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Barney Vinegar

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  • Barney Vinegar

    Prominent Studebaker restorer Barney Vinegar of Vancouver, BC passed away April 23, 2023

    Barney’s museum

    Alyn Edwards talks with an 88-year old on an altruistic mission
    • Vancouver Sun
    • 3 Apr 2015
    • ALYN EDWARDS Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company.
    ALYN EDWARDS Barney Vinegar shows off the ultrarare 1958 Packard Hawk he restored after buying it in Texas.
    The 88-year-old has a warehouse crammed full of 60 classic cars and trucks, and is concentrating on restoring rows of classic Studebakers with this in mind:

    “They don’t make these anymore and I would like to see these Studebaker cars and trucks preserved for the next generation.”

    But why would he have two identical Maui Blue 1952 Studebaker Commander convertibles?

    “I thought I would have twins,” he says with a grin, looking at the nearly completed frame-off restoration of one.

    The backstory is he bought the first blue convertible, then saw a similar car sell at a Toronto auction for $73,000. He knew of another convertible being offered locally for less than half the auction price.

    “The owner didn’t know one of these had sold for $73,000, so I said I’d take it.”

    He then tore it apart and spent a king’s ransom restoring it from the ground up.

    In a similar vein, he paid $43,000 for an ultrarare 1958 Packard Hawk and had it shipped from Texas. He redid everything, including the installation of the correct supercharged V8 engine, and put it back together again.

    There were only 588 of this model manufactured in the last year of Packard production and his is one of just seven with single headlights instead of quads.

    “It’s the last year for Packard, there isn’t another one of these cars in Canada and it’s now a thing of beauty,” he says with pride.

    The fabled bullet-nosed Studebakers were manufactured for only the first two years of the 1950s. Vinegar has six, coupes and convertibles among them.

    “Whenever I would see them for sale, I would buy them sight unseen,” he says. “Half of these cars came out of junkyards.”

    There are even more bulletnosed Studebakers among a group of parts cars behind his warehouse alongside a highway running into Richmond.

    His collection includes a beautifully restored first-year 1963 Studebaker Avanti, along with a yellow Studebaker pickup truck.

    His “museum” features three Model A Fords, including a roadster, a red 1957 Thunderbird parked beside a two-tone blue 1926 Studebaker roadster and a Canadian-built 1938 McLaughlin Buick sedan. He also has a 1938 Chrysler Royal sedan.

    The hood is up on a lovely dark blue 1951 Mercury sport sedan with first-year available automatic transmission. Vinegar is charging the battery.

    “I bought it and backed it in here maybe 15 or 20 years ago,” he says. “A lot of these cars, I never started working on.”

    He has his own parts department with many rare Studebaker pieces bought online from all over North America. He references books and online sources to organize his restorations.

    He is working on a first-year 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk. He also has a 1957 model with the supercharged engine.

    “I usually have five cars apart and I go from car to car doing work so I’m not waiting for parts,” he explains.

    A dark blue 1947 Studebaker Starlight coupe rests under a car cover. The restoration is nearly finished, but it hasn’t been touched in quite a while.

    “I paid eight or nine thousand for it. My son says, ‘You’re crazy.’ But I go to a car show and some guy wants $35,000 for the same car,” he rationalizes.

    Vinegar was raised in a Jewish immigrant family in Andover, N.B. He always loved cars. At the age of 13, he bought a Model T Ford from the farmer next door. He took it apart, fixed it and learned to drive it.

    “You could buy a car for $5 in those days and my next car was a 1934 Chevrolet two-door,” he recalls.

    Always the entrepreneur, he got into the oil business, spreading waste oil from a refinery in Fort St. John on northern dirt roads to keep the dust down. That included a 1,600-kilometre stretch of the Alaska Highway.

    That business became Vinoco Oil, supplying car dealerships, repair shops and oil-change companies through dealers in B.C. and Alberta. He eventually sold out to a larger oil company.

    On a trip to Toronto, his brothers showed him a new idea for a parts washer — basically a kitchen sink on a drum with an electric pump and hose to clean parts with recirculating solvent.

    He got the sinks from the company pressing them in Detroit and began assembling two sizes of parts washers in Vancouver. He soon had 500 rented out to service garages throughout the Pacific Northwest at $20 and $30 a month. Vinegar was bought out by Laidlaw International and he retired at 65. He had bought five old cars, including a 1923 Buick touring car, 1924 Chevrolet and 1929 Pontiac — antique cars he still owns — to take to shows to promote his oil business.

    Once fully retired, he got the car auction bug and started stocking his warehouse with antiques and classics that piqued his interest. Many are Studebaker products.

    His location is more like a clubhouse where fellow seniors come regularly to work on the cars and others occasionally drop by to see them.

    “There are lots of guys who are retired who like old cars. They come in and work on the cars, and I buy them lunch. We like to go for sushi.”

    Vinegar is the only one who drives his cars, along with his two sons who live within a few blocks of his south Vancouver home. His car of choice is most often his pristine silver 1966 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport convertible.

    Always the entrepreneur, Vinegar became perplexed by the spark plug wires loosely hanging over the valve covers dangerously close to the hot exhaust manifolds on the 396-cubic-inch engine powering his 1968 Chevelle Super Sport.

    Vinegar is in his warehouse shop every weekday during business hours.

    “I come in the morning and talk to all the old people who stop by and I invite them to see my cars,” says Vinegar, who turns 89 next month.

    But his focus is on interesting the younger generation in historic automobiles.

    “They don’t make cars like this anymore. Someone has to show them what they are all about and that’s what I like to do,” he says.
    Last edited by TX Rebel; 04-23-2023, 04:48 PM.
    Barry'd in Studes

  • #2
    Sad news! They don't make guys like that anymore!


    • #3
      Sorry to hear about Barney's passing, for sure!

      I first met Barney and his son, Irwin at a zone meet in The Dalles, Oregon in 2000, and met up with them again in 2005 in Spokane at the International Meet. Both excellent promotors for the Studebaker marque.



      • #4
        My wife and I met Barney at the Vancouver Concourse in 2016. Where we made it (luckily) in our '63 Avanti R2 and we were parked right next to Barney. It was a wonderful weekend and I enjoyed listening to Barney talk about anything he liked from cars, to buying cars, investing, and life in general. Definitely "One-of-a-Kind". He lived a full life.