They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so consider this a story with more than 10,000 words.
We recently took a road trip with a theme — cars. Our agenda included a stop in Smyrna, TN., to see the Nissan assembly plant and then a few more miles toward Nashville, the Lane Museum. We started at the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant where free tours are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Nissan plant started operations in 1983 and currently it manufactures the Altima, Maxima, LEAF, Pathfinder, Rogue and the Infiniti QX60. In fact, about 640,000 vehicles a year are manufactured, which makes it the highest-volume auto plant in North America.
On the hour-long tour you’ll see various stages of the manufacturing process from beginning when the individual parts and panels are stamped from huge coils of steel to the finish when vehicles go through the final inspections. There’s lots of sparks from welding and robots who are vital to the assembly process.
It really is exciting to see the cars being assembled and the hard work and pride of the workers.
From the fresh off the assembly line to the historic, we visited the Lane Museum, a few exits closer to Nashville for a real trip down memory lane. The Lane Museum, founded by Jeff Lane, is one of the few museums in the U.S. to specialize in European cars and its goal is to have all the vehicles in running order. It houses more than 150 cars that date back to the 1920 and feature the whole car gamut from microcars, amphibious vehicles, military vehicles, prototypes and motorcycles.
These are not your typical old cars. No! The cars come with two heads, two engines or three wheels. One even has a propeller. Its smallest var is a Peel P50, which is only 53 inches long, 39 inches wide and 53 inches high. It was made in the Isle of Man and, as a single-passenger car, gets 40 miles per hour. The largest is a Vietnam era amphibious LARC-LX, which is the width, length and height of three semis parked side by side. It takes four engines to drive that hunk. Each car is pretty amazing but one of our favorites would be the Helicon, a wooden body vehicle built in France in 1932. It has four foot propeller and a wooden guard on the front. The engine drives the propeller, which pulls the car down the road.
The Lane Museum is certainly worthy of a stop either before hitting Nashville or on the way back. It costs $12 for adults; $8 for seniors and $3 for kids 6 to 17.