Concord hosts car show

Don Hemphill first got his hands on a British car - a 1955 Nash Metropolitan - when he was in high school.

He's been hooked ever since.

Over the more than 40 years he's been collecting cars, Hemphill, of Concord, has owned more than 20 cars. He currently owns seven British cars, some of which he keeps in a garage - a former Volvo clinic - near his weekend home in Denver.

He'll soon bring out one of his gems, a 1954 Austin-Healey for a car show in Concord.

The Carolinas Austin-Healey Club, a Charlotte-based club dedicated to the preservation of the classic British cars, will host its 30th annual British Car Day South event June 13 at Frank Liske Park in Concord. Drawing British car aficionados from surrounding states, the show will feature not only British cars but also British motorcycles.

Part of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte, which is currently building a new house on East Morehead Street in Charlotte for parents, siblings and caretakers of children undergoing treatment at local hospitals.

This is the second year the club will host the event at Frank Liske Park. Last year, more than 250 cars were displayed, and event organizers are expecting even more this year.

Hemphill has been a member of the club for nearly 35 years.

"I've always liked the styling," said Hemphill of the British cars. "They were just a lot of fun. I liked having the top down."

Hemphill owns Star America, a hosiery manufacturing company based in Concord. At 68 years old, he plans to retire soon. He said he'd like to spend his retirement buying British cars, restoring them and selling them.

"But my wife says I'm not a salesman," said Hemphill. "I'm a collector."

His wife, Becky, enjoys the cars, too, said Hemphill. They often take them on long trips or to local cruise-ins.

"She likes them, thank goodness," he said.

John Jones of Marvin, a member of the club who is helping organize the event, said that when U.S. troops were stationed in England during World War II, many of them brought home their love for the cars - or the actual cars - when they returned to the states.

Many people come to the shows to learn how to restore the cars and swap advice, but Jones said the club also wants to introduce their passion for these cars to younger generations, who they hope will continue to preserve them.

Jones owns several British cars, too, he said.

"I have that affliction, yes."