David Smith loves having visitors check out his collection of refurbished classic cars.
And to the one question he's asked most often - "Do you drive it?" - the answer is yes, times 20.
Smith, owner of David Smith Frame and Body Shop in St. Albans, has 20 restored cars in his collection, from a 1937 Chevy coupe he'll be bringing to this weekend's Ron Run & Doo Wop to a 1990 Chevy SS 454 truck.
"I don't count the cars I drive every day," he said.
Still, keeping his collection in working order takes some planning. Cars aren't meant to sit. The gas gets
funky. The tires develop flattened spots.
So if you're near St. Albans on any given day, you might see Smith taking the ruby red coupe for a spin to the Dairy Queen or giving the orange and gray 1969 Chevy Camaro a little rumble on MacCorkle Avenue.
"We work on cars for a living, so everything I've got, I drive," Smith said, even if it's a little bit. "That coupe, I've probably put 6,000 miles on it in five years."
He's not nervous about taking them on the road, either.
"You rarely see collector cars involved in accidents," Smith said. "I have repaired some that hit deer."
The Camaro and the coupe will make a show at the Rod Run this year. Next year, maybe Smith will be finished with three Chevies - two from '55 and one from '57 - that are in various states of renovation.
"The '50s are my favorites - they were the cars of my era," said Smith, 63, who was born in Lincoln County and began his career in cars at Royal Oldsmobile in 1971. He's had his own business for 27 years.
The projects are done in between tasks required to run a busy body shop, and sometimes Smith sets aside a project to work on something else for a while.
"My wife is always getting on me, 'Why don't you finish something?' " he said.
"That '37 coupe, I worked on it six months, then let it sit, and then I worked on it again. Pretty much everything but the wiring, I did myself."
His wife isn't fussing now - she likes to drive that one.
"It drives like a new car," Smith said. "It has power windows, power steering - it's been upgraded to make it like a modern car."
The car started out in pretty good shape when he bought it. It had just 5,000 miles on its engine and had been garage kept its entire life.
But Smith did plenty to spiff it up, including installing modern seats that make for a much more comfortable ride than its original bench seating.
Smith says he's been in love with cars since he was 8 years old and has been fixing them up since he was a teen driver. Collecting started later.
"I've got a 1961 Corvette I've had 25 years," Smith said. "I have a '67 Corvette that I sold and later bought back. At the time I sold it, they weren't worth a lot. I have a '69 Intermeccanica - it's an Italian car that looks like a Ferrari - that I've had 34 years."
About 15 times a year, Smith takes cars to shows in the region. He's been to Michigan and Tennessee, where shows attract thousands of car collectors and even more visitors.
He used to race some of his cars but said he's retired from that because of his age and vision issues.
But yeah, every once in a while, he admits to having a little fun on an open road, just to see what some of those engines can do.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.