What’s a car to most of us? It’s a kid taxi, a grocery hauler, or the grand touring champion of your spring break road trip. At the end of the day though, the modern car is no more enticing than a router, and as valuable as a disposable camera.
In other words, it’s just a machine. Designed to serve, break, and consequently be recycled into a newer and newer incarnate of itself.
But has it always been this way? Roll the clock back 60 years ago, and you’ll find that a motor car had a personality, character, something that one would call a soul.
There are many who seek that pure breed of ancient machine, where no electronic wizardry drives a car, just blood and sweat and good old fashioned know-how.
Sookie Gordon Stewart is one of those car guys who loves the classic gurgle of a V8 engine, and a straight-up ’rod from the 1930s.
In fact, he’s got two. A coupe and a pickup, both 1935 models.
The coupe, a 1935 Ford two-door Coach Fastback was literally scrap when Stewart first found it. Let’s just say that in the shape it’s in now, it’s worth a little bit more than that.
“I built them both from the ground up. They said they’re junk, don’t even attempt it. Well, there it is,” Stewart chuckled.
In total, it took about four years to build each one of them. Did most of the work himself, apart from the paint and some of the bodywork. He’s used to this kind of thing, having built about a dozen cars in his lifetime.
In his youth, he built a low-slung Model T coupe hot rod in his basement; to the point that it was so big and functional, that in order to get it out, he had to take it apart and rebuild it outside the basement, piece by piece.
These cars are the last two he’ll build though, or as he says, the “last kick at the can.”
And without doubt, both machines are distinctive from one another.
The coupe, which is powered by a modern fuel-injected Chevy 350 V8 and automatic transmission, has all the amenities of what you’d call a luxury cruiser, from tilt steering, air conditioning, cruise control, power seats, power windows, and interior trim that would rival a Mercedes S-Class.
The other, a tastefully wood-decked red pickup, is less equipped, but no doubt a combination of Travolta-like good looks and undeniable practicality. Inside this bad boy lies another Chevy V8, a rare 400 cu. in. block from a ’76 truck.
Since he’s built cars, Stewart said that one thing never changed: you gotta have patience.
“You gotta know when to quit, think about it for a while and come back.”
Stewart is also behind numerous classic car shows, both in Sooke and Greater Victoria Region. At the Sooke classic car show this spring, he plans to bring both his hot rods down and continue sharing his passion for the machines of yesteryear that many of us have grown to love and appreciate.