The Road to Eldorado
by Stephen Pitalo
Scott Collins has a vehicle owned by two legends at different times: bluegrass icons Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe.
“This car is a great piece of bluegrass history,” Collins said. “A car owned by both Bill & Ralph in the Bluegrass realm is like finding a car owned by both Marilyn Monroe & Elvis!”
About eight years ago when he and his father traveled back to the old neighborhood, Collins uncovered this 1977 red and white two-door hardtop Cadillac Eldorado.
“We went to visit where he grew up around 2012,” Collins said. “My father’s cousin Wayne McCown still lives in these mountains near Clintwood, Virginia. This is near where Ralph Stanley lived in McClure, which is also in Dickenson County. So, Wayne was showing us his car collection when he opened this one barn, and there it was under canvas. He had purchased the car when Ralph Stanley traded it in at a local dealer.”
“Cousin Wayne produced a signed, notarized letter signed by Ralph that told the car’s history,” Collins continued. “I began researching its history to prove its pedigree beyond that. I played for many years in a band called Eastbound with Dean Osborne — a cousin of Osborne Brothers & now Dean of the Bluegrass music school in Hyden, Kentucky. Dean knew James Monroe and put me in touch with him to get more details about the car. James affirmed the car’s history and that it
was purchased at a Cadillac dealership in Nashville.He told us about the car’s ‘Ralph & Bill Monroe’ history & how he purchased it. He said because of his age he needed to start selling some cars off. He had no idea I was a bluegrass guy and had played for many years. We haggled on price for a while and I had a few unpleasant discussions with my lovely wife — ’You’re wanting to buy what?!’ — but eventually she acquiesced. I sought some signs as to God’s will and had some interesting answers.”
The answers came in the form of music: Collins turned on the radio after sitting in the car, and bluegrass music came blaring out of it. Later, when he returned to pick up his new purchase, he found that the 8-track player had no tape in it, and the radio did not work. The Lord had spoken.
Collins currently lives and houses “The Billmobile” in Nicholasville, Kentucky, having retired from the dental industry since 2014, but brings the car to shows and venues to share the history and stories with fellow bluegrass fans.
“I have shown it a few times including Concours at Keeneland racetrack in Lexington Kentucky.”
Collins hopes to play some bluegrass music at a venue in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee next year, and the car is coming with him.