Twelve-year-old Arjun Mann keeps asking his dad when they can start spit polishing their 1971 Mercedes 250, in preparation for the upcoming Langley Good Times Cruise-In.
He’s so excited, explained the boy’s father, Harnek (Nick) Mann.
The Aldergrove father and son have been working to repair the engine on their 51-year-old car for three years, and even though they’ve been attending Cruise-In since Arjun was two, this is the first time they’re actually able to bring the car to the charity car show.
In fact, they were the first to register for this year’s Cruise-In.
“That I did not know,” Mann said. “But I’ve been keeping an eye on [the website], waiting, so I could register.”
While he’s been persistent in his checks, he didn’t expect to be first out of the gate, and was looking forward to sharing the news of that distinction with his son, “glad it worked out that way.”
They will receive the coveted #1 registration card that is displayed on the windshield of their car. Show president Riccardo Sestito admits there’s often a big of a competition between car owners to be first.
“Some guys, that’s their thing. It’s their jam. They want to be first,” said Sestito. “They collect their registration cards.”
A few hundred vintage, classic, and custom cars are already registered for the 2022 show coming to Aldergrove’s town centre on Saturday, Sept. 10, but Sestito admits registration got off to a slow start this year because of some technical difficulties with their website.
But the basics have been ironed out, and the website is operational again – although it’s only open for vehicle registrations. In the meantime, other inquiries and information are being posted to the Cruise-In Facebook Page, as other information is being added back to the website.
The numbers of vehicles registering has been climbing, Sestito said, especially in the past week, since the website was restored and the Langley Advance Times/Aldergrove Star published a story confirming the 2022 event was going ahead.
Like many, Arjun is reportedly counting down the days until Cruise-In.
“My son is super excited. I’m excited. We even got a little model car to put on top of it – that we ordered from Mercedes Benz,” Mann shared.
“In fact, we’re all pretty excited,” said Dad, noting his six-year-old daughter Jasmin is starting to show interest in the car and attending car events.
The family will be taking the car out to its first ever show the weekend ahead of Cruise-In, a B.C. show and shine at the Mercedes dealer in Langley.
Then it’s Cruise-In, which Mann joked was moved to his backyard (Aldergrove) a few years back to make it more convenient for his family to attend. Mann has actually been at a spectator at Cruise-In for more than 15 years, loving the chance to meander around and look at so many cool vehicles and to learn the restoration stories that go along with so many of them.
But to be honest, he said, the car shows and the acquisition of an old car of their own was more about creating and cherishing father-and-son time.
“It’s a big thing for me and my son, we go every year,” said Dad. “We go to as many car shows a year as we can. We don’t miss the big truck shows. It’s father-and-son bonding time.”
Mann has loved working on cars since he was a teenager, himself – originally considering a career as a mechanic before settling into a position as a bus driver.
He’s been a hobbyist mechanic through all the years, but a man without a project until a few years ago. Unexpectedly, his cousin was faced with moving and had to get rid of the cream-coloured, four-door sedan – he had the choice of giving the car to Mann or selling it for scrap.
His cousin gifted him the car and the work began.
“It’s still a little bit of a working project – we had to change the engine, it was seized. Finding parts are not that easy for a German car that old,” Mann said, other than that, the vehicle was “mint.”
“That’s the fun part of having a car, working on it yourself. My son helped me. He’s really into it,” Dad said, adding it’s always difficult to carve out time to work on it around all of life’s other responsibilities.
“Time is the hard part, and getting permission from the wife. That’s a big one,” he chuckled.
They got it running last fall, and while his wife has yet to drive it, she’s working up her nerve to get behind the wheel of the older car. For now, though, she seems to be getting into the car culture too, enjoying going for drives and meeting up with other car enthusiasts and their families.
Despite the incessant pleas from his son, Mann said the pair are not expected to actually start cleaning and prepping their car for the shows for a few weeks yet.
“When do we start cleaning the car Dad, when?” Arjun repeats frequently.
Mann answers, “A couple days before. There’s no point in cleaning it now.”
That said, Arjun isn’t the only one psyched about the show. Mann made sure to get his shift covered at work, saying this is a huge priority for him.
“It’s enjoying the cars, for sure. But it’s a lot for about father-son-daughter time, which is a very big thing for us. It’s something everyone should consider doing.”
Asked what the next project might be, Mann hopes he can one day in the future find a 1969 Dodge Charger, a car he’s sure his son will love.
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