8 November 2010

Vancouver's All-British Field Meet turns 25

What’s billed as the biggest gathering of British cars on the West Coast swooshed silently, chugged and blatted into VanDusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver BC on Saturday, May 22, neatly avoiding threatened showers until the final few minutes.

In all, about 670 coupes, convertibles, limousines, roadsters, saloons and even Sedanca de Villes entered 61 classes, while marques ranged from AC to Wolseley and models from Ace to Zodiac. Entrants voted for choices in classes other than their own.

“I think the only bigger show is in Ontario, which has about 800 cars,” said organizer Patrick Stewart, as he surveyed 30 Triumph TR6s, in 18 of the 24 colors. Meanwhile at least 7,500 people strolled between the cars, having paid $14 to enter, with under 12s at half price.

The 25th ABFM (All British Field Meet) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-type (dating from when prototype E2A ran at Le Mans) English Fords and the centennial of BSA motorcycles.

But the sheer numbers of cars entered was mind-numbing and resembled the parking lot at Royal Ascot races, anytime in the past 40 years. For example there were about 100 Jaguars, 33 Morgans, 43 MGBs, 22 TC, TD and TFs, 14 MGAs, 20 Austin-Healeys, 24 Minis and 12 new ones, 20 Land Rovers, 14 Rolls-Royces, 11 Bentleys and about a dozen Aston Martins.

But the fun was in dozens of rarities: A 1911 Rolls-Royce Town Limousine (the oldest Rolls in Canada), an immaculate 1952 Jowett Jupiter, a 1959 Jensen 541R, owned by the grandson of one of the designers. There was an extremely rare LHD export 1951 Ford Thames flatbed pickup, with the engine offset to leave room for the driver’s feet, a 1934 Aston Martin Ulster that had been driven to Anchorage with no top, a 1954 Nash Metropolitan (oldest in Canada and grandma’s car from new) and a 1950 Triumph Mayflower with an over-the-top restoration.

A huge 1947 Humber Pullman Sedanca de Ville overshadowed a 1948 Riley 3-seat roadster, 1929 and 1930 Austin 7 Chummys. There were a pair of 1936 and 1939 Lagonda LG45 V12 convertibles – one a Pebble Beach winner and even a 1933 Alvis Speed 20, one of 42 bodied by Vanden Plas and the first Alvis to cross the Stelvio Pass into Italy.

And if you were looking for bread-and-butter family saloons from the 1950s and 1960s, it was a veritable market of choice. I suspect many future purchases were determined by what was on show at the event.

“That’s the kind my dad used to have,” said a voice by a 1953 Morris Minor convertible, which turned out to belong to somebody surprisingly old.

Elaborately dressed entrants picnicked by their cars with blankets and wicker baskets, while the brass band oom-pah-pah’d through Sousa marches, soared with movie themes and pounded out an astonishingly accurate version of Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

A sudden shower at 3.15 pm resulted in tops being raised hurriedly, then the sun came back out for trophy presentations.

Hagerty had a strong presence at the show; staff and experts held a seminar series focusing on British car values over the past 25 years. The sessions were led by valuation expert Dave Kinney, a member of the American Society of Appraisers with more than 35 years of experience in the hobby.

“Part of our mandate is to inform and educate the general public about the collector car hobby,” said Patrick Stewart. “Hagerty has an impressive track record in this respect.”

Hagerty also led a group of Youth Judges through the show as part of its ongoing Operation Ignite! initiative. The kids had an opportunity to learn about the basics of judging by examining a cross-section of classics on the field – including the vehicles entered in the Young Timers class for owners under the age of 25.

The dates for the 2011 ABFM are Friday May 20 and Saturday May 21 for the show.
A new feature will be the Vancouver-Whistler-Okanagan Tour, which will start on
Sunday, right after the show. More details will be available shortly. Check out http://www.westerndriver.com/abfm/.

2010 ABFM Awards

Special Judged Awards

Young Entrant Award—Sponsored by Silk Cat Automotive
Car #308-Kate Lawrence, 1977 MGB

Youth Judging Program Awards—Sponsored by Hagerty Insurance
Car #260-Derek Neale, 1959 Jensen 541R GT
Car #21-John & Marny Pierson, 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
Car #366-Steve Woodyard, 1960 MG A Twin Cam

Lewie Award—Recognizing someone who has contributed to the classic car hobby
Dick Frankish who is 92 years old and a Triumph Spitfire specialist

Best Original Car, Unrestored—Sponsored by Mother’s Polishes & Waxes
Car #42-John & Nicky Waite, 1955 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith

Best Debuting Restoration (Under $35,000)—Sponsored by Octagon Motors Group
Car #114-Bob & Anna Cutting, 1965 Triumph TR4A

Best Debuting Restoration (Over $35,000)—Sponsored by MCL Motor Cars
Car #51-William Holt, 1939 Lagonda V-12 Drop Head Coupe

Best First-Time Entrant—Sponsored by Canterbury Dark Mild Beer
Car #260-Derek Neale, 1959 Jensen 541R GT

Neatest Little Car—Sponsored by Mini Yaletown
Car #179-Steve Blake, 1930 MG M-Type

Most Elegant Car—Sponsored by Rolls-Royce Vancouver
Car #21-John Pierson, 1911 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

Best Modified Car—Sponsored by IWE Rear Ends Only
Car #91-Rod McLellan, 2009 Lotus Eleven Replica

Best Race Car—Sponsored by Pennzoil
Car #Display-John McCoy, 1968 Ford Escort

Entrants Choice Overall—Sponsored by Shortstop Automotive
Car #328-John Fairclough, 1939 Aston Martin Ulster

Best Motorcycle—Sponsored by Western Driver
Bike #618-Ian Scott, 1964 Triton
Honourable mention: Guy Stafford, 1940 Vincent HRD Black Shadow

Best Debuting Restored Motorcycle—Sponsored by Western Driver
Bike #8-Kevin McDiarmid, 1972 Triumph Tiger 650

People’s Choice Winner: Public Attendees Cell Phone Vote
Car #449-Robert Knapfl, 2007 MINI Cooper S

Long Distance Driver Award—Sponsored by Lotus Vancouver
Car #163-Paul Williams, 2010 MINI Cooper S—driven from Ontario
A distance of 2,687 miles

Land Rover Spirit Award—Sponsored by Rover Tech Automotive
Car #569-Ian Moore, 1963 Land Rover 88” Series IIA

Featured Marque Awards

50th Anniversary of Jaguar E-Type—Presented to Jaguar Club President, Krista Briggs
English-built Ford—Presented to Euro Ford Club President, Michael MacSems
100 years of BSA Motorcycles—Presented to BC British Motorcycle Club President, Wayne Dowler

Voting Card Winner
Car #597-Shelley Preston, 1976 Triumph Spitfire

Best Picnic Award
Car #67-Steve Harris (and Basil Fox), 1947 Humber Sedanca DeVille

Trip Winner:
John Worthen, Airfare and Accommodation to Haida Gwaii.

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