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MTV Canada host Jessi Cruickshank drives an “old beater” – a hand-me-down from her dad. It’s a red 1995 Acura Integra two-door coupe. (J.P. Moczulski for The Globe and Mail)
MTV Canada host Jessi Cruickshank drives an “old beater” – a hand-me-down from her dad. It’s a red 1995 Acura Integra two-door coupe. (J.P. Moczulski for The Globe and Mail)

My Car

Glamour girl, hand-me-down car Add to ...

She's a fashion diva at heart, but you'd never know it judging by her car.

Bold and stylish MTV Canada host Jessi Cruickshank drives an "old beater" - a hand-me-down from her dad. It's a red 1995 Acura Integra two-door coupe.

"I don't exactly have the most glamorous car. We call it my dad's midlife-crisis car. He bought it in the height of his 40s. He sold his Toyota Camry and got a red Acura Integra with a sunroof and spoiler."

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He gave her the Acura six years ago when she moved from Vancouver to Toronto.

"I drove it in college and at that time it was awesome just to have a car in general. Nobody cared what it was. They just wanted to pile in and go on road trips on the weekend. Now I get made fun of, but I drive it proudly."

That is, until a fan pointed out it was an old car.

"I never really noticed that I drove such a beater until I was at the airport about a year ago picking someone up. I rolled down the window to ask a traffic person a question and he said, 'Wait a second, aren't you Jessi from MTV?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'I love your show. I thought it was you, but then I thought you'd have a way nicer car.'

"That was the moment I realized this car is in conflict with what I do for a living. People must expect me to drive some kind of hot-shot nice sports car, but I really don't."

"Cars aren't on the top of my priority list. I'm not really a hot-car kind of person."

"On television I interview celebrities and I wear glamorous clothes and we have a whole team that makes me look like a really glamorous person on TV. But if you see me on the weekend I'm just in jeans and a T-shirt driving around my '95 Acura Integra.

"It's not that different from who I really am but if you compare it to what I do and what I drive, they definitely don't match," says Cruickshank, whose credits include hosting Weird on Wheels for YTV and starring in the recent movie Degrassi Takes Manhattan.

In picking her favourite feature, it is a toss-up between the tape deck and the spoiler. "I remember at the time when my dad was first getting the car he didn't know if he should spend the extra $800 on the spoiler and I remember thinking as a kid that's so much money for a thing that just sits on the back of your car. But now I appreciate that $800 spoiler. It adds an element of obnoxious to an already obnoxious sports car," the 27-year-old says.

Her Acura is pretty bare bones. "I don't have air conditioning. I roll those windows and sunroof down real low. By some miracle, there's power windows, but no power locks. It's shocking actually. I roll down all the windows.

"Usually, I'm listening to Kanye or hip hop when I drive because it makes me feel cooler in an uncool car."

"If I'm going to a premiere or a red-carpet event I will park that car so far away to ensure that nobody even smells it. I park it a few blocks away if I'm ever going anywhere that requires being somewhat glamorous."

So, what's under the hood? "Oh gosh. I can't tell you.

"I could tell you how much money I've put into the car in the last six years. It's a lot. I replaced the transmission and the brake pads recently so I learned about that quickly. I have invested so much.

"At this point I could be driving a legitimately hot sports car with all the money I've poured into my old beater," says Cruickshank, who studied theatre in London, England before getting her degree in English and drama from the University of Toronto.

The Integra is a manual with more than 147,000 kilometres on it. While she's comfortable driving a stick, it's not the same with an automatic. "One time I got into an accident driving my mom's station wagon. I was 17. I was driving one of my friends home from soccer practice and I drove into a parked car. It was just one of those horrible, bad-driver, just-learning-to-drive incidents. It got taken to the shop and we got a replacement car, which was an automatic.

"It was parked in front of my house in front of my dad's red Acura Integra and my parents gave me permission to drive the car. I got in and I had never seen an automatic car before. I thought if I put the gear into R - it meant road. I don't know what I was thinking! I turned the car on, put it in R, stepped on the gas and reversed into my dad's red 1995 Acura Integra!"

Despite her love affair with her car, she's selling it, asking between $1,200-$1,500. "I have items of clothing more expensive than that. I have shoes worth more than that!

"I could buy seven little red cars with my shoe collection alone. If someone else can enjoy driving it as much as I have in the last 15 years then I should give them that chance."

"We've had a lot of memories. I'm sad to sell it. … I'm going to see what life is like in Toronto as a non-lazy person. I've become so dependent on my car. I want to live in Toronto how the majority of the population does. You'll be seeing me on the subway a lot more if I sell this car. Then I'll think about getting something else."

That something else is her dream car - a black 2010 Toyota Prius.

"My glamour level is not going up very high. I've driven a Prius and I love them. I'm in awe at how quiet they are and how good they are for the environment and on gas mileage. A Prius is more an accurate reflection of me.

"Maybe I'll stick some kind of silly steering wheel accessory to make it my own. I'll bling it out a bit."

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pgentile@globeandmail.com

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