British Columbia License Plates
Vintage International Antique Auto Show

Expo 86

Quick Links:
Expo 86 |  Vintage International Antique Auto Show

One of the events organised around the Expo 86 theme of "Transportation" was the Vintage International Antique Auto Show at BC Place Stadium between July 6-10, 1986.
According to John Carlson, the Show Chairman, the car show was a World Exposition first at the time.
In 1980, the British Columbia Government had made a request of the Vintage Car Club of Canada (Vancouver Chapter) to stage such an event. Over the next five years, "literally thousands of hours" were devoted to raising the necessary funds, making reservations, and obtaining the necessary permits to host the event.
Approximately 500 vehicles would be on display during the event, and these had been categorised into "Eras of Time" so that a complete cross-section of vehicles could be viewed beginning with the 1880s through to the 1980s.
The budget for the event would eventually top out around $500,000, with major sponsors including the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA), Government of British Columbia, Shell Canada Limited, Expo 86 Corporation and the Vancouver Chapter of the VCCC. It was expected that nearly 100,000 people would come through the gates of BC Place to see the exhibit:


One of the unique items presented to participants in the car show was a souvenir license plate incorporating the basic design elements of the new "Flag" base that had been issued to BC motorists over the course of the previous 10 months, but with some obvious modifications:
Above is a small "dash-plaque" that accompanied the larger plate (shown at left). These were also issued to participants in the Show.
Each plate displayed the same "EXPO 86" embossed serial along with a reference to the "Vintage International" (Antique Auto Show) and "Concours d'Elegance" along the top as well as the location of the show, being Vancouver B.C. at bottom-left.
What is a Concours d'Elegance you ask? Well, it derives from French and means a "competition of elegance" and dates to 17th Century French aristocracy who paraded horse-drawn carriages in the parks of Paris during summer weekends and holidays. Over time, carriages became horseless and the gatherings became a competition among automobile owners to be judged on the appearance of their automobiles.
These plates had no legal status and could not be used on the roads of the province in-lieu of lawfully issued plates from BC or elsewhere. What they did do was denote the stall within BC Place at which a particular car was being displayed through the inclusion of a stamped number between 1-500 in the decal box (found at bottom-centre).

Vintage International Antique Auto Show Licence Plate No. 214
The No. 214 & 216 plates shown at far left (top) appeared on eBay in May of 2005. These plates were issued to Stephen Apperley of North Battleford, Saskatchewan with the No. 214 being used on his 1949 Plymouth Convert, and the No. 216 on his 1916 Dodge Touring.

Shown at left (bottom) is a picture of the 1949 Plymouth Convert that was entered into the Antique Auto Show and comes from a publication that was prepared by the VCCC for participants of the event as a sort of guidebook to the vehicles on offer.

To view the entire copy of this guidebook, including a listing of the participants by stall number (which makes identifying plates very easy) as well photos of the cars themselves (where available), simply:


Gary Spicer Collection

Cars that registered late would have been found outside of the stadium and were given an un-numbered plate (such as the first plate shown above).
When the judging of the Auto Show took place, the total point system adopted by the Early Ford V8 Club of America, the Model A Ford Club of America, and several other major car clubs was used. The system worked on a 1000 point total deduction system, with all cars starting at 1000 points and judged by specific areas, like upholstery, external finish, etc. Points were deducted for incorrect parts and poor quality. Every vehicle that scored over 900 points was considered a First Place Vehicle, and therefore, received a Concours Award for their achievement.

Prototype / Souvenir License Plate
Despite the Concours plates supposedly being stamped with numbers between 1 to 500, there are higher numbers known to exist and are believed to have possibly been special orders with the number in the decal box area corresponding with the year of the car they were to be displayed on.
It is unknown how many of these plates may have been made and if they are to be considered legitimate in the same terms as those with numbers between 1 and 500 or are more akin to a souvenir plate?
It appears that these oddballs with the higher numbers were stamped with the '8' in '86' upside down, unless our eyes are deciving us?

Quick Links:
Expo 86   |  Vintage International Antique Auto Show


© Copyright Christopher John Garrish. All rights reserved.