- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) - Every Thursday, weather permitting, an unofficial but passionate group of car enthusiasts brings their old cars to Let’s Talk Cars.

The group came to fruition in 1994 after Jack Baker and Lacy Gordon, two longtime friends and High Point natives, decided to share their passion for old cars with those in the community. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.

“Me and my friend have always been car nuts,” said the 75-year-old Baker. “Over the years, we’ve had all kinds of cars, and the people in High Point started getting really pumped, so we decided to just have a place where we can meet on Thursday nights and talk about cars and show our cars off.”

At its first meeting, 14 cars showed up. Today, the event attracts as many as 250 cars and 2,500 people a week from all over North Carolina, as well as the East Coast. Oftentimes, people who don’t have an old car will stop by to join the festivities as well, said Chris Collins, owner of High Point Body and Paint.

“It’s about people too,” Collins said. “It’s not only about cars. The cars are a bonus. You get to look at pretty cars, but you also see a lot of people you know, a lot of people you haven’t run across in a while.”

As the interest grew, the parking lot in front of Kagan’s Furniture Co. started filling with participants. Sometimes, on a good evening, the lot overflows and participants have to park in nearby lots.

With such a large number of people, Baker said his favorite part of Let’s Talk Cars is meeting all of them. He has met lawyers, doctors, policemen and firefighters, among thousands of other people, on the Thursday gatherings.

“We’ve made some friends from all over the country - Virginia, South Carolina, the mountains - they come back and bring their kids,” he said.

Collins keeps up the Let’s Talk Cars Facebook page and joined the group between 1999 and 2000. He said he also loves interacting with the people, but enjoys looking at the cars as well.

“It’s like social media, live,” he said.

He said sometimes a 1930 model Chevrolet will pull up next to a modern-day one. The parking sometimes can hold more than an 80-year span of cars, he said.

Baker said over the past few years, the group was able to collect donations for Hospice of the Piedmont, the American Red Cross and the Make a Wish Foundation.

“It’s a civic deal,” Baker said. “It’s more than just a car gathering. These people are car-minded, but they’re very civic-minded, too.”

Baker said the family-friendly event may bring in more traffic than any other event, aside from the High Point Market, and the visitors spend money on gas, motels, restaurants and sometimes even furniture.

“It’s a major plus for the city,” he said.


Information from: High Point Enterprise, https://www.hpe.com

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