Restoring and working on vehicles gives Gerald Overton Sr. a lot of satisfaction.
“I’ve always been puttering around in cars,” said the 73-year-old said, an active member of the Lakers Car Club in Williams Lake.
At the age of 15, he got his first job at the Esso gas station in 150 Mile House, where he had a “really good employer,” who taught him about vehicles.
To get to work he rode the Greyhound bus for the price of 75 cents one way from Williams Lake.
“They had quite a few buses scheduled. In the summertime I’d go out at about 10 a.m. and then when school started I would just ride the school bus out after school. Dad would come and pick me up when I was off work.”
In 2014, he and Pioneer Log Homes of B.C. founder Bryan Reid Sr. began designing and building the world’s fastest log car, which they named the Cedar Rocket.
It took about two years to build and afterwards the pair toured and showed it until they sold it at the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2018, for $350,000 US.
All of the proceeds from the sale went to the Congressional Medal of Honour Society, the Boot Campaign of out Texas, Yellow Ribbon America out of Southern California and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139.
At the time of the sale, Reid Sr. said it was truly one of the highlights of his life.
“Gerald custom built the frame and suspension, and was totally responsible for the mechanical aspects of the car. Without him, these great organizations wouldn’t have got these donations,” he said.
Recently Gerald Sr. has worked on two restoration projects with his son Gerald Overton Jr., who is the general manager of Heartland Toyota.
The first one is a 1973 Triumph TR6 Gerald Jr. purchased that belonged to the late Ben Stephen.
They repaired the engine, steering and suspension, then the brakes because the vehicle had sat for quite a while.
“Brakes deteriorate from just sitting. The brake fluid absorbs water and things rust,” said Overton Sr.
The Overtons probably will not put the Triumph in the upcoming Lakers Car Club Show and Shine Sunday, May 28, but Overton Sr. will show a 1970 Chevrolet pickup they purchased from Kit and Gary Collins in Quesnel.
“Gary had bought it brand new,” Gerald Sr. said. “He had all the original purchase documents and everything and was wanting to sell it so we went up and grabbed it from them.”
When Gerald Jr. was younger he played for the Quesnel Millionaires and the Collins were part owners.
Over his working life, Gerald Sr. has done a “little bit” of log home work when he worked for Bryan Reid Sr., but his focus has been more on the vehicles and equipment.
Originally from the Okanagan, Gerald Sr. moved to Williams Lake in 1954 with his family.
His father Fred Overton was in construction at the time with his brother Ralph and the Overton brothers got the contract to build the original ministry of forests building at Horsefly.
“Dad was just going to do the one job in the Cariboo, but had so much work up here that he decided this was the place to stay.”
The Overton brothers also built Skyline School, a school at Alkali Lake and some local businesses.
His mom Blanche was born in Springhouse, a member of the LaBounty family.
“Her mom passed away and her dad moved everyone down to the Okanagan. That’s where my mom and dad met, on the Similkameen River fishing or something.”
Gerald Sr.’s late wife Deb died in April 2006.
They met in high school and were married in 1971.
She worked at Lignum Ltd. but left in 1972 after the birth of their first child Tabatha. Trudy was born 1974 and Gerald Jr. in 1978. Deb returned to work as a clerk and bookkeeper at Marshall’s 150 Mile Store and was active in the 150 Mile Community Club, 150 Mile School and Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association.
Having Tabatha and Gerald Jr. living in the Williams Lake area, means Gerald Sr. gets to spend lots of time with his family, and particularly enjoys watching his grandchildren play hockey at Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association.
“Five of the grandchildren are here and at that age when they are a lot of fun.”