Story by Alyn Edwards
Stew Young was so smitten with cars as a teenager, he worked two jobs so he could afford to buy his dream vehicle.
By day, he managed a mobile home park. As the sun set, he was night manager of Dairy Queen.
The object of the then 19-year-old’s affection was a slightly used 1979 Lotus Esprit, a very fancy sports car in its day and worth all the extra work.
Today, as a co-owner of the Alpine Group of Companies and Mayor of Langford for the past 25 years, buying a collectible or classic car doesn’t require night work. But Stew Young is still pursuing his dreams.
His current interest is a very rare, early muscle car in the form of a 1966 Mercury Comet Cyclone GT — chosen as the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car that year. Mercury produced only 2,158 Comet Cyclone GT convertibles for the 1966 model year and only 100 of them were designated as official Indy pace cars. They were all Cardinal Red with parchment interiors, and featuring 335 horsepower engines.
Stew Young’s Mercury is nearing completion of a three-year-long restoration in his own shop — Alpine Hot Rods and Classics.
|Langford Mayor Stew Young is a collector and restorer of classic cars including his 1956 Buick Riviera Super. View of front bumper and grill on the Buick. Don Denton photography|
His stable of classics also includes a 1969 Chevelle SS with a high-performance engine, a 1963 Chevy II SS convertible and a fully optioned 1956 Buick Super Riviera that even has factory air conditioning.
“I remember my grandfather had a red and white 1950 Buick Special,” Stew says. “And my dad had some interesting cars, like a 1955 Nomad and several Pontiacs, which he always kept in good shape.”
His passion for motorized vehicles from the classic era doesn’t stop with cars. He tows his beautifully restored 1957 Century Coronado mahogany speedboat with a customized 1951 Mercury pickup truck.
He showed it off at this summer’s 7th annual Langford Show and Shine, which sees Langford’s main street shut down for the day so up to 300 classic and collectible vehicles can line the pavement.
Stew’s Alpine Group started as a small trucking and garbage pickup company and quickly grew to include many automotive-related businesses. It includes the hot rod and custom shop, retail repair shops, tire stores, welding, paint shops, transmission shops and a machine shop that builds racing engines.
|Langford Mayor Stew Young is a collector and restorer of classic cars including his 1956 Buick Riviera Super. View of front dash in the Buick. Don Denton photography|
He also owns a Mercury Marine dealership, so maintaining his classic boats isn’t a problem. In 1999, he won an offshore race and still holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Vancouver Island — 15 hours and 10 minutes.
When the US recession hit a decade ago, Stew saw the opportunity to buy classic cars in the US to restore and sell.
“We pretty well have everything covered to fix and build cars,” he says. “There are 15 mechanics working in our group and we always share the work around. I get three opinions from my hot rod mechanics before I buy a car. I try to be a very careful buyer.”
He is now working with Al Clark to ensure Langford is part of the huge Deuce Days Show to be held in Victoria next July with 1,300 hot rods driven by owners from all over the world.
“I want to ensure all these cars drive around our central fountain as part of the Poker Run,” he says with his mayor’s hat on. “That will be quite a show for all our residents”.
|Langford Mayor Stew Young is a collector and restorer of classic cars including his 1956 Buick Riviera Super. View of front passenger side fender and wheel on the Buick. Don Denton photography|