Inside The Gates: A classic car collection you have to see to believe

Inside The Gates: A classic car collection you have to see to believe

Currently based at the Rock Island Arsenal, Col. John Hannon is no stranger to the Midwest. But the military isn't his only passion in life.
Currently based at the Rock Island Arsenal, Col. John Hannon is no stranger to the Midwest.
 
"I was born and raised in Chicago and always was fond of the Military," Col. Hannon says.

And that fondness turned into a career.

"Attended ROTC at SIU down at Carbondale, Illinois and have been an active duty officer ever since," Col. Hannon says.

But the military isn't his only passion in life.

"Yeah, I've got about a dozen cars," Col. Hannon says.

And not just cars, some may call Hannon's collection a piece of American history.

"1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 two door hardtop, that's the oldest car in my collection...I've also got a 1957 Cadillac Sedan Deville," Col. Hannon says.

ANd then, there are the "special" cars.

"I've got a 1957 Chrysler 300C," Col. Hannon says. "It's the original letter series car that Chrysler made in the early 50's...They kind of call it the Dodge Viper of the 50's. Just a very powerful, in fact in 1957 it was the most powerful production car made in the United States."

And it's not just the power that drew Hannon's attention.

"They're pretty rare today," Col. Hannon says. "It's got tons of chrome, big tail fins, the consummate 50's car...It's probably one of the favorites out of my collection."

And speaking of favorites...you make recognize of the cars on the top end of the list.
 
"As a kid, I grew up watching Steve McQueen and the famous movie 'Bullet,'" Col. Hannon says. "This car was done up to replicate what he drove in that movie in 1968...It was my favorite chase scene ever and still is today."

As Hannon started his collection, he dreamed of owning a "bullet" replica.  His chance finally came, nine years ago...but, it wasn't easy.

"Purchased it while I was still in Baghdad," Col. Hannon says. "Didn't' even get to see the car for another six months until I came back."

There have been other difficulties along the road, like the fact that the life of a soldier requires a lot of relocating.

"I do little convoys with friends and family...we'll rally up and make our won little road tour," Col. Hannon says. "I just always have to alert the bank and tell them that my credit card's going to be at a gas station with 4 or 5 cars at the same time."

And think about the repairs...you can't just run down to AutoZone to buy a part for a 50-year-old car. But, Hannon says he loves working on his classic collection.

"That's part of the fun too," Col. Hannon says. "You get to take it part, put it back together."

And the end result?

"It means freedom really," Col. Hannon says. "Freedom and the open road."

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