Parts & Projects: Ronnie's Old Cars & Trucks

Ronnie’s Old Cars & Trucks in Tennessee is a maze of possibilities
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Ronnie Ramsey of Newport, Tenn., began collecting junk cars and trucks when he was in his early twenties. Since then, he has amassed an amazing inventory of more than 500 vehicles, mostly from the 1940s to the 1980s. During that period, he also worked at a tire recapping shop in Newport, and did mechanic work.

We arrived at Ronnie’s Old Cars & Trucks on a foggy and mild late-winter morning and spent more than five hours trekking through the yard. We accomplished viewing just 70 percent of the yard. We even skipped lunch to photograph as many vehicles as possible in the time we had, so a return trip may be warranted. Ronnie, who is in his mid-seventies, accompanied us every step of the way and gave a running commentary on the vehicles we were photographing. Ronnie loves to talk about his old cars and trucks and has a great memory of where and when he acquired most of the vehicles. He can even remember the odometer reading on some of them. One unidentifiable, rough carcass of a vehicle was described by Ronnie as a ’40 Ford coupe modified with a truck bed and used by a local moonshiner.

If you’re into big trucks, there are several General Motors and Ford cab-overs from the 1940s and ’50s for sale. If you’re interested in Tri-five Chevys, he has several that can be bought as projects, and others from which parts can be removed. There are three Corvettes in the yard, and Ronnie says his oldest vehicle is a 1922 model. Several vehicles were bought at out-of-state auctions, some as far away as Detroit where Ronnie has frequently driven to buy vehicles. Some vehicles will only be sold as complete units.

The yard is dotted with old buses, motor homes and mobile homes, and all are crammed full of loose parts. Ronnie knows which parts are where and how many he has of certain hard-to-find parts. In the back of a pickup, we peeked under some tarps and saw at least four or five engines. Some bigger parts such as doors, trunk lids and hoods have been removed and are stacked alongside vehicles, ready to be picked up. Ronnie says if needed, he can probably ship smaller parts. If you want big parts or a whole vehicle, you’ll need to pick them up in person or arrange shipping.

Yard rules include that no parts can be removed by a customer. Cars are crushed only when every usable part has been removed. When asked about yard hours, Ronnie replied “24-7.” Ronnie and his wife live on the premises and are there most of the time. Ronnie suggests that you call before visiting the yard to make sure they are home.

Like many yard operators, Ronnie has vehicles that he will not sell and that includes a nice rust-free, California-built ’57 Chevrolet Bel Air station wagon and a 1936 Ford panel truck that he plans to restore. Another keeper is a Model T Ford that he “almost has running.”

Ronnie’s Old Cars & Trucks
1075 Golf Course Road (physical)
P. O. Box 681 (mailing address)
Newport, TN 37822
423-608-3764

The engine is still under the hood of this first-year 1959 Lark VI, and it would make someone an excellent parts car. It’s one of hundreds of rusty treasures at Ronnie’s Old Cars and Trucks.

The engine is still under the hood of this first-year 1959 Lark VI, and it would make someone an excellent parts car. It’s one of hundreds of rusty treasures at Ronnie’s Old Cars and Trucks.

For sale as a complete car is this 1987 Firebird Trans Am with T-tops and a 305-cid V-8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor.

For sale as a complete car is this 1987 Firebird Trans Am with T-tops and a 305-cid V-8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor.

This 1964 Ford Econoline panel van was once used as  a camper. It ran when it  entered the yard. There is also a ’66  Econoline van in the yard.

This 1964 Ford Econoline panel van was once used as a camper. It ran when it entered the yard. There is also a ’66 Econoline van in the yard.

The only Packard we noticed during our visit was this 1952 four-door with 47,000 miles on the odometer. Ronnie advised us that the engine will turn over and it is for sale as a complete car.

The only Packard we noticed during our visit was this 1952 four-door with 47,000 miles on the odometer. Ronnie advised us that the engine will turn over and it is for sale as a complete car.

This 1963 Chevrolet Impala is an automatic with an original 283-cid V-8 engine.

This 1963 Chevrolet Impala is an automatic with an original 283-cid V-8 engine.

This ’71 Javelin is an automatic and had a 304-cid V-8 in it, but Ronnie removed it and put it in a Jeep.

This ’71 Javelin is an automatic and had a 304-cid V-8 in it, but Ronnie removed it and put it in a Jeep.

Plymouth built just 2840 Barracuda convertibles in 1968 and this is one of them. It is rough, but has a good trunk lid, hood, rear deck panel and other good parts. Ronnie has the title for it.

Plymouth built just 2840 Barracuda convertibles in 1968 and this is one of them. It is rough, but has a good trunk lid, hood, rear deck panel and other good parts. Ronnie has the title for it.

Ronnie described this car as a 1964 Mercedes with a four-speed transmission on the column and a four-cylinder diesel engine. Many parts have been removed, but some of them are stored in a nearby trailer. Ronnie says he has a perfect grille for it.

Ronnie described this car as a 1964 Mercedes with a four-speed transmission on the column and a four-cylinder diesel engine. Many parts have been removed, but some of them are stored in a nearby trailer. Ronnie says he has a perfect grille for it.

This Sea Sprite boat was built in Monmouth, Ill. Ronnie identified it as a ’57 model, and we can envision seeing it restored and hooked to a Tri-Five Nomad painted the same color combination. There are other vintage boats scattered around the yard for sale.

This Sea Sprite boat was built in Monmouth, Ill. Ronnie identified it as a ’57 model, and we can envision seeing it restored and hooked to a Tri-Five Nomad painted the same color combination. There are other vintage boats scattered around the yard for sale.

Cadillac’s Coupe deVille in 1976 had a lot of standard luxury features ranging from Automatic Climate Control to Power Door Locks. This example has original paint and is a complete car; no parts may be removed from it.

Cadillac’s Coupe deVille in 1976 had a lot of standard luxury features ranging from Automatic Climate Control to Power Door Locks. This example has original paint and is a complete car; no parts may be removed from it.

The middle-priced  Ford for ’55 was the Customline series.  This two-door sedan has a V-8 engine and originally had an  automatic transmission, but the car has been converted to a standard.

The middle-priced Ford for ’55 was the Customline series. This two-door sedan has a V-8 engine and originally had an automatic transmission, but the car has been converted to a standard.

This 1959 Ford has the optional $32 Custom 300 ornamentation package which includes chrome “Flying Darts” on the rear quarter panels and “Tee Ball” ornaments on top of the front fenders.

This 1959 Ford has the optional $32 Custom 300 ornamentation package which includes chrome “Flying Darts” on the rear quarter panels and “Tee Ball” ornaments on top of the front fenders.

A 1962 Chevrolet Dubl-Duty Forward Control Step-Van was last used by a building contractor. The body was built by Union City Body Co. of Union City, Ind., which built several bodies for Duesenbergs during the Classic era.  Ronnie has the title for this Step-van. The engine is there, but it has missing parts.

A 1962 Chevrolet Dubl-Duty Forward Control Step-Van was last used by a building contractor. The body was built by Union City Body Co. of Union City, Ind., which built several bodies for Duesenbergs during the Classic era. Ronnie has the title for this Step-van. The engine is there, but it has missing parts.

This 1950 De Soto DeLuxe was running when it was parked. A 1956 De Soto four-door sedan is parked nearby.

This 1950 De Soto DeLuxe was running when it was parked. A 1956 De Soto four-door sedan is parked nearby.

You can count on seeing ’57 Bel Air hardtops at every car show you go to, but when is the last time you saw a Two-Ten two-door hardtop? This one has rusty floors and the engine is long gone. The body plate shows that it was originally painted a beautiful Harbor Blue and Larkspur Blue two-tone.

You can count on seeing ’57 Bel Air hardtops at every car show you go to, but when is the last time you saw a Two-Ten two-door hardtop? This one has rusty floors and the engine is long gone. The body plate shows that it was originally painted a beautiful Harbor Blue and Larkspur Blue two-tone.

According to  Ronnie, this ’51 Chevy fastback has a turbo 350,  subframe from a  ’87 Chevy and power disc brakes. It also has tilt steering, console with shifter and upholstery that was once red, but now is more of a pink shade. Its fender skirts are in the trunk.

According to Ronnie, this ’51 Chevy fastback has a turbo 350, subframe from a ’87 Chevy and power disc brakes. It also has tilt steering, console with shifter and upholstery that was once red, but now is more of a pink shade. Its fender skirts are in the trunk.

There are a lot of good parts remaining on this 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire. It has bucket seats, console, tachometer and factory air conditioning.

There are a lot of good parts remaining on this 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire. It has bucket seats, console, tachometer and factory air conditioning.

Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wagons could be had with two- or three-row seating. There were four times as many seven- passenger wagons sold than the five-passenger model in 1971. The engine is gone from this Vista Cruiser and aside from the windshield, it has good glass.

Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wagons could be had with two- or three-row seating. There were four times as many seven- passenger wagons sold than the five-passenger model in 1971. The engine is gone from this Vista Cruiser and aside from the windshield, it has good glass.

The LeSabre four-door hardtop was the best-selling Buick in 1961. This example is a complete car and still has its engine. It was bought new by a local doctor.

The LeSabre four-door hardtop was the best-selling Buick in 1961. This example is a complete car and still has its engine. It was bought new by a local doctor.

The Pioneer was the middle trim level for the 1960 Dodge Dart. This two-door hardtop has a tinted windshield and push-button gear selector. Ronnie mentioned he has  another really good trunk lid for it.

The Pioneer was the middle trim level for the 1960 Dodge Dart. This two-door hardtop has a tinted windshield and push-button gear selector. Ronnie mentioned he has another really good trunk lid for it.

If you restored this ’66 Ford motor home, you’d be right in style at the next car show/swap meet and would have comfortable overnight accommodations on site. There are other available motor homes in the yard, too.

If you restored this ’66 Ford motor home, you’d be right in style at the next car show/swap meet and would have comfortable overnight accommodations on site. There are other available motor homes in the yard, too.

Ronnie was going to build this 1962 GMC 4000 cab on a 1974 Dodge frame into his car hauler, but he hasn’t gotten around to it. He says it is for sale.

Ronnie was going to build this 1962 GMC 4000 cab on a 1974 Dodge frame into his car hauler, but he hasn’t gotten around to it. He says it is for sale.

Judging from the quarter panels on this 1956 Cadillac Coupe deVille, it has traveled over many salt-treated winter roads. The missing chrome trim is inside the car. It has about 56,000 miles and is optioned with factory air.

Judging from the quarter panels on this 1956 Cadillac Coupe deVille, it has traveled over many salt-treated winter roads. The missing chrome trim is inside the car. It has about 56,000 miles and is optioned with factory air.

Ronnie is hoping someone will buy this 1981 Fox-body three-door Mustang and restore it. The taillamp panel has been removed, but it goes with the car.

Ronnie is hoping someone will buy this 1981 Fox-body three-door Mustang and restore it. The taillamp panel has been removed, but it goes with the car.

Another car for sale as a complete unit is this 1978 AMC Concord D/L. AMC called it a “luxury compact” car.

Another car for sale as a complete unit is this 1978 AMC Concord D/L. AMC called it a “luxury compact” car.

There are several shoebox Fords available for parts including this ’50 model parked beside a ’55 Fairlane. Nearby, there is a ’50 Crestliner with intact trim.
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