SEASIDE — For Doug Esau and friends, last year’s bad timing turned into this year’s great trip.

Last year, Esau and friends stopped in Seaside on the way home to British Columbia after a trip to California. It was late at night Sunday and they needed a place to stay. The desk clerk at the hotel said, “Oh,  you just missed the show” and went on to tell them about the Wheels ’n Waves car show.

The group were members of the British Columbia Hot Rod Association. 

“We made reservations for this year on the spot,” said Esau. Six of his buddies from the British Columbia Hot Rod Association had their cars parked together on Franklin Street at this weekend’s “Show and Shine.” They drove 5 1/2 hours, arriving Thursday for the four-day event.

About 245 builder and street cars from 1962 and older took over Broadway and side streets in downtown for the annual end-of-summer event. Participants came from as far away as Florida, Washington, Idaho, California and Canada.

Esau thought about 20 cars came from British Columbia.

He had sold his 1934 Ford just before the show, so he had to drive his modern Honda to the show. “My wife was happy because the roadster, it messes up her hair, the wind, you know,” he said. But his brother-in-law, Jim Lyons, brought his highly customized 1940 Ford convertible dubbed Merlot for its color. The finish was just primer when he bought it a few year ago and began customizing it. The color was a matter of many discussions with many people without any conclusions.

“One evening we were sitting on the deck, drinking merlot wine, and we looked through the glass and said, ‘That’s the color,’” he said. The official color is candy brandy wine over black. His sign in front of the car read: Built by owner and many critiques.”

At first glance, the car next door – a 1932 Chevrolet convertible painted a more subdued white with light green touches – appeared less dramatic. But as friends Jim Gustafson and Tom Epperson, discovered, a closer look revealed myriad of custom touches by owner Cliff Rich of Chilliwack, B.C., who even built the engine manifolds by hand.

“The car is so unpretentious, but you look at it, and there is so much,” observed Gustafson,  pointing out the double-brace arms for the side-view mirrors that keep the mirrors from vibrating. The two men, from Aberdeen, Wash., also had cars in the show – Gustafson, a 1932 Ford he has owned for 52 years, and Epperson, a 1951 Chevrolet hardtop.

They’ve been participating in Wheels ’n Waves for 12 years and like it for the variety of activities and the manageable size. For participants, the event also featured a poker run, cruises, including one to local senior living facilities, beach party, treasure hunt, vendor booths and awards presentation.

“You can bring your wives, and they can go do their own thing, and we can look at cars. It is really neat. It’s a nice little town,” Epperson said.

The event was launched in 1998 as “Hot Rod Happenings” to help boost the local economy as the busy summer tourism season ends, and took on its current name in 2005.

The four-day event has proved to be a boon for local merchants. Keith Chandler, of the Seaside Downtown Development Association, and manager of the Seaside Aquarium said, “A heck of a lot” when asked about the economic impact on Seaside. The treasure hunt draws car show participants into shops. Spectators looking at the cars also wander into stores and restaurants and spend money.

Sunday wound up with the awards ceremony. Twenty-five awards were given. The top one being Participants Choice where all registered participants vote. That was won by Jim and Maryellen Brix’s 1956 Lincoln Mark 2. The Seaside Pearl Award went to Linda and Gary Scheibal’s 1956 Buick Century convertible. The Buick will appear on the show’s T-shirts next year.



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