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Oak Bay annual car show shines light on Yarrow family history

Christopher Yarrow reflects on his fully restored Packard, the same one his grandfather bought brand new in 1930.  - Christine van Reeuwyk/News staff
Christopher Yarrow reflects on his fully restored Packard, the same one his grandfather bought brand new in 1930.
— image credit: Christine van Reeuwyk/News staff

When Christopher Yarrow heads to a car show, he doesn’t pull out a chair and doggedly guard his classic vehicles.

“I don’t ever stay by my car, I don’t worry about it,” he says, spritzing and scrubbing the whitewall of his 1930 Packard parked on Transit Road.

Yarrow doesn’t hover around during shows, and will put a keen kid in the back seat for a photo – despite the rarity of the four-door convertible.

The car’s history is as beautiful as the vehicle, and most of it, in Oak Bay.

 

Yarrow’s grandfather, Norman Alfred Yarrow of Oak Bay, bought the Packard brand new in 1930.

Yarrow never met his grandfather. Norman Yarrow died in London in 1955, years before the younger Yarrow was born – on the front seat of his grandmother Hope Yarrow’s 1957 Lincoln. He was fascinated with the photographs of the Packard that was used largely as a family summer car and carried King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during the first royal visit to Victoria in 1939 (though the family didn’t own it at that time). At 14 he began the true search.

Norman traded the original Packard for a smaller one in 1937 and Yarrow traced it through to enthusiast Art Fulakwa who bought it in 1956. Yarrow connected with Fulakwa and would visit him and the car regularly at his home in Port Coquitlam and then on South Pender Island. In 1985 Yarrow brought his grandfather’s Packard back into the family, storing it at his grandmother’s Uplands home.

“I was 14 and it took me 14 years to get it back,” Yarrow said with a chuckle.

It wasn’t until 2010, when Yarrow moved back to Victoria from northern Canada, that the Packard was restored. Now looking much like it did when his grandfather first drove it home to Oak Bay, on Aug. 10, it will take pride of place in the car’s own hometown show.

“It’s one of the more friendly events. It’s family oriented,” Yarrow says of the annual Oak Bay Collector Car Festival. “It’s the best car show around. You get a different kind of person there. People who are really interested in all makes and models. That’s fun for the hobbyist.”

Along with the 1930 Packard and a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, he plans to bring a 1956 Austin Healy that’s not yet restored, something that’s welcome at this particular show.

“It’s an open show, meaning anything can come … some of them don’t even (run), they come trailered,” said organizer Ken Agate. “There are 25 shows a month in the summer on the Island. This one is a favourite because the cars are the stars. The variety of vehicles is outstanding. Every year there are cars we’ve never seen before and they come from not too far away. It shows the hobby is alive and well.”

The Avenue will be closed from Monterey Avenue to Mitchell Street and filled with an expected 300 collectible cars for the annual event where an estimated 15,000 people filter through over the day

“We cultivate it to feel like days gone past,” Agate said, adding policemen and firefighters walk the crowds along with the Victoria AM crew in their old-timey wear. “And people come out dressed for it.”

Those same policemen and firefighters select their own “choice” awards for the ribbons doled out at 3 p.m. by Virtual Elvis, who appears onstage sporadically throughout the day.

“That way (the awards) can’t be fiddled. An obscure car can win and go home with a big ribbon … There’s no feel like that,” Agate says.

As always, there will be a strong showing of English cars as well as colourful hot rods and vintage cars from all eras. The majority of the cars come from local enthusiasts but some come from up island, mainland BC and the United States.

Pre-registration is not required and everyone’s welcome for the $15 fee.

 

 

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