By Ryan Benoit, DODOlogic
“The scene is dead” is something I hear every so often, regardless of what city I’m in. The death of any automotive scene is usually blamed on the youth of that scene and it seems to be a cyclical thing. Ten years ago, people said that about my friends and I and now my peers are acting like the old and crusty ones, pointing fingers at the next generation. But in general, this isn’t what’s happening in Vancouver’s automotive scene. In Vancouver, both young and old aren’t as involved as they could be.
Saying the scene here is “dead” seems like a pretty drastic statement for the supercar capital of North America, but over the past few years, automotive events have started to drop off the map in this picturesque city. The Thursday night meets have been relocated several times or just shut down completely due to hasty generalizations and misinformed business owners/members of the general public. Car shows in the greater Vancouver area seem few and far between, and you rarely see shows held in the city’s downtown core anymore. Aside from the annual VW show that manages to lock down Concord Pacific Place, no one else can touch the expensive property in downtown Vancouver. ImportFest, Canada’s largest “modified” car show, didn’t even bother returning to the city this year. It seemed as if Offset Kings had planned to hold a show here, but nothing came to be for unknown reasons.
So, aside from the two annual Revscene meets and the All Japanese Classic Car Show, there isn’t much happening here. Are Vancouverites more content to spend their weekends traveling to Washington or Oregon for events? Is the Vancouver import scene really dead?
There’s no doubt that automotive culture in America is more widely accepted and being so close to the border gives people in the Vancouver area an easy escape to slip into a well-established scene. But trips over the border can be expensive, especially with such a weak Canadian dollar. It’s that same dollar that can make buying car parts more difficult – especially when you factor in the already high cost of living in the Lower Mainland.
The reason why Vancouver is such an expensive place to live might also explain why it is now the supercar capital of North America. For the billionaire business tycoon, life is good. For the common import enthusiast, it’s a tough existence.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the Vancouver import car scene isn’t dead, but it might be taking a nap… Case in point: the Auto Expo Galleria premiered with its first car show at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster on September 3. The show attracted a decent amount of proper show cars, but overall I would say a few familiar faces were missing from the crowd. That is to say that many of the cars that go hand in hand with the Vancouver car scene were absent from the show.
The show itself was well organized and attracted a fair number of spectators, but I expected a much larger turnout at the only import car show in the Vancouver area for the 2016 season.
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes the theme and aesthetics of the modern import car show escape me. But I still understand the importance of these shows. No matter how little I understand of the inner workings of a proper car show, I will always show up and advocate for others to participate. Something is better than nothing – especially when that something has all the pieces in place to succeed in the future. That’s what I saw the Auto Expo Galleria: a parking lot full of potential, if only the rest of community would show up.
That’s just the thing with the automotive community: it’s a community, so its success rests on the shoulders of those who show up. Perhaps Vancouverites are waiting for the next big American show to swoop in and set the scene a blaze. But let’s be honest: if we can’t support our own homegrown events, is anyone else going to see the potential in setting up shop in our backyard? If 2016 is any indication, the scene is happy to keep on napping. How long will we wait to see what the future brings, and ignore all of our local potential?