A yearly event on the Labour Day weekend brings together auto enthusiasts for a showcase of some rare and fancy cars.
It's called a concours d'elegance - a competition of elegance, with judging of cars in a number of classes.
Last year, the event was moved to Crescent Beach after eight years as the Steamworks Concours, held on the streets of Vancouver's Gastown district. The twist was, the 2011 gathering in South Surrey involved only limited judging of vehicles on a grassy area of Blackie Spit Park.
The well-polished cars, motorbikes and trucks return there Saturday, Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but this time owners will compete for top marks in nine separate classes.
Colin Gurnsey, chair of the Crescent Beach Invitational, said the success of last year's event prompted a return to judged cars.
"We didn't know how it'd go last year, in the first year, so we just invited a group of cars and put on a special display type of thing," Gurnsey, a North Vancouver resident, told the Now. "This year, we're doing a full concours. Last year went phenomenal - the response from the community and also from the City of Surrey, for letting us use the park, very helpful. It had a real positive feeling to it, as opposed to Vancouver. They were upping the charge for our use of the streets in Gastown."
For the general public, admission to the concours is free; donations are collected for B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation, which received close to $2,400 last year.
Crescent Beach Invitational is, of course, an invite-only competition, and the list of cars to be showcased is kept secret, more or less, until event day. A call for vehicle applications ended July 1, and entrants were chosen by a committee.
This Saturday, 16 judges will grade 80 cars and motorbikes in the nine classes - everything from Classics (European and Domestic, 1925-1948) to Collector Motorcycles, plus Italian, German and French vehicles from the post-war era, muscle cars, hot rods, pickup trucks from 1946 to 1964 and GM-made cars from the early post-war years.
"We tried to broaden the type of classes, the groups of cars, to make it more eclectic and interesting," said Gurnsey.
"We have some really special cars there, and each of the groupings has its own followers and fans.
There are Mercedes fans, and Opal followers, and fans of the Italian cars - the Ferraris and Lamborghinis. It gives people the opportunity to see a wide variety of very nice vehicles. They can see the trends and what the designers were trying to achieve, and also the tastes of people in those eras."
Eight non-judged vehicles, including a 1922 fire truck, a 1926 Chevy once used to truck groceries around Kamloops and a rare MV Augusta Magni motorbike owned by Jim Bush of Surrey, will also be on display around the field, to add variety and interest.
Even with all those fancy cars and bikes parked in such a beautiful oceanside setting, the event isn't stuffy at all, Gurnsey insisted.
"We try to make the event a low-key one, rather than a high-class, nose-up-in-the-air kind of thing," he said. "And by low-key I mean, you want to have enough variety to appeal to those people who really don't know that much about cars, to spark their interest.
It's about showing cars that are well looked after, and many people really appreciate that. You know, they remember that car from when they were in high school or when they were just a kid. It's about those memories."
Surrey resident Ken Miles, a collector of British-made Morgan cars, is involved in the event as organizer of volunteers.
"We had a Morgan show last year, and we also showed several times in Gastown," Miles said. "We loved the event so much that we got involved as a volunteer, because you're invited back only so many times. It's a great show - probably the best in the Lower Mainland."
At a common show 'n' shine event, the owner of a car typically pays an entry fee.
"Here," said Miles, "you're invited to attend and you have to submit registration papers and pictures of your car. That's a difference between a show 'n' shine and a concours."
Vehicles on view at Crescent Beach Invitational are restored to original condition, pretty much - as good, if not better, than the day they rolled out of the show room, Miles said.
"And they're cars that you don't see much on the highways, that's for sure, because some of the cars in this show are rare - maybe they made only a couple of hundred of some of them, each model," he added.
The event's primary sponsor is Pelling Insurance, which specializes in antique, collector, classic and custom automobiles. The official event hotel is the Ocean Promenade in White Rock.
As Gurnsey and his wife, Laurel, the event co-ordinator, discovered, the White Rock/ South Surrey area is home to great number of people who collect and appreciate cars.
"We looked at the site (at Crescent Beach) and said, yeah, it has all the attributes that are nice. You know, it's a bit more rural but it has a lovely vista and what really surprised us was the number of people we already knew, from various car events around the Lower Mainland, who live there. I found out that I know a lot more people out there than I ever expected. It's like old friends week there."
Crescent Beach Invitational will be held at 3136 McBride Ave., at Blackie Spit Park. For more info, visit crescentbeachinvitational.com.
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