Hot-rodder makes history with lifelong passion

Dave Boyce with his 1931 Ford coupe hot rod.  -
Dave Boyce with his 1931 Ford coupe hot rod.
— image credit:

Dave Boyce has owned 100 cars over his 74 years, but one of his favourites is in the ground.

It’s a rare ‘39 Pontiac convertible—a hot rod with a straight-eight engine, one of Boyce’s first cars and one of three his dad crushed and buried in a Richmond bog. His dad owned an excavation company.

Boyce would later witness another fit of his dad’s anger after a buddy parked his custom coupe near dad’s shop and left for a month-long job on a boat.

“We come home 30 days later off the boats and where was the car? Mom said dad got pissed off at it and hauled it to the dump,” said Boyce. “In those days you never thought of suing anybody, but my buddy could have sued my dad for that.”

The losses never deterred Boyce’s love for hot-rodding. Earlier this fall the Greater Vancouver Motorsport Pioneers Society honoured the lifelong Richmond resident for his efforts in preserving the history of motorsport in B.C. In handing out the Sandy Lovelace Award, the society recognized Boyce’s commitment to helping fellow auto enthusiasts.

Boyce got hooked on hot rods at age 13 when his neighbour told him he could have a 1932 Chevrolet coupe if he could get it running. Boyce spent all summer rebuilding the engine.

“I came home one day and got it running. It sure did smoke though, but I had it running.”

For Boyce—former owner of a local towing company for 29 years—hot rods are daily transportation. His current grocery-getter is a ‘26 Model T coupe.

Two heart operations in recent years have slowed him down, but Boyce hasn’t bowed out of the hobby. He has two hot rod projects on the go right now and still owns 11 cars.

Boyce has scoured many swap meets and fields for parts and new projects—including a Model A Ford he found in Bellingham. He bought the beater because it reminded him of a car he used to own. But once he rebuilt it and tried to register it, he was told the vehicle was already in his name.

Turns out it was the same vehicle he owned 30 years earlier and title had never been transferred.

“They all look the same,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that.”

His longtime attraction to hot rods isn’t about just motor oil.

“The people you meet are a lot of fun. I’ve never met a bad person in hot-rodding or old cars. Just a neat bunch of people. They’re not out to screw anybody.”

On fair-weather Thursday nights he still meets up with old car fans at Sea Island McDonald’s. And for would-be auto enthusiasts lucky enough to bend his ear for advice, he tells them to stop thinking about it and buy the classic car they’re dreaming of.

Said Boyce: “You’re going to have a lot of fun when you buy it and you’ll never lose your price on the dollar.”

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