Much more than minicars at Lane Motor Museum

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The Lane Motor Museum collection fills what once was a huge bakery building | Andy Reid photos

If you live where winter weather prohibits the use of your classic cars, there is nothing better you can do than to visit one of the many car museums across the country.

For example, I recently was in Nashville and took the opportunity to visit the Lane Motor Museum.

Many think of the Lane as a microcar museum, but this does a serious disservice to this fantastic collection. Yes, the museum has quite a few microcars on display, but it celebrates everything with wheels that transports people from one place to the other. It features everything from bicycles to motorcycles to cars, and even has a few airplanes. Basically, if it has wheels it’s there.

One of my favorite displays is in the motorcycle hall where the museum has  an amazing collection of French Velosolex mopeds. The Velosolex is sort of like a French take on the Vespa, but with a motor mounted on the front wheel. The Lane has just about every incarnation of Velosolex, and all are in wonderful and running condition.

Another favorite for me was the German pre-war area. Here the museum shows rare cars from Auto Union, BMW and DKW, just to name a few. Many of these cars are full classics and have been shown at concours such as Amelia Island, further proving the Lane is not just about microcars.

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That being said, the microcar exhibit is terrific and features some of the rarest of these diminutive cars, which are again all in great cosmetic and mechanical condition.

LARC is nearly as tall as the Lane Museum’s high-roofed garage

At the other end of the size spectrum is the largest vehicle in the collection, and the largest amphibious craft the U.S ever built, the LARC-LX (lighter, amphibious, resupply, cargo). This mammoth is capable of transporting 60 tons from ocean to land, even across heavy seas. You can see how big it is looking at the picture of my Kia Soul rental parked next to it.

So if you thought the Lane might be a fun place to look at microcars, visit it yourself this winter and experience everything that this museum has to offer. And while you’re in town, Nashville offers some decent musical entertainment as well.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

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