He may only build cars as a hobby, but the talents of this Langley Good Times Cruise-In regular have earned John Foxley – and his hot rods – international acclaim and front page coverage in some of the industry’s top roadster magazines through the years.
Foxley’s fascination with cars started at a young age, while building model cars. He quickly graduated to building custom bikes. From there, it wasn’t long before he was restoring and rebuilding his own cars.
Now, it’s a passion the 60-year-old Pitt Meadows man shares with his kids.
Foxley’s mother was quick to identify his passion for cars at a young age, first supporting his collection of dinky toy cars, and then Hot Wheels – as they came on the market.
“I was crazy for all that,” he recalled, but noted it was a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery that really changed his life.
At age seven, his mom took him to a hot rod show at the gallery.
“There were all these cool, custom cars being displayed in the art gallery, with a bunch of art on the walls and stuff like that… basically acknowledging that cars of this style are art,” he recounted.
That was 1968, and what Foxley calls a pivotal moment in his life.
“She didn’t realize what an impact it was going to have on me. But it did.”
“I just liked cars,” he said, noting there was no one person in particular who influenced him, but during the mid-1970s he frequently had his head buried in old – 1950s or ’60s – hot rod and custom car magazines gifted by a family friend.
Recognizing cars themselves as art, he said that gallery exhibition and all the magazines “really imprinted” on him and inspired him to ultimately start building cars of his own.
“The style that’s in style right now, as far as hot rods and customs, is basically very much a retro style from the time period of the ’50s and ’60s. That’s kind of the benchmark of style you go back to, to find out how you should build one of these cars… So I basically learned about all the cars that are popular now, way back in the day. They really imprinted on me. So, as I got older those older styles, which I learned about when I was really young… what I learned back then basically inspired me to build a bunch of cars in that style now.”
While Foxley has the skills and passion to build cars, and his efforts have won him accolades at Canadian and American custom car shows, it remains a hobby and not a career for the local car enthusiast.
He does, however, work in the automotive industry – putting signs and graphics on cars. While it doesn’t directly immerse him in the car building end of the business, he said he’s learned a lot of helpful tips about body work and painting of cars from his clients.
He’s rebuilt and customized numerous vehicles through the years, most of them cars from the 1930s to ’50s, but they’re rebuilt in a style from the late 1950s and 1960s.
For instance, he’s particularly proud of his 1939 two-door Mercury, which he’s planning to roll out for the Langley Good Times Cruise-In crowd this year.
Back in 2017, a friend decided to build a workshop instead of rebuild the car and asked Foxley to come and take a look.
“I wasn’t looking for one of these… it just sort of fell in my lap.”
He completed it in January 2020 and took it to the Grand National Roadster Show in California, where he placed second in “early custom,” and garnered a lot of press.
Similarly, he brought home another trophy from the Grand National Roadster Show the year before for his 1934 Ford coupe.
While he’s been taking his cars down to the show near Los Angeles for the better part of a decade, his custom work has been featured in major Canadian and American shows and enthusiast magazines for the better part of a quarter century.
All the attention is nice, but it’s one of the latest projects Foxley helped rebuild – almost from the ground up – that has won his heart. It’s a 1955 Chevy Bel Air two-door sedan that he rebuilt for and with his son, Jackson.
He discovered the Chevy, which he described as being in “very rough shape,” in North Vancouver. And during COVID the father and son spent countless hours completely rebuilding it, everything from the body and interior to engine needing to be redone.
“[Jackson’s] been around it his whole life, because I build cars for myself,” Foxley explained.
But now, his son is turning 16 in December and can’t wait to get his licence and get behind the wheel of his completed custom Chevy.
Foxley may be teaching his son a thing or two about cars. In fact, Jackson is now helping Dad customize a 1952 Chevy that he hopes to complete by year end and take down to the Grand National Roadster Show to debut it next February. But likewise, Jackson is teaching his father a thing or two about social media and cars.
The teen has created a YouTube channel and with videos highlighting hot rods, hoping to interest his generation in the hobby of custom car collecting and building.
The interest in car culture doesn’t end with the male members of the Foxley family. Dad describes it as a growing family passion. His wife and daughter also enjoy attending the various car shows and swap meets with them.
And now, his 14-year-old daughter, Jorja, is planning out the restoration work for her 1956 Chevrolet stepside pickup – the next project on Foxley’s books.
“She’s into it to. Being a young girl, she hasn’t done too much with cars so far. But she wants to work on her truck… it’s in a million pieces in an automotive pyramid, piled up.”
In the meantime, Foxley and his entire family are planning to be at Langley Good Times Cruise-In next weekend. He’s been at almost every one of the charity car shows for the past 15 years – a few times with his own vehicles, but most times as a spectator.
This time out, he’s bringing the Mercury, for sure. Plus, he said, it’s possible he’ll bring one of his other custom cars to exhibit – and of course he’ll bring the clan.
Langley Good Times Cruise-In is a charity car show held in downtown Aldergrove. This year, the event runs Saturday, Sept. 10, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the main drag blocked off and an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 classic, custom, and vintage cars expected to be on display.
More information and pre-registration available on the Langley Good Times Cruise-In website.
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