When Autofest attacks

This past weekend Auto|One Group was at Autofest in Oshawa. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I feel bad for you. It is one of the largest classic car shows in Canada. Oshawa is a large GM town, they have been building cars in Oshawa for as long as Canada has had trees… maybe not quite that long but close. Oshawa has always built GM vehicles and is home to some of the busiest and largest plants in North America.

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As you would expect there were lots of classic General Motors products at the show, both stock and otherwise. Auto|One Group brought two vehicles. One was a 1959 Oldsmobile that rolled off the Oshawa assembly line at the number two plant in march of 1959. The other car we brought was a 1970 Alfa Romeo 1750 sports car. We like to shake it up a bit and thought it would be nice to bring a rare import, guessing that nobody else would- we were right.

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Mother Nature loves classic cars, it’s a fact that has been proven by science. She gave us sunny skies and nice warm weather for the all the cars to bask in. Speaking of which there were close to 1,500 cars in attendance. We are not talking about low end clunkers that came from someone’s barn, yes there were some there. We are talking about high dollar restored vehicles; hot rods, muscle cars, rat rods, lead sleds and original classics. Everything from an original 1904 ford up to a 1,000 horsepower Chevy was in attendance.

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The show essentially takes over the city for the weekend. Make no mistake about it, Oshawa loves it’s motors. These guys work there hands to the bone during the day so they can work on there pride and joy at night. They want them just right, whether that is the right stance, paint, motor, interior or look they don’t care. Oshawa breeds a type of car guy that does not stop customizing/modifying there car until it is perfect. want proof? look at the picture below LOOK HOW BIG THAT MOTOR IS!

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This also needs a special tribute. What started as a Pontiac is now chopped, channeled, shaved, painted and amazing!

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Friday night is a cruise in downtown Oshawa, this shuts down the core of the city. Saturday and Sunday approximately 30,000 people flood to the park at the foot of Lake Ontario to see the cars. There are two entrances to the show and people are lined up for kilometers at either entrance watching cars enter and exit the show. It is a spectacle to be seen.  Our booth was located along the main corridor of the show. We would sit in lawn chairs at night and watch the cars leave the show. What an amazing experience!

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Lots of awards were given out and Cruise nationals was on hand to present the awards for best truck, station wagon, hot rod, paint, etc…. This was also the final stop on the Cruise nationals tour. All winners from this event are considered to be champions and invited to the Canadian International Auto Show in February so the competition was stiff.

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the awards being handed out. Note man and machine, together in harmony.

At Auto|One Group we love classic cars. They are as individual as we are. We love seeing the rare gems come out, the oddball customs and the wild cruisers. We believe that each car is a direct representation of there owner’s taste and style. How can you look at these cars and not want to meet the characters who drive them? We can’t wait for the next classic car show to see more of these fantastic individuals (and there drivers). One more picture of a car to hold you until then….

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Old School technology that needs to come back!

Progress – coupled with technology – is a beautiful thing. It changes the way we live on a daily basis. It makes our lives easier, safer, simpler and faster. The same can be said for cars. We live in a world where our car can tell us if we are drifting into another lane, how long we have before we need an oil change and even where to turn to find the next Starbucks. What cool features have been killed off in the name of progress and technology? I give some old school vehicle features that need to come back…now!

the hand crank can stay in the past….

Pop-up head lights:

We’ve all seen old Pontiac Firebirds driven by men in sleeveless denim shirts, sporting mullets and a handlebar moustache (or is it just my recollection?). Their cars appear to be winking at other drivers because the pop-up headlight motor has died on one side. They look funny and make the car’s general appearance comical. What about the drop-dead gorgeous cars that wear the pop-up headlights? Porsche’s slant-nosed 911s? Ferrari 456? Mazda Rx7s? Stunning cars – this is not debatable, it’s a fact. How different would they look with conventional headlights? What would happen to their sleek and aerodynamic styling?

T-tops:

Again, I am going to refer back to Billy-Bob driving his Pontiac fire-chicken. For those of you who don’t know what a T-top is, I feel sorry for you, because you have never seen Smokey and the Bandit. A T-top is only found on a two-door car and features two removable glass sections, one above the driver and one above the passenger. These are awesome because you can let your hair blow in the wind and still have the rigid structure of a fixed roof. Datsun 280s had them. Cameros and Firebirds? Ditto. And Porsche and Ferrari had the Targa: similar, except the whole roof comes out.

7-band equalizers:

My grandfather’s original Toyota Supra had a 7-band equalizer finished in brushed aluminum. I remember thinking I was sitting in a jet plane looking at all of those knobs and dials. Yeah, you can just toggle through your stereo interface and keep the dash looking “cleaner”, but think of the children! Think of the children!! They look so cool and intricate. Love that feeling when you get in a car and there are foreign buttons not immediately recognizable – it forces the passenger to respect the driver and the car that much more.

Swivel-out seats:

Luxury sports cars in the 1950s and early 1960s had these. You’re a tall person, or you have a hard time bending down. You want a sports car, but because of the aforementioned ailments, you have a hard time getting in and out. Swivel-out seats swivel out of the car and angle towards the street when the door opens. Essentially, they make for much better ergonomics when entering and exiting. Also, imagine your car seat coming out to great you when you get in? It’s like the waiter is constantly there to pull out your seat. Thanks, Alfred!

So…did I miss any? What cool technologies from today will fall by the wayside tomorrow?

007’s Other Rides

I was sitting in our 2007 Aston Martin last night at work. Alone, with the lights appropriately dimmed after a long day at work. I did what anyone who slips into the leather- and wood-wrapped interior of an Aston Martin must do: I pretended to be James Bond. Albeit a slightly heavier set, disheveled James Bond with much less charm, to be honest.

Aston martin is synonymous with James Bond. The franchise has been intertwined (for the most part) for the past 50 years. Both are regal, sophisticated, dangerous and mysterious…and both wear their British heritage on their sleeves. I thought to myself: there must be other Bond cars. Lesser known cars. Unloved Bond cars. Bond can’t drive amazing cars all the time, he needs to show some respect to the taxpayers! Lets show some love to the lesser known Bond cars.

Car: 1962 Sunbeam Alpine

Movie: Dr. No

In the movie Dr. No (same name I called my dad when he would not let me do anything fun), James Bond drove this 1.6-liter 4-cylinder British sports car. Eighty horsepower, 2200 pounds of torque, top speed of 160 kmph, 0-60 mph in 13.4 seconds – respectable numbers. Small and nimble, these cars were successful race cars on both sides of the pond. Apparently, they used it because it was the only British sports car available during filming. Unfortunately, Sunbeam went through some hard times, was bought by Chrysler and saw its brand diluted to sad and offensive cars. RIP Sunbeam.

Car: 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7

Movie: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

This is what James Bond would drive if he were American. Its just as sporty as its Ford Mustang sibling, but more luxurious, mature and refined. Powered by a massive 7-litre, 8-cylinder engine, these cars were great for burnouts, loud noise and sketchy cornering. Imagine having a boat-anchor weight between your front wheels. These were built during the time where engineering a motor meant you needed to make it larger to go faster. If James Bond was American and Corvettes were scarce, this is the car he would drive. Mercury is also no longer with us because Ford went upscale and Lincoln got cheaper… paving the way for Mercury to throw in the towel.

Car: 1974 AMC Hornet

Movie: The Man With The Golden Gun

The 1970’s are widely regarded as the dark ages of the automotive industry. Oil embargo’s, recessions, 5 m.p.h bumpers, pollution control and people starting to notice shoddy quality all contributed to amazing cars getting neutered or snuffed out altogether. American Motors struck the deal with the filming company as part of a product placement program: “James Bond drives an AMC, so should you!” It really turned out to be, ”James Bond Drives an AMC, sucks to be him!” Like I said, these cars were not all bad, just a victim of current affairs. Ultimately, AMC survived another 13 years largely on the laurels of the Jeep brand. Chrysler bought them from Jeep, and folded the AMC.

Car: Citroen 2cv

Movie: For Your Eyes Only

Easily the car with the most character on this list, also my favorite. This was one of the longest production runs of any car 1948-1990. This car has existed in the same escargot form for 42 years and managed to still be relevant. The best part? The 2cv never made more than 29 horsepower. The 2cv has been used all over the world and was especially popular in Africa and South America where its solid build and comfortable handling was suited to rough roads in developing counties. Bonus marks for having a box style 2 cylinder engine that is air cooled. James Bond loves unique engines of all sizes! Citroen is still doing battle in Europe. They are doing quite well in there home market but the European economy has had its impact on everyone.

And there you have it. A brief history of the lesser-known bond cars as explained by a car enthusiast.

worlds best selling amphibious street legal car! (It’s a real thing)

Over the years man has tried to simplify life by combining things. Sometimes this works well-like having a pen with a highlighter on the other end. Sometimes this works poorly-like popcorn-gum.

One example that falls into both categories is the Amphicar. As the name would suggest this is a convertible that is also water tight, has a hull and two propellers. The Amphicar is the car that floats on water, or the boat that drives on land (depending on whether you are a land lubber or sea captain).

The Amphicar was  built in Berlin, Germany starting in 1961. Production ended in 1968 after producing a little under 4,000 units. The sales numbers may not suggest it but the Amphicar is the bestselling street legal amphibious vehicle of all time. The car was called the “770”. This was a reference to the fact that it topped out at 7 MPH on water, calm water, with a tailwind. And it topped out at 70 MPH on the road, preferably headed slightly downhill, with a tailwind.

These cars were built a smorgasbord of parts from all over Europe. Engines from Triumph, electrical systems from the prince of darkness Lucas Electronics, Porsche 356 style transmission: the list goes on. It used its front wheels as a rudder, giving it poor maneuverability in the water. On land the car was known for its terrible reliability and poor performance.

These cars are unique and friendly looking things, much like the original Volkswagen Beetle. Perhaps that is what attracts such a large audience (lots of websites dedicated to their preservation and forums) to such a small amount of cars (less than 700 left in captivity). There is even a club in Canada. Canadian Amphicars, run by a gem named Gord. This all makes sense because 90% of production was headed for North American roads/docks. If you just looked at the pictures and did not smile you need to see a doctor. These are some of the cutest cars around. Also, how cool would it be to pick up your friends in a boat!

We cater to car people at Auto|One Group. We have an Amphicar on lease with a client. It rocks! It is Lagoon blue with a white convertible top and a pastel yellow interior. If we get it back into stock I am going to take it fishing! Then to a drive in movie, but not in that order.