Gene has agreed to come out of retirement and put aside his whittling and walking sticks and will be available to speak with you directly Monday through Friday. He has taken over the phones and if you have any early Ford technical questions, he'd be glad to help!
THE STORY OF GENES:
There has been some form of Gene's in operation for over 40 years. This story begins back in the late 70's when Gene McKinney began working at Joe Smith Automotive in northeast Atlanta. He was Joe's first employee in the Early Ford Parts division. He quickly built a reputation for being someone who knew what combination of original and aftermarket parts worked best together on an early Ford hot rod. For the next few years Gene would work on and off at Joe's, working a while for himself or others and then back to Joe's. While away from Joe Smith's, he never strayed to far from buying, selling and trading parts as well as working on cars.
In the 80's, Gene's moved around a good bit. During one of his stints with Joe's in the early 80's, Gene opened Genes Hot Rod Repair in the shop behind Joe's. He built and repaired cars during the week and worked the car shows and swap meets for Joe's on the weekends. Another time, Gene began adding parts to the repair work and opened Gene's Hot Rod Parts and Service. He turned out some great cars during this time and burned up the roads going to swap meets all over the country. Gene was becoming known nationally for keeping an inventory of original and performance parts as well as rare and hard to find pieces. More and more regular customers came to the annual meets to see what Gene was bringing.
The next 20 years brought lots of growth to the business and a good deal of acclaim to Gene. In 1983 Gene moved to Lithia Springs GA where he opened Gene's Hot Rod & Antique Ford Parts. Here the focus was on retail business and allowed a lot more time at home. By 1992 Gene was ready to travel and put the business back on the road again. For the next 3 years you could find the Gene's display at a car show or swap meet from one end of the country to the other. When at home he still found time to do repair work and build some great 32-40 cars and F-100's.
1995 brought an opportunity to move to his grandmother's old place back in Tennessee. Gene and his wife Michelle moved up I-75 to Riceville and built a shop with plenty of room for parts and service. As the interest in traditional hot rods started to grow in the 80's and 90's, it was hard to find anyone with Gene's experience and knowledge to help builders and owners put together a dependable and safe car. Gene was taking calls from and shipping parts all over the world. The internet opened up even more markets and a new and younger generation of hot rodder was introduced to Gene's. It seemed like there was always one or two flat black Ford's from the 30's sporting red steelies with big and little rubber in the shop.
He was also a regular at the Salt Flats and in 1986 received the Bonneville Cruise-In Long Distance Award for driving the infamous Nuthin Fancy 1934 3-window coupe from Lithia Springs to Wendover Nevada. Burlie Burrell, through Rod Action magazine, did a collection of articles on the trip and the coupe, and it won the cover contest in Street Scenes Magazine. His cars have been featured in magazines including Rod & Custom and Street Rodder and author Peter Vincent put Gene's Yellow 1932 5-window on the cover of his book Hot Rod; An American Original and Hot Rod; The Photography of Peter Vincent. That's pretty fitting because if you have ever met Gene, you know he is truly an American Original.
After probably a million miles, thousands of parts and hundreds of cars Gene decided to retire in 2008. Health issues were limiting his ability to travel and work in the shop. Henry and Ann Bennett bought the business and moved it a few miles south to Cleveland TN. In the fall of 2011 Gene's was purchased and moved to Knoxville, where it will remain until sometime around April 1, 2019.
If we can be of any help on early Ford technical issues, just give us a call. As Always, you'll see us popping up at some of your local Swap Meets, Looking for original Antique Ford Parts, Street Rod Parts, Hot Rod parts as well as speed equipment . Be sure to stop in and say hello!!
Athens, Tennessee, United States
Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm
Saturday: By appointment only