Paul Cummings is a classic car guy— in every sense of the phrase. Not only is he the quintessential car collector, assembling his collection of American cars and trucks for over 50 years, but he’s also a collector of classic cars. And he has more than 150 of them. Each of these vintage beauties is a celebration of the car-making culture that built America.
It started simply enough when Cummings’s father bought him a 1940 Ford. That gift spurred a lifelong love of cars. “Collecting cars has been my life’s passion,” Cummings told Myrtle Beach’s Sun News in 2009. Over the years, that passion revealed itself in a cadre of cars stored in “barns, chicken sheds, old warehouses and any other place he could find.” What this passion needed was a central location.
Cummings had always dreamed of showcasing the cars, and that dream came true with the 2009 opening of Wheels of Yesteryear, a museum of cars dating from the 1940s to the 1980s. The museum also includes related memorabilia like posters, autographed NASCAR items, and vintage license plates. The gift shop features auto-themed apparel and the largest inventory of die-cast collectibles in the southeast. Most of the collection falls into the muscle car category— mid-century vehicles with monster engines, built for speed, power, and raw energy. A 1977 article in Popular Science looks back wistfully at the era of cars “you could drive straight from the showroom to the dragstrip.” And when Cummings opened Wheels of Yesteryear, he hoped to capture some of the wistful romance. “This is a memory lane,” he told the Sun News in 2013.
But it’s not just a stroll down memory lane for folks who might have shared a first kiss in a classic car like the ones on display. There’s some cars that might spark recognition for younger generations, too. A 1970s-era Pacer similar to the one movie characters Wayne and Garth drove in both Wayne’s World movies is also part of the collection. Cummings used to drive the Pacer, but had to stop because people’s curiosity got the better of them, and he’d often find himself being followed home.
With a collection as large as his, rotating is not just something for the tires; Cummings switches out the display annually, so two different visits could be full of different sights. You might be there on the day Cummings’s 1969 Dodge Dart makes an appearance. Or the 1965 Pontiac GTO. Or maybe one of his oddities, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air Nomad, a station wagon with only two doors.
As for Cummings, there’s nothing better than sharing his collection with curious car-lovers from around the world. “I want to let as many people enjoy them as much as I have through the years,” he told the Sun-News. “It was time to pull the blankets off them and share.”
Know Before You Go
Open Monday-Sunday from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Closed during most major holidays. Adult tickets are $14, kids 6-15 $11, and children under 6 are free. Group rate $12. There is also a gift shop on site.