Profession: Author and former broadcaster
Member of the Order of Canada (1999)
Don Newman was a fixture on CBC for 33 years, an iconic broadcast journalist who covered every major political event from 1976 to 2009 – federal elections, U.S. presidential inaugurations, visits by world leaders and more. In a career spanning more than four decades, he served as CTV’s first Washington correspondent.
Having retired four years ago, he’s released his memoir, Welcome to the Broadcast. On the accompanying book tour through Ontario and Quebec, he’s intending to drive his own car, a 2011 Volkswagen CC 2000.
Why did you buy a VW CC?
It’s a car I got in 2011 after my wife totalled my BMW 5. The first reaction was, let’s just get another 5. Then I said, ‘Well, let’s look around.’ We found this CC 2000. It’s a Volkswagen four-door sports coupe, which of course is an oxymoron. It sounds crazy when you say, ‘I have a four-door coupe.’ Coupes are two doors. Mine has four doors and it only has four seats – two in the front and two in the back. It’s a really unusual car in that sense. It’s built on a Passat frame, but it’s got a different engine. It has a very aerodynamic flow to it, much more than the Passat.
It’s bigger than a BMW 3, but it drives like a 3. It has that feel on the road, particularly when you’re taking on the speed limit a bit. I decided not to go with another BMW and to go with this instead. It’s got all the bells and whistles, including a rear back-up camera and sensors. It’s lots of fun; almost feels like a racing car. For the aesthetics, it has a racing car steering wheel in it. So you can tell I’m having my post mid-life crisis.
Have you had any speeding tickets with it?
No. I’ve been lucky. But I’ve done Ottawa-Toronto in better time than I’ve ever done before – in under four hours. Three hours and 50 minutes – it’s [normally] about four-and-a-half.
Is there anything you don’t like about it?
The one thing is, this car has got bigger doors. It’s a bigger car and it’s very low so when you get in you have to duck down. I find if you’re in a tight parking spot you have to pay attention or you’ll bump your head.
What does a Volkswagen CC 2000 say about you?
It says I’m resisting my age. I liked the BMW 5, but I did feel it was a bit sedate. This is not a sedate car – it’s a snazzy car. I guess it says I like snazzy cars… I like a little style in my car. And it has the performance as well.
What was your first car?
A [used] 1957 Chevrolet Impala. If I had known it was going to be a classic then I might have kept it.
The two cars that I really liked – in 1977 or 1978, I bought a Ford Mustang. I really loved my Mustang. It was the last year of the traditional look they introduced at the end of the ’60s. The next year they changed the design away from the classic design. I had the original classic design.
They were smaller cars then, too. All cars now are big – even small cars are big. I bought it when I was a Washington correspondent in the States and I don’t think it had the right undercoating on it. It really rusted out. But I loved that car. I kept it until it basically fell apart.
Then, I leased for the first time, in 1996, a Pontiac Grand AM, which is a bit like the CC I have now. A turbocharged sports car with a back seat.
The interview has been edited and condensed.
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