The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee has a Thanksgiving tradition of passing out rides and opening the catacombs (basement). If you’ve never been to the Lane Motor Museum, you won’t know that this is considerably the premier collection of micro cars in the United States. And they also have a strong emphasis on mid twentieth century European cars. Another real surprise and delight is the fact that they have probably the largest collection of Tatras outside of the Czech Republic.
They also have a very nice collection of BMWs. On display were an Ihle Brothers bodies BMW Dixi, a BMW 320, and staged outside (for rides) was a Baroque Angel, a BMW 3200S a continuation of the 500 series cars. Given the Lane’s small car mission a number of well restored Isettas were seen in the basement awaiting their turn on main floor.
In the back of the main floor are a gaggle of bubble cars, those minimalist creations that popped onto the scene around the time of the Suez crisis, including a Goggomobil which was made by Glas. Glas of course was purchased by BMW in 1966. At the entrance to the rather small room (which held a fairly large collection of very small cars) was a Peel P50, an example of which provided fodder for a particularly funny Top Gear sketch.
The collection is well researched and if you take the time to read the data placards by the cars you can pick up a bunch of interesting tidbits. For example, the first BMW with a kidney grille was a BMW 303 from 1933, but the Ihle Brothers were building the rebodied BMW Dixis (a license built Austin Seven) with a kidney grille. And the BMW Dixi dated from the late 1920s. So who copied whom? If you read what the Lane Motor Museum put on the placard, then the Ihle Brothers copied the kidney grille on their coachwork after the BMW 303 came out.
The Lane Motor Museum is worth a trip to Nashville in its own right, but if you happen to be in Nashville for any other reason, don’t ignore this gem.