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This 1912 Nyberg was built in Chattanooga.

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See Earth's Coolest Cars for Free

If you go

› What: Coker Tire Museum

› Where: 1317 Chestnut St.

› Tour hours: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday.

› Admission: Free.

› Information: 265-6368.

It may be Chattanooga's most secretive tourist attraction.

The Coker Tire Museum name is an effective red herring, a film mystery McGuffin, a magician's misdirection. Sure, the cars here use Coker tires, but most visitors barely have time to look at what is under each vehicle because they are swooning over the car itself.

The gorgeous collection contains some of the world's coolest or most historically remarkable cars — crazy, dangerous, early race cars and luxury antiques bought new by the Astors and Vanderbilts, families more wildly wealthy than Bill Gates. There are muscle cars, low riders, obscenely sexy European sports cars, medical rescue vehicles, bear-proof mountain touring buses and an eerie turn-of-the-century baby hearse that's the pale ivory color of ghosts.

So many of the cars are the only one of their kind on the planet, so it's impossible to place a price tag on their worth. But Coker Tire CEO CEO Corky Coker bought each one, restored them all to their original splendor and placed them in his Southside museum on Chestnut Street.

Staffer Steve Anderson, a car and history buff, offers free tours twice daily on weekdays. The museum also holds restored neon gas station signs, antique motorcycles and vintage airplanes.

But those are a different story.

Contact Lynda Edwards at (423) 757-6391 or ledwards@timesfreepress.com.

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