Announcing our Newsletter

Today we launched our new weekly email newsletter to our subscribers. The email contains that all important info on what’s happening in the next week including shows, swap meets, Cruise ins, and car related events so you don’t miss out. In each issue we will be including info on local car clubs, businesses, cars for sale, interesting things we come across on the web, and suggestions from our readers. Sign up on our contact page and get the email in your inbox and start planning your car weekend!

F1 Montreal 2013

Well we arrived back in Victoria this past Saturday after two weeks visiting Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto. Of course the highlight of the trip was taking in the Grand Prix Du Canada Formula 1 activities for three full days culminating in the race on Sunday. This was our first time experiencing F1 in person and I can tell you there is nothing like being there. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a great venue with easy access on the subway from downtown Montreal. Be prepared for a lot of people, quite a contrast to what we are used to in our quiet Victoria. It was unfortunate the weather rained on the festivities planned for the evenings on the streets of Montreal.

 

We had seats three rows up from the track on the exit of the hairpin turn (grandstand 24) with an excellent view of the on track action as well as a large screen keeping us up to date on the action around the rest of the track. Being that close to the track, ear plugs were a must, you cannot believe how loud the cars are accelerating out of the corner, I loved it! It was also a great location for taking pictures. I’ve included a sample of the large number of photos I took in the photo gallery. If you get a chance make sure you attend a n F1 race in person.

 

As well we were treated to a couple of support races throughout the weekend that were well worth watching, Ferrari Challenge Cup, and Porsche GT3. Both of them had a large field of 30 plus cars and they were not afraid to mix it up. Numerous on track skirmishes meant that a number of the cars ended up with significant damage and didn’t finish the race. I’m thinking they may have been watching too much NASCAR.

 

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tragic death of Mark Robinson, a track worker killed after the race was completed . Our condolences go out to his family.

2013 Fathers Day British Car Show at Beacon Hill Park

Well the sun was shining once again for the annual Fathers day British car show at Beacon Hill Park put on by the Old English car Club  . Once again there was a wide variety of various British marques on display including Austin, MG, Triumph, Aston Martin, Cooper, Land Rover, Lotus, vintage motorcycles, Jaguar, Healey’s, and an especially a large gathering of Morgans from the Pacific Northwest who had come together.

 

It was great to see so many people out to see these great cars and meet their owners. I was especially delighted to Meet David Keen and hear about his 1976 Aston Martin ‘spec’ Vantage. A very interesting gentleman, with an even more interesting story of how his car came to be and to have the engine that currently powers it.

Check out all the great photos in the photo gallery.

A Visit With Rudi

I first became aware of Rudi and his business, Rudi & Company, in the summer of 2012 when I received my copy of Boulevard magazine and there was Rudi on the cover! I was fascinated as I read the article and discovered that we had a well-known and highly regarded person running an amazing classic car restoration operation right here in Victoria – and this was the first I was hearing about it. I knew I needed to meet him and hear more about his business.

Unexpectedly, I didn’t have to wait long.  A month later, as I arrived in my Audi TT at the August Motor Car Gathering at the Queen Alexandra Hospital to participate in the show, I couldn’t believe my eyes when Rudi himself greeted me! He complimented me on the car, especially the Aviator Grey colour, and requested that the volunteers park me behind a selection of cars he had brought along from his collection. This included his specialty, classic Mercedes Benz 300SL’s! How cool is that? Check out the pictures in the photo gallery.

Throughout the day I managed to get in a few words with him and of his family members and I was truly impressed at how down to earth he was and what a passion he had for the cars – especially those beautiful classic 300SL’s. Just when I thought the day just couldn’t get any better; he extended an invitation to come out to see him and the shop!

Finally, on a recent sunny spring Monday morning, Marilyn and I both took the day off work to take advantage of that invitation. So there we were, standing on the doorstep of Rudi’s office, looking through the open door at a lifetime of collecting Mercedes Benz memorabilia, models and books on the iconic brand. While we waited for one of the shop guys to let Rudi know we were there, both Marilyn and I were continually pointing out some of the interesting stuff and items in the room to each other, including Rudi’s collection of miniature soldiers. I know every car guy wishes he had a room like this and a collection to match.

Rudi soon arrived to greet us and soon we were chatting about him, his family, his history and how he got to where he is today. By all accounts Rudi is recognized as one of the top restorers of 300sl’s in the world and his cars command top dollar at auction. The cars come from all over the world and there is no shortage of work. While we were there the shop was full to capacity and a new arrival was being dismantled outside to start the long restoration process. It wasn’t hard to see it can take up to eighteen months to complete a restoration with the dedication of his long-time professional staff, their eye for detail and quality craftsmanship. During our visit Rudi apologized for the interruptions when his cell phone rang but when customers call – especially from far away places – you need to take the call since you never know who may be on the other end. As Rudi says, “with the value of the cars, we don’t get many local customers.”

Our meeting and tour went by far too fast as we heard fascinating stories and saw some amazing cars that I never dreamed I would see in person – cars in various stages of restoration, and pictures of the special cars his shop has restored. If you are fortunate to get some time with Rudi ask him about the pursuit of the alloy body car, a great story!

Time flew by so quickly and we felt truly honoured that Rudi generously gave us so much of his time. We left letting Rudi know if he ever needed help with an event, transporting cars, or anything that allowed us to hang out with him and his extraordinary cars, that all he had to do was give us a call!

For me, this was truly a very special day and one I will always remember – and my copy of Boulevard is now graciously autographed by Rudi.

Victoria Corvette Club 2013 ‘Glass on the Grass’

It was a beautiful warm day this past Sunday May 5th for the 2013 edition of the Victoria Corvette Clubs annual ‘Glass on the Grass’ car show at Queen Alexandra Hospital. Cam Johnson and his crew couldn’t have planned it any better. The event drew a large number of old and new corvettes with a mix from 1960 up to 2011. I managed to talk to a number of the owners and it was obvious they were passionate about the marque and loved to tell anyone who would listen about their cars. Norm Reid’s silver on red Sting Ray especially caught my attention, I being partial to interiors other than black and he was rewarded with the people choice award for his efforts. Other notables included Jim Sloan’s, 1960 roadster  which I gathered is a regular winner and it’s not hard to see why along with Jim Morris’s 1963 spilt window coupe and ken Searle’s 67 roadster. Special mention goes to Bob Davidsen who drove down from Campbell River in his 1980 C3 to be a part of the show.  There were certainly many cars both original and modified where the owners pride in their car was very evident.  You can see a couple of the cars featured on Tim’s Car Talk home page. If you own a corvette or are thinking of getting one this club is a must as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed, a very friendly and fun group. Check out the photos (first gig with the new camera) from the 2013 ‘Glass on the Grass” in the photo gallery.

But I Want That One!

Recently when Marilyn and I were looking to buy a new car to replace our VW Golf, we tried a number of cars in the premium small sport hatchback class. The VW turbo Beetle, The Fiat Turbo Cinquecento, and the Mini Cooper S. You can see where we were going with our selection criteria, small, fast, and lots of cool factor. What we really would have like to have tried out is the Audi A1 Sport, but unfortunately Audi has decided we in North America don’t deserve it. I’m not sure why – my guess is that the US drives car demand in North America (NA) and Americans are just not into small sporty hatchbacks. While in Europe, we see the Peugeots and Renaults that we are missing out on and recently while in Shanghai got to see the new VW Sciracco up close, very cool. I’m sure there are probably many more out there that we will just never get a chance at here, and it’s too bad. I’ll pick on Audi as they are the one auto maker that seems to have abandoned the small car market in NA in spite of their growing market share. They seem to be concentrating in the high-end large sedan and SUV market with lots of performance and technology, but even BMW and Mercedes are looking at smaller offerings for the NA market very soon.

The A1 sport would have been my choice as it has that UR Quattro heritage about it at the top-end sporting a 182 bhp 1.4 TFSI that would give the Mini Cooper S a run for its money. The basic A1 is also available in  tamer 120 bhp version all the way down to a 84 bhp 1.2 and  if you’re looking for real fuel economy, a TDI that gets an incredible  74.3 MPG! While the A1 is generally not available as a Quattro, there will be 333 special edition Quattros produced in 2013. To buy one, you will need to live in Europe and dig deep in you wallet as they will cost you a whopping $69,000! A bigger challenge is they were all apparently pre-sold. In comparison, the top of the line A1 Black edition will cost you just under $30,000.

The A1 was recently awarded the 2013 Peoples Choice award in the compact car category and by all accounts is a huge sales success. We all know that Europe has long been driving small cars given the price of gas and the narrow roads but come on Audi, give us a chance to give it a try! As usual, you can limit the options and engine choices but I’m sure if it was available here it would be a success too. Until then, Marilyn and I will continue to zip around in our new Mini Cooper S.

2013 Old English Car Club Restoration Fair & Swap Meet

This annual (8th) event was held this past Sunday April 14 at Heritage Acres in Saanichton to kick off the car season. The weather managed to clear and the event was well attended with lots of cars from the Jaguar, MG, and Mini car clubs on display along with some great old motorcycles. As well there was a good selection of vehicles and parts for sale. On my arrival I was surprised I was entitled to Park in ‘British Car’ parking area due to me arriving in my wife’s new Mini Cooper S. My observation is that  a good time was had by all and I certainly enjoyed meeting the people I did while walking about and then while enjoying a delicious hot dog from the cookhouse! Check out the pictures in the photo gallery.

Affordable Collector Cars

My good friend Neil recently acquired a new car.  Neil has gone through many cars over the years and always seems to find these gems illustrating that the collector car hobby can be done for reasonable money if you look hard enough.It’s a bit of a project but that is half the fun, Neil’s story;

The elegant BMW 635 (E 24) has long been high on my auto “bucket list”. I started noticing this 1986 635 CSI on Used Victoria in late 2012. At $3,900 the price seemed quite good. I e-mailed the owner who mentioned some rear wheel well rust and a couple of other issues and I lost interest. One sunny Saturday I ran into the Service Mgr. of VCM Auto (more on them later) and mentioned the car. Not only did Ross know the car, they had sold it to the current owner in the 90’s, and had worked on the car for quite a few years. He said it was originally a southern US car and the owners had taken good care of it. My interest was piqued.
When I looked up the listing to show my wife (I have learned not to buy first and beg forgiveness later), the price had dropped to $2,400. I called the owner and said I’d be by the next day and he could consider it sold. A week later I brought her home.
The good news: original Alpine White paint and Llama beige leather interior with no cracks or tears. Purchased originally in San Deigo. Gently driven by the seller’s wife and garage kept in Oak Bay. Owner’s manual, sales brochures and all bills since they bought the car. The not so good: assorted electrical glitches, virtually tread less Michelin Pilot tires, a mystery leak of hydraulic fluid and the aforementioned wheel well rust; like so many car owners they had washed and waxed the car regularly, but never bothered to wash out the wheel wells. On my first go at them I washed out about thirty pounds of packed dirt.
The car spent an entire month visiting the folks at VCM in Chinatown. They are just great and know their BMW’s. Most of the wait was for a new brake booster to arrive from Bavarian Autosport to solve the leak (the car has hydraulically assisted ABS brakes). The 635 went in with a long to “To Do” list and came out with a three page invoice, but it was worth it. They repaired/replaced several things I hadn’t even noticed, but also confirmed that the car was still in very good overall condition.
Next it was off to have a new set of Hankook Optima tires installed. It’s getting hard to locate 14″ tires these days as new cars aren’t being made with them. The 635 originally came with rare 15.5″ TRX wheels, but most owners switched these out due to astronomical tire costs.
The Collector Vehicle plates are arriving this week. Then it’s time for some serious detailing and getting some quotes for the bodywork. And some good summer drives. Stay tuned.

Cars and Coffee Update

I attended the Catalina Grillhouse on Saturday at 5:00 and met an interesting and enthusiastic group of  collector car enthusiasts who are keen to see a new cars and coffee event take place there on Saturday evenings. The owner of Catilinas was also very keen to support the event, offering to bring out the barbeques and make lots of dedicated space for the cars and those wanting to come out and check out the cars. Although due to the weather none of us brought our cars to the meeting there was one surprise for the group, James brought his new 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo. If that is any indication of the quality of the cars to expect I think we are in for a great summer.

New Saturday Evening “Cars and Coffee” Planned

 

We all know how big the hot rod/ muscle car community’s cars and coffee has been at Franchellis at Royal Oak…it’s a good event, but awfully crowded and hard to park at times.

I’ve recently heard that the Catalina Grill House in Sidney are “all over” developing a cars and coffee style event of their own with a bigger variety of cars, vintage aircraft, live music, coffee and good food – more in tune with the style of the European car picnic at the QA held every August. I’m hoping this means more European and import cars will be there along with the hot rods and American iron. 

The Catalina Grill House is on the airport property adjacent to McDonald Park Road in Sidney. It has tons of safe parking and a great outlook over the airport.

The word is the Catalina Grill House owners are motivated to make a Cars and Coffee social event a success and eventually hope to make it a drop-in social event every Saturday from 5pm on. 

They hope to attract a crowd of like-minded cars and coffee enthusiasts starting Saturday April 6th  at 5pm

 It’s early in the season, but if the weather cooperates I will check it out and report back.

Hope you can make it.. and please invite anyone else who may be interested – the more the merrier!

 

Catalina Grill House & Lounge. 202-9800 McDonald Park Rd, SidneyBC V8L 5W5

http://catalinagrillhouse.com/