NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than half of the world's eight remaining Marathon automobiles are now in Nashville.
The investor behind Marathon Village just acquired his fifth Marathon, a 1913 Marathon Runner.
"The last time this car ran it would have been test drove probably late 1912 down the street then put on a ship and shipped to Buenos Aires, Argentina," Barry Walker said.
Barry Walker took a gamble in the 1980s on the neighborhood that surrounds Clinton Street. At the time, he didn't know anything about Marathon Motor Works.
"I came here and bought this place. It was about to be torn down. It was rough. I didn't know what it was. I started digging for two years and I found out this is a car factory," Walker said.
Since then, Walker has brought five Marathons home to Nashville. The latest was this November.
"It was a lot of waiting and dealing, and wheeling and dealing on all of these cars," he said.
The Argentina acquisition was the most challenging because of the distance and language barrier. It took 25 years to arrange for the the car back to the United States. It is back where it belongs according to Walker.
"Marathon was a big deal - the first and only car built in the south of the United States. The whole industrial revolution...American people built America [as] it is today," he said.
Annually, thousands of people visit Marathon Village and the Marathon Motor Works Museum that Walker established.
Ironically, his investment in Marathon automobiles has driven up the value of an individual car to nearly $100,000.
"It's fun, it's challenging. It keeps me out of trouble or in trouble... I don't know which one," he said with a chuckle.
Walker is now working on acquiring his sixth Marathon from Australia.