Another wonderful image from Diane Sampson of a British cars cargo from the SS “Mostun” Vancouver January 24, 1959 . This is from the Vancouver Archives Collection.
The Mostun was from Belfast and travelled a route from Belfast to Chemainus on Vancouver Island. In the photo a Morris Oxford Estate is beside a Riley One Point Five , with a Hillman Husky and Hillman Minx sedans behind.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s British cars were the first to market a small car that was economical as well as reliable. That market was eventually replaced by Japanese cars in the late 1960’s.
The vehicles often had their wheels removed and stored inside the car, and then packed in wooden crates. This method allowed for more cars to be packed into the boat’s hold. There is a story of a ship fire in Vancouver harbour on the ship Dongeday in 1952 that was fuelled by the wooden crates. The City’s fireboat responded and got the fire out, but unfortunately also doused the cars with a whole lot of saltwater.
Surprisingly 22 of these waterlogged and damaged Austin automobiles were dumped into Burrard Inlet near Howe Sound. A customs officer oversaw the operation of these vehicles being loaded on a barge minus batteries and tires and then winched into the water.
Of course Vancouverites saw the opportunity, and a tugboat crew was found dragging the seafloor trying to find the vehicles. A story in The Sun admonished “The legal situation is ticklish. The cars have paid no duty…and ownership is still vested with the company that had them dunked.”
You can read more of this story on Jeff Peek’s “Austin Overboard” blog entry here on Haggerty.com
Images: VancouverArchives, JewishMuseum.ca, Haggerty.com