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Jay Ingram appreciates the dependability of his Honda Odyssey minivan. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
Jay Ingram appreciates the dependability of his Honda Odyssey minivan. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

My Car

Jay Ingram's quirky 12-year Odyssey Add to ...

Jay Ingram

Profession: Broadcaster and co-host/producer of Daily Planet

Age: 65

Hometown: Toronto

Notable achievements: Hosted CBC Radio's Quirks And Quarks from 1979 to 1992; joined Discovery Channel in November, 1994; earned two ACTRA Awards, including one for Best Host; received four honorary doctorate degrees from Carleton, McGill, McMaster and University of King's College; wrote 10 books - three have won Canadian Science Writers' Awards

More related to this story

Currently: Daily Planet on Discovery Channel, weekdays 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST; in June, he wraps up his hosting duties on Daily Planet to pursue other new projects, which he won't disclose yet.

*****

Jay Ingram has dished out the science news on TV and radio for decades.

The veteran broadcaster has been a fixture on Discovery Channel for 16 years. He's not just loyal to his employer - he's also loyal to his car, which has lasted almost as long as his career at Discovery. Ingram drives a 1999 Honda Odyssey minivan with 313,000 km on it.

Why did you buy an Odyssey?

I have three kids and a dog.

My kids are all grown up and left the house now, but at the time they hadn't so there was a lot of skating lessons and gym lessons. So a regular five-seater sedan wasn't going to work.

What's the best feature on it?

Dependability. Over time, I've replaced stuff, but it still keeps ticking.

It's worn down now and it's old-fashioned. A couple of lights in the dashboard don't work and the CD is screwed up, but whenever I take it anywhere it still gets there. It handles well and the gas economy isn't bad for a van.

Anything you'd change on it?

There's one annoying thing on it. When there's freezing rain the sliding doors on the side freeze up and you can't open them. It's weird. I can tell by the weather whether or not I'd be able to open the doors.

Are you a gearhead?

I'm definitely no gear head. I can change the oil, but to try and go the way people did when I was growing up - changing the spark plugs, I've never done that and I never would.

What does an Odyssey say about you?

I don't define myself by the kind of car I drive, obviously.

The fact it's 12 years old now doesn't bother me.

I want a car that's dependable, will let me do what I want to do. I don't care if it's high-end or says this guy has a lot of money or status. I don't care about that.

Jay Ingram appreciates the dependability of his Honda Odyssey minivan.

What was your first car?

A couple of guys and I bought a 1952 Chev; it burned just about as much oil as it did gas.

We were working out in the Rockies and it lasted us a couple of summers, which is pretty good. It cost us $60 bucks. The insurance was more than the car.

And then I bought with a different two guys a Volkswagen Bus. That was also a good vehicle.

I've owned a couple of Volkswagen Beetles, and then mostly Japanese vehicles after that - a Honda Accord, a Toyota Corolla, a Mazda MPV and then the Odyssey.

Why did you buy the VW Bus?

It was in the '60s. We bought it in Brussels and painted a big red Maple Leaf on the front and stuff all over it. Then we drove through France, the south coast of Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Turkey all over the place for five months. Then we sold it back in Brussels.

It was great. The only trouble we had - we mistakenly put diesel fuel into it instead of gasoline once. We had to drain it and put in gasoline. Remarkably it still went along. It was a good car.

Any other mishaps on that road trip?

One time when we were in the former Yugoslavia there were seven people travelling together. We kept getting flats. We were trying to cross Yugoslavia from the east side to the west and it was pretty rugged, bad roads and lots of rock. We got three flat tires in the same day.

And we ended up having to sleep in the van, all seven of us. Three people lying on the floor of a VW is okay - seven is not so good. I woke up in the middle of the night and I had a sudden attack of claustrophobia. Honestly I couldn't move; I was packed in with people. I had to get up and walk outside the car a bit before I could get back in and get back to sleep.

We had lots of adventures on that trip. People offering to exchange money for a better rate than at the bank. Of course what they were really trying to do is rip you off. Which happened to us once. They have two rolls of bills and the bill on the outside is the same in both cases, but the bills on the inside aren't. We got taken.

What do you plan on buying next?

The next car I'm going to get will be a small car. I don't need the big one any more because my kids are all dispersed. I still have the dog. But I don't have to worry about humans and physical cargo as much as I used to. Maybe a Honda Fit - the nice thing about it is it transforms into tons of luggage space.

What's your dream car?

I'm not like my son who would want a Ferrari - I don't care about that much. I did drive a BMW convertible - that was a nice car. I've driven a new Mini and that's a nice car, too. Or maybe a Honda CR-Z.

Do you miss modern technology like a reverse back-up camera or built-in GPS?

GPS I don't miss. I can always find out where I am with my iPhone. I don't need to have it in my car.

I'm old-fashioned in that sense. I wouldn't mind using maps and figuring out how to get to places.

With a van, a back-up camera would not be a bad thing to have. But until you have those things you don't realize you'd like to have those things.

There are no side airbags in this thing - that's not a good thing. I'd rather have that.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

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