A photograph of the pedal car first gifted to Langford resident Don Bernadin on Christmas Day in 1952. (Courtesy of Adrian D’Silva)

‘It was in rough condition’: Vintage toy car gets new life by Oak Bay man

Christmas gift from 1952 restored to original look, given to Jeneece Place

Underneath the Christmas tree at Jeneece Place, a home where families stay while their kids are being treated at Vic General Hospital, sits a toy pedal car with a lifetime of memories.

More than 65 years ago, Don Bernadin received a brand-new toy pedal car from his mother on Christmas Day 1952. The Langford resident played with the car for years, and after growing out of it, he ended up passing it down to his children.

Once his kids grew up, they passed it onto their kids and the car made its way through many relatives over the following decades.

But sooner than later, time had flown by and the car ended up back in Bernadin’s possession, collecting dust in his garage for the past 20 years.

That’s when he heard of Adrian D’Silva, an Oak Bay man restoring similar cars, selling them, and donating the cash to Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.

READ MORE: Antique pedal car restoration rolls on for charity

ALSO READ: Refurbished antique pedal cars raise cash for Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island

“It was in rough condition,” D’Silva said. “You could clearly tell there had been so many years of kids driving it around, bashing it and beating it up. The horn didn’t even work anymore.”

D’Silva and his wife, Tracey, began a full makeover on the toy car. They began by smoothing out the body with filler and sanding it down. But they came to a bump in the road when they couldn’t locate specific pieces for the pedals, originally from Tri-Ang, a British toy company that was sold in 1971.

That’s when D’Silva had an idea.

“We realized we couldn’t make any money from this repair, so we decided to donate it to Jeneece Place for the next generation,” D’Silva said.

A year after first getting their hands on the toy, the pedal car has transformed from blue to a Christmas green and is filled with nearly 100 Hot Wheels.

“The pedals don’t work, but it’s something we’re glad we could donate to the next young one to play with and enjoy.”


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