Nestled a few miles off of I75 north in Cartersville you will find Savoy Automobile Museum, sitting on beautifully manicured grounds. One thing you get immediately from Savoy is that this isn’t your typical automobile museum. Part car show in box, part art museum, Savoy strays from the typical formula you find in most automobile museums. The walls are not cluttered with signs from by gone era. The museum doesn’t seek to recapture a time. It cherishes the past, but embraces in the future.
Most people underestimate Savoy, we know we did. The art museum inspiration is apparent the minute you walk in the front doors. Unpretentiously, Savoy displays vehicles in rotating exhibits, artfully curated around a theme, concept or interest. The cars (and trucks) are the stars of the show at Savoy.
As you pull onto the grounds at Savoy Automobile Museum, you take a winding road through the 37 acres of grounds, past the front of the beautiful building to the parking area. The experience is reminiscent of going to the National Corvette Museum (NCM) in that Savoy feels like a destination, not simply a place.
As you pull into the parking lot and walk towards the museum, the first car display you encounter is a rusty Plymouth. A Savoy. This Savoy was found buried on the grounds during construction. It became the namesake for the museum, just one of the many little details Savoy paid attention to when establishing the museum.
Most days the grounds provide a beautiful backdrop to the museum, giving it a sense of a special place, while providing ample opportunity to grow. But the museum also plans to host special events, particularly car shows, ultimately creating a gather spot that is welcoming to car enthusiasts.
Savoy’s Exhibits and Exhibit Hall
Savoy prides itself on celebrating all aspects of cars with it’s exhibits. In fact, it’s commitment to this is displayed over the entry way into the main exhibit hall. At Savoy you’ll find the exhibits cover the entire range of cars, old to new, prototype and one offs, racecars. Foreign, domestic. One thing every vehicle on display had was either beauty, history, impact, a story, special interest or some combination of the above.
As you walk in the main entrance, you enter find yourself in the Great Hall, which stretches 180 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 40 feet high. You enter in the middle, with a big window 90 feet to your left, which draws you in that direction. The walk to the window lined with beautiful cars under a vaulted ceiling.
Off of the Great Hall are a number of individual exhibition rooms, each with a theme or collection. Each exhibit room feels like you’ve stepped into a personal car collectors garage. Soft lighting, often accented with a colored LED light gives a sense of awe.
The lighting truly stands out in Savoy’s exhibit halls. The lighting was designed not only to highlight the beauty of the cars, but also provides diffused lighting that makes for better photographs. The LED lights can be set to any color, so the ambient color in the room can change with each exhibit. Photography is highly encouraged at Savoy, clearly a key focus when they considered the lighting.
As you walk towards the large window at the end of the Great Hall, to your right you find the Savoy Collection exhibit room. Back behind you down the great hall, with the large window now to your back, additional exhibit halls in front and to the left. Just outside their in house theatre you find more cars on display. Each of these 3 rooms contain a rotating exhibit.
The cars on display are more just a popular make or model, they all have either contributed to the history of the automotive world or design, were famous in their own right, or were of popular interest. This is a museum where you want to take a tour or join a curation event. Each vehicle on display was more than just a beautiful piece.
The exhibits are created from a mixture of the nearly 100 cars owned by Savoy themselves, as well as cars on loan from private collectors and other museums. To keep things fresh, the curation team rotates them regularly. The exhibits display collections around a theme, a special series, a story or a concept.
There is also the Savoy Collection, made of from select pieces from their private collection. According to the team at Savoy only about 20-30 of their 100 private collection cars are on display at a time. They are carefully mixed in with vehicles on loan throughout the museum.
Special exhibits at Savoy currently include 75th Anniversary Of Porsche, celebrating a history of one of the worlds great car manufacturers and the 75th anniversary of the Porsche 356, as well as all Porsche models. Another special exhibit on display now is British Invasion, highlighting British made cars. And we couldn’t forget about the Georgia Tech exhibit, which features cars built by the engineering students at Georgia Tech, including a solar powered car all the way to a Chevy S-10 they built for Grassroots Motorsports $2000 challenge. One thing we love about the Georgia Tech exhibit isn’t just that it highlights the engineering work of a local university, but it also shows Savoy commitment to the fun side of a car museum.
An upcoming exhibit is the Evolution of Big Foot. Yes, as in Big Foot the monster truck. There will be several Big Foot monster trucks on display, illustrating how the iconic vehicle has changed over the decades. It’s just another example of how this is not your typical automobile museum. Yet, still another upcoming exhibit we are excited about is factory drag racers, featuring high performance factory cars made for or with drag racing in mind.
The walls of the exhibition hall are doted with car art, just enough to be tasteful. These art pieces provide decoration and serve as a backdrop. While they each have interest in their own right, it is clear the goal was to provide a background to the cars.
Expect to take 2 hours to get through the exhibit, though you could easily spend half a day in the various exhibition halls, taking a guided tour and reading about each car on display. And since the exhibits rotate regularly, there is always something new. The Porsche exhibit, for example, ends July 30th to make way for new exhibits.
Special Events at Savoy
In addition to the Exhibits and galleries, Savoy as a number of special events for both the museum and for car enthusiasts. These special events provide everything from movies to car shows, as well opportunities guest curates, experts and those with a direct history to some of the vehicles on display.
Using their in house theatre, Savoy offers a regular “Movies At The Museum”, featuring car centric movies such as Back To The Future and Gone In 60 Seconds.
They also feature special events, generally in the evening where they bring in special guests and curators to discuss the exhibits. Curators, whether from Savoy or a guest, are responsible for organizing collections of cars. Their unique insights into the cars, their history and their impact provide a depth of information you just won’t get touring the museum on your own.
No great automobile museum is complete without car shows. At Savoy’s extensive grounds are perfect for large scale car shows. Savoy twice annually hosts a fund raising car show. However, as the grass has settled and matured, expect to see them host more in the near future and potentially even offer the grounds to rent for third party shows and events.
Gift Shop, Membership And Beyond
Like any sizeable museum there is a Gift Shop with T-Shirts, hats, pull overs, logo wear and memorabilia. There is also a cafe offering drinks and snacks, as well as light bite foods. The cafe sits in a rotunda, and to make the space more interesting actually turned the roof into a giant wheel. The cafe also has big windows allowing you to look out over the grounds outside.
Like most museums, Savoy offers individual and family memberships if you want to return regularly. You can even apply your first trips admission to a membership, so you can try it out and then signup afterward if you feel it’s something worth coming back for.
Beyond the cafe, Savoy also hosts groups and special events. The Peachstate PCA (Porsche Club of America) hosts an annual charity drive, which this year included finishing at the museum with a cartered lunch. The opportunity for larger car groups to host events at the museum presents a great alternative to the hotel ballroom you get.
While renting entire special event rooms is great, the availability of group pricing on tickets and a large parking lot, means Savoy is accessible for meets even for smaller clubs and organizations.
Without a doubt we came away impressed with Savoy. They have masterfully stuck the landing of blending the best of automobile museums and art museums. As Cartersville continues to change with the growth, Savoy will offer a respite with it’s large, beautiful grounds.
It also provides a wonderful piece of Atlanta’s car culture and scene. We’ve been on record a number of times that between our multiple race tracks, car manufacturers, racing heritage and car centric lifestyles – this is truly one of the great car towns. Savoy is a great piece of that, and worth the drive.
Hours: 10am to 5pm Tuesday Thru Sunday
Admission: Admission is $15, discounts available for seniors, military, groups and kids.
Location: ~2 miles off of I75 in Cartersville, about 45 minutes to an hour north of Atlanta.
Official Website: https://savoymuseum.org/