Bricklins to Beetles

There’s somewhere between 15 and 18 vehicles at any given time at their site southwest of Edmonton, depending on what may be sellable and what may be on wish lists.

Some are definite no-trades. Just two are actually co-owned – a ’96 Porsche and a motorhome. The vehicles are housed in garages decorated with pictures of cars, licence plates and neon signs, along with a car-based arcade and a pair of motorcycles.

Scott Lawrence grapples to describe it all. Is he a collector? An automotive investor? Hoarder?

“Car collector? That’s a little highbrow! I guess I am, but I always just kind of went by ‘car guy.’ Just a car guy. Collectors, it seems like they have plans. They have themes. Cars that I like – that’s my theme.”

Tasha’s a lot like her husband in that respect. She collects cars because she loves them, plain and simple.

“I grew up with cars. Then I married a car guy,” says Tasha. “My dad had a Ford dealership in the late ’70s and early ’80s (in Thorhild County) and I would go there after school until my parents were finished work.”

Dear ol’ dad was just trying to inspire his girl. And the inspiration took hold – but not in a direct fashion.

“My dad bought me a Chevette first,” she says. Later, “a Tempo.”

His daughter would grow to be a multi-vehicle owner with a Mercedes and a BMW in her stable. But you won’t find any Chevettes or Tempos on the Lawrences’ acreage. So, with those early purchases, her father did indeed plant a life lesson.

“I knew I didn’t want to drive those kinds of cars,” says Tasha. “I prefer European, hand-built cars that come with some history. I knew I didn’t want to drive something I didn’t want to drive.”

Scott became a mechanic specializing in European cars. His collection reflects that, but he isn’t tunnel-visioned.

“I end up with a bit of everything. I had a Packard once, so, even American cars.

But they’ve got to be kind of weird.”

Speaking of weird, Scott has a Bricklin -it’s like a Great White North version of the DeLorean from Back to the Future, but without a flux capacitor to send it back and forth through time. The doors lift up, and the headlights pop out, giving it a distinctive look.

 “The Bricklin is campy as sin. But it’s fun to drive because it’s campy. You really think you should be wearing a velour tux with some frills when you drive that thing.”

Bricklins were made in New Brunswick in 1974 and ’75, advertised by designer Malcolm Bricklin as sports cars that had tons of safety features. But Bricklin became famous not for its cars, but for production problems, poor sales and a funding fiasco that pushed that province’s government into scandal. There are very few left in existence, with their sharp lines and gull-wing doors.

Another novelty in Scott’s possession is a 1937 Morris, a smaller take on that decade’s look of needle-nosed hoods flanked by standalone headlights mounted on the wavy wheel-wells. “It’ll do 50 miles an hour flat-out and I guarantee you’ll feel like it’s the fastest car you’ve ever been in – because it’s terrifying,” he said.

“I took it out on the Henday and I was probably slowing traffic down, but I was terrified. And it was wonderful!”

There is also the social aspect of owning and driving classics. Who can resist a wave when you come across someone behind the wheel of a golden oldie?

“I don’t think there were a lot of people wanting to wave to me on the Henday,” jokes Scott.

Well, maybe with one finger. But it was just the opposite on a trip down south when they were towing a ’69 Beetle.

“We drove down to California towing it behind the motorhome,” says Tasha. “And the whole way down you saw people pulling up alongside and putting down their cellphones to wave at us.”

The couple are inspiring their next-gen car girl. They bought the Beetle and gave it the full “Herbie” decal treatment to match the pedal car that belongs to their seven-year-old, Thea.

And, there’s one type of vehicle you won’t find among Tasha’s collection – even if a mom needs some practicality. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be ‘soccer mom.’ But, no, not a minivan!”

Besides being “sneaky fast,” her Mercedes SUV fills that bill with more style.

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