Rob Wolfe has worked in the world of antiques for more than 35 years and picked some of the most eclectic collections across the country, but the cast member of History Channel's "American Pickers" still hasn't found what he calls "the Holy Grail of the hot-rod industry."
"I've been looking for an original-paint 1932 or '34 three-window Ford — any three-window Ford if I can find it," says Wolfe, brother of Mike Wolfe, who with Frank Fritz are the stars of "American Pickers."
Wolfe will make a guest appearance Friday, Jan. 10, at the 52nd O'Reilly Auto Parts World of Wheels Custom Auto Show. The annual car show rolls into the Chattanooga Convention Center for three days, Jan. 10-12, produced by MotorSports Productions Inc.
World of Wheels is Chattanooga's largest indoor custom car show and attendance annually averages between 25,000 and 30,000, says Deborah McLean of MotorSports Productions.
Specialty vehicles coming to this year's show include hot rods, race cars, custom imports, antique and classic cars, motorcycles and special feature cars.
Local automotive enthusiasts will exhibit vehicles they have been working on for years. Additionally, exhibitors from across the Southeast will travel to town to show their vehicles and compete for plaques and cash awards on local, regional and national levels.
If you go
* What: 52nd O’Reilly Auto Parts World of Wheels
* Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter St.
* When: 3-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12
* Admission: $16 adults, $5 ages 6-11, free for children under 5; $14 adult tickets sold at all O’Reilly Auto Parts stores
* For more information: https://worldofwheels.net/chattanooga/
Gold Star Street Competition is designed specifically for owners of street-driven custom vehicles who want to show them, but prefer not to have the undercarriage judged. The Gold Star Street Series will be judged only on paint, body, interior and engine. Trophies will be awarded to winners in every class.
This event is sanctioned by the International Show Car Association and will be judged by a professional staff brought in from two states. In addition to cash and prizes, owners of these show cars can accumulate points that can be used to qualify for the national championship, where cash and prizes total over $100,000.
Friday's meet-and-greet is one of less than a half-dozen personal appearances Wolfe says he'll make this year. But really, when would he have time?
"American Pickers" films 40 episodes a year, he says, and there are six months between when a season films to when it airs. During that span they are already starting the next season. The popular History Channel series is now carried in 62 countries, he adds.
Wolfe credits that success, which has held up through 21 seasons, to the show's family-friendly style.
"The demographic of the show appeals to an 8-year-old as well as 80-year-olds. The history behind the finds, seeing pieces that they've had in their own homes and the stories behind them, make people want to search their own homes," he says.
"Growing up, my mom couldn't afford to buy us bikes, so we had to build things. That's how my brother got into bicycles. When we were younger, we bought stuff we liked. I always tell people getting in the business to buy what they like. Then, if you get stuck with it, it's OK because you've still got something you like."
Wolfe says nobody really trained the brothers on what to look for. They've just learned by experience along the hunt.
"I could pay for a Harvard education on the mistakes that I've made over 35 years," Wolfe laughs.
For more information: https://worldofwheels.net/chattanooga/.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.
› 4-8 p.m. “American Pickers” Rob Wolfe on stage meeting fans and signing autographs. Do not bring in items for appraisals. No appraisals will be given.
› 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Meet Kevin “KevDogg” Schiele from Kindig-It Designs and the top-rated “KevDogg” Motortrend TV show
› 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Meet Kevin “KevDogg” Schiele
› Master pinstriper Von Hot Rod
› Feature car Gold Digger, winner of the Ridler Award
› Feature car Porsche Cayman S, driven by Gal Gadot in “Fast and Furious”
› “Frozen” costume characters
› Hot Wheels drag racing
› Photo-ops with Transformers Optimus Prime and Bumblebee
› Photo-ops with Star Wars characters from the 501st Legion’s MosNooga Squad
› Monster truck bounce house