N.S. man hopes father's legacy lives on in sale of antique car collection
'I'd just like them to have the love we had for them, and enjoy them'
Ed Hankinson's dad had "gasoline in his veins" and an impressive antique car collection to prove it.
From his home in Weymouth, N.S., local businessman Ken Hankinson gathered more than 30 vehicles over the decades, including everything from an 1889 wooden buggy to Buicks from the 1910s, 20s, 50s and more.
Three years after his father passed away at 97, Hankinson is now looking for buyers who will cherish these pieces of history the same way his family did.
But it hasn't been easy. During the first sale, Hankinson passed the money back to the customer four times until finally pocketing it.
'I guess selling the first one made it real'
"I guess selling the first one made it real," Hankinson said Saturday from his home in Gilberts Cove just outside Weymouth.
"But you know, life goes on. We don't live forever, and things change in our lives. This is one of the changes in mine, for sure."
Ken was a GM dealer and ran Weymouth Motors from 1945 until the family business closed in 2007. Hankinson said he was always on the lookout for Buicks, although he picked up Cadillacs and Pontiacs along the way.
In 1960, Ken landed a 1939 Buick — the first car he'd ever sold back when he was just 19. The collection grew from there.
The McLaughlin buggy, which Hankinson believes is an 1889, has the original green paint. Ken leapt at the chance to own one, since Hankinson said the carriage was a "forerunner" of the Buick in Canada.
Robert McLaughlin from Oshawa, Ont., built these carriages, and then his son, Sam McLaughlin, turned the company toward motor cars. After gaining success, it was sold to General Motors of Canada.
"That carriage is virtually mint," Hankinson said. "So it's a piece of history that's just amazing."
Although the 1918 and 1919 Buicks are obviously old and "very rare," Hankinson said every car in the collection is in working condition.
Hankinson said while he'd love to see it go to a museum, so far one he offered it to in Oshawa has declined.
The trips to get these classic vehicles around Connecticut or New Brunswick was a family affair, Hankinson said, and most were bought unrestored.
Ken loved cars and hated to see one go to the junkyard or get crushed, Hankinson said, so he'd save it and put in years of work alongside his sons to bring it back to its original glory.
"He just always had ... gasoline in his veins right from the day he was old enough to realize what cars were," Hankinson said.
That lifelong passion took Ken to Hershey, Pa., every year for an antique car show, and saw him forge many friendships.
But now the time has come to sell their family property and huge garage where the car collection sits, Hankinson said. The reality is he has nowhere to keep them.
Hankinson said while he and his brother went into the car business, and he still works at a GM dealership in the area, their children went different ways. They wouldn't be able to keep up with the care and attention the vehicles need.
He added that he can't bring himself to choose just one car to keep for himself.
When talking about what he hopes new owners keep in mind, Hankinson's voice breaks.
"It's difficult," he said. "I'd just like them to have the love we had for them, and enjoy them. That's all.
"It's an emotional time for us, because we hate, hate, hate to have to sell them, but we have no choice."
There were long talks with his dad about the collection before he died, and while Ken knew this would have to happen one day, Hankinson said it doesn't make it easier.
Sales stay local so far
He also won't be selling to anyone thinking of buying the vehicles to chop them up for parts or put in a modern engine.
There have been plenty of interested buyers. Fortunately for him, he's been able to sell to local people or others around Nova Scotia.
It's likely he will still catch a glimpse of them down the road, and Hankinson said no one can take his memories.
"I can always say, 'You know, we had that car, and we restored it. We put it back. You know, there'd be a tree growing up in this one if we hadn't got it, or it'd be long gone to the junkyard. We rescued it,'" he said.