When most people want to show off their holiday spirit, they decorate their homes.
Elgin Park Secondary student Reilly Ouwerling decided to spruce up his car, instead.
Since Dec. 1, the 17-year-old has been catching more than a few looks from passersby, thanks to the fully-lit Christmas tree that he has strapped to the roof of his 1992 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon.
A car buff who is aiming for a career in the auto body field, Ouwerling already owned another Buick wagon – a white 1996 – and originally planned to use his wood-paneled ’92 as a parts car. But plans changed when he realized how much his new purchase resembled the family wagon driven by Chevy Chase in the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie, and decided to rig up the lighting – through a power inverter plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter – in an homage to the popular holiday film.
“I’ve kind of fallen in love with this one, so I thought I would just do something kind of festive and cool with it for the winter,” he said.
“It gets lots of looks, lots of thumbs up. I was just dropping my friend off at the airport today and there was a guy in the truck next to me, hanging out the window giving me a thumbs up with a huge smile on his face.”
Fixing up vehicles is nothing new for the teen. Last year, he split his Grade 11 school year between Elgin Park Secondary and Vancouver City College, where he started an auto body apprenticeship. That same year, at the urging of one of his instructors, he entered the Skills BC competition, where he won gold for his auto body and paint work. From there, he moved on to the Skills Canada national event in Halifax, where he won bronze.
As for what might happen to his festive cruiser once the holidays are over, Ouwerling was non-committal, saying he’s “not 100 per cent sure yet,” if he’ll keep it or his other similar – but less merry and bright – set of wheels.