The same road Son follows in dad's car tracks
Tom Hodge and his father Jerry pose with their first cars - which they still own. Both Hodges are car dealers and have shared a lifelong passion for cars.
Jerry Hodge, then 15, poses with the 1931 Chevrolet Sport Roadster he bought in 1956. He drove the car to school and restored the car several years later. The car dealer has owned it ever since.
Tom Hodge, Jerry's son, has kept the first car he ever owned, a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette he received for his 16th birthday in 1982. Here he poses with his new car and friend Robert McCammon, left. Like his father, Tom went into the automobile business.
When people come to Twin City Buick to buy their first car, dealer Jerry Hodge can tell them exactly what it means to take home that first vehicle.
Tom Hodge, Jerry’s son, has kept the first car he ever owned Autel MS509, a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette he received for his 16th birthday in 1982 MaxiDiag Elite MD802. Here he poses with his new car and friend Robert McCammon, left. Like his father, Tom went into the automobile business.
He remembers that feeling every time he looks at the 1931 Chevrolet Sport Roadster in his basement garage, a car he has owned for 55 years - even before he had a driver's license.
His son tells customers at his own Cadillac of Knoxville dealership, too. Tom Hodge still has the 1975 red Chevrolet Corvette he got for his 16th birthday in 1982.
"I'm lucky enough to still have it," Tom said. "Every guy likes cars, but they are not lucky enough to have their first car."
For the Hodge men, cars are a way a life - a way to connect with people, history and each other. These first cars represent their passion and their willingness to hold onto their pieces of history together Autel maxidas DS708.
In 1956, Jerry's father, Harlan Hodge, bought the former Amos and Andy Buick Company in Alcoa. The family renamed it Twin City Buick and moved it to Maryville, where it has been ever since.
Tom Hodge and his father Jerry pose with their first cars — which they still own. Both Hodges are car dealers and have shared a lifelong passion for cars.
Jerry's father told him he could buy it for $150 to fix up and drive. Since the then-15-year-old had a successful paper route, he did.
"My future brother-in-law - I didn't have my driver's license yet - went and got it and put a battery in it," Jerry said. "I drove it three or four years."
He drove it to Maryville High School and on his paper route. Even though it was 25 years old, it was still a car, Jerry said. For a teenager in the 1950s to have his own car was pretty special.
"We knew it was an interesting car," Jerry said. "It being a Chevy '31 Roadster, it was a very popular car and would be very valuable down the road."
Over the next few years, he and friends restored it to its original condition, including the paint color.
In 1964, Jerry and the Roadster went to their first car show in Murfreesboro and won a national first prize.
"That kind of hooked me on collecting," said Jerry, who went to work full-time at Twin City shortly after graduating from University of Tennessee in 1965. "I thought I was a big shot."
Now, he owns about 15 antique automobiles, including an old fire engine and a 1927 Packard limousine he restored to drive for his son's wedding.
He always "piddled" around with the cars and learned the mechanics, the makes and models as well as which ones were valuable.
"My childhood was involved with his hobby," Tom said. "Working on them, looking at them. It was very common on a Saturday to go out and look at a new car."
He also remembers traveling the Southeast to car shows. He, his dad and even sometimes his sister, Janet Tipton, loved seeing the cars and meeting the people behind them.
Just like his father, Tom's first car came in as a trade-in.
"Any Corvette was cool for my era," Tom said. "It was a 'I've got to have it' kind of attitude. Twenty-nine years later and I still have it."
When it came time to pick a career, Tom didn't have to think hard. He had always been around cars and the dealership. He began working at Twin City and now owns his own dealership.
"We just love cars," said Tom, who has two high school-age daughters.
Collecting and keeping a car for many years can be difficult. It requires a climate-controlled place to store it, and an owner has to insure it as well as maintain it.
There is a trend in antique collecting right now where enthusiasts are tracking down their first cars, either the exact one or one similar to it, Jerry said. They spend years going through records, tracking down owners and chasing leads.
"The whole reason for the hobby is to preserve history for people who haven't seen them before," Jerry said. "Cars are just over 100 years old. It's to show people how they've changed."
Jerry still knows the name of the woman who traded in his car - Ula Broom.
To her, he will always be grateful for bringing the '31 Roadster and the passion for all things cars to him and his son.
Allison Rupp is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.
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