Cars, cars, cars in the Village Sunday Brush-Up a trial run for Centennial event

David Lennam
Oak Bay News

Wednesday, Aug. 10 2005

The Batmobile â ¢, a car that played a huge role during the Great Depression and a Mercedes that runs on cooking oil.
They'll all be on display this Sunday at the fifth annual Blethering Place Collector Car Festival in Oak Bay Village.
A stretch of Oak Bay Avenue, from Wilmot Place to Monterey Avenue, will be closed to regular vehicle traffic from 8 a.m. to about 5 p.m. and turned into a giant parking lot for rare and vintage automobiles.
Organizer Ken Agate expects anywhere between 200 and 300 classic and collector cars and trucks to line the Avenue for public display in something that he refers to as more than just a show for car buffs.
"It's more like a four-block party," said the owner of The Blethering Place Restaurant. "People come out to enjoy it who might not necessarily be here because of the cars. They'll have a cup of tea, go for a walk and reminisce. Many of the (cars on display) are what people used to own and drive."
Adding to the festive atmosphere will be live entertainment from musical impersonators Johnny Vallis and Virtual Elvis, as well as dancers from the West Shore School of Dance providing dance sequences of the swing and rock 'n' roll eras.
There will also be roving members of the Royal Victorian Heritage Fashion Society and the Victoria AM Club decked out in vintage garb appropriate for many of the classic cars parked for public perusal.
New this year will be a question and answer tent for those interested in learning more about specific aspects of car restoration.
The usual strong contingent of English cars, Cadillacs and vintage Model T's and Model A's will be bolstered by hot rods, sports cars and vehicles so rare you may never see one again.
Batman's Batmobile â ¢, owned by a Shawnigan Lake collector, will rumble into the Village, as will a freshly restored 1956 Crown Victoria Sunliner and a 1978 Mercedes 240 diesel that has been converted to run on vegetable oil reclaimed from The Blethering Place.
"It's great. It smells like halibut and chips when it runs," joked Agate.
One of the show stoppers will likely be a 1930 Nash 450 Single Six Sedan that played a huge role during the Great Depression of 1929-39. It will arrive all decked out like it was 75 years ago.
Agate, who owns rarities like a 1959 Morris Traveller, a 1938 Dodge Brothers (which he brought from New Zealand when he emigrated to Canada) and a 1979 6.9-litre Mercedes decided to put the festival together five years ago after reading about another man's attempts to do the same thing.
"I remember reading in the paper that somebody had applied to put a car show in the Village and they were turned down. It's something I'd always wanted to do."
Agate contacted the man and the two presented the first annual festival before Agate went on to do it on his own for the past three years.
"I like being associated with all the aspects of it," he said. "It is a challenge for me. I'd never organized this type of event before."
One of the draws for the thousands that converge upon the Village each August is the setting. While many cars shows are held in parks or near the beach, Oak Bay's is in the heart of the shopping district encouraging stores to offer sidewalk sales and eateries to gear up for a rush of customers.
Once again, The Blethering Place will have tables out on the street, cafe-style.
A prime rib barbecue will be cooking on Hampshire Road behind the Bank of Nova Scotia, with all proceeds going to fund the event.

file photo/oak bay news

They were dancing in the streets at last year's Blethering Place Collector Car Festival. Under sunny skies, Oak Bay Avenue was jam packed with amazing cars (and amazing people like Marilyn Caviness and Nora Anderson above). Car show organizer Ken Agate (below) in front of his restaurant with a 1949 torpedo-back Cadillac owned by Lee Rintoul, which will be on display this Sunday.