Although he is nationally recognized as an expert on, and collector of, Pontiac GTO muscle cars, Mint Hill resident Walt Hollifield has a passion for building "resto-mod" performance cars, two prime examples of which will be part of a special display during the Sept. 10-13 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

A resto-mod is a vintage car that looks as if it just left the factory, but with modern mechanical upgrades under the stock sheet metal. It is not uncommon for resto-mod builders to create complete chassis from scratch, then place a perfectly restored body shell on top of it.

Seven years ago, Hollifield found and bought a bone-stock 1935 Ford Cabriolet in excellent condition. While most people would be happy to own such a nostalgic showpiece, the longtime Pure Stock drag racer felt the Ford V-8 engine did not offer enough pep. Hollifield replaced the famous flathead with a modern 350-cubic-inch LT1 Chevrolet V-8 and four-speed/overdrive automatic transmission. While he was under there, he also installed disc brakes, an updated suspension and power steering. The original-style red wire wheels wear today's radial tires, but observers rarely notice this fact. It was important that the dark navy blue exterior and red leather interior stay as close to 1935 Ford specs as possible, so Hollifield expended great effort to "hide the modern."

The resto-mod transformation was so successful that the happy owner has put more than 20,000 miles on the Ford since completion.

Hollifield's car collection also contains a 1953 Pontiac Chieftain covered in Montero Red paint. The car features a super-rare sedan delivery body, which means it resembles a two-door station wagon whose rearmost side windows have been covered with sheet metal. Such vehicles were sold, usually in low numbers, to small business owners who used them to make deliveries to customers.

Pontiac produced 1,324 sedan deliveries in 1953 - the final year for this body style - and this one includes hard-to-find factory options such as a lighted Indian-head hood ornament, outside sun visor, rear-view mirror, rear fender skirts and dealer-installed wire wheel covers. Its disguise as a stock '53 delivery vehicle is complete until one looks under the body and sees the fuel-injected Chevrolet V-8 crate engine, automatic-overdrive transmission, limited-slip rear axle, power disc brakes, power steering, air conditioning, power windows, cruise control and remote-controlled power door locks.

Hollifield's Ford and Pontiac will be displayed with several other resto-mods during the Sept. 10-13 Food Lion AutoFair. Other attractions include an autograph session with Saleen Mustang creator Steve Saleen; a display of old and new Ford Mustangs, Dodge Challengers, and Chevrolet Camaros; a group of customized tailfin cars; and personal rides from NASCAR drivers.

The Fall Food Lion AutoFair annually attracts more than 100,000 visitors to Charlotte Motor Speedway. It features more than 50 car club displays and more than 7,000 vendor spaces that offer a huge array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

Food Lion AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults while children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. On Friday, Sept. 11, in honor of their public service, all police, fire and emergency workers showing a badge or ID will receive free admission to the Food Lion AutoFair. Parking for the event is $5.

For more information, contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit the Food Lion AutoFair event page.