Our Founder, Art Tinsley

The story of Art’s Auto Mart, LLC coming soon.


Driving the dream | Community | bgdailynews.com
By Ameerah Cetawayo, The Daily News – July 24, 2007 – Updated February 23, 2017

Art Tinsley jokes that he has a champagne mind and a beer pocketbook after driving into Bowling Green 22 years ago with a Chevy Impala, the clothes on his back and $300 in his pocket.

But now the Louisville native and owner of Art’s Auto Mart lives his dream – buying, selling and trading classic cars in a growing industry for baby boomers who want to re-live memories of the auto past.

Tinsley is banking on an expansion project that will nearly triple his current capacity, with more than 200 classic cars to be in his showroom by next summer, he said.

The 27,500-square-foot expansion puts the operations of Art’s Auto Mart beyond Tinsley’s expectations, since the goal when the dealership opened five years ago was to have about 75 cars.

The project is being handled by Arnold Consulting Engineering and Surveying.
Tinsley found himself in Bowling Green after pursuing his wife, Darla, before they were married.

The couple fell in love at a dinner club one night, after Art Tinsley’s dance invitation was initially rejected.

“I just don’t like to dance,” Darla Tinsley said. “The next day we were out here buying the land.”

Within two months, Tinsley purchased the land lots where the existing Art’s Auto Mart stands. Tinsley’s business is strategically placed between the National Corvette Museum and General Motors’ Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant.

“I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be but between the GM assembly plant and the Corvette museum,” Tinsley said. “This is my passion.”

Classic cars are popular with people who grew up with them in the ’50s and ’60s, according to Tinsley, who has been able to grow his business mainly through the Internet.

Ninety percent of Art’s Auto Mart’s sales are online, with most buying from Texas, Florida and overseas, Tinsley said, from the Web site, http://www.artsvett.com and through eBay, an online Internet auction site.

Many local residents like to look, but few actually buy, according to Tinsley.
Taking a look at the Web site for the business you will find it lacks all the bells and whistles of streaming video, sound and clever graphics – but that is all by design, Tinsley said. “I’m old school. I’m not 20 or 30. I like things simple,” he said.

At least every month, the Tinsleys are contacted by Web designers looking to complicate the site with more features. Darla Tinsley says the business’s Web site – which was launched in 1998 and has had the same layout since – is often complimented for its simplicity, since many in its target demographic aren’t computer savvy.
“A lot of the people that go on the Web site say they can find what they are looking for,” she said.

Art’s Auto Mart ships an average of 10 to 12 cars a month to buyers, according to sales representative Tim Labold, with some of the destinations as far away as Dubai, Australia, Hawaii and other exotic locales.

Labold said he mostly e-mails overseas clients to handle the time differences between locations.

More people are buying classic cars because within the last five years, prices have taken a big jump, something those seeking to invest are taking advantage of, Labold said.

Darla Tinsley said classic cars also appeal to empty-nesters who are looking for a weekend toy once the children are out of the house.

Current trends for classic cars are either restoring them with modern touches to fit current lifestyles, such as air conditioning, sound systems, global positioning systems and other components.

Tinsley’s rusted 1959 El Camino sits in the back of Auto Mart – a $5,000 reminder of a cheaper car that’s easy to maintain, Labold said.

Art’s Auto Mart
513 Duntov Way
Owners: Art and Darla Tinsley