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Mississippi Mensch: George Poteet's Hot Rods Elevate Both Art Form and Arti

Photo credit: Clint Davis - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Clint Davis - Car and Driver

From Car and Driver

From the May 2018 issue
George Poteet’s Mississippi accent often slides off into a chuckle at the end of a sentence, as if he finds his own automotive life surprisingly entertaining. He grew up in the tiny town of Mantachie, Mississippi, in a house that lacked indoor plumbing and electricity, and took to cars early. Poteet went to work for National Safety Associates in 1969 collecting past-due accounts, rose to senior management, and eventually became the company’s second-largest shareholder. Now that he’s made it, his passion and pocketbook are helping make others in the hot-rod business. His 1000-acre compound just south of Memphis houses more than 120 cars, many of them among the best hot rods ever built.

Photo credit: Clint Davis - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Clint Davis - Car and Driver

Projects commissioned by Poteet are always finished to the highest standard. They take a lot of time and, in a business that operates on hourly rates, that steady work can keep a garage’s doors open. There isn’t a hot-rod-centric magazine, website, newsletter, pamphlet, vlog, or podcast that hasn’t featured his cars, and given Poteet’s profile in the hot-rodding community, a commission from him gets a shop noticed. He was the first paying customer at Troy Trepanier’s Rad Rides shop in Illinois, which produced the Viper V-10–powered “Sniper” ’54 Plymouth Savoy for Poteet in the late 1990s. Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop in Tennessee built a matching pair of black ’61 Fords for him-a Sunliner convertible and Starliner hardtop-both powered by SOHC 427 engines.

Rolling Bones Hot Rod Shop in upstate New York created a lakes-style chopped ’34 Ford coupe for Poteet. “It’s definitely one of our most signature builds,” says Keith Cornell, a partner in the shop. “Working for George raises anyone’s profile at least a little.”

Photo credit: Clint Davis - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Clint Davis - Car and Driver

“I have never had anybody I didn’t like building cars for me,” Poteet tells us. “I try to deal with people who have the same values that I got. Like those kids in Arizona, Hot Rods by Dean. I wouldn’t hesitate a second to take a car to them. Andy in Nebraska [of CAL Automotive Creations] is a good kid.” Poteet’s explicit goal is to foster the next generation of hot-rod builders.

“I’ve accomplished pretty much everything anyone could dream of accomplishing,” he says. “I don’t get off in getting big awards anymore. I’m in it for other people now.”

Photo credit: Clint Davis - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Clint Davis - Car and Driver

National Endowment

Poteet is always adding to his collection. He thinks he has seven high-end projects in the works right now but isn’t quite sure. The shops listed here are just a sampling of those he’s employed:

Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop – Gadsden, AL
Hot Rods by Dean – Phoenix, AZ
Duttweiler Performance – Ventura, CA
Maxwell Industries – Ventura, CA
Pure Vision – Simi Valley, CA
Roy Brizio Street Rods – South San Francisco, CA
FastLane Rod Shop – Donahue, IA
Rad Rides by Troy – Manteno, IL
Roadster Shop – Mundelein, IL
Woody’s Hot Rodz – Bright, IN
Kemp’s Rod and Restoration – Hancock, MI
CAL Automotive Creations – Bennington, NE
Rolling Bones Hot Rod Shop – Greenfield Center, NY
Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop – Louisville, TN
Legens Hot Rod Shop – Martin, TN
Art Morrison Enterprises – Fife, WA

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