Since Father’s Day will be different this year with minimal family gatherings and no car shows, we’ve decided to do a Father’s Day feature on Ottawa Car Scene. We want to show our appreciation for some of the fathers in the Ottawa car scene by featuring a few local families who share this passion together as a family and who have passed along this love of cars to the next generation.
We talked to five sons of three local car dads to get some perspective on what influence their dads have had on their current passion.
This article features the Leary family. The patriarch, Rick, a career master mechanic for General Motors, has been involved in cars since he was young. He has rescued, collected, and built, some truly unique and well-known vehicles. He has influenced many a hot rodder, young and old, in and around the Ottawa area over the years. Rick and his wife Heather have twin boys, Jared and Josh. You would think with young twin boys your life would be busy enough but it didn’t slow Rick and Heather down. It just prompted Rick to build a 1939 Ford Deluxe as a family hauler to fit them all in. We spoke to Jared and Josh about their dad Rick and how his passion has influenced them.
Rick in the Winners circle in Syracuse with his 1929 Pontiac. Credit: Paul Psutka
We asked his sons to describe their dad. One of his sons says,” My Dad (Rick) is a pretty cool guy. He’s in his mid sixties and raised my brother and I in Almonte Ontario. He’s been a lifelong gearhead and is revered and respected within the Ottawa area car community.” The other son tells us “Rick is kind of the “go to guy” in the Ottawa valley. There’s nary an automotive problem he can’t solve it seems. His repertoire of cars he built and worked on ranges from Jared’s unique 1968 Vauxhall to a 1989 Lamborghini Countach”. Rick is also an awesome grandpa to a beautiful little girl who has him wrapped around her little finger.
Credit: Paul Psutka
Cars, namely street rods have been a central focus of this family’s passion for the boys’ entire lives. When they were quite young, Rick began building a 1939 Ford Deluxe 2 door sedan. The transformation of that car was a central project of their formative years. Leary family vacations weren’t typical camping trips or trips to the beach, it was long hours on the road going to car shows all over the United States and Ontario with mom and dad. They learned at an early age to respect other people’s machines, not to touch other people’s property and to keep negative comments to themselves. It was these family trips that ignited a life long passion for cars and car shows. It might have been some of the great cars they got to travel around in too! Jared recalls one occasion in particular where his dad took them for a ride in his black 1963, 2 door Impala with a 409 and a posi. The big car was fishtailing all over the place and Jared was giggling like crazy in the back seat. He muses that this might also have been the spark that lit the passion for cars for him.
Rick’s 1939 Ford Deluxe. Credit: Roger McGetchie
Jared’s most vivid car memory with his dad was when he and his Dad retrieved a model A truck from a barn where it was stored. Rick subsequently passed this truck down to him. He also has many fond memories of wandering junkyards with his dad looking for automotive treasures to complete one build or another. Josh’s earliest memory is hearing a big V8 rumbling down the road to signify dad was home. The family car that stands out the most from his childhood was a blue on blue 1987 Caprice.
1931 Model A truck that Rick and he rescued and Rick subsequently passed down to Jared. Credit: Jared Leary
Jared’s most cherished memory and rewarding project was when he and Rick rescued Jared’s 1968 Vauxhall Viva from a barn in 2010. They worked together to get it mobile and road legal. Another father son moment that stands out was the first time Jared brought his 1931 Ford Model A truck into the States on a trip. The look of pride on his dad’s face when they were parked together in Burlington Vermont was a memory he will have forever.
Jared’s 1968 Vauxhall Viva when they rescued it. Credit: Jared Leary
Josh tells us, the best advice he received from his dad was never be afraid to walk away. He says, this is advice he should have heeded when he purchased a basket case 1957 Pontiac. His brother, Jared, tells us the best advice he received from his dad was to be methodical when diagnosing a problem and to not make assumptions.
Rick Leary in a familiar position. Credit: Jared Leary
One of Josh’s favourite recent family moments was when he announced that he and Jared were planning on doing the Cannonball run. He tells us “Dad was wary of the obviously stupid idea but still helped us build the car and was low key excited about the endeavor”. They did head out last year in the 1989 Caprice knowing they have enough combined experience to overcome any hiccups along the way and also have the best tech support, Dad, only a phone call away. But that is another story.
Josh’s 1989 Chevrolet Caprice. Credit: Jared Leary
We asked the boys if their dad’s preference in cars influenced them as adults. Josh says he does prefer GMs like dad but, that is where their similarity in taste ends. While Rick’s preference leans heavily towards the classic street rod “raked” stance, Josh prefers a lowered ride with wide fat tires of the same size for handling. Jared says his dad’s influence has made him love all cars. He says, he is not a muscle car guy, or a tuner guy, but a true car guy. He loves them all but with his dad’s passion for hot rods, he confesses to a preference for hot rods.
Rick at the Almonte Canada Car Show with his 1929 and Jared and Joshs unique rides on display. Credit: Roger McGetchie
Having a dad like Rick with his knowledge and experience sure has helped fuel this passion for these boys. The many hours they spent watching and learning from Rick has saved them much frustration and money. Both boys seem to always have a project of some type on the go. Both of them, chips off the old block it seems. They wrench on their own cars and have collected a few unique and very cool rides of their own.
Two of the Leary rides, Jared’s 1931 Model A and Ricks 1929 Pontiac at Carleton Place cruise night. Credit: Jared Leary
This is a true car family and you will quite often find both the boys hanging out with Rick and Heather at various car shows locally and, in the US, many times with his granddaughter in tow. If you come across the Leary “camp” in Vermont, New York, or at many shows locally, stop by and check out their unique rides and family comradery.
The Leary family display at the Almonte Canada Day Show. Credit: Roger McGetchie
Happy Father’s Day Rick and thanks for all you do! Happy fathers’ day to Josh too and keep on sharing the gift of your inherited passion for all thing’s car.
Three generations of Leary. Credit: Josh Leary