Spotlight directed on ‘working man’s car’ at Sunday’s St. George’s Motoring Show

‘Britishautophiles’ will gather in front of Fort Langley Community Hall for 13th consecutive year

Be prepared for a British invasion in Fort Langley this weekend.

These specific Brits will be equipped with motors, mufflers and gear shifts, and are driven by self-described ‘Britishautophiles’ who have a particular affinity for sporty two-seat vehicles exported from across the pond.

The 13th annual St. George’s Day British Motoring Show will take place in front of the Fort Langley Community Hall this Sunday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More than 80 British vehicles are expected to be on display at the show, which also features British merchandise and exhibits, a silent auction and free admission for spectators.

Proceeds from the silent auction will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley.

This year features ‘working class’ vehicles including the Austin, Vauxhall, Cortina, Morris, and other favourite family vehicles.

The show is put on annually by the Langley Area Mostly British Motoring Club (LAMB). Club president and co-founder John Walkden said in past shows the family vehicles really didn’t receive the focus they deserved.

“That’s what we’re focusing on: the ‘working man’s’ car or family car, I guess you’d call them,” he said. “The ones that the families could afford. Not everyone can afford a Jag or a Jensen or a sports car.”

Walkden says the show has grown noticeably in both popularity and the number of entries.

“I think we had 43 cars the first year and last year was over 80, I believe,” he said. “We’ve actually had over 100 cars one year (in 2012).”

Mirroring the St. George’s event, LAMB has also seen a big uptick in membership.

“We started off with about 22 members the first year and now we’re well over 80 members,” Walkden said.

All those with LAMB share a common trait: a zest for British vehicles. “We all grew up with them. I’m 60, so anybody sort of my age and older grew up with British cars whereas nowadays, there’s not a lot of British cars around.”

Shifting gears, Walkden said putting the show together is a “fair whack of work but after 13 years, you know what works and what doesn’t work.”

Walkden said he’s looking forward to Sunday.

“I’ll be way more excited at about five o’clock when we all head down to the pub,” he laughed.

‘Fun to drive’

LAMB club member Gord Rawlings knows cars.

“I was a member of the Royal City Sports Car club in the early ’60s,” said Rawlings, standing next to the primrose yellow 1970 MGB parked in the driveway of his Willoughby home. “I have to rally, autocrosses… I had a Datsun Fairlady 1600 and then I traded that for a 2000. I was fairly active up until about ’68.”

He added, “The 2000 was about 135 hp, and weighed just over 2,000 pounds, so it was a pretty fast car.”

Rawling’s appeal to roadsters is purely visceral.

“They’re fun to drive,” he said with a shrug. “They’re great in the summertime.”

Equipped with a four-speed overdrive transmission, the 1970 MGB was purchased by Rawlings five years ago as a retirement gift to himself.

“It’s (an) 1800cc engine, approximately 96 hp,” Rawlings said. “It was in good shape when I bought it but I had it redone. It was done by Best British Car in Langley. The underbody he left but the body he stripped right out.”

Relatively speaking, Rawlings puts the MGB through its paces, covering between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometres of asphalt a year.

“Last year we were up in Quesnel for a car show, the year before we went up to a car show up in Radium with it,” he said. “I got it out of the shop restored two years ago, and two days later I went to Radium.”

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