Don Smith grew up in Richmond and was a member of the Richmond Rod and Custom Club and raced at Digney Speedway. He was a very big part of the 40th and 50th Anniversaries of the BCHRA.
His family still has the 1931 Model A that Don got from his parents when he turned 16. His grandfather bought it new and Don towed his racecar to Digney Speedway many times.
At the 40th Anniversary Car Show of the BCHRA Don won the Peoples Choice award for his Model A.
He won the RCMP Choice at the 50th Anniversary Car Show.
In Don’s Words.
Written for the 50th Anniversary of the BCHRA Reunion.
HISTORY OF DON SMITH’S 1931 MODEL ‘A’ FORD & 1947 MONARCH
The Model ‘A’ was purchased new in Vancouver in the spring of 1931 by my grandfather, the late William Lewis. William was a well-known builder in the South Vancouver and Richmond areas, from 1912 until his passing in the winter of 1942.
William Lewis’ previous two automobiles were Model ‘T’ Fords. Since the Model ‘T’ was no longer being produced in 1931 , William decided to purchase his first Model ‘A’.
After having driven the ‘A’ for a few years, he spotted a set of five, chrome 16 inch American Universal wheels at a Marpole service station (these wheels look similar to the old general jumbo wheel). After some bartering with the owner, William made a deal, trading in his stock wire wheels for the new American Universals. These wheels are still on the car today.
In 1942, after my grandfather’s passing, the Model ‘A’ was passed on to my p
arents, the late Gladys Lanswell (nee Lewis) and Walter Smith, who were in much need of another car. Gladys and Walter drove the car from 1942 until 1951.
In 1951, I turned 16, and was then of legal age to drive -t e- car. I still remember my first run from my grandparent’s farm at No.2 and Blundell in Richmond. That was a great ride!
I used the Model ‘A’ every day for eight years, which included towing my stock car many times to the old Digney Speedway in South Burnaby. My wife and I also used the car for our wedding car in September of 1961.
Although I admit I haven’t driven the Model ‘A’ much the past 24 years, I do have other interest as well, but always enjoy it when I take the car out. I am planning on rebuilding th
e running gear on the ‘A’ within the next few years.
My mother, the late Gladys Lanswell (nee Lewis) purchased the 1947 Monarch, in 1949. The car was driven until 1957 when she retired from driving. Since then, the vehicle has been in dry storage for 40 years.
Although the Monarch is not in mint condition, it is in excellent shape with all original paint, upholstery, and has all numbers matching. The car also has only 66,000 miles on it.
At present, I am working on the Monarch in my spare time, and hoping to have it on the road again by next summer.
In conclusion as to the history of these two automobiles, I think it is rather unique. The Monarch being my mother’s car, and the Model ‘A’ being by mother’s, dad’s car.
I have two sons and a daughter. They all have interest of some kind in the automobile sport. My eldest son, Jim, has two restored show-quality 1961 Chevy hardtops, one with a 409 four speed.
So, now where do the vehicles go from here? Well, I guess time will tell.
Written by Don Smith
From the collection of Don Smith.