Rolls Royce and Bentley owners from points afar rolled into Vancouver recently for the Enchanting BC Tour organized by local members of the Rolls Royce Owners Club. They were here to have fun.
Fifty-one persons in 23 ‘Proper Motor Cars’ from as far as Texas and Alaska gathered at Shipbuilders’ Square on the North Vancouver waterfront where WWII Victory ships were once built in the Wallace Shipyards. They put their prized vehicles spanning eight decades of Rolls Royce and Bentley production on display in bright sunshine and engaged with the public.
The tour chairman is Vancouverite Kim Spencer, who pilots a 1995 Bentley Continental R. Fellow clubber Dave Baron is the Minister of Tours and Social Events.
At the Concours d’Elegance to start the week-long tour, Tom Koger points out the bruised fascia of his 2013 Bentley Continental GTC where he hit a ladder that fell off a truck while making the 2,700 mile, three-day trip from Kemah, Texas near Houston. An Apple Computer sticker is affixed to the taillight of his 500-horsepower convertible. “Apple stock paid for this car,” the computer programmer proudly says.
But the long-distance award went to Stephen and Cheryl Hulse who drove their 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud down from Anchorage, Alaska. Only half the route over the six-day trip south was paved and their car never failed to proceed. Stephen, a Motorola communications engineer, has toured his vintage roller Rolls Royce (no respectful owner calls them ‘Rollers’) 40,000 miles over the past 17 years.
Dick and Ann Tilden arrived in the oldest car on the tour- driving from Portland, Oregon in their 1924 Bentley 3 Litre Special — all the way with the top down. They hit so much rain coming through Seattle they had to seek cover under a freeway overpass.
“I can’t see well with the top up and I didn’t have to clean my glasses,” the fun-loving owner said of the experience.
The Tildens are veteran tourers in their vintage Bentley. Last year, they shipped the car to Richmond, Virginia to begin a 3,900-mile tour of Maine, Nova Scotia and then across Canada. With the top down of course.
But the real world travelers are Dan and Marilyn Walker, who have driven their 1957 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud in almost every country that can be reached by road. The residents of Costa Rica have toured their 60-year-old right-hand-drive Rolls that was delivered new to Dunfield & Elliott, Sheffield, England from the Czech Republic to Ecuador to China. They have traveled through almost every state in America, every Canadian province and the Yukon Territory.
“Dan has circled the globe and has driven from northern Alaska to southern Argentina and back,” says fellow Rolls Royce owner and tourer John Peirson from West Vancouver. “He claims his car has never failed to proceed. His mishaps have been very minor. His roads have included very rough and non-existent in the Gobi Desert.”
Peirson, who owns a 1911 Silver Ghost, likely the oldest in Canada, drove his 1965 Silver Cloud III on the Enchanting BC Tour and never failed to proceed.
Tour vice-chair Dave Baron piloted his 1954 Bentley R Type that he has named Bertie and driven an estimated 25,000 miles on tour. A sign on his window indicates it’s unimportant how fast it goes: When one drives a Bentley, one has already arrived.
The tour proceeded north to Whistler where participants rode on the three-kilometre Peak-to-Peak gondola. Then onward to Pemberton followed by a trip over the Duffy Lake Road on the scenic mountainous route into B.C.’s interior.
The tour vice chair reports only one failure to proceed, which occurred when a water pump shaft broke in a 1964 Bentley S3 piloted by Dr. David O’Morchoe and wife Patrice of Poulsbo, Washington. The vintage Bentley was picked up on the Duffy Lake Road between Whistler and Cache Creek and trucked to Kamloops for repairs, courtesy of Hagerty Insurance. The artful owners completed the tour in a ‘Bentley UH’ that was really a U-Haul truck, knowing that it could be dropped off in Washington State, whereas rental cars can’t be dropped across the border.
The last day of the weeklong Enchanting BC Tour saw the drivers departing their lodgings at the Predator Ridge Resort in Vernon with a route to follow, but no destination.
“I just told the drivers: here are the directions. Everybody just took off and trusted me,” Dave Baron says.
The surprise after journeying the length of Okanagan Lake was when the participants arrived at a racetrack. Area 27 Motorsports Park south of Oliver had some Porsche sports cars speeding around the five-kilometre racecourse when the several dozen Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars arrived for a go at the track.
“This showed the difference between the older and newer cars. The newer Bentleys had a blast with their great handling and power. Mine showed its relative lack of power,” Dave Baron said referring to his 63-year-old Bentley R Type.
He was pleased with the week of good fellowship, excellent B.C. roads, hotels, food, tastings at wineries and distilleries, visits to a bee farm, car and train museums along with many other points of interest. There was even a sporting event: mini-golf pitting the Canadians against the American owners of very proper cars.
Club chairman Kim Spencer was very pleased nothing was bumped along the way and no animals were inconvenienced. “Touring with the Rolls-Royce Owners Club is about reconnecting with friends – both human and mechanical. It’s about admiring magnificent scenery swaddled in a wonderful motorcar. It’s about eating good food, enjoying one’s friends and admiring historic vehicles in their natural habitat -not in a museum.”
The next tour in 2020 will be north to Alaska from Bellingham via the Washington State Ferry system with the return drive over the Alaska Highway.
“Rolls Royce Owners Club Tours are not about the cars: they’re about the people,” says tour co-organizer Baron. “Some drive thousands of miles to participate. They want to drive their cars, meet people and have some fun.
“It was a great time with only one failure to proceed.”
Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company. [email protected]