Among the community of classic car owners in Langley, David Turner is known for owning a lot of cars, rarely for very long.
At 76, the Fernridge resident isn’t exactly sure how many have passed through his hands.
“I’ve probably had 30 good cars, cars that were fixed up nice for car shows,” he estimated.
“Over a lifetime, I’ve probably had a couple hundred.”
His very first car acquisition came about when he and his brother asked about a neglected 1946 Ford, and the owner said the two teens could have it for free, if they could push it off the property..
They did. As it turned out all the old car needed was a new fuel pump, and the brothers were able to sell it.
“It think we got $20,” Turner laughed.
His interest in cars started getting serious about the time Turner was 18, and he bought his first car for driving, a 1956 Ford that was a former California police cruiser.
After putting a lot of work into fixing it up, he didn’t get to drive it very long, because the car got hit by a drunk driver.
“It was a write-off,” Turner recalled.
“He [the other driver] had no insurance.”
After that, Turner went on to acquire many other vehicles, getting into the habit of buying them and working on them until someone else was willing to purchase them.
It was more of a hobby than a business, he explained.
“It was just for the fun of building them,” Turner told the Langley Advance Times.
“When I was finished, I’d get bored. As soon as I get them to the point where you can sell them, I sell them.”
A high point, he recalls, was selling his prized 1964 Comet, after 20 years of ownership, to Bill Gates’ neighbour in Seattle.
Now retired from his job with the Township water department, and a later job at a stove and stone store than lasted about 10 years, Turner still keeps an eye out for potential acquisitions.
“I’m always looking.”
Turner spotted his latest project while he was out for a drive and saw a neglected 1995 Firebird.
“I found it in the back of a barn out in Aldergrove. It was one of those ones you’ve got to have,” he related.
“I don’t think there’s more than 20 in B.C.”
It needed a lot of work.
“It was pretty rough.”
It took about 60 hours just to clean accumulated grime from the body, engine compartment and wheels, and get the T-roof locks working, among other things.
By the time he showed up for the annual Brogan’s Diner car show fundraiser against cancer, he said the car hadn’t been repainted yet.
The upholstery was in good shape, though, and he covered the driver’s side seat with a towel for protection.
Other than that, it was in good running order, perfectly able to handle the demands of a four-hour drive to Harrison and back.
Admittedly, it was a different choice for Turner, who usually ends up working on classic hot rods.
“I just wanted something different,” he explained.
“No matter what you do to a classic hot rod, it’s still not comfortable. These are a little bit more comfortable and fun to drive. And it’s collectible.”
He was able to make the round-trip in comfort with a working car heater while some hot rod owners ended up getting pretty cold, he related.
A 20-year-old grandson, aware of Turner’s tendency to lose interest in projects when completed, has been dropping hints about the Firebird.
Bad news for the grandchild; Turner isn’t planning on selling this one, although he concedes old habits might be hard to break.
“I hope not [to sell], this time,” is how he described his decision.