Tim Lindsay, caretaker of the Spirit of Tomorrow, greets onlookers at the 2018 Tectoria conference. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Spirit of Tomorrow car still turning heads after 76 years

Inventor’s futuristic war-time car lives on

With its teardrop shape, the Spirit of Tomorrow draws as many onlookers now as it did when Basil (Barney) Oldfield first drove it into town from his Prospect Lake workshop in 1942.

The car made its latest appearance last week as caretaker Tim Lindsay, the nephew-in-law of Oldfield, stationed the car outside the Crystal Gardens for the Tectoria conference.

“If you stop for gas somewhere, you can’t get anything done, people just come from everywhere,” said Lindsay, who acts as a caretaker and tour manager for the iconic vehicle and its website, spiritoftomorrow.com.

Due to the snow, Lindsay was unsure how he would get the vehicle downtown from where he keeps it in his Brentwood Bay garage. Lindsay recently bought a new trailer for it but, with the battery charged, he ended up driving the Spirit of Tomorrow downtown last Friday morning.

“It drives great, it’s quick,” he said.

Oldfield was already an innovative welder who was relied on for big jobs in the area. It was top-secret at the time, but Lindsay has it on good authority that Oldfield was regularly brought up for maintenance and repairs on the rotating dome that contained the Plaskett telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

It’s believed the rotating base of the observatory inspired Oldfield to build the rotating roundhouse which he lived in off of West Saanich Road, and which still exists (and still works).

Oldfield died of cancer in the 1970s and his family kept his belongings undisturbed. They came across several news clippings, including the 1939 clipping which quite likely inspired his frame.

As the story goes, Oldfield whittled an original hand-held model from a piece of wood into the shape he wanted, Lindsay said.

“He went down to Tod Creek and used the [flowing] creek water as his wind tunnel, to see how the eddies would work behind it. He kept reworking the shape until he got it perfect. Then he extrapolated the measurements, built the body by hand out of aluminum, using flat aluminum sheets, and hammered it over rollers and dyes to make that shape.”

Built between 1938 and 1942 by Oldfield and his friend John Norton, the Spirit of Tomorrow was based on a news article.

“We like to keep the story alive of what Basil accomplished, things such as this car, the roundhouse in Saanich and the logging trucks he built for his friends, the Butler Brothers [logging].”

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: Safe water should trump traffic plan

Emergency Malahat route through Sooke watershed a non-starter

VicPD honours seven citizens for their courage and dedication

Civic Service Awards presented at ceremony in Hall of Honour

Savory School music room addition a hit

School’s PAC praises Legion’s generosity

‘It’s just hair:’ Central Saanich woman chops her locks for Wigs for Kids

Wigs for Kids BC will receive two 12-inch braids from Brentwood Bay resident Liza Glynn

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

Second fatal crash occurs in Alberni Valley

Traffic on Highway 4 is being re-routed as investigators are en route

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

VIDEO: Mattress fire at Cowichan Hospital under investigation

The Cowichan District Hospital was locked down on Tuesday afternoon due to… Continue reading

Most Read