Restorer’s labour of love on display at car show

Wes Robson’s 1936 custom Woody wagon will be on display at this weekend’s Cruisin’ The Columbia Car Show in Trail. John Boivin photo

The cherry-red custom 1936 Ford Woody wagon in Wes Robson’s driveway is really a work of art. It’s also likely his last great restoration.

“I enjoy the build, but it takes a lot away from your family time,” says the 71-year-old former Cominco tradesman.

Robson spent five years – and an amount of money he doesn’t want to think about – to convert the rusting hulk of a 1936 Ford sedan into the showpiece it is today. The bright chrome independent headlights, art deco-grille and swoopy bumpers are faithful to the original vehicle. Most everything else is new, or custom-re-built from scratch.

And there are a few modern additions to boot.

“Ever seen a 1936 Ford with power windows?” he jokes. The air-conditioning and power steering are also not “period.”

Not only did Robson spend a lot of time and energy building the car, he put a lot of personal meaning into it as well. He points to the inlaid wood from a cherry tree cut down from his old family property.

“I always wanted to use it someway- unfortunately my dad passed away before I could get to it,” he says, pointing to a line of alternating wood along the side of the vehicle. “This is mom’s piece, she’s the leader, then dad, then the seven children.”

“So it’s kind of my little tribute to the family.”

Robson’s reluctant to be in the spotlight, even though his car is likely to be at upcoming shows. He wants to make sure the West Kootenay Smoke n’ Steel Auto Club gets its due.

“It’s a great social thing,” he says of the club. “It’s kind of neat with the car club, most of the time while I was building this I had people dropping in, seeing how I was making out with it, and I do the same with theirs,” he says.

“It’s nice to share a common interest.”

Club members get together weekly, arranging cruises, visiting local collectors, swapping tips and preparing for this weekend’s annual show.

“You get a car like this, what do you do with it? Go to the odd parade,” he says. “But you get a club together, it gives you something to do with them.”

Just completed last winter, the public will get a chance to see Robson’s finished work at the West Kootenay Smoke n’ Steel Auto Club’s 9th annual Car Show and Dance this weekend.

The Cruisin’ The Columbia Car Show will draw owners, grease monkeys and fans from across the region for the three-day event, starting on Friday June 16 with registration and a drive-in movie at the Beaver Creek Campground.

The main “show and shine” display will be at Gyro Park, at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, with an after-show dance at the Cominco Gym.

On Sunday, all those woodies, hot rods, classics, specialties, muscle and kit-built cars will take part in a rally drive from the Trail Memorial Centre to the Chances Casino in Castlegar from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.