Pedro Arrais: A weekend for classic automobiles

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The name and venue have both changed, but the Vancouver Island Concours d’Elegance and Motorcar Weekend, a leading fundraising event featuring exotic, classic and collectible automobiles, returns on Sunday at Shawnigan Lake School.

For the past seven years, the Vancouver Island Motor Gathering, hosted by the GAIN Group, was held at the Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit in the Cowichan Valley.

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The event has raised more than $1 million for the David Foster Foundation and the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation.

When the event started in 2012, it attracted 85 vehicles. Last year, close to 600 vehicles parked side by side in the facility’s 2.3-kilometre motorsport track.

In anticipation of future growth, the name has been changed and the venue has been moved to Shawnigan Lake School, an independent boarding school for Grades 8 to 12. The campus sits on 150 hectares of lakefront property in Shawnigan Lake.

The school’s main administrative building, built in 1927, will now serve as the backdrop for the event’s Concours d’Elegance competition.

A Concours d’Elegance is the pinnacle of the automotive world, where prestigious vehicles are displayed and judged.

Vehicles entered in such a competition are judged to the highest standard, with each and every component examined meticulously.

To win, the vehicle has to be in a state far exceeding that of when it was new.

One of the entrants in this category is Robert Maitland, who will be entering six of his cars: a 1955 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing, a 1960 AC Aceca, a 1964 Jaguar E-Type coupe, a 1968 Mazda Cosmo, a 1968 Lamborghini Miura and an 1961 Aston Martin DB4.

Most of his cars have been in competitions before, and he has had his share of awards.

But Maitland is different from some other collectors because he actually drives every car in his stable.

“I like to drive, and I love the beautiful shapes of cars,” says Maitland, who moved to Victoria from Calgary. “I have put on 16,000 miles on the Gullwing since I got it in 2004, and I plan to take it on a 1,200 mile rally after this show.”

This is the first time he has entered cars in the show. In previous years, he had always been out of town.

He is looking forward display the cars in his collection, which is only half of a dozen he owns, and meeting others.

“Victoria has a number of eclectic cars — and eclectic talent,” he said.

The eclectic talent he is referring to are a small number of skilled tradespeople and companies that specialize in the restoration of unique vehicles.

They include Rudi Koniczek, who founded a classic car restoration shop that became well-known for its Mercedes-Benz Gullwings, among other vehicles.

He sold his business in 2017 and it was reopened as Coachwerks, carrying on Koneczek’s reputation as the go-to shop for high-end restorations.

Look closely and you will see close to 24 of the 80 vehicles entered at the Concours d'Elegance portion of Sunday’s meet have passed through the company’s 10,000-square foot shop, located on Hillside Avenue.

But the show isn’t all about rare and unique high-end cars. It will also have a show-and-shine category where you will be able to find hundreds of domestic classics, collectables, special interest, hot rods and recent-model cars and motorcycles.

People can enter in 12 different categories in the Concours d'Elegance and 14 in the Show and Shine.

Admission is by donation ($5 minimum suggested). The entry fee for the Show and Shine is $25 per vehicle.

Proceeds from this year’s show benefit the David Foster Foundation, the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation and a selection of local families with children in need.

This year the GAIN Group is also reaching out to the public to help them identify families in need who may not be currently served by other charities or groups.

The event runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Shawnigan Lake School, 1975 Renfrew Rd., Shawnigan Lake. There is off-site parking (about 700 metres east of the school entrance) and a free shuttle service to the event. For more information, go to islandconcours.com.

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