, and even airplanes hanging overhead.  

The collection is housed inside some of the oldest standing buildings in Chattanooga, including the former White Truck Dealership and the Chattanooga Welding and Machine Company which began in the late 1800s.  This portion of the complex is now the machine shop, utilizing all old-school machinery, none of which are computer assisted.

Neon lights set the stage for the big names in auto manufacturing, as well as the lesser-known names such as Chattanooga’s own, Nyberg Automobiles. The vehicles in the collection span seven decades, with the oldest being 115 years old.   Most vehicles have been restored to their original glory and shine bright. Others have been left untouched to demonstrate how the manufacturer’s original labors have stood the test of time. In either case, special love and care have been given to each masterpiece.

Away from the bright lights, you can view what love and care look like in the working garage which includes a four-bay mechanic shop, professional paint booth, a machine shop, and one of only five wheel shops in the world still making wooden wheels.  In the wheel shop, they build amazing rolling stock for the rarest cars.  Before the Honest Charley Speed Shop crew added a roof line, the mechanic shop was an outdoor yard for Combustion Engineering and Komatsu Tractor Co.

Restorations are always in progress, so you never know what you’ll see. Recent renewals include a 1909 Cadillac, a 1969 Camaro, 1965 Comet, and a 1914 American Underslung. As you make your way through the halls of the museum, you are likely to see one of the techs sanding vintage automobile pieces, or applying primer before adding a flawless coat of paint.  You may see another tech fabricating metal fenders, or hand painting the perfect woodgrain dash.

The Coker Museum is a must see for all those passing through Chattanooga and it is an awesome place for you to create some history of your own by renting out the venue for a family reunion, a corporate lunch, a reception, or even a wedding.

You can find the museum at 1309 Chestnut St. just across from the Chattanooga Convention Center and two blocks from Main Street. Make your plans to tour the museum 10 am – 4pm, Tuesday through Saturday.   For reservations, seasonal hours, and more information visit or call 1-888-795-7077.










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