Couple lets classic cars take front seat

Chilliwack's Harv and Shirley McCullough have had a lifelong affair with classic cars

Shirley and Harv McCullough and their 1966 S-Type Jaguar – just one of three collector cars they have on the road. More than 150 cars are registered for Sunday’s Fraser Valley Classic Car Show at the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association’s site in Heritage Park.

One day, Shirley McCullough headed out to grab some club soda, and came home with a Honda CRX.

“I remember calling Harv and saying, ‘you’d better get down here,'” she says.

The couple laughs over the memory of that day, while sitting in the summer shade on their porch in Chilliwack. She kept the speedy little car for 24 years, but it’s just one of many she’s cherished over the years.

“I never did get that club soda,” she says, with a knowing smile. Harv smiles too, recalling that day in the mid ’80s. It wasn’t the first time Shirley had fallen in love with a car, and it’s a feeling they both know well.

Right from the start, Shirley was a car girl. Growing up in a house full of brothers, it was bound to happen.

“They were all into cars and it was in my blood,” she said. “My cars were always sporty, upbeat, and they had to be cool cars.”

She drove an MGB, a 544 Volvo, a Rapier, and the list goes on. But the Volvo may have been her true love.

“Oh, I loved that car,” she says. “It was built for rallies with a really long stick shift. Just built to drive.”

The McCulloughs didn’t meet until they were in their early thirties, but they were on the same journey as car buffs all along. While Harv ended up in carpentry, eventually becoming a Dean at UFV’s Trades and Technology Centre, he did start out with the hopes of being a mechanic. As a young man, he bought cars, fixed them up, and sold them again.

So to pinpoint a favourite car, or even a first car, is a little more difficult. But he knows he loved them all.

“Every car I fell in love with, otherwise I wouldn’t buy it,” he says. But if he had to choose, he says, it would be the ’67 Cougar XR7 or the ’63 Ford Galaxy.

“That was a sharp car,” he says, of the Ford.

There’s a lot to be learned about each car’s history. Some are more rare than others, otehrs are as temperamental as they are beautiful. Some just beg to be driven every day, others only come out of the garage when the conditions are perfect.

But every collector car requires tender loving care. And being a car collector is made that much better when you know how to tinker with them, Harv adds.

“It’s more fun if you know how they work, and you can tune it up,” he says.

In the McCullough’s garage, that’s Harv’s job, while the finer details go to Shirley. And there’s no crankiness allowed.

“In this hobby, you have to have a sense of humour,” Harv says. “You shouldn’t be in this if you get easily frustrated.”

Right now, they have three collectors on the road, a dark green 1976 MG Midget, a spiffy red 1965 MGB MK1, and a 1966 S-Type Jaguar, that just gleams in silver and chrome.

They’re looking forward to taking part once again in the Fraser Valley Classic Car Show this Sunday, for which Harv is the show boss.

This is the second year the show has taken place at the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association’s site, after decades of success at the now-closed Minter Gardens in Rosedale.

They still remember the first time they attended the car show, many years ago.

“We fell in love with the show,” Shirley says. “The camaraderie, the sharing of stories, the kibitzing back and forth. We said, ‘we need to a part of this.'”

“We did fall in love with it,” Harv adds, and that passion meant finding a new location two years ago was the highest priority.

Their car club meets monthly at the ATA site, and one day, they looked around and realized they were meeting in what was the next perfect fit for the show.

Everything has clicked nicely into place since then, and a sponsorship form the Great Canadian Oil Change corporate office means that registration is free for car owners, and there are no admission fees for viewing, either.

Last year, more than 4,000 people walked through the site to admire the cars. This year, Trevor McDonald returns to the stage, where he’ll live host his Nothing But ’70s Show, for 89.5 The Drive. There will be vendors on site, including Grama’s Kitchen, and the Spinners and Weavers will be set up, demonstrating their skills as they did last year. This time around, there will be face painting for the kids, and Shirley adds that families are most welcome to come along for the ride.

Car shows are not just a retreat for men, she adds. More and more women are finding their place among the rows at car shows. Shirley said the car community is welcoming, especially if you’re outgoing.

“I’ve always put myself out there,” she says. “I’m just one of the guys!”

More than 150 cars are registered for Sunday’s show, and the gates open at 10 a.m. for the public. As for the McCulloughs, they’ll be revved up and ready to go at 4 a.m.

 

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