Now that fall is firmly in everyone’s rear-view mirror, vintage car enthusiasts from Brandon and Westman are in the process of storing away their vehicles for the winter, if they haven’t done so already.
Brad Johnson is still hoping to get a couple last-minute rides out of his 1963 Ford Galaxie, but admits that the weather forecast is looking pretty grim.
This means he probably won’t get the opportunity to take his classic vehicles out for another spin until the spring of 2020.
Even though car hobbyists have to endure this ritual every year, Johnson said that doesn’t make the process any easier.
"You know the depression people get into during the winter? I think some of us, me included, can be affected in a similar fashion," said the owner of Brad’s Classic Auto Services. "Because our hobby is kind of put on hold for four months or so."
Throughout this period, Road Rebels car club president Dave Burba said your average hobbyist also suffers from anxiety about their vehicle’s security, especially if they don’t have access to an indoor storage facility.
"You worry about any damage that could happen if you do keep them outside, if a tree or something’s going to fall on top of them," said Burba, who owns a 1975 Oldsmobile Toronado. "You worry sometimes about damage from vandals, because that could happen for sure."
Being a mechanic, proper maintenance throughout this down time remains a big concern for Johnson, although he has developed a pretty reliable system to ensure his vehicles remain in pristine condition.
Outside of filling up his cars with ethanol-free gas and using strong enough anti-freeze, Johnson said one of the best things you can do to ensure your car’s safety is to disconnect the battery or remove it altogether.
Not only does the frigid cold suck the life out of a connected battery, but these conditions also run the risk of compromising its structural integrity.
"And if it breaks, the battery acid will run out and damage other components," he said.
Otherwise, Johnson said he likes to perform some routine maintenance on his vehicles right before storing them away for the winter.
"I like to have them at full operating temperature and change the oil and filter in the engine and give it a grease job," he said. "That way, any moisture that is in the crankcase is removed so it can’t just sit there and cause issues."
Johnson also said checking the car’s tire pressure and fluid levels periodically can’t hurt.
In the intervening time between winter and spring, Burba said the best thing any vintage car enthusiast can do to past the time is to bury themselves in a new project.
"Some of us are fortunate enough have garages where you can tinker all winter … rebuild their motors, do some suspension work or just do some interior work," he said. "So some people even look forward to that down time."
But if somebody doesn’t have access to a garage throughout the winter, Burba said the best way to cope with their "withdrawal" is to attend local car-related events like the social Road Rebels puts together every February.
"What it does is it kind of breaks up the winter," he said. "So we get all the car guys together … just to start talking about the spring and get the fires going a little bit more."
During an Oct. 27 meeting in Brandon, longtime Manitoba Association of Auto Clubs (MAAC) representative Bob Chubala revealed there are 5,640 collector vehicles registered in Manitoba as of 2019.
Manitoba Public Insurance defines a collector vehicle as an automobile that is at least 25 years old and has maintained a value of $5,000 or more.
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson