Forgotten and Found – WHEELS.ca
For many Canadians, the northern parts of the Prairie provinces and British Columbia are a vast and mysterious land of forests, marshes and snow. For Matt Sager, it’s a place filled with classic and vintage cars just waiting to be rediscovered.
In “Lost Car Rescue,” now airing on History Canada, Sager and his team search for classic and antique cars and trucks in some of the most remote parts of the country. But instead of driving and hoping for the best, they took a different approach to spotting these hidden gems. They take to the air.
Behind the yoke of his 1948 Stinson plane, Sager and fellow pilot Jessica James arrive low over fields, forests and swamps, looking for a glint of chrome or the patina of rusty sheet metal. which marks a lost car in need of rescue.
“The view from a bird’s eye view was something no one had really done before,” Sager said. “It was a bit of a labor of passion just to fly, and then the cars started showing up.
“We probably see a hundred cars before we see one that really catches our eye, or is really rare, or rare in the automotive world,” Sager said. “But there are thousands of cars there. It’s really hard to believe for someone who doesn’t see it.
Body expert Dave Mischuk, who also appears on the show, said that while the land they seek out may be sparsely populated today, that wasn’t always the case.
“In Saskatchewan, for example,” he said, “at one time there was a farmer (and a family) on every quarter (160 acres) of land.”
Although many of these farms were later bought out or closed, “that’s where you find the cars,” Mischuk said. “We had a rich resource of families living in the areas we hunt now.”
For many, storing an old car on the property – along with the rest of the retired farm fleet – made more sense than hauling it to the nearest junkyard, which could be hundreds of miles away.
“We chase the bloodline or the family,” Sager said. “We are suing these families because they are the families who left the cars behind. So it’s where people lived that we’re really looking for.
A West Coast resident, Sager said he’s had “this bug for digging up relics” since he was about 10, while Mischuk worked in bodywork in Saskatchewan for 42 years.
“My mom claims I was born with a toy car in my hand,” Mischuk said.
The two started working together six years ago, after Sager found Mischuk while looking for vehicles to restore.
“I was on the hunt for cars. I had two days off,” Sager said. “We were for hours and hours on a country road leading to one of those remote towns we had been looking for. We ended up sleeping on the side of the road. We woke up in the morning and the sun was breaking the We pass by Dave’s house, and it was like a satellite dish shining.
“It was actually a car that Dave had on a hill, and the chrome of the car was shining in the morning sun and it was so cool,” he said. “We ended up getting along. First, go and it was one of those things where you knew it was going to be something more.
Spot the cars
What do you do when you spot a vehicle from your plane? The advantage of light aircraft is that you can just land and take a look. Aisle? Domain? No problem for Sager and James. But it’s not always that simple.
“I always approach it with the utmost respect. You don’t want to scare the animals and you don’t want to go down too low,” Sager said.
“There’s a way to approach being on top of someone’s farm or house, and I’ve never had a bad script. He was always greeted with wonder at what just happened,” he said. “’Why is a plane landing on my driveway?’ “Oh, were you the one buzzing on the farm?” Sometimes people joke about shooting us or something. (The joke) is not uncommon. But he has always met people (who) love that we do something that we are passionate about.
Sager said the people they meet in northern British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta are generally generous old souls, as well as family and community oriented.
“So if you approach them with that respect, they almost instantly welcome you into the family,” he said.
Mischuk said the car detection and rescue season starts early in the year, with spring being the best time to go because there are no leaves on the trees and the view of the ground from the air is wide open.
While some vehicles may be in a yard or even a barn, others need to be dug out of decades of neglect. This is where the rest of the “Lost Car Rescue,” featuring crane operator Lee Brandt and Sager’s brother, Steve, a mechanic, enter the scene. They also use a number of custom tools and vehicles to deal with the unique geography. “My brothers and I are rebuilding them all. There is a passion there to save anything,” Sager said.
“People just open a window into our lives. So I’m glad everyone is watching it, I think,” he said. “And, yeah, I think people will hopefully be inspired by what they see.”
“Lost Car Rescue” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on History Canada. It is also available to stream live or on demand on StackTV or the Global TV app.