Car enthusiasts will get a chance this weekend to indulge in their favourite pastime.
The Prince George chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada is hosting its annual Swap Meet Sept. 12 and 13 at the Roll-A-Dome.
For member Gordon Botten the swap meet is yet another opportunity to trade stories of his vehicle restorations with people who share his passion. One of his favourite projects is the restoration of a 1930 Packard. In a story he wrote for a Vintage Car Club magazine, Botten said he bought the vintage car August 16, 1977 in Victoria on a visit to his parents.
He set out on his trip intending to buy a Model A.
“The lead on the Packard came from a friend at the Classic Car Museum in Victoria,” said Botten. For two weeks he’d tried to contact the Packard owner; just as they were about to leave for Prince George, the owner contacted him.
Botten’s patience proved worthwhile.
“Packard automobiles were built from 1899 to 1958. From 1924 to 1930 Packard was the top selling luxury car brand. The one I purchased is a Model 733 Club Sedan. It was driveable – with dull paint and shabby upholstery but a good-sounding engine.”
Botten remembers the date clearly. He and his wife Joan were waiting in line for the ferry back to Prince George, the people ahead of them came to their car and said, “It just came over the radio that Elvis died today.”
Restoration began in September 2009 and was completed in June 2013.
For several years the couple took their Packard to vintage car club functions around Prince George and on trips to Quesnel, Barkerville and Burns Lake.
“Over the years, other cars arrived and the Packard was used less often and in 1990 when it developed a piston slap, it became a garage dweller. In 2009, I began to think about selling the Packard but Joan convinced me I would be unhappy if it were ‘hot rodded’ and happier if I had it restored.”
Many different combinations were considered, but the couple decided since the Packard had been black all the time they owned it, they’d keep what likely had been its original colour: black with red pin-striping.
“After arranging for new paint and upholstery, the first thing I did was rebuild the engine which was supposed to have been done in the early 1970s,” said Botten.
“The babbit was good and the pistons appeared to be new, except for number five which was scuffed. I discovered that in the previous rebuild, the rods had been put in 180 degrees backwards – the cause of the scuffed piston. The way the pistons had been installed was correct for 1932 and later engines but not for a 1930 engine.”
Over the next two years, the engine was rebored and new pistons and values were installed. The body was stripped, painted, re-chromed and re-upholstered.
“The end result was everything that we had hoped for. The paint and upholstery turned out great and the engine started easily and continues to run well. The Packard made its first appearance at Victoria’s Deuce Days in July 2013.”
It has been on several car tours since.
“A lot of the parts I used to restore the Packard were found at a swap like the one that’s coming up this weekend. It’s a good place to find parts and make contacts,” said Botten.
Join in the fun of the fourth annual Prince George Automotive Swap Meet with cars, parts and collectibles. Sept. 12 and 13 at the Prince George Roll-A-Dome. Event runs Friday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission $2. Car Corral or Booth Rental $25. To register call 250-567-0213. The event is hosted by the Prince George Chapter of The Vintage Car Club of Canada.