There are many unique or 'novelty' pool tables out there. Some are just plain bizarre looking and perhaps near impossible to play on, while others are neat looking but lack in the "quality of construction" department by being manufactured with sub-par materials. In fact, that seems to be a trend in today’s society, and especially when it comes to contemporary furniture pieces: Things that look cool on the outside are typically not constructed or designed with structural integrity in mind. Having been a Certified Master Billiard Mechanic for over two decades, I know that this is a vital component (and the very foundation) of a well manufactured pool table. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Do you have to sacrifice quality in order to have the appearance of value in a novelty pool table?
I discovered these unique pool tables completely by chance! One day, the owner of Car Pool Tables, Tony, called me out of the blue looking for a reputable billiards company in Michigan, where he felt his new automotive-themed pool tables would be a great fit. Despite the fact that he was based in Florida, he figured that the 'Motor City' would be a popular destination for his car pool tables.
Due to their unique appearance, these car pool tables have certainly garnered a lot of interest in the billiards marketplace. They have also, most deservingly, earned the industry’s stamp of quality. In this article, I am going to give you my straightforward assessment and review of these car pool tables, based upon my personal experience from a functional design and structural engineering standpoint.
My name is Juston Markell, and I am the owner and operator of Pro Billiards - home to one of the largest selections of both antique and brand name used pool tables for sale in North America, and the most trusted pool table mover in Michigan. Working in the billiards business for over 25 years, I have personally moved and assembled well over 10,000 pool tables. With both a spirited passion for the game as well as in-depth knowledge and experience surrounding the construction, assembly, disassembly, tools and materials used in the billiards industry, discerning "the real deal" from the imitation is something that comes naturally to me.
I'm going to be blunt about this - when I first saw the photos of these car pool tables in 2009, my initial reaction was dubious. My thought was, "Here's another company that is most likely opting for a unique appearance over quality and playability". However, upon further examination, I was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered. Not only are these tables built well from a billiards standpoint, but from a car enthusiast's perspective, they leave absolutely nothing out! Real wheels, tires, alloy rims, chrome bumpers, functioning headlights and taillights (with a remote), VIN number and a “Title” (Certificate of Authenticity) are all included in these one of a kind tables.
" Not only are these tables built well from a billiards standpoint, but from a car enthusiast’s perspective, they leave absolutely nothing out! "
Talk about originality! These pool tables are much like real cars, minus the engine! Finished in an actual body shop, they are painted with genuine automotive paint, clear-coated, wet-sanded, and polished by hand for a ridiculously durable finish for maximum resilience and longevity.
Another feature I like is that each car pool table is completely customizable, meaning the client can select either the original paint colors of the car (like this `65 Mustang or the `69 Camaro), or completely customize it with any color of their choice.
" Another thing I liked about these car pool tables is that they are American-made. "
Typically, the majority of pool tables that are sold in the US are manufactured using parts and materials from overseas. Novelty pool tables in particular are known to have a delusive appearance that mimics quality when, in fact, the materials they are built with are shoddy at best. This is not the case with these car pool tables, which are manufactured in the USA with solid hardwood components and stainless steel bolts and fasteners.
Why is this significant? What’s under the hood is important, too! Stainless steel hardware is a vital component in the billiard industry because you’re literally securing over 1000 lbs of raw materials together into one giant jigsaw puzzle! Therefore, you need something that is going to be up to the task of supporting a massive amount of weight for many, many years. It’s also important that the table maintains its impeccable structure for playability reasons, so that your gameplay now versus in 10 years time is virtually unchanged. Stainless steel is best suited for this task due to its sheer strength and excellent life cycle. An added bonus is that stainless steel is corrosion as well as heat/cold resistant, making it an optimal choice for billiard hardware, as pool tables - no matter where they’re located - will always be subject to some type of climatic fluctuation.
" To come across a unique looking pool table that bolsters both solid hardwood cross beams and a solid hardwood internal frame is a rarity nowadays "
More expensive to purchase, hardwood has a much higher density than its softwood counterparts. This means that ultimately, it will stand up to the test of time. About 80% of all timber is derived from softwood, so typically you will see a lot of furniture these days that is made from medium-density fiberboard (MDF). While dressed up on the outside, these pieces will not prove to be durable or have near the longevity as a piece of furniture made from hardwood. To come across a unique looking pool table that bolsters both solid hardwood cross beams and a solid hardwood internal frame is a rarity nowadays, so it was very refreshing (and reassuring!) for me to discover this.
These car pool tables also include 3 piece 1” framed slate configuration, similar to the big brand billiard tables. This makes them sturdy with fabulous playability and an accurate and consistent ball roll. Considering that each piece of slate is over 200 lbs, and there are 3 pieces of honed slate sitting at 95% of the table height making up 2/3 of the total weight of the pool table, you gain a better understanding as to why solid hardwood internal frames are best! These are massive tables, with a very large base and a "top-heavy" monolithic structure. Therefore, the importance of manufacturing billiard tables with quality materials becomes obvious when sheer weight and stature are taken into consideration.
When it comes to the assembly and fine-tuning process, I have witnessed it firsthand! In fact, I was actually present at the very first assembly of one of these car pool tables. I can emphatically state that they go together with much of the traditional intricacies of a regular pool table, with some additional steps to include the "car" aspect. Just like any billiard table, you have to install the legs and the hardwood frame. Then you have to ensure that the frame is square. After that, you place the 3 pieces of slate and level them, and then bolt the top rails on. Next, you add in the gum rubber cushions, and cover the table with the billiard cloth (which in this case is championship felt). After doing a fine-tuning and checking again for the playing area to be level, it is time to give it a test drive!
" While it does take a little extra time to set up a car pool table versus a typical style billiard table, the results speak for themselves! "
With these car pool tables, there are the additional steps of bolting on the fiberglass skirt all the way around the table, hooking up the wiring for the functioning lights, and adding things like axles, wheels, and tires. So while it does take a little extra time to set up a car pool table versus a typical style billiard table, the results speak for themselves! Often prospective clients will exclaim that these car pool tables are among the coolest pool tables they’ve ever seen, as they definitely leave an impression on you.
The last thing I wanted to comment on about these car pool tables is the fit and finish. I know I’ve kind of already touched on this, but I wanted to reiterate that just like a real car, these car pool tables go together with the precision manufacturing of an actual automobile. All pieces of the fiberglass body kit and skirt are put together so seamlessly and are completely flush that from 5 feet away, you’d think it was all one piece!
Overall, I have been thrilled to come across a unique looking pool table that has been manufactured with quality materials and has clearly also been thoroughly researched and developed with both aesthetics and playability in mind. Car pool tables are a refreshing addition to the billiards industry, and I am more than happy to give them my wholehearted endorsement!