The English Cabinet maker in Victoria, BC, had to close up shop temporarily as many businesses did during the height of the Coronavirus, but that didn’t mean Paul hasn’t been hard at working during this time. He’s been building and restoring his 1928 Reo Speedwagon in order to bring a little piece of history back to life and has been attracting quite a bit of attention with his old (newly restored) Reo. This has been thanks to COVID that he’s had the time and energy to invest in it. It has been a longtime project spanning over the last 3 years, so finally seeing it completed has been a moment of pride for Paul. The Reo didn’t always look like it does now, it started out in life as a flatbed truck but that didn’t work for Paul, “You can’t deliver beautiful furniture in an open truck” You need a van
Paul has always admired the Panel trucks from the 1920s but was not able to find one for sale. So he thought, I’m a Cabinet maker, I can build one. From there the idea grew, and he was on the hunt for a 1920s truck ( much to the dismay of his wife Martha). Most “Woody” panel trucks are Model A Fords but there was nothing available for sale. Then, when browsing the old car ads he found a Reo Speedwagon for sale in Sidney, not far from his home. As soon as he saw it he was in love and new that it was the one.
He could see the finished truck with the wood paneling, all he had to do was build it.
And so started the work or as Paul would say, the fun. The new longer roof was the most time consuming, made in the traditional way with thin strips of wood and then covered with stretched cotton canvas. After that was done the rest of the project came together very well. Paul says, These old trucks were generally made from white Oak but with all the rain we get in Victoria he wanted something longer lasting so he used Ipe wood from south America.
Although Martha (the English Cabinet maker’s wife) sees the beauty of paul’s new passion, she thinks it’s a rackety old thing that keeps breaking down.
Reo made trucks and cars from 1905 to 1975 and had a reputation for being tough, reliable vehicles. The 1928 speedwagon was faster and could carry more weight than the competition at the time, And was also the inspiration for the band REO Speedwagon.
Paul says, he gets lots of waves and smiles as he’s motoring around Victoria but driving an old vehicle demands more concentration than a modern one. So if you wave hi and he doesn’t wave back, please don’t take offence, it’s because he has his hands firmly clasping around the steering wheel.