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Jefferson vintage museum showcases some classic cars with flash, substance

By Caleb Brabham
Oct. 2, 2015 at 4 a.m.

James Moore of Lafayette Street Vintage Vehicles in Jefferson on Wednesday September 30, 2015.

When Jimmy Moore, founder and operator of Lafayette Street Vintage Vehicles Car Museum, was a kid, he would only pretend the curve of a coke bottle was the rim of a car or the flat of a piece of wood was a car's hood.

Pretend… and wait to be able to get his hands on a real one.

"I always liked cars as a child," Moore said. "As kids we'd get blocks of wood or coke bottles and act like they were cars. I always had a passion for cars, especially the older ones."

It was the older ones that had class, style and panache, Moore said.

"Back then car manufactures liked to be different from their competition and they would do their best to come up with a style that had some changes. But now all the cars are (what I call) jelly beans. They're the same shape, just different colors. It's hard to recognize a car unless you're really up on them."

Moore's appreciation for age and style is even reflected in the building that houses his 11-car museum for the public to admire.

"This building was a bank, built in 1920. It came through my wife. Her dad, A.J. Woods, was a doctor and he had his doctor's office here. He bought it in 1950 and it was here until the 1980s. There had been three or four different banks (housed) here. They all went bankrupt," Moore said. "In 2007, I started tearing out the partitions, and even took out the old vault. That's when I had the brilliant idea to start collecting cars and putting them in here."

Moore marched to the olive hood of a 1923 Model T on Wednesday, giving it a proud, but loving, tap.

"This is the first car I bought (for the museum). I bought it from a family locally. It's quite unusual. Most Model Ts were black," Moore said with a smirk, recalling Henry Ford's early dealership promise that customers could have any car, as long as it was black. "This one could have been a car the military bought. The military purchased a lot of cars from the government when they were patrolling the boarder along the Rio Grande when Pancho Villa was rampant."

Moore thinks of himself of a collector of not only cars but stories, admitting he's fascinated with crime tales of Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and their relationships with their cars, gladly educating patrons on history.

"I have no records that Bonnie and Clyde did any hold-ups in Jefferson," Moore said. "But there's history that shows they stole a car in Marshall. Back then people left their keys in their cars. They supposedly stole a brand new Ford off of Rosborough Springs Road. They ran 3,000 or 4,000 miles on it and abandoned it. That's the way they'd do it. It was hard to catch them."

The most recent car in the museum is a 1939 four-door Ford Deluxe Convertible. Moore said he doesn't plan on having any more recent models than this, adding patrons shouldn't expect to see any muscle cars rolling into his museum either.

"Those are the years of the vintage cars. You get up into the '70s, that's Mustangs and Camaros and muscle cars. A lot of kids come in here and ask 'where're your muscle cars?'" said Moore as he strolls to a 1933 Buick Victoria snug in the corner of the museum. "This is the nearest thing to a muscle car I have."

To contact the Lafayette Street Vintage Vehicles Car Museum call (903) 240-6180.



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