- Jeff Lane is a car collector with a taste for the oddest vehicles ever made.
- He turned his passion into a business by founding the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.
- The estimated $10 million collection is filled with propeller-powered cars, microcars, and one-offs.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Jeff Lane: I’m Jeff Lane, and welcome to Lane Motor Museum.
Narrator: Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the 144,000-square-foot facility is an automotive haven for the forgotten, the unseen, and the unbelievable. Jeff’s collection is a hobby turned passion. And that passion turned into a museum that hosts 550 of the most unique vehicles in automotive history.
Jeff: Some people think that I’m car crazy, but I think you probably have to make your own decision on that. So, propeller-powered cars are one of my favorite types of cars, and this is probably one of my favorite propeller-powered cars, 1919 Leyat. It was built in France by a guy named Marcel Leyat that actually built about 25 propeller-powered cars from 1919 to 1926. Very sophisticated, very well engineered, very unique. But then we have kind of the other end of the spectrum of propeller-powered cars, where somebody really just took a regular car chassis, turned it around 180 degrees, put a body on it, put a propeller on it, and made their own one-off propeller-powered car. This is a 1932 Helicron, one of a kind, also built in France. So, to keep up the collection takes a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Sometimes when I’m driving, the cars do stop or die. And that’s why I try to always carry my cellphone with me, but I don’t remember all the time. But, yep, it happens.
Narrator: A third of the vehicles still drive. A team of three restoration technicians restore new additions to the collection and fix major issues that arise with older cars. A separate team of two is responsible for exercising the cars. The ones that still run are taken out for a drive at least twice a year. Jeff is more than a collector. He’s become a walking encyclopedia for the cars, preserving the integrity of their stories and sharing them with anyone who will listen.
Jeff: This is a 1946 Davis. Gary Davis was a used-car salesman, and after World War II, he got a bunch of money. He actually built 14 cars. He had a plant started. He wanted to go into production. He needed more money to go into production. He went back to his investors and asked them for more money. And that upset them because they thought the million dollars they put in initially was enough to get everything going. They actually sued him, he ended up in jail, and that was the end of the Davis story, except the 14 cars still exist.
Narrator: The massive collection started with a Christmas present when Jeff was just 12 years old. From that, he restored his first car, an MG TF that sits in the collection to this day. Now the cars that Jeff collects come from all over the world.
Jeff: The way we find vehicles, there’s a lot of different means for that. Some of them find us. Being a museum’s a really good resource. People have unique, different cars. They think, you know, “I don’t want to sell my car. I don’t want to just put it on eBay.” So they’ll contact us. That’s one way. We also do a lot of searching ourselves. We also have other people, you know, that kind of know what we’re looking for. You know, we have contacts in Germany that we can call a person and say, “Hey, we’re interested in this car. Can you go look at it or talk to the person?” Or things like that.
Narrator: Jeff’s collection turned museum is focused on collecting, preserving, and documenting the history of transportation. And after 40 years, Jeff shows no signs of slowing down.
Jeff: I suspect I’ll stop collecting when I die, probably. Because, you know, people ask me sometimes, and they’ll say, “Well, you know, you have 550 cars. There must not be anything left out there.” But there’s really still a lot of different cars left out there. I mean, there’s always more to find and collect and preserve.