Sweet Ride

Classic Car Tours offers a trip through time


Planning our wedding earlier this year, my bride handed me a sheet entitled „Groom’s Duties“ and at the top of the list the first task read, „book getaway car“. I had already hired a school bus to ferry guests to the venue and back and, looking to cut costs, i suggested we catch a ride on the bus and save a few dollars.

Big mistake. My beloved furrowed her brow and icily said, „I am not leaving our wedding in a school bus’“

„Why not?“ I replied, failing to pick up what she was putting down.

„Because we want to do this right’“ she replied, gently. „We should leave our wedding in style.“

Grasping the importance (andemphasis) of her response, I placed a call to Victoria-based Ascot Limousine Services and hired Gilles Proulx to spirit us away from the great event in his 1990 Daimler Jaguar.

Lucky for me, it was just what my bride had in mind.

„There’s an Old World elegance and politeness about this car,“ says Proulx. „People feel very special in it…it’s a real ego boost.“

Indeed, we felt quite grand departing our wedding reception, stepping back in time aboard a historic car that once carted around the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, England.

Classic cars are not just about weddings, though. Going above and beyond my groom duties, I began researching other opportunities and excuses to joyride in heritage vehicles.

British cars seem popular in Victoria so I was curious about Victoria’s London Taxi Tours, which operates an original 1970 Austin, FX4, London taxi cab. Popular among tourists and anglophiles, this recognizable car offers tours of the city and special event services.

„Old cars are nostalgic“ says tour guide, Sandra Found. „They bring back good memories’“

Vintage North American vehicles have a huge following, too, says Larry Fletcher, owner of Classic Car Tours Victoria, which operates several eye-catching cars, including a 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood, a 1965 Pontiac Parisienne and, notably, an original 1926 Model T Ford affectionately named „Stella“.

„The Model T is a real smile generator,“ says Fletcher, noting that Stella is the oldest licensed sightseeing car in BC. „Ilove that I can bring smiles to faces with old techology.“

To demonstrate his point, I joined Fletcher at Classic Car Tours Victoria’s downtown location at Belleville Street in front of thye former CP Steamship Terminal, from where we set out for an open-top drive along the Victoria waterfront one sunny afternoon.

Hand-cranking the engine, Fletcher’s Model T snorts and coughs to life before setting into steady, rhythmic put-put-put. I climb into the front seat and watch as Fletcher manipulates an unfamiliar set of gears and levers, starting us rolling along at a brisk 20km/h.

Making our way around James Bay, Fletcher explains that Stella doesn“t operate like your typical automatic or standard car. A Model T, he says, requires delicate finessing of the engine and planetary gear transmission. At the same time, he points out a number of sights and landmarks, filling in curious bits of local history that I wasn’t aware of, despite living in Victoria for most of my adult life.

We continue along Dallas Road up to Government Street where we hang a left towards downtown, trundling downhill at an unimpressive top speed of 30 km/h.

We’re in no rush though. Scores of pedestrians stop to watch us go by, smiling and waving appreciation for this historic piece of machinery. The effect is contagious; I can’t help smiling and waving back.

„Road rage wouldn’t exist if we all drove classic cars,“ says Fletcher.

Vintage cars aren’tjust for tourists and newlyweds, though. Fletcher operates several vehicles year-round for a variety of purposes including anniversaries, graduations, romantic dinners and photo tours, and he says he is in the process of developing custom wine tours for the Cowichan Valley and Saanich Peninsula.

What is more, Fletcher is restoring a 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 that will be added to the fleet next spring. He and his crew are also rebuilding a 1926 Cadillac Limousine that once belonged to the Dunsmuir family.

Fortunately, one need not to be an heir to the Dunsmuir fortune to experience the rush and nostalgia of a vintage automobile. Hiring a classic car is an affordable way to highlight any special occasion.


I look forward seeing my wife’s reaction on our first anniversary.


Source: IFR in-flight review fall 2012