In a magical land called O’Fallon, hundreds of antique cars come to life at Gateway Classic Cars. Actually, from a slew of classic Chevys to a least one collectible Jaguar, they’re not going anywhere right now. This impressive exhibition of rolling stock is on display in an expansive new building that allows each vehicle plenty of room for admirers or prospective buyers to walk around, peer inside, but please don’t touch!
Well, for a few grand their new drivers could make them roar to life. Meanwhile, antique car aficionados may appreciate them in all their two-tone glory, red fuzzy dice optional, at a standstill. The $3 admission fee is more than worth it. But just one visit won’t do justice to this fine collection.
About 140 cars, trucks and other rides are on display any given day, but this inventory is anything but static. John Busch at the showroom-cum-museum says about 85 percent of the cars on the showroom floor go home with new owners. Gateway doesn’t actually own any of them; they are there on consignment from their owners. And cars are switched out and transferred between the company’s nine stores (as of this May), so no two visits are the same. There are about 1,000 cars from which to choose throughout the company, from Houston to Fort Lauderdale to Chicago.
And these cars aren’t just boss… they’re, well, cherry.
The information sheets on the inside of the windshields are all a labor of love by the sales staff—also curators or docents, if you will. There are no guided tours, at least not officially, but these folks really have a gas showing off these automotive wonders. They love their work, and they know their stuff, says Busch. The information on each vehicle is exhaustive, mostly because the owners know them so well.
“Not everybody here knows everything about all the cars, of course, but everybody knows at least something about each,” he says. Most are antiques, if you go by the yardstick of 25 years old or older. But there are some recent editions, too, mostly muscle cars from a few model years back.
OMG; you’ll want to have one all for yourself.
The brand-new building, opened about this time last year, is replete with a banquet area and conference center. About 29,000 square feet of convention or tradeshow space can be configured for gearheads and wannabes. Fundraisers and business meetings fit right in. There hasn’t been a wedding booked here yet, but just you wait. Meanwhile, a movie theater runs auto-themed movies whenever anyone is in the mood. It only seats eight… although in extremely comfortable recliners… but visitors can have a glimpse at, or kick back and take in, such high-powered fare as “Smokey and the Bandit”.
And the gift shop has been lovingly stocked with die-cast metal replicas, T-shirts, plus vintage signs and placards that evoke service stations from the middle of the previous century. You could spend half your time in here.
Visit today, or check out their website for a calendar of upcoming events!!!
This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here to read it online or sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!