“I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”
“I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”
All images: author. The side yard of the entrance building
All images: author. The side yard of the entrance building

**somewhat long and photo heavy* *

Old Car City USA is an eclectic tourist attraction in White, Georgia that allows you to wander through acres of rotting vintage automobiles interspersed with quirky folk art. Less than an hour north of Hartsfield Jackson Airport, this destination makes a perfect activity for a layaway in Atlanta. Old Car City has wide appeal; photographers, car enthusiasts, hikers, and tourists alike universally enjoy wandering the isles of this junkyard turned tourist trap.

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Illustration for article titled Old Car City USA: The Oppositelock Review and Photographic Journey

History

Old Car City USA was established as a general store during the Great Depression. It began its career as a family owned junkyard in 1931, and grew to encompass over 30 acres and now features over 6 miles of walking trails. In 2009, it was converted to its present state as a tourist attraction by its owner, Dean Lewis, who grew up on the property. He added eccentric installation art pieces of his own design and cut paths and trails to join each of the distinct areas of the site. The junkyard is compromised mostly of cars from the 1950s to the 1970s, covering the space age to the early Malaise era. However, some cars date back as far as the 1920s.

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The inside of the lobby building. Home to several restored cars, folk art, and classic Americana.
The inside of the lobby building. Home to several restored cars, folk art, and classic Americana.

Why go?

Supposedly the world’s largest “old car junkyard,” Old Car City accurately bills itself as a photographer’s paradise. Armed with just a borrowed hand held camera, I was able to produce stunning photographs. None of the photos you see in this review have been filtered or tweaked, but are presented exactly as I took them.

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Blending the natural beauty of north Georgia and the eerie hulks of a time long since past, it is a place like no other. The site is so large that it is rare to run into another person once within its maze-like network of trails, giving the feeling of an abandoned place. The further you wander along the trails, the more overgrown the path and scenery becomes.

One of my favorite pictures
One of my favorite pictures
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More information

Old Car City USA is open 9 am to 4 pm every day except Sunday and Monday. The admission price increases from $15 to $25 if you bring a camera. Here is a link to their website.

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Image: Google
Image: Google
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Many bicycles decompose alongside their 4 wheeled brethren
Many bicycles decompose alongside their 4 wheeled brethren

The experience

Let’s dive right in. Old Car City contains not only classic American iron, but a surprising number of quirky European cars, and even some early Japanese cars. I especially liked this Renault Caravelle (Floride in other markets). I didn’t expect to come across a rear engined French grand tourer in rural Georgia.

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Illustration for article titled Old Car City USA: The Oppositelock Review and Photographic Journey
Illustration for article titled Old Car City USA: The Oppositelock Review and Photographic Journey
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That is a beautiful interior, and surprisingly well preserved.
That is a beautiful interior, and surprisingly well preserved.

I see you, little camouflaged Fiat. Think you can hide from me?

A Fiat 850 Sport hardtop. There were quite a few Fiats around, ranging from tiny city cars to mid sized sedans.
A Fiat 850 Sport hardtop. There were quite a few Fiats around, ranging from tiny city cars to mid sized sedans.
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The area at the rear of the property known as “the culdesac” features a ring of cars stacked on top of each other. The surrounding area also includes some of the more distinctive folk art. However, this section is difficult to get to, sitting as far from the entrance as possible.

There are few cars of this vintage in the yard; most date from much later.
There are few cars of this vintage in the yard; most date from much later.
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The words “Old Car City USA” are painted adjacent to  the more interesting sights, so that the name of the place will show up in pictures. Just the “A” shows up here.
The words “Old Car City USA” are painted adjacent to the more interesting sights, so that the name of the place will show up in pictures. Just the “A” shows up here.
This tin man appears to have some malicious intent for that poor patient.
This tin man appears to have some malicious intent for that poor patient.
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There are several abandoned motor homes as well as some dilapidated structures dotted around the site. I wouldn’t advise stepping inside the vehicles, since most have rotted out floors and/or mold. The buildings, however, are safe to walk through.

An abandoned RV, complete with pots, pans, and other belongings left behind.
An abandoned RV, complete with pots, pans, and other belongings left behind.
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The old office at Old Car City USA. Stacks of car parts are left behind on the shelves from the site’s former career as a junkyard. Of particular interest are the old fashioned AM radios and instrument clusters.
The old office at Old Car City USA. Stacks of car parts are left behind on the shelves from the site’s former career as a junkyard. Of particular interest are the old fashioned AM radios and instrument clusters.

One unique aspect of Old Car City is that it contains a fascinating mix of exciting, well known classics and rather pedestrian vehicles no one would restore.

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The vans in particular caught my attention. Classic vans simply do not have a presence either on the streets or at car shows like muscle cars and hot rods.

A Dodge A100, one off the last Detroit cab-over-engine vans. This example sat in a line of other commercial vans from the same era, all showing multiple paint colors from their various liveries.
A Dodge A100, one off the last Detroit cab-over-engine vans. This example sat in a line of other commercial vans from the same era, all showing multiple paint colors from their various liveries.
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Many vans were once used as dry storage for parts taken off other cars. One van was filled to the roof with old oil cans, another chock full of old radios. Signs nailed to trees helpfully point to these mini attractions.
Many vans were once used as dry storage for parts taken off other cars. One van was filled to the roof with old oil cans, another chock full of old radios. Signs nailed to trees helpfully point to these mini attractions.

The rows of Old Car City USA are littered with dead brands and other marquis rarely seen in the United States. I spotted such rarities as Fiats, Datsuns, Opels, AMCs, an Austin America, several Renaults, Isabellas, Kaisers, Clippers, Studebakers, and even Peugeots alongside the familiar air cooled Volkswagens and classic Detroit iron.

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One of the best photo opportunities lies out of the way along the right side of the site as you enter. Here you will find most of the imports from foreign and domestic makes, including a Ford Anglia.
One of the best photo opportunities lies out of the way along the right side of the site as you enter. Here you will find most of the imports from foreign and domestic makes, including a Ford Anglia.
I can’t believe I didn’t notice the rear engined French economy car I was photographing until I looked over my pictures. I will be sure to hunt for this Renault 10 next time I go.
I can’t believe I didn’t notice the rear engined French economy car I was photographing until I looked over my pictures. I will be sure to hunt for this Renault 10 next time I go.
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Before you go

Plan ahead! Bring a bag for snacks and water as well as spare batteries for your camera, since finding your way back to the entrance can be confusing and time consuming.

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Wear jeans or long pants, since many of the trails are overgrown and may take their toll on your legs. Be careful of the rusty edges of the cars and don’t try to cut between isles. Check the weather forecast before you go.

Big Detroit sedans are some of the most common vehicles in the yard. This old Dodge looks pretty sad to be on its own.
Big Detroit sedans are some of the most common vehicles in the yard. This old Dodge looks pretty sad to be on its own.
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Conclusion

Old Car City USA is the ultimate outdoor destination for photographers, nature lovers, and car enthusiasts alike. I would highly recommend it to just about anyone as one of the best things to do while in Atlanta. Combining roadside kitsch, classic cars from the world over, and scenic walking trails, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

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If you have been here, I would love to hear about it. I have many more photographs I am itching to show off. Would you like a part 2?

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