Hobbiest mechanic swaps airplanes for sports cars

A British car show in Fort Langley this weekend features a G-Wagen.

Being a hobby mechanic has taken many forms for Willoughby resident David Smith, and over the years he has shifted from motorbikes, to planes and now, to vintage cars.

Cars, in particular, have always been a passion for Smith and his 1974 Jensen Healy roadster is his pride and joy.

“I used to work on airplanes, but I got too old for that,” he explained. So, in 2012, Smith started building a car collection with the acquisition of the Healy.

“I always thought it would be fun to own an English sports car,” he shared.

Now, as an owner, he enjoys constantly working on the car, currently taking apart and replacing the transmission.

Looking for parts for his cars is almost like fitting together pieces of a puzzle.

“I think it’s quite a nice car, but there aren’t that many of them,” Smith explained.

The ’74 Jensen Healy was a replacement for the Austin Healy, working with Jensen Motor Vehicles, according to Smith. Though the car was an improvement on the original, there were still troubles with the transmission and the car was taken out of production in 1975.

Now, however, this car is a collector’s item, and Smith has devoted five years of love and labour into repairing and restoring it.

Even now, he said the project isn’t finished.

The more work an owner puts into the car, the better the car becomes, according to Smith. He knows that when anyone first buy a collector car, appearances may be good, but sometimes what’s waiting under the hood is going to need a lot of TLC.

“It’s never done, there is always improvements to be made, and things to be maintained,” he said.

While Smith has a few other cars that he is working on, the Jensen Healy is the only one that is currently drivable, and he is looking forward to showcasing it at the upcoming St. George’s British Motoring Show in Fort Langley this weekend.

“While at the show, I will probably drink lots of coffee and talk to people looking at my car, look at other cars, and talk to other owners about their cars… It’s all about the cars,” he said.

Smith enjoys meeting with other collectors, and always looks forward to showing off his Jensen Healy, and seeing what others have been working on.

This year’s St. George’s British Motoring show will also feature a Mercedes Benz G-Wagen that was captured during the Falklands War – one of 132 vehicles that was captured by the British in Argentina.

The St. George’s British Motoring Show will be held Sunday, April 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fort Langley Community Hall on Glover Road with 80 or more British vehicles – free to the general public. Registration at www.lambscarclub.com.