Over 500 historic automobiles hidden just southwest of St. Louis

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LEBANON, MO (KTVI) - In a drive down memory lane, FOX 2 unveiled a monument to history Wednesday night that had essentially been hidden in rural Missouri for decades. It's called Evergreen Historic Automobiles. Few have heard of it, let alone seen it. The owner is about to go public.  But we're taking you inside first.

There really is a great "Hudson Hornet" like the one in the Disney animated movie "Cars", about 150 miles southwest of St. Louis just off Route 5 outside Lebanon, Missouri.

"Doc Hudson in that movie was a '51 Hudson Hornet," said Steve Plaster, owner Evergreen Historic Automobiles.

Plaster has a real life Doc Hudson and a whole lot more. There are 3 acres of cars under roof in show rooms he calls "car barns".

"People uptown call every once in a while say, 'oh we're doing the Christmas parade we need a convertible.  Do you have a convertible?' I say, 'well, what color?'" Plaster laughed.

He has about 550 cars, nearly all convertibles including the 1932 Lincoln KB that FDR used for his first inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Plaster is a walking encyclopedia on everything there:

  • He has cars once owned by Rod Stewart, Sam Snead, Alan Jackson, and Michael Douglas, among others.
  • He owns everybody style of Corvette ever produced.
  • He owns a Batmobile from the TV series.
  • He also owns the Mutt Cuts car van from the movie "Dumb and Dumber". An employee's son took it to the prom.

All the cars are in mint condition and they all run. Plaster has one employee whose only job it is to keep it that way. It seems a shame to keep it all hidden anymore, Plaster said.

He was talking about the cars, their stories and his story. The cars are as much about family history as anything else.

His dad, the late, Bob Plaster, started it all in the 1970's. Bob Plaster was a Springfield, MO, grocery store worker who founded the Empire Gas Company with nothing in 1963; building it into a propane gas empire, quietly stocking the "car barns" with his son, Steve, along the way.

"It's a lot of fun.  I love the old cars," Steve Plaster said.

He said he didn't know the cars' total worth; and didn't want to.  He just liked the idea of finally sharing what his dad shared with him. You can't put a price on that.

"Yeah, it was very much a father and son thing," he smiled.

He said his father vowed never to drive a small car when American cars downsized during the gas crisis in the '70s.  He bought two Lincolns and two Cadillac’s to last him the rest of his life.  He built a barn to store them. Steve Plaster now buys and sells cars around the world. He's going start offering public tours by appointment.

There's also a new banquet center adjacent to the "Car Barns".