Charlotte AutoFair revs up antique car collectors

Walking past Jim Rose’s 1963 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa in the pavilion showcase at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sept. 19, Concord resident Jim Cole couldn’t help smiling.

“I like European cars, and I am in the right place. It is a lot of fun looking, and these are some beautiful cars,” Cole said.

It would be a dream, he said, to own such a car. He pointed to the Ferrari and said, “There is no telling how much that car costs. I would bet over $10 million.”

The AutoFair is the largest event of its type in the country, said Mel Carson, executive director of Charlotte AutoFair and of Hornets Nest Region Antique Automobile Club of America. That group has been producing the Charlotte AutoFair since 1978.

Organizers expected 80,000 to 100,000 people for the duration of the fair, Sept. 18-21.

Participants came from 38 states, Canada and overseas, giving local residents a chance to see, sell and buy cars from all over the world.

If dreaming about exotic cars like the Ferrari didn’t fit your tastes, you could take in hundreds of the classic cars of yesterday – in running condition – on display and for sale in the car corral, which lined the front and back stretches of the racetrack.

For those who already own their dream car but were looking for parts, 6,000 vendors were selling used parts in a flea market area, as well as cars that needed restoration for those who wanted to try.

The Charlotte AutoFair takes place each spring and fall, with the spring event drawing the largest crowd, organizers said.

The next AutoFair will be April 9-12.