I build things out of logs. I’ve done it all my life,” said Bryan Reid, Sr. And so when it came to raising money for veterans, he decided to build something different—a cedar car.
It was a one-time project for the founder and president of Pioneer Log Homes of B.C. in Williams Lake, B.C., and one of the hosts of the HGTV television program Timber Kings.
Working with mechanic Gerald Overton, also of Williams Lake, Reid proposed building a car, which could be sold to raise money for the local branch of The Royal Canadian Legion and other veterans organizations.
They built the Pioneer Cedar Rocket, a 1,000-kilogram electric car with a body carved from a single western red cedar log and the suspension of a Mazda sports car. Louis Horschel, a client of Reid’s from New York, joined the project to add turbines on the sides.
“I didn’t work on it full time, but it took about two years,” said Reid whose company specializes in building custom luxury log homes.
Once the Rocket was finished, Reid travelled with it in Western Canada and the United States. It appeared in the Williams Lake Stampede Parade, the Billy Barker Days Parade in Quesnel, B.C., and at Skyfest, Quesnel’s international airshow.
“The secret is to get noticed,” said Reid. “So, we took it to San Diego and all over.”
The real attention grabber was setting a Guinness World Record. “We got in touch with the Guinness people and set a record for speed in a cedar car. It will be up to someone else to try to break it,” said Reid.
The Guinness officials didn’t make it easy. He was required to complete two laps around a track within an hour and achieve a speed of at least 50 kilometres per hour. The record he set is 74 kilometres per hour.
After they toured the car and set the record, it was time to sell it. In January, Reid and Overton took the Rocket to Scottsdale, Ariz., and listed it in the world-famous Barrett-Jackson collector car auction.
There, the car sold for US$175,000. That buyer then told the auctioneer to sell it again and another buyer paid US$100,000. The second buyer donated it back again and it sold to a third buyer for US$75,000. The final figure was US$350,000 or approximately C$455,000.
Reid said the final buyer represented a museum in Virginia Beach, Va.
The earnings were split among veterans organizations, including the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation and Our Nation’s Heroes Foundation in the United States. In Canada, Reid and Overton presented a cheque for $90,000 to Williams Lake Branch of the Legion. The branch, in turn, sent $60,000 to British Columbia/Yukon Command for its foundation.
“I did it for the veterans,” said Reid. “I did it because I live in a free country.”