Southern Classic – Charles Bowman
Southern Classic Cars held its Grand Opening during the October 21, 2017 East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame Weekend. The Henderson, NC classic car dearler hosted more than 50 classics. Plans are for an inventory of at least 30 cars with new arrivals regularly scheduled.
Story by Jim Hill
Charles n Glenda Bowman
A lifetime of building and collecting classic cars left Charles and Glenda Bowman in need of expanded quarters for their treasures. They purchased the local NAPA parts and machine shop, and refurbished it into a classic-friendly, climate-controlled showplace in Henderson, NC. Behind the pair is Charles’ personal-drive, ’55 Chevy Bel-Air two-door sedan.
When your car hobby overtakes your available storage space, a critical decision is soon in coming. That’s sort of what happened to Charles and Glenda Bowman.
The Bowman’s have been residents and business operators in Henderson, NC for many decades. In those years they accumulated many interesting, rare and valuable cars. These range from restored antiques to 50’s classics to 60’s muscle cars to late-model specialty cars… and everything in between!
This bright-red, ’48 Mercury, drop-top custom lead-sled was popular with the thousands of viewers who visited Southern Classic Cars during their Grand Opening, Oct. 21, 2017. Frenched headlights and a ’53 Chevy grille are a few of the unique features of this beauty.
Charles Bowman’s mainstay during all those years was his very well reputed paint and body repair shop, known across North Carolina and on into Virginia. The caliber of work by his shop has always been exceptionally lofty. That skill level also was reflected in the cars he chose to personally retain for a growing collection. That’s when Charles and Glenda faced up to the issue of too many trick cars, and not enough space.
Since the Bowman’s enjoy and cherish their cars, they decided to seek expanded quarters for their collection. When they found that the former NAPA-Standard Motor Parts store in downtown Henderson was available, they struck a deal to turn the former parts store and machine shop into a first-class specialty auto dealership as well as a seriously nice home for their own vehicles.
Carefully shoe-horning a Chevy V-8 into an Austin-Healey sports car was a popular 60’s engine swap for crazy-fast street performance or drag racing. This British import now sports a Chevy LT1 350, Chevy’s wild tuned port electronics fuel injection.
In October, during the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame Weekend, the Bowman’s held the grand opening of their brand new Southern Classic Cars LLC. On Saturday, when the streets of downtown Henderson are clogged with more than 1,500 such cars, a steady stream of visitors headed for the new store. Upon exiting, the usual comments ranged from: “Wow, did you see that?”, to “I had no idea there so many great rides lurking in quiet little Henderson!”
The fully climate-controlled showroom was crammed full of both personal Bowman treasures as well as consignment vehicles that ranged from cars, trucks, and even motorcycles. All displayed showed the keen eye of master craftsman Charles Bowman.
And while the grand opening was an unqualified success, one key member, master body repairman Willie Satterwhite was not on hand. Willie worked many years for Charles, and each year they focused their attention on a specific car destined for the Bowman collection. Willie passed away not long ago, but examples of his craftsmanship and passion were present, on the showroom floor.
This ’57 Skyliner, with retactable metal top, holds a special place at Southern Classic Cars. The gleaming red and white beauty is perfectly restored and speaks fondly of the 50’s. Skyliners are highly prized today and were only offered during 1957-58-59 Ford model years.
Among the treasures are Charles’ personal ’55 Bel-Air two-door sedan, and a favorite weekend driver ’57 Bel-Air convertible belonging to Glenda Bowman. A sparkling ’57 Ford Skyliner, Retractable Convertible sits beneath a spotlighted position, an outstanding example of these low-production, Ford “Better Idea” cars offered in 1957, 58 and 59 model years.
The head turning, bright yellow and black 2001/1969 Camaro was flawlessly executed by a Kentucky specialty shop that built just 20 of the unique vehicles. A complete Corvette powertrain and suspension is mated to nostalgic ’69 Camaro sheetmetal that turns heads.
Among the unusual vehicles is a 2002 Chevrolet Camaro. “So what”, you say? This car is far more than a mere ’02 Camaro. It’s been transformed to an amazing blend of old – a 1969 Camaro, Hugger Orange and White, Indy Pace Car, and a 2002 Camaro. Powering this head-turner is a full-tilt, EFI, Chevy LS1 V-8. The car is one of just 20 built by a shop in London, Kentucky. One of the 20 cars recently sold for $85k at the Barrett-Jackson high-end auction!
Ford’s Boss Mustangs were low-production, iconic muscle cars from the late 1960’s. This restored gem rests inside the main showroom at Southern Classic Cars, in Henderson, NC. The Boss 302 engine was a high-revving V-8 built to capture the 1969 Trans-Am racing series.
Charles and Glenda intend to keep their unique operation flush with a continuous stream of fresh, new vehicles and the wide-smile greetings of genuine car enthusiasts who love to talk about any sort of cars or trucks.
A road trip to Southern Classic Cars LLC is a very worthy journey, and Henderson, NC is easily accessed via I-85, a pleasant 45 minutes north of Raleigh, NC. The showroom is located at 117 Horner Street, right in Henderson’s main street downtown area. Give them a call at (252) 438-0400 for details. For those attending the 2018, 16th Annual East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame Weekend, this is a must stop-off during Saturday’s huge car show.