Spotted is Globe Drive writer Peter Cheney’s weekly feature that takes you behind the scenes of his life as a vehicle and engineering journalist. We also highlight the best of your original photos and short video clips (10 seconds or less), which you should send with a short explanation. E-mail email@example.com, find him on Twitter @cheneydrive (#spotted), or join him on Facebook (no login required). All photos by Peter Cheney unless otherwise noted.
Cause of Worldwide Auto Accessory Shortage Revealed
The ever-watchful John Martins spotted this heavily accessorized van being carried off by a flatbed tow truck on the Queen Elizabeth Expressway near Burlington. No word on whether the van broke down due to the weight of all those mirrors, lights and reflectors. And shouldn’t there be a limit on how many Playboy bunny silhouette decals can be placed on a single vehicle? (N.B. – as a Globe reader has noted, the official name of the decal is “Mudflap Girl.” The image is also variously referred to as “trucker girl,” “trucker lady” and “seated lady.” According to Wikipedia, the image was created in the 1970s to promote a line of truck and auto accessories. It was reputedly modeled on Leta Laroe, an exotic dancer who was famous at the time.)
Bling it On
Consider the psychological torment of the Toyota 4Runner owner. They drive one of the most solid and reliable vehicles ever built. But it’s so generic that you can lose your own car in a parking lot. Here’s one driver’s solution.
The Topless SUV
The invisible hand of capitalism moves in mysterious ways. By way of proof – the Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet, the world’s only convertible SUV. I spotted this one on Interstate 75. I believe it was heading to Florida, the Crosscabriolet’s breeding ground.
Mr. Vader, Your Bike is Ready
Reader Cliff Randall likes building really fast, scary-looking motorcycles. Here are a couple of his latest Kawasakis.
A Sense of Scale
John Martins spotted this original Fiat 500 on Bloor St, in Toronto. You forget how small the Cinquecento really was until you see one in the flesh.
The Trunk is on the OUTSIDE
Back in the day, this is how countless European families travelled. Who needs an SUV when you can strap a leather suitcase to the tail of your Fiat 500?
When a Boat Wants to Be a Plane
We spotted this apparition on I-75 in Kentucky. All that stood between that raft and flight was a single tie down rope. We didn’t stick around to see if they made it.
“No Reasonable Offer Refused…”
This Pontiac was for sale on a lot in Tennessee. The dealer said he’d throw in a free roll of duct tape and some extra rope.
Putting the “Beat” in Beetle
This well-worn VW was parked in Chattanooga. From the earth they come, and to the earth they shall return…. ashes to ashes, rust to rust. etc.
More Vanity Plate Ingenuity
We spotted this E-Class Mercedes on I-75. The plate wrote itself.
Bring a Trailer
Building a hot rod isn’t easy. You need ingenuity, mechanical skills and, more often than not, a trailer. We spotted this project in Ohio.
The English Patient
I always love stopping in to see my friend Gus, the ace English car mechanic. He works out of a back-alley shop that’s a magnet for wealthy Jaguar enthusiasts. This beautiful E-Type is one his countless restoration projects. If you want to read more about Gus, here’s a link to a story I wrote (in the story, he’s called “Nigel” because he made me use a fictional name so people couldn’t track him down – he has all the customers he can handle)
Master English Car Mechanic Uniform
This is the shirt Gus was wearing while he worked on the E-Type. He’s a true man of the world.
The Canyonero Lives
I spotted this early-70s Oldsmobile wagon on Coopers Rd., near Rockton, Ontario. I think this may have been the inspiration for the Canyonero, the mythical SUV featured on the Simpsons: “12 yards long, two lanes wide, 65 tons of American pride! Canyonero!”