Some car lovers fall in love with classic cars later in life. Captivated by the romance, design, style, engineering, quality, upgrades, historical value, even the process involved in restoration can become intoxicating and addictive unless you are Shelburne resident, Ken Mc Alpine where this kind of love is in his blood.
McAlpine’s appreciation for classic cars began at the young age of 9 with his family’s purchase of a Monarch and McAlpine was hooked. At age fifteen, McAlpine’s father gave him his first car, a 1953 Monarch Automatic.
“Monarchs were Canadian made at the Ford Motor Company in Oakville and were in production from 1946 through 1961, and almost every three years, my family upgraded to the newer model. This particular car is a 1953 Monarch Sedan. It has a V8 flathead engine, four doors, wide whitewall tires, and 60,000 miles on it , and they say, it’s indestructible.” said McAlpine.
Evidently, McAlpine knows every aspect of this vehicle and can accurately describe every Monarch change in its historical engineering lifetime and prefers to maintain historical integrity, “I even have actual 1953 licence plates for it.”
“It’s overhang helps to keep out the rain and the sun. This car comes with vacuum assist and a booster off fuel pump,” McAlpine explains, “to help with keep the wind shield wipers going without extracting power the car needs to function while going uphill or something like that.”
McAlpine marvels at the ingenuity and design, calling it smart and simple, and mentions, “ Meteors,” another one of McAlpine’s admired vehicles, “came into production in 1949, and it looked like an American Ford but was the Canadian Ford.”
With many lifetime classic car lovers, there is so much more to this story and it has everything to do with a lifetime of experiences.
“I have a lot of fond memories associated with cars and have been loving cars my whole life,” McAlpine reminiscently admits, “but this passion did take me away from a lot of family time.”
McAlpine also sentimentally remembers many happy family occasions where classic cars played a key role in that memory and he cites driving his daughter to her wedding, long family drives, and many romantic drives with his wife. A feather in his cap is the joy he feels when describing his passing on the torch to his son who also has a passion for classic vehicles. Pictures of McAlpine’s granddaughters, proudly featured on the wall, pay tribute to their grandfather’s passion, and of course the back drop of the photograph, sitting at the wheel of a Monarch.
With the unimaginable loss of the truest love of his life, his wife, who lost her battle with cancer two years ago, McAlpine takes comfort in his classic cars, like an old friend.
“My wife was so understanding . We’ve driven out to Western Canada with 300 dollars,” McAlpine chuckles, “ And every night I had to rinse out the spark plugs so we could use the car in the morning.” One can only imagine the romance and the grandeur, driving across Western Canada in a 1964 Ford Fairlane with the love of your life at your side. “I really miss her.”
Though McAlpine hasn’t yet decided if he will tackle the job of restoration, one thing is clear. Like an old friend, Classic cars have always been with him through thick and thin, highs and lows, youth and retirement. Like his 1953 Monarch, reputed “indestructible” these two originals have seen a lot and weathered the storms and they are still standing.
Written by Alex Sher