ABFM @ Van Dusen Gardens

Nicholas and I took the Jaguar up to Vancouver BC on Saturday for the All British Field Meet at Van Dusen gardens. I’ve never been, and several people told me it was a “must do” event, so this year I figured I’d go.

I got up pretty early and checked the weather forecast. It was raining at 5:30 AM, but the weather guys all said it would clear up later. Nick & I climbed into the car with the top up and headed north. It rained virtually the whole way to Bellingham. Thankfully I Rain-X’ed the windscreen… but I forgot to apply my “aftermarket weather-stripping” (i.e. tape) between the glass and top, so sure enough, it leaked. Nicholas could scoot over in his seat and avoid getting wet. No so me, whose hands were right in the drip line on the steering wheel. Nick just zoned out with the iPod and I just drove up the Interstate. We passed one big Healey somewhere south of Bellingham, but no other ABFM cars were seen. The border crossing was swift and painless… the guy asking only if we were going to the car show and the usual gun/gift questions they ask on the northbound crossing of 49° N.

We stopped at a gas station on Oak Street to drop the top, grab some $CDN from an ATM, and something to drink for the day, then pulled into Van Dusen gardens. We found out why we saw so few cars before… we were late! We were virtually the last car to arrive. I registered and was told where to go, and we went to the Jaguar area. Bruce Cox (the guy I shuttled tires north for) was assigning parking spaces, and placed us up on the hill with the rest of the E-types. There were 25 of them!

The car was very dirty from the drive up, and Nick and I made a half-hearted attempt at cleaning it. In reality I was not equipped for the task. I haven’t washed it in about a month, and haven’t vacuumed the interior in well over a year. The tonneau cover I pulled out of the boot (to deploy should it rain) was covered in cat hair… damn cats! I reached for my lint roller thing and it was gone. Oh well. I just stuffed the hair covered part down behind the seats. Nick grabbed some rags and started polishing off the dirty raindrop marks on the bonnet. I grabbed a can of ArmourAll wipes and a made a valiant attempt to clean up the interior and tires. It got to the “passable” point and I gave up. We had zero chances of winning any beauty prizes anyway. I left the splashed road grime all around the bottom of the car, deployed my “It is OK to touch this car!” sign**, grabbed the camera, and took off with Nick to see the show.

**[I made this sign a few years ago and leave it in the car all the time. It has a brief history of the E-type, both as a model and the specific history of this car. Since this car has been through all sorts of misery, and is far from "concours condition" I have no qualms about people touching it. There is nothing the casual observer can do to it that is worse than what this car has been through at the hands of the weather and idiots with wrenches in Texas.]

We made two laps of the field, with a stop for lunch halfway. There were hundreds of cars.. maybe 600 in all…. maybe more. All British, with virtually everything from AC to Wollesey. Everything from sports cars to saloons and sedans. From the sublime to the ridiculous. The only British cars I’d expect but didn’t see there were any pre-war Jaguars (SS cars), or pre-war Bentleys, or a Lotus Elite (type 14, not the 70’s ugly thing, one of those was there!) Otherwise, it was a very complete show.

You can see my pictures from the day here.

I ran into several people I know, including Doug & Constance Martin, Bruce Cox, Sandro Menzel (whose engine I finally photographed, and who helped Nick get permission to climb into a roof-mounted tent on a Land Rover), and the MacCormacks, who shared their wine with me after we’d walked the field. Mark Norris, who I’d corresponded with online came by and introduced himself, and showed me his gorgeous big Healey. His E-type is still in the process of restoration. I was introduced to a bunch of folks, whose names I’ve already forgotten… I’m bad about that.

Just like the weatherman said, the day improved as it went, becoming very nice by afternoon.

By 2:30 or so we were basically done. I love car events, but much prefer DRIVING events to shows. To be honest, by mid-afternoon I was bored out of my skull. Nick was ready to go too. We laid down under a tree and watched people look at our car, parked a ways away. We talked among ourselves, and then a bagpiper played the pibroch (piobaireachd) to call the attendees together for the awards ceremony. For Nick & I it was a signal that we could leave, so we packed up the car and as everyone gathered at the front of the park, we snuck out the back.

We stopped in White Rock to get Sue some cider, crossed the border, stopped in Bellingham for a quick bite at Boomer’s Drive In. From there we took WA 11, aka Chuckanut Drive, which was a blast as always. Hearing the exhaust echo off the cliffs above, with the sights of the San Juan Islands to the right… what a trip! We rejoined I-5 through the Skagit Valley, but jumped off at Conway for the back roads of WA 534 and WA 9 home to Arlington.

The car ran great, and Nick was a great travelling companion, as always. Not a bad way to spend a day!

3 thoughts on “ABFM @ Van Dusen Gardens”

  1. I have only ever entered a car in a show once…like you, sitting by my car all day sounds boring as heck. I wasn’t able to attend this year because a friend’s car crapped out and that was that. Been many times in the past, and it’s fun to walk through a time or two.

  2. I do hate cats, but my beloved family hates me… so they have cats. Frikking FIVE of them. I cover the Jag with three car covers (don’t ask how I ended up with three of them… grr) and somehow they still get car hair on everything. I don’t mind them lounging around that Jag too much though, as they keep mice away, and mice are attracted to old British cars like NBA stars to Escalades. They won’t destroy old British steel quite like rust, but they are a close second in “Cause of Death” on many a Jaguar, Triumph, MG, etc.

    I do have them all well trained though… as soon as I walk into the garage, they scatter like a drop of water on a hot skillet.

    Damn cats.

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