May 26, 2010
Morris Minor Traveller. Click image to enlarge
By Paul Williams; photos by Paul Williams and Greg Wilson
2010 All-British Field Meet
Vancouver, British Columbia – Advertised as the “Greatest Show on British Wheels,” Vancouver, British Columbia’s All British Field Meet (ABFM) lives up to its billing as a sterling venue for British cars, their enthusiastic owners, and their fans. Featured vehicles this year were British Fords, Jaguar E-Types and BSA motorbikes. Held at the lush VanDusen Botanical Gardens, the weather for the 2010 event also offered an authentic but pleasant British variety.
1960 Alvis TD 21(top); Morris Minor Traveller. Click image to enlarge
This year, the ABFM marked its 25th anniversary, and www.Autos.ca’s Paul Williams took the opportunity to drive a 2010 Mini Cooper S (coincidentally wearing a 50th anniversary badge) from Ottawa to Vancouver to see how they do it on the west coast. Supplied by BMW Canada, the “Camden” edition Mini was entered into the Long Distance Driver award category for the car driven the most kilometres to attend the event. The Mini was the winner, adding 4,557 km to its odometer over the six-day trip. Other long-distance drivers hailed from Alberta and Washington State.
With a field of 686 registered British vehicles and 5,000 attendees, the ABFM is distinctive in its presentation of the full range of vehicle types, from sports cars to sedans to light commercials. If visitors expected to see a large number of Triumphs, MGs and Austin-Healeys, they weren’t disappointed, but family cars like a Ford Anglia 101E, Austin Cambridge and Westminster, Morris Minors, a Vauxhall Victor, Sunbeam Rapier, Mini Countryman and Rover 2000 were also represented (many of these cars still operated by their original owners).
Rover 2000 TC (top); Rolls-Royce Interior. Click image to enlarge
Family vehicles like these are a rarer sight at similar shows in eastern Canada, where the harsh winters and road salt typically made short work of them, and where the British car hobby focuses almost exclusively on sports models. Likewise, left-hand drive versions of very rare specialty cars like a 1960 Alvis TD 21, Jowett Jupiter, Sunbeam Talbot convertible, Riley RM and AC Ace are perhaps unique to the Vancouver area. I should add that all of the above-mentioned vehicles were in exquisite restored or original condition.
The ABFM caters to newer British vehicles as well as the “classics,” including “new” Minis, Jaguars, Land Rovers and Aston Martins. While some may not consider “new” Minis, for example, truly British, they clearly derive from the original cars, and are still built in the U.K., even though BMW now holds the purse strings. Indeed, the automotive industry isn’t static, and so it is that current Rolls Royce models, along with Bentley, Land Rover and Jaguar are all now under non-British ownership, but welcomed at the ABFM.
The inclusive nature of the ABFM continues by recognizing modified vehicles, like an MGB with a Mazda Miata engine, or a Morgan powered by Honda S2000 engine, complete with six-speed transmission. Of course, Morgan never has had its “own” engine, and many other British marques regularly sourced engines from another manufacturer for both specialty and mainstream vehicles (AC with Bristol engines; Jensen with Chrysler V8s; Rover with GM-derived aluminum V8s). So while modern modifications may not be “original,” they are certainly consistent with past practices.
Austin Healey “Bugeye” Sprite (top); Nash Metropolitan (middle); Jaguar XKE. Click image to enlarge
It probably goes without saying, but the British automotive industry was and is well-represented by what you might call “oddballs,” (both cars and people, come to think of it…) which is perhaps why so many enjoy them now. Who can resist an early “sit-up-and-beg” Ford, a Mini Moke, a “bug-eyed” Sprite or a Metropolitan? The latter was American designed, built in England and sold here as a Nash or Hudson, and in right-hand drive markets as an Austin. Metropolitans regularly win “People’s Choice” awards at car shows – both British and domestic – often eclipsing vehicles of much greater value and prestige. The “cute” factor can be hard to beat.
So it was that a 2007 “new” Mini was surprisingly voted the “People’s Choice” at the 2010 ABFM. As I say, people love cute.
Another interesting dimension of the ABFM is the focus on young people and first-time registrants. The reason is simple: old car enthusiasts tend to be older, and as time marches on, their vehicles may become less interesting to the current generation. Keeping the hobby alive, so to speak, requires motivated new owners for vehicles as they change hands, a continuing enthusiasm for restoring vehicles, and new recruits celebrating the ownership of their modern British vehicle (or vehicle of British heritage). Consequently, the ABFM features awards for Best Debuting Restoration, Best First-Time Entrant and “Youngtimer” entrant awards.
Look for the 2010 Photo Gallery on the ABFM’s website.
Personal favourites of mine at the show were all-original 1975 Triumph TR6 in Java Green (you love or hate the colour, said its owner, Adrian Moore, of Richmond, B.C.), a Glacier Blue 1959 MGA Twin-Cam owned by Bin-Soo Lim, and a stunning black E-Type Jaguar with red interior, owned by Krista Briggs. I also have a soft spot for the Tait’s one-owner Brigade Red Rover 2000 TC; still a daily driver after 40 years.
Was it worth the drive? You bet. The day flew by, ending far too soon for me.