Growing up with a car dealership dad had its perks and pressures
Terry Friesen recalls being a 16-year-old high school student and being told by his car dealership dad to go to the airport and catch a flight to Toronto where his dad was waiting with a car and moving van he bought and had to bring back to British Columbia.
“He gave me $ 200 and a credit card and a crash course in how to drive a truck with a five-speed transmission and a two-speed axle and said goodbye to me,” Terry said. about his first trip across Canada. “The truck had an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon in the back.”
He remembers being reprimanded for not completing his high school homework and the teacher couldn’t believe why. The day before, after school, the 17-year-old had left his father’s Ford dealership in Abbotsford with an F100 pickup truck to drop off at a dealership in Kamloops. There he got another truck to drive to Penticton where he picked up a Ford Galaxie. He made it home in the wee hours of the morning: Route 1 through the Fraser Canyon, down the Okanagan and home above Hope-Princeton in one fell swoop.
His father, HD (Henry) Friesen, bought MSA Motors, now 70, a Ford Monarch dealership, in 1959. MSA stands for the Fraser Valley communities of Matsqui, Sumas and Abbotsford, one hour away. east of Vancouver. Henry Friesen was the ultimate wheel dealer. There were five boys in the family who each worked at the Henry Friesen dealership. On one occasion, 30 new cars were sold to a rental company in Terrace and some of the boys were enlisted to ferry the cars north.
Henry’s sons got access to amazing cars because the dealership had a high performance division. There is a photo of a 1970 Calypso Coral Mustang Boss 429 developing 375 horsepower that Terry Friesen rode when he was 14. Another photo shows his brother Dennis driving a 1970 Mercury Montego 428 demonstrator through Sumas Prairie.
“The store also allowed us to work on our own projects such as a 1965 Windsor-powered Mustang, a Boss 351 Mustang, a 1956 Ford F100 pickup truck, a 1940 Ford, a Lotus Cortina and a Mach 1 Mustang,” recalls Terry.
The boys learned to drive their father’s used cars on a vacant lot in front of the dealership on Fraser Way, then the Trans-Canada Highway through downtown Abbotsford. They also learned the art of selling. “My dad was always selling,” Terry says in his Abbotsford home, where he keeps a collection of vintage Ford vans and cars.
He recalls that in 1974, his father was driving a 1972 Ontario Mercury Marquis when he saw a 1966 Mercury that broke down near Brooks, Alta.
“He stopped to help, then sold the 1972 Mercury he was driving to the disabled motorist and took his car to the store. I had to fly to Calgary and drive a Bronco my dad bought in Saskatoon to tow the broken Mercury flat.
On another occasion, his father came out to talk to a man who was hitchhiking outside the dealership.
“My father traded the guitar that the man wore for a cheap Zephyr Zodiac he had in the back of his lot, ”said Terry. “My father took chickens, a church organ and even a Cessna plane to trade in vehicles. “
MSA Motors was founded by Peter Dueck in 1951. Dueck would later have a career as a member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia where he served as Minister of Health and Minister of Advanced Education. Henry Friesen had operated a used car fleet in New Westminster, then bought a motel in Penticton which he sold to Dueck for M.SA. Motors in 1959. It operated the dealership until 1985. MSA Ford is now located in the Fraser Valley Auto Mall.
Terry Friesen worked for his father’s dealership for six years after high school, running the gas bar and after-sales service. His brothers worked in the sales, service and parts departments.
“We drove some of the new cars. But we had to make money to buy our own cars, ”says Terry, adding that his first car was an unimpressive, rusty 1958 Ford 300 sedan that cost him $ 53.50. He would pursue a successful career in truck sales using sales skills learned from his father and the salespeople who worked for him.
Terry has a large collection of automotive memorabilia in his Abbotsford home and some cool classic Ford products in his garage. Among them is a 1957 Ford Custom 300, similar to the 1958 model he owned as a teenager. But this one is strongly modified to go very fast. Parked next to it is a 1950 Ford coach that could have been sold as a year-old used car at his father’s dealership.
The cool classics are its 1951 pickups. The Ford is a complete custom in green with pearly flames that was purchased in 1987. The Canadian-built Mercury pickup has modified mechanics for handling, but still looks a lot like this. that it was when it was used by the prairie farmer who carried grain with him. The sign on the door pays homage to the homestead of Terry’s grandfather in Saskatchewan.
This article was written by Alyn Edwards, vintage car enthusiast and partner of Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company, and was published by Conduct.