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A lot of people will tell you they don’t need a car as an extension of themselves. That may be true of some people, but I think for a lot of other people it’s envy. They settle for a car they can afford. -- Gord Martineau (Charla Jones/Charla Jones/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
A lot of people will tell you they don’t need a car as an extension of themselves. That may be true of some people, but I think for a lot of other people it’s envy. They settle for a car they can afford. -- Gord Martineau (Charla Jones/Charla Jones/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

My Car: Gord Martineau

Sports cars capture TV anchor's heart Add to ...

He's a hard-core news junkie who's been a fixture on CITY-TV since the Toronto station's inception in 1977. Nowadays, Gord Martineau anchors CityNews. While his deep-rooted love for television is undeniable, one other passion surpasses it - his obsession with cars.

"I've been into it since I was a little boy. When I was 10 years old, I would stand on the street corner and - any one of my childhood friends could back me up on this - I'd turn my back on the traffic and from the sound of the exhaust, I could tell you whether it was GM, Chrysler, or Ford and whether it was a six or an eight. I kid you not - I could do that."

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These days, the self-confessed car nut drives a 2004 Audi RS6 sedan. "Most people, when they see an RS6, don't really know what it is. They think it's an A6 and that's fine with me. It's a sleeper in that respect."

"At its peak and at the time, this was state-of-the-art. I think Road and Track called it the King Kong of sport sedans, which may or may not be true," says the 60-year-old native of Montreal.

"They only made 2,000 of them. They've since come out with a new RS6, but they're not bringing it to North America. Emissions, crash-testing, all of that. Which is a damn shame because I'm sure there are a lot of Audi freaks out there who would love to get their mitts on one."



A lot of people will tell you they don't need a car as an extension of themselves. That may be true of some people, but I think for a lot of other people it's envy. They settle for a car they can afford. Gord Martineau


Still, he's satisfied with the performance of his RS6. "It's a very torquey machine. The power is there; all you have to do is tap the pedal on the right. You can feel it. It will move you right through the back of the seat.

"I've driven slower cars that take forever to merge and it's nerve-racking from that standpoint. I want to get to where I'm going now - today. So that's why this vehicle is right for me," he says, referring to the 450-horsepower, twin-turbo, 4.2-litre V-8 engine under the hood.

But it's not just about speed. "From a purist standpoint, it's basically handling, suspension, technology, engineering that goes into these cars.

"People that drive vehicles just to get from Point A to Point B have no concern with that - they don't get that, they don't understand that, and they don't care.

"A lot of people will tell you they don't need a car as an extension of themselves. That may be true of some people, but I think for a lot of other people it's envy. They settle for a car they can afford.

"They'd like to have something bigger, better, faster, stronger, but that's simply beyond their means. I think their justification or rationalization is you got that car because it's an extension of yourself," says Martineau, who launched his career in radio right out of high school.

"I'm a gear head. I love talking about automotive stuff.

"From my perspective, a vehicle is an emotional response. But the engineering is a big issue with me and that's why I like the Audi. I've had it longer than I've had any other car. I really enjoy it."

And that says a lot. He has owned many cars over the decades. His first was a 1970 MGB, which cost $3,400.

"I was working in radio at the time. I went to every bank and, being a young guy, all nervous with sweaty palms, 'Hey, can you give me a loan?' There was only one bank that would take a chance on me - it was the Bank of Nova Scotia and I never forgot that," says Martineau who actively supports many charities including the Herbie Fund, the Variety Club, the MS Society of Canada, the Kidney Foundation of Canada and Sick Kids Hospital - he has an all-day fundraiser there tomorrow.Martineau has owned a series of Corvettes (1971, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979 …), several BMWs and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, three Porsches, a Chevelle SS396 hotrod and a Sunbeam Tiger.

The Tiger "was about the same size as an MG and they shoe-horned in two V-8s - first series was a 260-cubic-inch V-8 and the second was the 289 you found in the Mustang, so this was a tiny little car with a great big engine.

"It was great, except probably only good in a straight line because the suspension was not that sophisticated, but it was a very unusual vehicle!"

There are two cars he regrets dumping: a 1958 Corvette and a 1964 Corvette convertible. "Loved them both, should never have unloaded them, but I did because I didn't have the wherewithal to keep them - garage space, money …

"The '64 Corvette convertible was an American hot rod - American Graffiti kind of car. I loved everything about it. It wasn't a wonderful handler; it could have been. It needed some suspension upgrades, but it was a red convertible with a red interior. It was great; I loved it.

"I was carefree and single. I had it when I met my wife and she still, till this day, says we never should have got rid of that car!" says Martineau, who has also played a news anchor in films such as Undue Influence , Dirty Work and Urban Legend .

"I will describe my affinity for automobiles as a sickness. I love them. I would get a little bored - [But the feeling that]I've got to get the new model has cooled off a little bit over the past several years."

Martineau has no plans of parting with his RS6, but he does have a long list of replacement dream cars on his wish list, including the European RS6, the Audi R8, the Porsche Panamera, the Aston Martin 177, the Morgan Aero SuperSports car, the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV SuperVeloce - he rambles on like a kid, listing enough cars to fill another article.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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