Monday, December 8, 2008

First J Van Encounter

The guy who owned the J van was named Steve H. Steve was a serious car restorer who had a really cool house that he largely built himself and an 8 car garage. The garage was filled with his cars. It was, as I later explained, the nicest private auto museum in Western Canada. When I arrived the J van was parked out front. Believe it or not, this was the first time I had actually seen one live. I wanted to touch it, but Steve wanted to show me his collection. So for the next hour that's what we did. All his cars are great, but the one that really stood out for me was the Humber used by the Queen to attend the marriage of her daughter to Phillip Mountbatten in 1947. I think that it’s a historically important because it illustrates how the Royals were being sensitive to public displays of extravagance in an era before electronic media. Surely a Rolls-Royce was within their means, but a subdued but elegant Humber struck the right note. It has the original goose down upholstery, and there's a little medallion in the back seat that commemorates the vehicles place in that historic event.

Okay, on to the J van. Overall, it was really complete. It was only missing one door and a pair of hinges. It's serial number was 2937, which made it one of the earliest LHD vehicle ever made. The roof was a mess, but otherwise it was in very good overall condition. Amazing because the West Coast of Canada is often called the "Wet" Coast. Vancouver has only 166 days per year with measurable precipitation on average, and 289 days with measurable sunshine. Nonetheless, from November until March, it is not uncommon for there to be 20 consecutive days with some amount of rain. The weather pattern known as the Pineapple Express often brings warm rainstorms in the winter. Annual accumulation are in the range of 45 inches. This isn't what I would describe as a "preservationist" kind of climate for metal things. Steve told me that his J van had originally belonged to a moving company in the nearby community of Duncan. In the end, I told him that I was interested in buying it, but that because I lived in a townhouse, I needed to find a place where I could work on it before giving him an offer.

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