Chattanooga Motorcar Festival takes over downtown area

Event featuring classic cars, races, auctions and more continues through Sunday

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Attendees check out the Gathering of the Greats Ferrari Edition in West Village on Friday, October 14, 2022. The third annual Chattanooga Motorcar Festival returned to Downtown Chattanooga and will run from October 14-16th. .

With his list in his hand, a gleam in his eyes and a slight smile on his lips, Rick Hayes looks a bit like a 10-year-old cruising the toy aisle just weeks before Christmas.

On Friday, Hayes was inside the Chattanooga Convention Center in the holding area studying the hundreds of cars being readied for the Mecum Car Auction taking place there as part of the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival. Hayes was looking for cars similar to his 1966 Ford Mustang Coupe in hopes of getting some ideas for the restoration he is planning on undertaking.

The 62-year-old Rome, Georgia, resident said he bought his in 1976 and had "carried it all around the country, but now I'm ready to restore it."

He was taking pictures and making notes as to what parts should look like and where things might go. He said he wasn't thinking of putting it back to stock, as it had been altered a few times over the years, but he wanted it to be right.

Hayes said he watches the Mecum auctions on TV often, but had not seen it live.

"I've never been to this show before," he said. "My wife surprised me with the tickets."

Asked if he might bid on a car during the auction, he said, "It's not a hard no, but the boss is right over there."

The parking lot behind the downtown branch of the Chattanooga Library is the staging area for the auction, and people walking between the west end of town and the center stopped to watch as workers readied the next car for the auction. The action was fast and controlled as the cars inside were sold at about a 60- to 90-second clip.

A 1999 Jaguar XK3 slowly rolled across the red carpet as a huge crowd filled the center. As the auctioneer announced its final bid as the winner at $10,000, a 1992 Pontiac Firebird Formula began its dance across the stage. It sold for $15,000.

The three-day festival has taken over the downtown area from about Seventh Street to the Convention Center between Riverfront Parkway and Broad Street. The area around the Westin Chattanooga Hotel is filled with vintage and classic cars and people there to enjoy them.


The Pace Grand Prix racing will continue Saturday along Riverfront Parkway, and the cars can be heard from Broad Street. Video screens and speakers are set up in front in several locations around the Westin so people can see and hear the many interviews being conducted with car owners, drivers and event organizers.

Chattanoogans Graham Sherman and his children, Candace, 12, and Maddox, 9, were about to take in the cars on display along Chestnut, Eighth and Carter streets.

"It's our first time here," Sherman said.

A mechanic by trade, Sherman said Maddox helps him when he can and is becoming a car fan himself.

"I like Corvettes," Maddox said.

While he was talking, Candace took out her phone to show off a picture she's taken of a vintage Studebaker coupe.

Sherman is less picky.

"I like 'em all," he said. "And this weather is incredible."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354. Follow him on Twitter @BarryJC.