in the Museum Business
By Brad Bowling
When Jimmy Morrison began searching for property to expand his successful collector car dealership, he had no idea he would wind up in the museum business, but that's exactly what happened when Morrison Motor Co. took ownership of the Backing Up Classics Motor Car Museum earlier this week.
The museum, which sits on eight acres of land just north of Lowe's Motor Speedway on Hwy. 29 in Concord, has enjoyed a steady stream of visiting race fans since opening its doors in 1990. In its first decade of operation displays have run the gamut from vintage race cars to '57 Chevys; from '50s hot rods to early motorcycles. Backing Up Classics was built, stocked and maintained by retired real estate developer Allan Miles, who came up with the idea after realizing that he needed a place to keep his ever-growing collection of four-wheeled toys.
Morrison and Miles were talking about their common love of cars a few months ago when Miles mentioned he intended to take a second retirement and tour the country with his wife Wanda. Morrison, whose own business on Old Charlotte Road was packed bumper-to-bumper with Corvettes, Mustangs, SUVs, trucks, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and dozens of antique vehicles, realized that owning an 18,000-square-foot museum would be the perfect complement to the car dealership he and his father started in 1970.
"The main thing we want to do over there," Morrison said of the new purchase, "is build on what Allan has created. It's already a very successful business, with a large souvenir shop full of NASCAR and nostalgic paraphernalia. I'm keeping an open mind about where we'll go with it, because it's a totally new experience for me."
Morrison plans to keep the museum's inventory fresh, with displays being changed regularly and a complete turnover every 12 months. He's already added 15 cars from his personal collection to the 30 he gained as part of the museum purchase, including a 30,000-mile '59 Cadillac, an extremely rare '68 Hurst Oldsmobile and a '70 Shelby Mustang.
With his family-owned dealership already a seven-day-a-week job, Morrison admits he was only looking for some expansion room in Concord when the museum offer came along. It's not the kind of business he ever would have built from scratch.
"Buying a collector car museum was a great idea," Morrison said, "but I never would have set out to create one. It's too expensive and difficult to build something like that, so I'm glad Allan did it first."
For more information about the museum, which is open seven days a week, visit www.backingupclassics.com or phone (704) 788-9494.
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