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American Muscle

American Muscle

Rolling along the main drag of Cleveland, Tennessee’s historic district...


Rolling along the main drag of Cleveland, Tennessee’s historic district on any given Saturday (in particular the fourth Saturday of every month from April through October), you would be forgiven for wondering if you had stumbled upon some off-camera staging area at Mecum or Barrett-Jackson. Classic cars line both sides of the street, hoods open wide like a fleet of feeding whales, revealing meticulously re-built and impeccably polished engines, sunshine dancing off chrome air cleaner lids and gleaming carburetors as these Midwestern monsters lie in wait for the next open road down which to rumble.


The sheer number of them is nearly unfathomable. Makes and models from every era, some in various states of restoration – a matte primer coat awaiting the finishing touch of candy apple glory – most in utterly pristine, yet certainly not babied, show-ready condition. The variety is endless: for every set of gleaming white walls a set of Wide Opal Firestones; for every hood scoop a tail fin; for every old-timey three on the tree, a menacing 8 ball shifter begging to be shoved around as its owner giddily gets through the gear box on some empty country straightaway. And nearly every last one of them American: Chevys, Fords, Pontiacs. Camaros, Corvettes, Bel Airs. From Chargers and Challengers to 442s and 429s. Pure American Muscle.


ford galaxie


Safe to say our hometown of Cleveland is a car town. Also safe to say it has been since as far back as many residents here can remember. It is home to one of the oldest dirt tracks in the South – Cleveland Speedway. A legendary stop on the Southern circuit since its construction in the 1950s, one can feel the history from the first step out onto the aging wooden grandstand. Like many places and spaces around Cleveland, the venue oozes Southern soul – well-worn grooves striate the banked terra cotta dirt track, fading yet proud advertisements from generations-old family businesses dot the wall along the back stretch, a Victory Lane the sight of myriad marches toward preciously fleeting local fame. Set out there at dusk and even when vacant, and though slightly derelict, you would almost swear you can hear the ghosts of crowds past, swelling in anticipation as the white flag is waved to signal the final lap.


Rivaled perhaps only by the number of old school burger joints around town, themselves holdovers from a time when the local drive-in (films or food, take your pick) served as the social epicenter of every American town, auto-parts and tire shops both independent and chain mark every stretch of commercial space in every corner of “The City with Spirit”. Folks here don’t just know their models and makes – they know how to make those very models.




And that intimate physical connection is what makes this particular brand of passion unique here, and also what sets the Cleveland community apart from most communities across the US: the generations-deep connection these people have to building things, to using their hands to make the things that make our country go.


 Our Chairman's '69 GTO: Big Orange pride, here in Volunteer country


This connection is as evident in garages all across Polk and Bradley counties as it is every day on the factory floor at Hardwick. The same attention to detail, meticulous focus, and inherent understanding of the many small pieces of craftsmanship and care that combine to create lasting value and aesthetic appeal apparent in garages all weekend are flowing freely on our factory during the week. Putting all those elements together, culminating in the roar of a Volunteer orange ’69 GTO is a process very much akin to the one by which each garment is crafted on our factory floor, and has been for the past 137 years. Albeit with a lot less exhaust and brake dust.


fifty two


The classic designs, the best in class materials, the unwavering focus on delivering the finest that American manufacturing has to offer, and the impeccable style and enduring value inherent in each item that comes off the assembly line: the parallels between the American Muscle heyday of mid-century Detroit and the tailored clothing renaissance that is bubbling in our country, with Cleveland, Tennessee as its epicenter, are many.


 Our Chairman's gleaming custom '68 Charger; accompanying chopper not shown


But perhaps the most apt illustration of what Hardwick is setting out to accomplish – and is achieving, one impeccably crafted tailored garment at a time – is captured in the many restored vintage cars that line Downtown Cleveland’s streets every fourth Saturday of the spring and summer months. Powered by an appreciation for what Made in America means to the people who actually make it, and the pure passion that burns in the souls of the people of Cleveland for building things that matter, we have taken an American classic, originally built by the hands of many of our very own forebears, and guided by a belief in the supremacy of American Made, truly brought that classic back to life.


And the race is only just underway.


sunliner grill


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