It was a perfect day for a drive on Friday (April 26) in Harrison Hot Springs, and that’s exactly what 180 classic car lovers were ready to do.
The Spring Thaw Rally, an annual gathering of classic and collector cars, started its three day journey in Harrison Hot Springs this year. In total, 90 different cars were parked near the Harrison Lake Hotel as they prepared for a trip that would take them from Harrison to Sun Peaks, Nelson and finally Osoyoos.
Brothers Jonathan and Eric Wahl, 33 and 28 respectively, were setting up their dad’s 1979 yellow Porsche 930 for the journey.
“A friend of ours has done the Spring Thaw a couple times in the past … and he’s been raving about it,” Eric Wahl said. “We just decided that this was the year.”
“We love cars, and we love driving, and B.C. is beautiful,” Jonathan Wahl said. “Any opportunity to get up here and cruise around in the mountains is a good opportunity as far as we’re concerned.”
The pair had come up from Seattle to participate in the Spring Thaw Rally — although until Friday, they didn’t know exactly where they would be going. The Spring Thaw Rally takes drivers on a tour of B.C. for three days, but keeps the route a secret until the day of the rally.
The rally, which started 11 years ago in Squamish, was Hord’s way of creating a more affordable way for classic car lovers to drive around with other like-minded people.
“We were two 26-year-old guys who had classic cars and wanted to go to a classic car rally,” Hord said about him and his business partner Warwick Patterson. “We discovered that everything out there was a $1,000 a day rally.”
“At 26 years old, you can’t do that. We started talking about it, and we said, ‘Why don’t we just create a low-budget event?’” he continued. “We had 45 people the first year. That’s when we knew a low-budget event would stick.”
Since its second year, the Spring Thaw Rally has been a sold-out success. It would usually start or end in Squamish or Hope, but had outgrown its Hope location.
“This year was the first test of Harrison to see, can we make Harrison work,” Hord said. “It will hopefully become our traditional start or finish location.”
It’s possible the the Spring Thaw Rally will end in Harrison Hot Springs next year — but for Hord and the drivers, the camaraderie and getting on the road is more important than where the cars start and stop.
“Over 11 years, this is like a big family gathering,” Hord said. “It’s not a group of cars anymore.”
“All these cars were meant to be driven,” he added. “Seeing them out being driven on the roads — that’s the most important part.”
Brian Hannon, travelling with his brother Kerry Hannon from Seattle, agreed.
“For me and my brother, that’s all we want to do, is get on the road,” he said. “That’s the fun part of all of it.”