There are Cars and Coffee meets and show-and-shines. There are local auto shows and there are industry expeditions.
And then there’s the All-British Field Meet.
Located in the picturesque VanDusen Gardens right smack in the middle of Vancouver, the ABFM hosts vehicles from all walks of British manufacture.
What started 29 years ago as a meeting of local enthusiasts in the parking lot of Vancouver’s MCL Motor Cars has grown to host over 500 vehicles across 57 classes from as far away as California and Ontario.
“It’s not just (Vancouverites) that are talking about it, either,” says event organizer Joan Stewart. “We’re hearing from people and magazines in the UK, as well.”
In one section, you’ll encounter ancient Land Rovers that don’t look like they should run, but do, likely better than some much newer stuff. In another, three-wheeled Reliant Robins stand perched on all three wheels. Motorcycles with great names like Norton, Velocette (not French) and Triumph stand in solidarity in yet another.
There’s a practical side, too; vendors selling knock-off wheels, air intakes and more greet you as soon as you enter. And if fixing cars isn’t your thing, then vendors selling memorabilia, die-cast models –Matchbox; lots of Matchbox – and more make up the more whimsical side of the exhibitors.
While ABFM organizers will tell you that this isn’t really a car sales show or an auction, there is a car corral where classic Jaguar E-Types, MGs and even bikes are up for grabs. Deep pockets required? Perhaps. This year, however, there was a very clean looking ’69 E-Type going for under $30,000.
Each year, a brand – or brands – are celebrated; Sunbeam, Jensen and the aforementioned Velocette earned their spot in the limelight at ABFM 2014.
For Jensen, an exclamation point was made at the closing awards ceremony. There, an Interceptor III took home the “Long Distance Driver” award, given to the car that drove the furthest within a calendar week to attend the show.
It’s one of some 20 awards given out – some voted on by a judging panel, others by show entrants themselves – not including the awards for each of the 57 classes.
If I had my choice for car of the show? Well, a DeLorean DMC-12 signed by Michael J. Fox himself comes close, but I’d have to go with the 1982 Aston Martin Lagonda entered by Harjeet Kalsi, a software engineer in Vancouver.
Low, angular, space-aged and impossibly green, you’ll find a regular crowd gathering around Kalsi’s car throughout the day. “It was my favorite childhood car,” he says, an affliction that started after he first encountered one on a visit to Kuwait.
As far as his entering the ABFM goes, Kalsi says, “It’s the people and the stories they tell. And it’s about the stories you share, too.”
The ABFM happens every year on May’s Victoria Day long weekend. Doors open at 10 AM on Saturday, but show up early for a whiff of good ol’ British engineering as the cars roll in for the day.