Author: Martin, George

The ScruggsMobile can be yours!

There’s a fellow named Larry Perkins in Nashville who is a longtime picker and knows pretty much everybody in the Bluegrass world back there. I met him briefly about ten years ago at an IBMA week in Louisville and bought a CD he had for sale called Glad Reunion Day. It was a compilation of tracks he’d been making over perhaps a decade with a roll call of great musicians. Excellent CD; I recommend it.

I haven’t thought of him for years, but suddenly this week a classified ad appeared in the Banjo Hangout message board that was so interesting (along with a follow-up posting he made) that I am going to just steal it (I did get his permission) and share it with all of you.For some years Perkins lived at the home of Earl and Louise Scruggs. I don’t know the details of this, but they were all apparently great friends and Larry played gigs with Earl. At some point Earl sold him his 1988 Lincoln. And there’s where the story starts. I’m not going to put quotes on every paragraph of Larry’s material. It just starts here:

Howdy friends-

I've reluctantly decided that it's time to let someone else enjoy owning the 'ScruggsMobile'.

Earl purchased this 1988 Lincoln Town Car from his son Steve when he worked as a salesman at the 'Ford/Lincoln/Mercury' dealership in Madison, TN. I purchased the car from Earl during the time I was living with him: The car had just over 32K miles on it when I bought it. Just before I acquired it Earl had the A/C completely rebuilt, and had a new transmission installed as well. The A/C blows cold, and the transmission shifts smooth as silk.

The Lincoln now has a little over 150K miles on it, and runs and drives as good right now as it EVER did. I've religiously had the oil changed every 3000 miles, kept the transmission serviced, etc. The engine uses NO OIL between oil changes (I used 4 quarts of 'Mobile 1' and one quart of 'Dura-Lube' in it since I've had it. The car runs and drives GREAT! Just returned from a trip to NC in it: wouldn't hesitate a second about heading out to California in it tomorrow. The fuel injected 302 engine is just as strong now as it was when it was new, and there are NO leaks whatsoever.

The only thing I've had altered about the car since I've owned it is the stereo -- it now has a Pioneer system that plays CDs, has a USB port, and the capability of playing an iPod/MP3s.

For a 23 year old car it's in GREAT SHAPE, The vinyl top and dash pad has been replaced, The paint is in very good condition. A few months ago I was playing a show with the 'Carter Family III' in Bristol and someone scraped the passenger side back door. Up ‘til then there wasn't a scratch or dent on the car. The interior is in good condition: there's a few little spots where the vinyl on the door panels has cracked, and some of the power driver's seat functions don't work.

I never thought I'd ever consider selling the car, but mounting medical bills, and gearing up to relocate have changed my mind about it.

All the records pertaining to the car go with it-including the original sales receipt from when Earl bought the car, all the registrations etc that are in his name, and the complete service records that show that the Lincoln has been serviced and maintained on a regular basis.

For the Earl Scruggs fan It’s a rare opportunity to acquire something that irrefutably belonged to Earl Scruggs. I've got quite a few pictures of Earl in the car, as after I purchased it from him we made many a road trip in it. There are a few humorous stories relating to experiences Earl and Louise had with this car as well. It's a comfortable, dependable, classy looking car, If you're interested feel free to drop me a line! Figured I'd give the 'Banjo Hangout Family' a chance at it before it goes to eBay..

Thanks! Larry Perkins

George here again: After this was posted on one of the Hangout message boards there were several comments, to which Perkins added this:

Thanks so much!! It's a great car- aside from the usual stuff that occasionally needs attention (starter, alternator, belts, hoses, etc) we've never have had a problem with it: I've put 120K miles on it since I've had it, and it's showing no signs of slowing down any whatsoever.

You can set the cruise control at 72mph and she'll climb the hills of East Tennessee/North Carolina with no problem. Hopefully I'll get a chance to scan some of the original documentation today to put with the listing that illustrates the provenance of the car. I've received a few emails from folks interested in some of the humorous stories associated with the car, so here are a couple I can think of right off hand:

When Earl first bought the car, he noticed that it seemed to be “using oil,” and took it back to the dealership to have it checked out. The mechanic told him that he just needed to get the car out on the road and “open it up” a bit to get the rings seated.

Earl immediately made plans to make a trip to North Carolina. to visit his brother Horace. After getting through Knoxville he set the cruise control at 100 mph, thinking that this is what the mechanic meant when he said to “open it up.”

After zooming past the Gatlinburg/Sevierville exit a TN Highway Patrolman pulled him over and asked him if he realized that he was going 100 mph in a 55 mph zone. Earl pulled out his wallet to show the Patrolman his license and started to explain why he was going so fast. Fortunately for Earl the Trooper was a big Earl Scruggs fan, and let him off with a warning. The 30-40 miles Earl had the Lincoln up to 100 mph must have done the trick-because to this day the Lincoln doesn't use a drop of oil between oil changes.

Louise Scruggs was what one might describe as an “old school” driver; she ALWAYS put the emergency brake on after parking the car. During one of their regular excursions out to the 'Rivergate' area to eat at the cafeteria, Earl was driving, and as they started down Old Hickory Blvd Louise asked Earl if he smelled anything. He said, “well, it smells like something's hot” -- but he thought it might be the brakes from one of the big trucks in front of them.

The “hot smell” grew more intense, and as they made the left turn from Old Hickory onto Gallatin Road, Louise looked into the passenger side rearview mirror and saw flames coming from the rear wheel section. She said, “Earl-this car is on fire!”

There was a Gulf Gas Station just ahead on the right, and Earl pulled the car into the station heading straight for the gas pumps. There's no way for me to convey with the printed word how funny it was to see and hear Louise's description of the service station attendant's reaction to a big Lincoln with it's rear wheels ablaze quickly approaching the gas pumps: she said the attendant was jumping up and down screaming and vigorously trying the direct Earl away from the gas pumps.

Fortunately for the Scruggs, the folks at the gas station, and the city of Madison, Earl veered away from the gas pumps. They took the Lincoln back to the dealership and had the emergency brakes repaired, and from then on, every time I was ever in that car with Earl at the wheel I noticed that he ALWAYS made sure the emergency brake was disengaged before setting the car into motion.

A few years after Steve's untimely passing, Louise asked if I'd like to buy the car, and I said “of course, I'd Love to have it.” She put a price on it, I went to the bank and got the money, but when I arrived at their home she said, “I just can't sell that car yet. We got it from Stevie, you know-and I'm just not ready to see it go yet.” This happened several times over the years.

By the time I moved into the Scruggs' home in 2006, The Lincoln had been sitting for some time. When I had some spare time I'd go out and tinker with it. I changed the oil, all the filters, belts, and hoses, and after charging the battery up a bit the Lincoln fired right up and has been running great since then. Earl started driving the Lincoln about as often as he drove his beautiful black 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood after I got it running good. There's a slight indentation on the rear bumper where Earl backed into one of the concrete posts with it one evening.

One evening on my return home from a session, my attention was immediately drawn to the passenger side of the Lincoln that was caved in: my heart jumped into my throat, and I rushed into the house to find Earl well and his usual, calm self. He said that he's been out to visit a friend, and that someone had side swiped him while he was driving home. As usual, he took the car straight to the repair shop and had it fixed, and had the A/C unit replaced as well.

Shortly after this I made a trip to North Carolina, and had some trouble with my old car. I called and told him that I was in dire need of a vehicle, and asked if he'd consider selling me the Lincoln. He said, “I know Louise wanted you to have that car, so yes-as soon as you get back I'll sell it to you.”

I promised him that as long as I lived there, we'd use the Lincoln just like we did when it was in his name. We put thousands of miles on that car together -- numerous trips to Georgia to visit Lizzy Long and Little Roy Lewis, trips to North Carolina.

Over the years that I've been “on the road,” I ALWAYS had trouble getting through Atlanta. Earl often recalled how back in the 1940s, when he was “with Bill,” that there were 100 stop lights in Atlanta, and if you caught the first one just right you could make it through there with no trouble. If you didn't catch the first light just right, you could count on it taking several hours to get through the city. For some strange, mystical reason EVERY TIME I drove Earl Scruggs through Atlanta, Georgia, in that Lincoln we breezed through there as if we were the only car on the road...

When I first moved into the house in Madison that I rented from Louise and Earl, he made a point of “showing me around” in the Lincoln, which was a brand new car back then. He showed me how easy it was to get from Madison to downtown Nashville by taking Ellington Parkway, and numerous other handy shortcuts. I have many, many fond memories of driving Earl Scruggs around in that Lincoln.

Once, on a trip to Lincolnton he spotted a billboard advertising new boats. A few miles rolled by, and he said, "I'll tell you what -- two of the best days of my life was the day I bought a boat, and the day I sold it.

George here again. The web address of the ad, with some photos of the Scruggsmobile are at
Posted:  12/8/2011

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