Vintage truck no lemon

Oak Bay Home Hardware owner Greg Hellyer stands beside the classic 1959 Mercury panel truck that he is selling. The bright yellow truck parked outside is a familiar site to drivers passing by the Oak Bay Avenue store's location.

Oak Bay Home Hardware owner Greg Hellyer stands beside the classic 1959 Mercury panel truck that he is selling. The bright yellow truck parked outside is a familiar site to drivers passing by the Oak Bay Avenue store's location.

Oak Bay Avenue icon up for sale

The driver’s door sticks a bit, but when the engine fires up, the Mercury panel van sounds a lot younger than its 51 years.

That’s because the vintage yellow van parked in front of Oak Bay Home Hardware has a rebuilt 289 Ford engine.

Greg Hellyer, co-owner of the Oak Bay Avenue shop in Victoria, bought the former fire rescue truck five years ago from the municipality of Sarnia, Ont. for $5,000 shortly after he and co-owner Rick Cook opened the shop.

The Merc was loaded onto a company semi-trailer and shipped across the country. The van’s fire engine-red body was repainted yellow and Home Hardware’s original 1965 logo was painted on the door panels. Hellyer liked that the truck was Canadian – Ford produced Mercury trucks north of the border – that it could be used for deliveries and that it was good advertising.

“We’ve caught guys trying to crawl underneath and asking to look under the hood,” he said.

The truck has also been a fixture at the Blethering Place classic car festival the last four years.

But the van is now up for sale with a ticket price of $9,000. Hellyer said his younger employees have trouble with the four-on-the-floor stickshift and with the powerful motor.

“They’re a little bit afraid of it,” he said.

Hellyer has his eyes on another old beauty, a 1935 Ford pickup that’s been languishing on a Saskatchewan farm.

Since he placed an online ad for the Merc four weeks ago the phones have been ringing off the hook, he said, with enquiries from the Prairies and the Lower Mainland.

Hellyer said how much he misses the Merc will depend whether and how well the Ford works out. Cook said he’ll definitely miss the old truck with its gunmetal grey interior and pull- knob dash controls.

“When we drove down the street all kinds of people gave us the thumbs up.”

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com