The annual All-British Field Meet, held in Van Dusen Gardens in the centre of Vancouver, is one of the best-attended classic car shows on the west coast.
More than just an appreciation of British motoring heritage, the All-British Field Meet is a family-friendly day out in beautiful surroundings, with plenty of characters milling around to gawk at. This year’s event was a resounding success, helped by a picture-perfect May day, with the cars nestled beneath freshly green leafy boughs.
Let’s lead off with something that’s less than genteel: the rabble-rousing Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500. A favourite of those who like to do handbrake turns in empty industrial lots, this one is a rare Moonstone Blue model, and (even rarer) is mostly stock. Big wing, big attitude, big fun.
Also a bit of a troublemaker, the Jaguar Mk I and II saloons were this year’s featured marque. Restrained and elegant in design, the Jag’s big straight-six engines made them far more powerful than contemporary police cars. They were thus the favourite getaway car for bank robbers and ne’er-do-wells, from heists at Heathrow to the Great Train Robbery.
An unexpected delight, this British Leyland Works MGB GT is the only factory-supported race car of its kind. It competed at the Sebring endurance race three years running, as well as in the prestigious Targa Florio. Still running in vintage endurance racing, this little ‘B shows that British cars can be reliable. When they choose to be.
The parking lot outside the ABFM is always a good place to spot enthusiast rides from other marques. This pair of Citroën 2CVs seem to be huddled together, taunting the English cars about hamsters and elderberries.
A new idea at this year’s event was the modified showcase. The Mini Cooper parked front and centre is about as modified as you can get: it’s powered by a Kawasaki motorcycle engine, mounted where the rear seats should be. The Ford Anglia and the Morris are each the work of a pair of brothers: one a fastidious show car build, the other a wild ’n’ woolly supercharged hot rod.
A classic Morgan spreads its wings. The Morgan club is always well-represented at the ABFM, with many owners making the trek up from Washington state and beyond.
Remember colours? This scattering of Triumphs is like a handful of Skittles sprinkled across the lawn. Modern manufacturers would do well to inject a little of this personality into their colour palettes.
Hood ornaments are here in all shapes and sizes. This one’s a favourite: the Invicta is a very rare machine from the 1920s that saw success in racing. As there are so few of them, each one ended up getting a name. This one’s The Seaplane, hence the ornament complete with spinning propeller.
Illustrating the various shapes and sizes you might see at the ABFM, a tiny Austin 7 cozies up to a genteel 1929 Rolls-Royce. It’s transportation both democratic and aristocratic.
No show would be complete without a squadron of go-anywhere, do-anything Land Rovers. The sky-blue Series II is an impeccable fresh restoration, but scruffy examples are encouraged too.
It’s not just the cars that are worth making the trip. The ABFM also features all sorts of oddball characters, from a period-correct chauffeur; to a sea captain with a parasol.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, London was famous for daring criminal gangs who would steal anything not nailed down. This cheery little Morris police car probably didn’t give them much pause—you can just imagine a sweaty-faced British bobby urging it on in futile pursuit.
Alternatively called Bugeye or Frogeye Sprites, these little Austin-Healeys are crammed with personality. These days cars seemed designed around aggression, but they used to be considerably friendlier-looking.
The garden surroundings are perfect for a picnic, and this Rolls-Royce owner has come prepared with a well-stocked hamper. However, leaving your biscuits unguarded like that might be too much of a temptation for some people.
Do not attempt to adjust your screen—that really is a bright green Aston-Martin Lagonda. Imported from Kuwait, it’s been carefully restored by an electrical engineer, who exorcised all of the Lagonda’s well-publicized electrical demons. It’s a regular at the show, and always stands out (for obvious reasons).