The old car hobby is heavily steeped in nostalgia.
Logically, it makes no sense to invest in outmoded technology-if it did; we would have seen a huge spike in stagecoach sales and service by now.
But this isn’t about logic-it’s about a yearning for the warm and comfortable fit of the past.
A kinder, gentler past where we can cherry pick memories from our childhood and turn the 1950s and 60s into golden ages.
Golden ages where life was much simpler, family units stronger and community was a concept, not a sales pitch for a new condo development.
That 50s sense of community comes alive every 10 years when The Coasters cross Canada in classic old vehicles-this is Shangri-La for anybody who misses the good old days.
The Coasters are a group of people who love old cars and trucks and they love traveling. A natural marriage of these two passions is a trip across Canada in classic old vehicles-many of these vintage rides are hauling trailers in this rolling Norman Rockwell exhibit.
The trip laid out like this-leave St. Johns Newfoundland on July 7th 2010 and arrive in Victoria British Columbia on August 20th 2010. That’s a distance of over 4500 miles-not counting side trips. There were 120 vehicles registered and 83 completed the entire trip-others joined it in progress. The oldest cars were from 1931 (Chevy and a Dodge) and the newest was a fill-in 2nd stringer vehicle from 1990 (Chevy Suburban).
Believe it or not, they had only one major casualty-a ‘59 Caddy died minutes into the trip.
This is one of the most interesting stories we’ve ever covered at MyStarCollectorCar.com simply because (for a few weeks) these people are truly living an idyllic 1950s lifestyle in the 21st century.
That long forgotten lifestyle where parents and kids sat down together for every meal and if a kid was late…a simple yell out the front door brought him home at full speed. Most car guys are in awe when they hear about this trip and to a person-they are envious.
The Coasters travel in short bursts and they are welcomed at every stop on the way because this rolling caravan represents every corner of Canada (plus a few Americans and even New Zealanders) . The concept really works because somebody in the group lives near or in the daily destination town so the red carpet is rolled out-it should be because these people leave Bill Gates money behind-along with a lifetime of goodwill.
What really jumps out in NBC living color when you see The Coasters setting up camp is that you’ve gone back in time. You’ll see 1954 Chevys or late 50s Ramblers hauling trailers with bumper hitches-this is a visual image straight out of the late 50s. The pre-Elvis- gets- drafted, Eisenhower, hula-hoop, AM radio late 50s era. It was a true Perry Como magic moment.
Except for the Pontiac GTO or Dodge Super Bee pulling a trailer-that was more like a 1960s Jimi Hendrix “magic mushroom” moment. But it worked.
Quite honestly, everything worked in this idyllic automotive world including a 1931 Dodge hauling a trailer-that old war pony was really working hard. Stay tuned in a few weeks for a full feature on the hardest working ‘31 Dodge in show business.
The Coaster cars are absolutely amazing-it is the world’s best rolling car show and shine but the true essence of the trip is found in the people involved in the tour.
Canada is a country that has a tremendous amount of difficulty putting a stamp on its national identity. We’re just too big, far-flung and sparsely populated. As a Canadian, I’ve seen this “what the heck are we?” theme played over and over and it’s getting worse.
As a result, to define us as an entity Canadians automatically go to our tried and true, recklessly overused default position-our hockey heritage. That’s tragically wrong.
The Coasters tour is a genuine testimony to what can really define Canadians because you have Albertans establishing lifetime friendships with people from Quebec, Saskatchewan farmers bonding with Newfoundlanders and big city Toronto folks hanging with people from small town Nova Scotia.
In many ways, that’s a lot like North Korea inviting South Korea over for cocktails.
French and English conversations flow effortessly and concurrently without the aid of legislation.This is bilingualism that works-car guys are car guys. In every language.
The common denominator is a simple hobby steeped in a collective fondness for the best facets of the past.
This is a deceptively simple concept-old cars crossing this incredible country bring us together far better than any misguided multi-million dollar tax funded “Canadian Unity” program ever did. Or will…
A natural byproduct of this gathering is the time travel sensation-to an era where you didn’t have to worry where your kids were-they were in the neighborhood. They were somewhere within ear shot-doing real kid things…outside.
And if the kid got out of line it wasn’t socially unacceptable for a neighbor to give a kid the same discipline that his mom would have supplied. Moms used to back each other up a lot better back in the 50s.
The 2010 Coasters rolling neighborhood really had that ‘back there’ feel-the parents were considerably older, but you still get that overwhelming feeling of nostalgia the minute you pull into their camp. Plus you didn’t feel like back talking the older Coasters either-the hard-wired reflexes never die for us baby boomers and “getting smart alecky” with our elders sure wasn’t on the agenda. Then or now.
This trailer community in 2010 was a microcosm of the warmest and coziest 50s and 60s memories. The denizens of this camp could easily have been living next door in that 1950s and 60s subdivision.
And the denizens aren’t reinventing the past-they’re recapturing it. These people are like their rides-completely old school. You can practically smell the apple pies baking in the vintage trailers. The ones with the old-fashioned gas oven, hand-pump faucet, wood floors and…no laptop or handheld device plug ins. Texting at that dinner table is punishable by lots of dishwashing.
Some of The Coasters are kids– extremely fortunate kids because they’re riding with their grandparents. That in itself is priceless, but they also get to experience a trip across the whole country traveling and living like kids did in the late 50s.
Their grandparents--the same people who were doing the same thing with the kids’ parents in the same type of cars-over 50 years ago.
No 21st Century history class (with all due respect to virtual reality) could touch that hands-on experience. These kids are getting a priceless education about their country past and present. This is clearly the world’s best summer vacation- no apologies necessary to Disneyland.
When you witness this event in person you can’t help come away with some very tangible emotions.
The first one is a simple car-guy reflex. Envy. As these classic old cars and trucks rolled in the feeling that overwhelms you is how great this trip would be to a true blue car guy. As car guys we always have to justify the expense of our 4 wheeled museum pieces and this trip would do it. This is truly a defining moment for seriously motivated disciples of the old rides.
You get to blow the carbon out of the old Hudson and, (even with marginal gas mileage) you get to see a huge, beautiful country in a classic vehicle. Hauling a trailer sweetens the deal because it cuts down on accommodation expenses and adds practicality to the long list entitled ‘why we drive old cars’.
The Coasters road trip is a Holy Grail experience for those who love to drive the old rides but it was also something else for onlookers. It evoked a yearning for the good old days.
This was a clean entry into a better past. The Coasters get it. Their encampment had the easy pace of a Henry Mancini instrumental. You can practically hear the strains of ‘Theme from a Summer Place’ as you roll into camp. Nobody is moving too fast. There’s no need to…it’s so relaxed it’s like a Jimmy Buffett experience without the tequila. This is more like an ice-cold lemonade in glass pitchers crowd and it’s far more real than Margaritaville.
The Coasters camp is a place where you can still leave your doors unlocked-if you need something you borrow it. As for crime-it doesn’t exist because everybody knows everybody in this neighborhood.
No matter what part of Canada they park the caravan.
One of The Coasters had a daughter visit and she was an RCMP officer-she had the same impression about the Coaster’s community. When she hit the camp she became a kid again-the last thing she worried about was law and order in the Coasters’ world. That feeling is contagious.
When we came in to interview the residents, we were greeted with the best hospitality imaginable but I know the tone would have changed if I’d started rummaging through an unlocked trailer. These people clearly get the “look after your local community” concept-I wouldn’t want to test the boundaries.
The last emotion is regret.
Regret comes when you have to leave this little piece of Paradise Found and rejoin the 21st century. Sure the cars are far more efficient thanks to leaps and bounds in technology, communication is lightning fast, modern hotels make far more sense than a 50s era trailer.
6500-pound diesel trucks could haul that trailer and the car at 75 miles per hour and still get double the gas mileage-but it’s not the same.
A brand new Ford diesel would smoke that 1954 Mercury and 3 of its buddies in an automotive fistfight.
But that really doesn’t matter because the real first place prize goes to The Coasters-they get it. Not only do they get it-they get it in style. So the last impression you’ll have when you leave this very real trip back in time is simple.
You’ll want to be part of the next one-from coast to coast.
Please visit their website to see how The Coasters crossed Canada- http://www.coasters2010.com/
Jerry Sutherland @mystarcollectorcar.com
We’re going to be doing features every week on some of the participants in this incredible Coasters adventure at https://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/2-features/special-issue.html
DAVE:”All my “fond” camping memories were of the ole man making crazing blind passes on the Nordegg highway in the Volvo, pulling a soon to be very dusty tent trailer!! Then undusting the trailer out and being told over and over again not to touch the walls of the tent as it poured outside!! Some good memories too, though.
ROBERT:”This particular story really got me excited thinking about traveling across your fabulous country. I’ll dream about making that trip someday! Meeting all those wonderful people.
KORI:”haha…nice mirrors…we had some of those on the GTX! …boat rack on the roof!”
TERRY:”Just like to say I love your stories about the classic cars , have a 1965 Mustang myself and I love getting out and driving I belong to a mustang club and so forth but was very upset about your comment about our hockey connection with Canada . You may not see it or be apart of it but if you think for one minute that hockey isn’t a part of our culture all across this country and a big part of who we are , pull your head out of your a** . As much as I love my car and the hobby itself , do not tell anyone hockey is not a huge part of what Canada is . Did you not watch the winter olympics ? Can’t get much bigger than that ! Sorry if I came across a little tough but please if you don’t like hockey fair enough but don’t comment on stuff you nothing about PS you can be a car guy and love hockey to !”