While some antique car collectors wince at a single fingerprint on their car, Bryan Mendiola isn’t afraid to get his classic van dirty.
“Mine gets sand all over it,” Mendiola said with a laugh.
“We always go to Blackie Spit at Crescent Beach and not only cruise, we load it up with all the gear. We don’t mind getting it dirty … That’s really what it is for.”
Often seen cruising the coast with paddleboards strapped to the top, Mendiola uses his 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier the way it was intended — for family.
Equipped with nine seats, the van has room for his wife and two sons, ages five and nine, as well as his sister and her kids.
“This is the only car that I would say I probably would not sell for a very long time, simply because of the time that I get to spend with my family in it,” Mendiola said.
“It’s not just a love for cars. The reason that I love it is the fact that I get to be with my family during that time.”
Mendiola has spent more than a decade working with vehicles, but mostly with those that are new. He was a sales manager at various car showrooms, including Kia and Toyota, before leaving to open his own restaurant, The Carvery Sandwich Shop, in South Surrey.
The Greenbrier is the third classic vehicle he has owned. Mendiola also once had a 1962 Cadillac and a 1962 Ford Falcon, but the van is by far his favourite.
Built to rival the iconic Volkswagen Bus, the Chevy Corvair Greenbrier was a novelty for its time. Featuring an air-cooled engine in the back of the vehicle, and two carburetors, its unique setup has made it rather difficult for Mendiola to repair.
When he bought the van five years ago from a lady in New Westminster — who bought it from someone in Crescent Beach, who bought it from someone in Seattle, who bought it from someone in Florida — he couldn’t even get it to start.
With the help of his friend Eric Hicks, Mendiola has replaced many parts of the Corvair engine to get it running again, and has added his own features, such as air ride suspension that is controlled through an app on his smartphone.
“Corvair was kind of like the affordable car of back then. It’s like the Corolla of the 1960s, so it was the people’s car.”
Mendiola has won awards at several different car shows this year, but the one he looks forward to most is the upcoming Langley Good Times Cruise-In.
“I go to a lot of little car shows, like the Tim Horton’s on Friday nights and the KMS Tools one, so you see your typical cars there (whose owners) live out here. But the Langley Cruise-In brings in cars from as far as the U.S. and you get to see unique cars that you normally don’t get to see everyday,” he said.
“And you get to see the really high-end stuff, too. There’s a different level of collecting when you’re dealing with quarter-million dollar cars. And that’s what I love about it, compared to other car shows.”
On Sept. 10, Mendiola and his classic surfer van, which sports light blue paint and a “Carvery Sandwich Shop” decal, will be taking a day off from the beach to attend the Cruise-In event.
Featuring more than 1,200 classic vehicles, the annual show attracts nearly 100,000 people and raises tens of thousands of dollars for local charities.
For more info, visit www.langleycruise-in.com.