By vocation, Chattanoogan Wayne McCoy is a civil engineer and president of the consulting firm Miller/McCoy Inc.
By avocation, Mr. McCoy is an enthusiastic owner, collector and restorer of classic cars, counting 60 of them as his own — about half of which are Volkswagens.
“Some of them are diamonds in the rough; some are good drivers,” Mr. McCoy said Friday, standing outside a metal storage building he owns on Creekside Drive off Amnicola Highway. Nearby, VWs sit in varying states of repair and disrepair.
There are lots of Beetles in his collection, as well as some non-VW models such as a Pontiac “Woody” station wagon from the 1950s, a Ford Mustang and a British MG sports car.
But Mr. McCoy, 57, and wife Carmen, who shares his passion for cars, have a soft spot for the VW Thing — the Jeep-like vehicle that was sold in the United States in the early- to mid-1970s.
The angular vehicle with utilitarian styling has become a cult classic among some car buffs, although it’s not universally loved. The male-centric Web site, spike.com, declared it No. 3 on its list of the Seven Ugliest Cars Ever Built.
Mr. McCoy said that three or four years ago, his wife decided she wanted a Thing. They now have 20 Things, including one that was owned by a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
“They’re fun to drive,” Mr. McCoy said about Things, noting the doors are removable without tools and the windshields fold down.
Since Volkswagen officials decided to put a new $1 billion assembly plant in Chattanooga, other people have come to appreciate their interest in the automaker’s vehicles, the couple said.
Mr. McCoy likes to call his car collecting a hobby, although “some people call it a habit or an illness,” he joked.
Some ask why they don’t buy something upscale, like a $100,000 Mercedes, Mrs. McCoy said.
“We don’t want that,” she said.
Mr. McCoy, who grew up in East Lake and went to Central High School, grew up working on cars. A collector at heart, he said he still has the first bike he used to deliver newspapers as a youngster.
He later earned a degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, worked at the engineering firm Hensley-Schmidt Inc. and was county engineer in Bradley County.
In 1984, he joined with partner Charlie Miller to start their firm. Hamilton Place mall was the company’s first big project, he said.
Working on cars in his free time, he said he can undertake body and prep work and do some painting while relying on others to take on other fixes. But he’s not collecting the vehicles and restoring them to sell and make money, he said.
When he turns 70, he may decide to sell some of the them, he joked.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...