A lattice work of late evening lightning announced the arrival of heavy rains last Thursday night, jarring the owls from their perches about our hometown, where residents look for cooler days the last week of August.
It hasn’t been many days when driving along West Broadway that I passed a bright orange car traveling into Newport. The early 1949-50 model Oldsmobile caught my eye because it was a favorite of mine on the highways and drag strips of Miami.
“I wished I could see that car closer,” I thought and traveled on. Later returning thru downtown there the red-orange four-door Olds sat waiting for its owner in front of Ken Hall’s barbershop.
It took me a minute to pull over, walk in, and see barber Susan Poe trimming Charles “Charlie” Roberts white hair. He’s the kind of guy you know you’ve seen before and at home in Newport though he lives not far from Douglas Lake at White Pine. We agreed to meet and talk which we did this past Thursday.
I got much more of a treat than the Oldsmobile, when I walked into his basement garage of the house he and his wife, Judy, built many years ago. The brilliant Chevy red 1957 Nomad almost stole the show.
Charlie explained it is one of only 2,000 manufactured by General Motors. This one happened to be even more special because of its unique former ownership by Victoria “Tori” Spelling, best known for her first TV series “Beverly Hills 90210” in 1990.
The Chevy red Nomad (station wagon) vehicle title copy signed by her, when sold in 2004, is part of the info that Charlie displays when showing the car. “I’ve wanted one all my life.” And there is an interesting story behind it that Chevy fan Barry Nease Sr. and Robert Overholt will appreciate.
Charlie and his friend Steve Fox of Dandridge decided to cruise Pigeon Forge in late summer 2018 during the Grand Car Show. They met Jack Manes, who owned the matador red Nomad Bel Air. And it was for sale. However, Jack revealed that an out-of-state fellow was willing to pay $69,000.
But Charlie was there at the show and paid $50,000—“It’s money in your hand,” Charlie told Jack. He had taken the car on the 2,000-mile Power Tour through several southern states with no problems.
Before the Pigeon Forge show ended the Virginia buyer arrived and Jack could only tell him the car was sold. And Charlie would not take the $69,000 offer. The car looks better than new and has a modern 350 cubic-inch Chevy motor and transmission.
We next turned our attention to the older but beautiful Oldsmobile not sure how to describe the color. It has an interesting story, too. When Charlie first saw it almost 30 years ago, Leon Ingle of Ingle Brothers Drilling in White Pine owned it.
The Rocket 88 sat quietly gathering dust and leaking oil at Ingles’ building across from Joe Samples well drilling.
Leon had bought the car in its dull appearance at Maggie Valley. Yet it had not one bit of rust, or one dent. It needed a new interior, cleaning, paint job, and motor tune up. The 303 cubic inch motor had only 57,000 miles. New white wall tires made it roll.
What was Charlie’s interest in Oldsmobiles? During his years in the Army in the late 1950s he acquired a 1953 Olds that had the powerhouse Rocket 98 boasting 371 cubic inches and three carburetors. He often took it to the drag strip.
After many visits over 20 years to drop in on the 1950 Olds at Ingles shop, Leon stunned Charlie and said he would sell it. The same day, Charlie handed him the cash and put it on a trailer for home. That has been just the start of the story. I soon will tell you the rest of the story and about some other auto jewels he owns.
To Be Continued