Vehicles in the 2013 Lakers Car Club Show and Shine have great historic significance for their past and present owners, and for visitors who come from around the province to admire them on the streets of downtown Williams Lake.
One vehicle that made its debut appearance at the event this year was a 1967 Chevrolet truck belonging to Jim and Elske Veninga.
The truck was restored by Rick Kokesch in 150 Mile House. The project began in 2010 when Jim (‘Elvis’) called from Horsefly to ask Rick about getting the truck restored. Rick said he went out and looked at the vehicle.
“I did some pre-inspection and some sandblasting, got the engine running and inspected the body,” he said.
“I told Jim what needed to happen and he said, ‘let’s do it.’”
By the time Rick saw the truck he said that it was in quite a state of disrepair and it took nearly four years to complete the restoration, which he described as ‘absolute.’
“The whole truck was dismantled to the bare frame and built back up and every nut and bolt was replaced.
The only original things in the truck now are the frame and the engine,” Kokesch explained. He added that, unfortunately, Jim passed away in 2011 and did not get to see the finished project.
Jim’s wife Elske Veninga, his son Albert Veninga, daughter Theresa Mack and grandson Kennedy Mack attended the car show on May 26. Elske explained that it was originally purchased as a family vehicle. “It was our first new truck. We drove it back and forth to Ontario every spring break-up with the kids on board,” she said. “It looked a lot different when we bought it — Jim would be thrilled with it if he could see it now.”
She said that the truck was purchased brand new in 1967 from Norberg Motors (now Cariboo GM) in Williams Lake, adding that with a trade-in, they paid $2,200 for the truck.
“It’s a bit hot-rodded, according to what Jim agreed with in the restoration process,” Kokesch continued. “He turned me loose on it. I asked him, ‘What’s your vision?’ I sent him the paint colour scheme I thought would be great and he said, ‘Go for it: whatever you think should be done.’”
The job went from a restorative paint job to a completely restored truck.
“I tried so hard to get him out to my shop during the restoration process — to see the project or to take part in it, or make sure we were on the same page, but due to his physical restrictions he was never able to come to my shop. I would have loved to have him take it for a drive but it never worked out,” he continued.
Elske said that Jim loved the truck and would have enjoyed having it at the show so everyone could see it.
“This truck was always a nice ride and we always liked it. My mom and sisters were really heavy-duty ladies and when they got in on the passenger side I could really feel it,” she laughed.
Theresa and Albert drove the truck when they were young. “It was ‘three on the tree’ at the time so it was a bit complicated to drive,” Theresa explained. “One time we ended up getting the truck stuck; we lived in a small town and everyone told mom and dad about it before they even got back.”
She added that the truck is “so fun” to drive now, stating that when they were kids it had a bench seat. “We got in trouble once while the family was visiting friends, and had to go sit in the truck. We threw pennies in the speakers and then we bit pieces of the dashboard off,” she laughed. “It looks a lot better now.
“Dad wanted this truck all ‘souped up’ like this — this was his dream,” she said. “Rick did such a great job on it. It’s perfect.”
Albert said that he learned to drive in the truck.
“It took little bit to get it out of neutral into second and third; first was in and down and reverse was up,” he said.
“When I first saw the truck done, I thought it was a great little hot rod. This was just what my dad wanted.”
The Chevy was driven in the 2013 grad parade by Jim’s nephew Leonard Teppema. “His daughter Maria is graduating and she and her friends will all ride in the back of the truck,” Theresa said, adding that eventually her sons Kennedy and Cody will be able to showcase the family heirloom in their own grad parades.
Jim was a big Elvis fan, according to his family, who said he did a lot of impersonations and sang a lot of Elvis songs.
“He had a real collection of Elvis recordings,” Elske said. “He sang and performed a lot in Horsefly and I sewed his Elvis suits.”
“He’d have been down here at the car show today blaring Elvis tunes from the radio all day,” Theresa added.
“The song I Did it My Way was one of dad’s favourites, and that’s just the way he did it.”