Iconic Vancouver automotive shop to make way for development

first_img Buy It! Princess Diana’s humble little 1981 Ford Escort is up for auction An engagement gift from Prince Charles, the car is being sold by a Princess Di “superfan” We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information. BMW has unveiled new all-electric vehicles in its i brand stable Leslie Borden bought Alec out in 1946 and continued pumping Chevron gasoline at the front of the old wooden building facing Fraser Street while servicing cars and installing the engines he rebuilt in the shop. He raised his family in a small cottage behind the garage that is now more than a century old.That cottage along with everything else will be leveled by the developer who bought the property to make way for a rental apartment building.The size of the original blacksmith shop was doubled with an addition to the building many years ago. A tour of the shop is like a trip back in time. The office is lined with old parts books and boxes of auto parts – many for cars from half-a-century ago or more.In the Sixties, Alec’s Automotive had the contract for Yellow Cabs and would install a completely rebuilt slant-six engine in one day. They would then rebuild the one they had removed from the taxi to put in another car. Not surprisingly, the shop is crammed with engine building machinery. At one point, the shop had an engine for a 1909 Cadillac on the bench alongside another for a 2009 model – a 100-year span. Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Engine builder Jeff Widman overhauls a power plant from a Japanese import.Alyn Edwards Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Parts manager Ian McElwain still uses parts books and parts off the shelf to supply the machine shop.Alyn Edwards Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Leslie Borden took over Alec’s Automotive in 1948 and raised his family in a cottage behind the shop.Alyn Edwards Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2The century-old cottage that was home to the Borden family that operated Alec’s Automotive on the site for 70 years.Alyn Edwards Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Alec’s Automotive Vancouver business license from the year Leslie Borden took over the business in 1948.Alyn Edwards Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Father and sons outside the iconic Vancouver business.Alyn Edwards Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2The quaint office at Alec’s Automotive in a building that opened as a blacksmith shop in 1909.Alyn Edwards Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2An invoice from 1964 for rebuilding and installing an engine for a 1957 Mercury totaling $189.76.Alyn Edwards Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company. [email protected] Xb_je464″>PlayBMW has unveiled new all-electric vehicles in its i brand stablePlay2022 McLaren Artura | First Look | Driving.caPlay2021 Ford Explorer Timberline | First Look | Driving.caPlay2022 Honda Civic | First Look | Driving.caPlay2022 Hyundai Kona N | First Look | Driving.caPlayShanghai 2021 auto show sees raft of new EVsPlayAudi A6 e-tron | First Look | Driving.caPlay2022 Santa Cruz | First Look | Driving.caPlayFirst Look | 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS | DrivingPlay2021 Genesis GV70 | First Look | Driving.ca advertisement COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTS Trending in Canadacenter_img RELATED TAGSCollector ClassicsNewsVancouverVintage & Collectible Trending Videos See More Videos ‹ Previous Next › Alec’s Automotive has been a family owned and run operation for the past 70 years. Leslie Borden’s sons Don and Doug ran the business for years. Now Doug’s sons Kevin and Rob operate Alec’s Automotive. Rob points to the ceiling that was damaged when a pot holding molten alloy metal about to be poured for babbitt engine bearings blew up before he was born.The attic has yielded many items from the past illustrating the long history of Alec’s Automotive. There is a yellowing Vancouver business license from 1948. And a portable grinder used for resurfacing crankshafts while they were still in the car.“My grandfather would drop my grandmother off to shop and then go to where cars and trucks were parked, pull off the crankcase pan and bearing caps to loosen the connecting rods,” Rob said. “He would then use this machine to grind the crankshaft while it was still in the car.”An invoice from 1965 shows that a rebuilt engine for a 1957 Mercury cost $189.76. And that included removal of the engine and installation once it was rebuilt. A head gasket for the engine cost $1.68. That same engine would cost up to $5,000 to rebuild today, depending on availability of parts. RELATED For engines and transmissions, when do you repair or replace? Alec’s Automotive continues to rebuild engines for other shops all over British Columbia. Their wall of fame features photos of hot rods, racecars and trucks that have received engines rebuilt by Alec’s.The company is following the path of other traditional Vancouver automotive shops that can no longer continue in business in the city.It’s the end of an era for Alec’s Automotive in Vancouver – a shop that can trace its roots over 70 years of being operated by the same family in a building dating back to 1909. Beginning in January Alec’s Automotive can be found at 6909 Russell Ave. in Burnaby. Alec’s Automotive, a fixture on Vancouver’s Fraser Street at 23rd Avenue since it opened as a blacksmith shop in 1909, is leaving Vancouver. The family-run operation is moving to the Metrotown area of Burnaby. It’s an unfortunate trend where Vancouver’s old-time automotive businesses are being forced out of the city by high taxes and encroaching development.Walter Quaife opened his blacksmith shop on a hill in southeast Vancouver 110 years ago. Back then, Fraser Street ran from False Creek in Vancouver to the north arm of the Fraser River and was called North Arm Road. It was originally a wood plank roadway enabling horses pulling wagons not to get stuck in the mud. A century-old city directory indicates Quaife’s blacksmith shop was taken over by H.J. Miles and D. Day who shod the horses that pulled the firewagons from Hall No. 23, a block away, and milk wagons for Dairyland.Soon the area filled in with residential housing and streetcars started running on Fraser Street. And so Alec Eaton turned the blacksmith shop into a service station that did mechanical work. He had an ability for machine work and started rebuilding engines. He had rows of rebuilt four, six and eight-cylinder engines ready to install in Model T, Model A and later Ford cars and trucks along with other vehicles of that era. Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2 Doug Borden, who spent 35 years rebuilding engines at Alec’s Automotive, flanked by sons Rob and Kevin who now run the shop.  Alyn Edwards last_img read more

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