Classic cars roll into Government House


Victoria’s Old English Car Club hosts triumphant return of annual showcase.

Wayne Watkins is a man with an eye for detail.

A life-long passion for cars, particularly the English-made ones he grew up with, naturally rubbed off on his son, Scott. Driving down an old road in Metchosin one afternoon, it was the younger Watkins who spotted a beat up, abandoned station wagon in a farmer’s field and thought, that should be in my father’s garage.

It turned out to be a 1967 Austin Mini Countryman and after a 16-month restoration, Wayne and his wife, Lou, will put the car on display at the 23rd Annual English Car Affair in the Park. The event, hosted by the Old English Car Club of B.C., returns to Government House this Sunday (Sept. 10), when hundreds of car enthusiasts can check out 150 different British cars.

Watkins, whose first car was a 1949 Austin A40, says, “Many who come down to see the cars do so because they used to have one 30 or 40 years ago.” There were a number of local dealers who imported the cars to Victoria as interest grew.

The crowd attending the show, Watkins says, is a real mixed bag. Whether you’re into muscle cars, hot rods or motorcycles, the English Car Affair has a little something for everybody.

Watkins says everything from small Minis up to Rolls-Royces and Bentleys will be displayed, along with numerous MGs, Austins and Triumph.

The interest in English cars on the South Island is steadily growing. The Old English Car Club in Victoria has 180 members who preserve, restore and occasionally drive a variety of models.

“Quite often there is someone who has been working on the classic restoration of their car in their garage and it’s not uncommon to see a debut,” Watkins says of the showcase.

This year’s featured marque car is the Austin-Healey, a model so popular, Watkins says, there is a separate club devoted just to them. Though Austin-Healeys were in production for less than 20 years, he expects a couple dozen to be on display this year.

If you happen to catch a cluster of these old beauties touring the region on Saturday, wave hello. The weekend kicks off with the annual drive through the Greater Victoria area with enthusiasts from the Lower Mainland and Washington state.

“We always try to pick a different route, so visitors get to see parts of our Island they haven’t before,” Watkins says. “For them, it’s just a great day.”

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