Showtime at the speedway

T here’s a certain built-in excitement to having a car show inside a speedway that is better known for showcasing NASCAR races. Staring at the track’s high asphalt banking filled with collector vehicles on display and for sale just seems like a good fit.

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A rodder’s dream project, this Ford five-window coupe chassis and body was in need of some serious restoration work and flames.

    The spring edition of the AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway was again presented by the Hornets Nest Region of the AACA, held April 12-15 at North Carolina’s premier racing facility. The event was graced with chamber of commerce-type weather for its first three days before the rains hit on Sunday. Judging by the crowds of sun-drenched spectators at the event, attendance was on pace with being record level.

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A trio of 1957 Chevrolet fenders for sale, one each in red, white and blue, lent a patriotic theme to this vendor’s display.

    In addition to the aforementioned show car and car corral areas, both the track’s infield and several outside parking areas were filled with swap meet vendors, selling everything automotive related, including parts and accessories, automobilia/petroliana, auto literature and car care products.

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Displayed at the Saturday morning, judged AACA Auto Show, Robert Felder sits behind his supercharged, “sharknose” 1940 Graham Combination Coupe. The rare car is a driver.

    One of the vendors set up in the Blue Field was already attracting a crowd early on opening Thursday morning. Charles Shell of Tampa, Fla., was offering a 1940 Ford five-window coupe for sale. The mostly original car, what Shell described as being the rare combination of business coupe and powered by the 60-hp flathead V-8, was priced at $28,000. Asked if he had any early takers among the crowd gathered around the car, Shell replied, “They’re like a flock of chickens, [they’re] all over it.” But, as of that time, no serious purchase offers.

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The prewar enthusiasts had “eye candy” at the AACA Auto Show, represented by Ronald Papesh’s 1931 Franklin sedan (left) and Ed Albert’s 1934 Rolls-Royce 20/25 Sport Saloon.

    Not far away, displaying several cars for sale in the car corral located on the track off Turn 2, Don Harvey of New Hampshire was playing spokesman for a friend who brought both a 1952 Crosley Super two-door station wagon and a miniature “Tin Lizzy” runabout to sell.

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Automobilia/petroliana dealer Jim Varnell had this rare 1956
Eshelman body for sale for $500. The heavy cast microcar body is for a model called the Sport Car.

    “We’ve been coming to Charlotte for 13 years,” Harvey said. “We always bring original cars – they are what they are,” he added. Harvey said both the Crosley and mini-Lizzy saw previous duty in Lions Club parades. The Lizzy, a Canadian-built scaled-down Model T replica, was being offered for $1,500 while the Crosley was priced at $5,800 or as Harvey quipped, “About $500 per foot.”

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Don Harvey (hat, far back) holds court with spectators looking at his 1952 Crosley Super station wagon and mini “Tin Lizzy” for sale in the AutoFair Car Corral.

    Also acting in the spokesman role was Robert Felder of Greensboro, N.C., who sat near his supercharged “sharknose” 1940 Graham Combination Coupe to answer spectators’ questions about the rare car during Saturday’s judged AACA Auto Show.

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The “sold” marked in the window over the $5,500 asking price left many Divco enthusiasts feeling left out. The former Pine State Milk truck was offered for sale in the Orange Field.

    Felder said he became a fan of the Graham brand after a neighbor, who owned a ’41 model, invited him to a Graham meet in Atlanta. After a lengthy search, he found his Combination Coupe in 1985 in Washington state through a classified ad in a club publication. “It was a basketcase,” Felder stressed. “It took a couple of parts cars to complete it.”

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The AutoFair featured lots of automobilia for sale. One example was this Fallon Garage Chevrolet sign for $375.

    Doing all the restoration work himself, except the car’s interior, Felder said he had the car on the road by 1988. “It’s a driver,” Felder stated, adding that he’s taken the car to Graham meets in Texas, Canada and, this year, will be driving to the group’s annual gathering in New Hampshire. “I’ve put 32,000 miles on it since 1988. It’s a good-running car.”

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Charles Shell of Tampa, Fla., brought his original 1940 Ford five-window coupe to sell at the AutoFair. The rare 60-hp V-8-equipped business coupe had an asking price of $28,000.

    Felder said that Graham produced few of the two-door models, officially termed Combination Coupe, in 1940, which included the radical “sharknose” design by Amos Northup. He believes only three of this body style still exist. The maroon car was a standout on the Charlotte show field, and Felder “schooled” lots of spectators about all things Graham.

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A rare 1969 Plymouth Sport Satellite convertible was offered in the AutoFair Car Corral for $28,500. It was claimed to be 1 of 850 produced that year.

    With its spring meet now in the books, the AACA Hornets Nest Region members can now begin gearing up for the Fall AutoFair in September.

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In need of extensive cosmetic restoration, this 1969 Mercury Marauder X-100 hardtop found a buyer at Spring AutoFair. Only 8,281 X-100 models were produced in either 1969 or ’70.

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Claimed to be all original, this 1939 Pontiac five-window coupe was offered for sale for $9,850.

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