The weather reports weren’t looking good. From our home office just north of Nashville, Tennessee, the forecast was pretty dreary; certain rainfall, high winds and a high likelihood for thunder and lightning. Scheduled for the morning of Saturday, April 14th, 2018, the The Chattanooga Cruise-In had announced it would carry on “rain or shine” and participants and spectators were hedging our bets. We at Mopar Connection were weighing whether to drive the Brazen Charger or the trusty shop truck down the two-and-a-half hours until the weather report warned otherwise. Thankfully, others were more daring and more trusting that things would work out.
The Chattanooga Cruise-In has grown over its few years from an open house and car show at the Coker Tire Company headquarters in Chattanooga, TN, to a massive, sprawling event that closes down several blocks in Downtown Chattanooga, requiring dozens of police and traffic officers to redirect morning commuters and attendees. Classics of every stripe, modern muscle and everything in-between line the streets; two blocks west of Coker, a massive parking lot is packed tightly with hot, rat and street rods; and another block west, vendors sell their wares beneath a covered pavilion. Of course, Coker Tire swings its doors wide open for foot traffic to pass through, tour the facility and private museum.
The drive down began with rain and low hopes; as we drove over the Cumberland Plateau and through Monteagle, drizzle and low clouds narrowed our visibility. Just past Lookout Mountain the skies parted and the sun dried the roads. Things were suddenly looking very promising. Weather had slowed our pace, so we arrived later than expected. Classic rock echoed over the sound system as lopey-cammed muscle cars thrummed through the streets. Because the show was open to all makes and models, the Mopar count was typically sparse. Some very unusual specimens were on hand, including a meticulously restored ’37 Chrysler Imperial sedan, a hot rodded ’34 Plymouth convertible powered by a 5.7L GenIII Hemi, and another ’34 Plymouth with a 392 Hemi – that is among the usual Mopar muscle fare.
Of course, given the threat of inclement weather, we eyed more late model muscle than vintage, rightly guessing more enthusiasts would be inclined to drive their newer machines where it to rain. And the threat of foul weather lingered low overhead. Brimming over the mountains, ominous dark gray clouds began to gather causing many to hurriedly raise their droptops and others to roll up their windows. By 11:30am, bone-chilling gusts and sporadic rain drops pelted spectators. Abiding to the “get out while the getting is good” mantra, many blitzed the exits and sped away, almost completely evacuating the major parking lots. We too saw the tide change and began heading back towards the truck.
Thankfully, more patient minds prevailed. The strong gusts and few sprinkles subsided for a couple of minutes only to part ways, leaving the rest of the show-goers with low 70-degree temperatures and clear skies. Many enjoyed the reduced crowds and got to peruse the remaining cars a little more closely, chatted up the crew from American Powertrain and other vendors on-hand, and combed over what the swap meet had to offer. Yet, as the afternoon drew long and folks started heading home, Mother Nature let loose her fury and doused those on their trek home in the long-delayed deluge. Considering how every weather app had predicted otherwise, it’s gratifying to know that the Chattanooga Cruise-In was blessed with a few hours of sunshine.