It is just before 8 a.m. Sunday and Bob Alger is standing on the side of Oak Bay Avenue dusting his 1951 Ford convertible. The sun is glistening off its kandy-tangerine paint, and the chrome parts of the engine sparkle beneath the lifted hood.
As Alger sweeps the duster across the right fender, passersby watch him. Others snap pictures of the white leather seats or the dashboard while asking questions.
So how often does Alger dust his vehicle? Twice a day, he says, whenever he is attending events like the Oak Bay Collector Car Festival. He had showed it off during the Northwest Deuce Days, held July 18-21, and his decision to take part in the Oak Bay Collector Car Festival was more or less a last-minute decision. It was a decision that paid off as it earned him the Oak Bay News Hot Wheels Award.
Alger purchased the vehicle in January 2012 in Mesa, Ariz. after seeing it at an auction site near a shopping centre. It was in many ways love at first sight, and over the years he has invested considerable resources to get it to its current shape.
It is this pride of ownership that has also motivated owners of the other 300 or so vehicles on display Sunday. Ranging from old-timers straight off the Downton Abbey set to electrical vehicles, the show offered something to everybody, from 1950s hot rods through the muscle cars of the 1970s to the sleek sports cars of the 1980s, with a heavy sprinkling of familiar and unfamiliar European makes from both sides of the English Channel. It even featured a special section for aficionados of the Volkswagen Beetle.
Ken Agate estimates that the total value of all vehicles on display Sunday exceeded “millions and millions,” but dollars might not be the right currency to measure the significance of the show.
“We don’t want to measure it with money, do we?” he said. “We must measure it by how we feel. We want to feel good, and this is what the show does. It makes us feel good.”
Shows like Sunday’s give attendees a chance to imagine what life must have been like in the past, but also reminisce about their own experiences. “And of course, we like to show off. I think we all do,” said Agate.
Alger certainly appreciates this feeling of looking back. When growing up, his first vehicle was a late 1940s Ford, albeit nothing like his 1951 Ford convertible, one of three vintage vehicle that he and his wife own.
While Alger never worked professionally in the automobile industry, having been one of the leading electrical contractors in British Columbia, he nonetheless grew up around cars, as his dad owned a car wrecking yard in Victoria. In other words, he has seen vehicles during the best and worst of times, and his care leaves no doubt which one he prefers.