Story of car restoration inspires gift of signed CD

A few months ago, Karin Chiu spotted an article in the Times Colonist that she knew would interest her daughter on the other side of the Atlantic.

There were a couple of reasons for that.

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For one thing, she said, it was a touching story about a son’s selfless gift to his dad.

“I thought it was a lovely tribute.”

The article, which appeared on March 4, explained how Dale Ruttan was in a car crash more than a decade ago. He survived with relatively minor injuries, but his dream car, a 1985 Toyota Celica Supra, was totalled.

His son, Dalan, who was 15 at the time, knew how much the car meant to his dad and swore to himself that he’d replace it one day.

It took years of searching for the right car and hours of hard work rebuilding it, but Dalan finally kept that promise.

In January, he surprised his dad with a late Christmas present by handing over the keys to a near replica of the Supra — restored right down to the CD that was playing in the car at the time of the crash — David Gray’s Life in Slow Motion.

It was that bit of the story that jumped out at Karin. Her daughter, Amanda, works as a creative director and member of Gray’s management team in London, England.

Figuring Amanda would know what to do, Karin clipped out the story and popped it in the mail.

“I thought it was worthwhile sending on, because I figured at the other end they’d be interested in hearing about it, too — that the [CD] had meaning to somebody.”

She was right. Amanda read the story and decided to take Dalan’s gift to his dad one step further.

“It’s always nice to hear how our artists’ music has been a part of meaningful moments in people’s lives,” she said in an email.

“Unfortunately in this case, this album happened to be an unwitting part of what must have been a very difficult experience for Dale.

“But then, later on, it got to be a coda measure in a very thoughtful and heartwarming gesture from his son

“I just thought it might be a nice surprise for the family to have David sign the album that played a small role in this memory for them.”

She approached Gray and he autographed a copy of the Life in Slow Motion album below the inscription: “To Dale, Enjoy your ‘new’ car!”

Amanda sent the album to the Times Colonist and the newspaper passed it along to Dale, who was both surprised and thrilled to receive a second unexpected gift this year.

It turns out that he and Dalan are both big fans of Gray. They even attended the artist’s Victoria debut at the Royal Theatre in 2010 — a few years after the car crash.

“I have all David Gray’s albums and he is one of my favourite artists, not just because of his incredible singer-songwriter lyrics and sounds, but possibly because of the connection he has to the Supra and Dalan,” Dale said.

As for Gray, Amanda says he was a bit surprised when she approached him to sign the album.

“When he does sign something for a specific request, it’s usually related to a couple’s love story or something along those lines,” she said. “So I explained the story to him and what the car had to do with it.

“A different kind of love story, I guess.”

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