Tim Wellborn named 2010 MOPAR Enthusiast of the Year
Four years ago, MCG came up with the idea of a Mopar Enthusiast of the Year award - an award to honor those who go above and beyond to promote our hobby to the masses. In 2007 we honored Curtis McIntyre for creating what most enthusiasts thought Chrysler should’ve been building at that time; a modern-day Hemicuda along the lines of the new generation Challenger. Keep in mind, that was before the new Challenger had officially gone on the market! The ‘Cuda was quite an undertaking, since it had to be built off a cut down four-door Charger platform. The car was contracted to be built by the very same company, Metalcrafters, that builds Chrysler’s prototypes and concept cars - so, the end result was nothing short of what you’d expect of an auto show concept car.
For 2008, the award was expanded to encompass two individuals who are inseparable. Bob and Sharon Malcom, who are owner/operators of Malcom Chrysler/Dodge in Peebles, Ohio. Bob and Sharon exemplify what every Chrysler dealer should be, by being ambassador, literally, from coast-to-coast for Chrysler products both new and old.
The following year, as Chrysler Corporation rapidly imploded, was going through bankruptcy, and trying to reemerge under government control, the Mr. Norm’s group kicked it into overdrive and took over while Chrysler was in disarray, mass marketing specialty performance cars and making a new name for the old brand. Most people saw just how much trouble the mother company was in by mid year, at the Chryslers at Carlisle show, when the usual corporate support (new vehicle displays, ride and drives etc.) were nonexistent. If it wouldn’t have been for the large group of modern muscle cars displayed by Mr. Norm’s that year, there would have been no real new car representation at Carlisle. Financially driving the Mr. Norm’s Group is Bill Sefton, our Mopar Enthusiast of the Year for 2009. It wasn’t just Bill’s financial and business muscle that landed him the Enthusiast of the Year accolade though, it was much more than just that - it was his unselfish philosophy of sharing his personal time and car collection with other enthusiasts for ride and drives. Doing things like that sealed the deal that year.
This year, the whole world seemed to be sucking in their money to pay off loans and reduce debt. Very few were investing in the future, and spending money on muscle cars was low on everybody’s “to do” list. That’s not to say people stopped appreciating muscle cars, they just took a “let’s wait and see” approach, awaiting clarification of where things were headed, like health insurance, taxes, and interest rates. While that approach is certainly prudent, it’s that money that’s not being spent, that is needed to grease the wheels of the economy and get people back to work. Certainly not taking a blind eye to the nation’s economy, but realizing life is short, this year, Tim Wellborn and wife Pam opened an everlasting homage to the muscle car that is destined to outlast most of us, insuring muscle car history lives on long into the future. Brilliantly refurbishing a classic old car dealership in Alexandria, Alabama, the Wellborns have massed over sixty very significant muscle cars on display.
The way I understand it, Tim and Pam have a trust set up for the museum, funding it for many years after they’re gone. Because the museum is a “muscle car” museum, it houses Fords, Chevys, Buicks, Pontiacs, and AMC’s alike, but anyone who’s been there will tell you it’s a Mopar museum first and foremost. It’s also a treasure trove of Mopar history, housing original artwork, NOS parts, and even Harry Hyde’s (of K&K Insurance fame) personal briefcase with all of his original correspondence back and forth with NASCAR! The Wellborn museum is set up for a multitude of gatherings going into the future, and the plans are to have at least one gala event each year that’s designed to inspire the imagination of both young and old enthusiasts alike. There’s even talk of a brick and mortar wing being built specifically for MCG’s proposed Mopar Hall of Fame.
When you roll into the Alabama welcome center and get a free map, you’ll notice a couple of attractions pictured on the front; the USS Alabama Battleship Park in Mobile being one, and another being the Wellborn Muscle Car Museum! So, for 2010, we salute Tim Wellborn as Mopar Enthusiast of the Year for literally putting Mopar muscle cars on the map for years to come!