In 1980, a small group of antique car lovers decided it was time to form a club. On October 1, 1980 they held a meeting at the Lester Hotel in St. John’s. With approximately 18-20 people in attendance, and Newfoundland’s first antique car club, the Newfoundland Antique and Classic Car Club (NACCC), was formed. It has been over 40 years since that first meeting and the Club is still going strong with some of its original members still active participants.
The idea behind the Club was to aid and encourage the use, enjoyment, preservation and restoration of antique and classic vehicles. It started as a family organization with a small group of people and has grown over the years and now we have about 60 active family memberships.
In the early 1980’s our Club organized the first Central Newfoundland Meet in Gander, which continued for 15 years. This meet brought together car hobbyists from all over Newfoundland for a weekend of fun and relaxation.
In 1981 the Club held its first car show at Regatta Ford in St. John’s. This show was very successful and later would be known as the first annual car show. The Club held many shows at Regatta Ford before moving on. We tried such locations as Mount Pearl Arena, Fieldian Gardens and Brother O’Hehir Arena before discovering the St. John’s Curling Club. The Curling Club proved to be an ideal location with a comfortable sitting area next to the showroom. This was a luxury for many who had participated in the car shows held at different arenas where you spent your entire weekend on the concrete floors or sitting in the cold bleachers. The annual show was at the Glacier in Mount Pearl for a few years before in 2010 returning to the Curling Club or Remax Centre as it is now known. For the past number of years the club has moved to outdoor shows in Bowring Park.
The proceeds from the 1981 car show were donated to the Janeway Children’s Hospital. In 1982 the Club adopted the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, now known as the Easter Seal Society of Newfoundland and Labrador), as its main charity and we have donated the proceeds from our annual cars shows to them. Over the years the Club has continued to participate in numerous fund raising activities in support of various local charities like the Easter Seals and the Compass Shriners.
As well as donating the proceeds from our annual car shows to Easter Seals we try to do other activities to include the children from the Centre. Each summer we plan a Sunday afternoon cruise in our antique vehicles to Berg’s Famous Ice Cream parlour in Conception Bay South to treat the children to some ice cream. To our members this is just a small gesture, but to the children from the Easter Seals and their parents, it is something they truly enjoy and look forward to all year. The smiles on their happy faces make it a very rewarding afternoon.
Soon after the Club was formed the NACCC met with Motor Vehicle Registration to discuss antique plates. Motor Vehicle Registration was very much in favour of the Club and preparations began on legislation based on Club entry conditions to be submitted to the Provincial Government. In 1981 Newfoundland’s first antique auto plates were produced.
In 1984 the Club acquired a 1958 Land Rover from the Government of Newfoundland. It was donated to the Club for restoration and preservation as a piece of Newfoundland history. The Land Rover was originally driven by former Premier and Father of Confederation, Joseph R. Smallwood and was the first vehicle to drive across the province.
The vehicle needed extensive restoration. Many club members volunteered with the project and after six years of hard work the Land Rover was ready to be displayed. The Land Rover’s first showing was at our annual car show in June 1990. Joseph R. Smallwood was present at the unveiling of the Land Rover in 1990. It was truly an honour to have Mr. Smallwood in attendance and his presence added a little more to the history of the vehicle.
In 1989 our Club organized two car shows in Bonavista with the proceeds ($2,500) going to the Bonavista Health Care Complex. The money was used toward the purchase a 12-passenger vehicle for the disabled.
In 1989 our club also organized a 10th Anniversary run to Prince Edward Island. Twelve families toured Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick for two weeks. We were treated royally by the PEI Antique Auto Club, Moncton area clubs and Cape Breton Antique and Custom Car Club. We made many lifetime friends throughout the Maritimes on this tour.
In 1992 our Club was involved in the Cross Canada Confederation Tour celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Confederation. The tour of antique vehicles started at Mile 0 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and ended in Victoria, British Columbia.
In 2000 the National Association of Antique Automobile Clubs of Canada planned a Coast-to-Coast tour that ended in St. John’s on August 18th. Premier Tobin met the tour group at Paddy’s Pond overpass when they arrived. The Premier, driving the 1958 Land Rover, lead the group of approx. 200 antique vehicles to the Confederation Building, again adding a little to the history of this vehicle.
Our Club was involved in the planning of this seven-week tour that celebrated the millennium. We designed a T-shirt for this event that was presented to Tour participant, conducted tours of St. John’s and surrounding area and hosted the closing banquet. It was an exciting and memorable tour that we were proud to be a part of.
The year 2000 also marked the 20th Anniversary of our Club. To commemorate the anniversary we asked members to submit designs for a crest or pin. Member Dave Bouzane designed a ribbon crest that could be placed under the current crest. The crest was printed and presented to members in October. Dave Bouzane was presented a plaque in appreciation of his design.
The years 2001and 2002 were very successful years for the NACCC. We had record attendance at our annual car shows, which in turn meant record donations to Easter Seals.
In 2010 the NACCC helped organize a Coast to Coast Antique Auto Tour with approximately 125 antique vehicles with two or more family members per vehicle. The tour started in St. John’s on July 7th at Mile 0 and ended in Victoria, BC on August 21st. The opening banquet for the tour was held on July 6that Memorial University’s Gushue Hall.
In 2017 the NACCC is helping to organize the Newfoundland portion of another Coast to Coast Tour with approximately 200 vehicles, many that will be towing trailers and camping along the way. The tour is starting in Victoria, BC and will end on September 1st with a wheel dipping ceremony in Cupids and a closing banquet at St. Luke’s Anglican Hall in Port de Grave.
Over the past 30 years the Club has donated teddy bears to the Janeway Rehabilitation Centre to decorate their Christmas tree. The tree is located in the rehabilitation centre and as each child comes in for their last visit before Christmas they can take a bear from the tree to bring home. Each teddy bear has a tag saying it was donated by the NACCC. We also have the pleasure of helping the children decorate the tree with the bears.
Then on 2020 the COVID-19 Pandemic presented new challenges but the club continued on, even though we could not put off our annual show or meet in person. The club took to the internet as many organizations did to meet virtually once a month and touch base and have a chat. We are happy to say that this past summer in 2021 we were able to successfully put off car show and again make a donation to the Easter Seals.
This Club has survived for over 40 years due to the generosity and participation of its membership. The members are always willing and eager to help a fellow car enthusiast with a restoration project or volunteer their time to support a local charity. It is the spirit of the membership that will keep this Club going for many years to come.