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Ricky Foley in his 1968 Buick Skylark (Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Ricky Foley in his 1968 Buick Skylark (Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

My Car

Tough-as-nails football player appreciates vintage rides Add to ...

Ricky Foley

Profession: Defensive end, No. 95, Toronto Argonauts

Age: 28

Hometown: Courtice, Ont.

Notable achievements: Second year with Argos; sixth year in CFL; named the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian in 2009; originally drafted by the Lions with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 CFL Canadian Draft; played four seasons in B.C.; he was crowned a Grey Cup champion in his rookie year and has never missed the CFL playoffs; granted CFL free agency in February, 2010, and signed with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. He was waived by Seattle on Aug. 30 and claimed by the New York Jets before being released and signing in Toronto where he dressed in eight games, with five starts, solidifying the defensive line and helping the Argos reach the East Final.

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Upcoming: Toronto Argos season - training camp opens June 4; home opener is July 23. Season tickets available now at 416-341-ARGO and argonauts.ca

As a B.C. Lion, he was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian in 2009. Now, Ricky Foley is a defensive end for the Toronto Argonauts.

At 6-foot-2 and 256 pounds, he's tough as nails. But Foley doesn't just stand out on the field. He's noticeable on the road as well, driving his vintage cars: a 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Convertible and a 1968 Buick Skylark.

How did you end up with those cars?

I got the Caprice after we won the Grey Cup in 2006 out in B.C. I came home and I always wanted one growing up. I grew up just outside of Oshawa - it's a big GM town. Once I got a little bit of money I decided to get one.

And the Skylark, I wanted a hardtop - a muscle car type of body and I wasn't going to spend the money on a Camaro or a Chevelle so I searched on eBay.

I was looking to get one in New Jersey off eBay, but I was in Vancouver paint-balling with a couple of guys from the team and one came up from Whitby, Ont. A guy gave it to his teenage grandson, but it was too much on gas and too much car for him to drive so I got it real cheap in great condition - it just needed some paint and it was good to go.

This is the first year the Skylark has actually been on the road. ... Before I moved downtown [Toronto]I lived in Courtice, driving 300 kilometres a day to and from practice everyday for three months. It never gave me one ounce of problems. Gas sucked! But she never gave me any problems at all - I just had to get an oil change on it.

Are you handy? Have you done any restorations on it?

Yeah. The Caprice was pretty much a full overhaul. The Skylark I haven't really done much to it except change the tires and rims on it.

It's all stock. It runs real well. But the Caprice was originally white paint, red interior and a black roof and it's all swapped out to what it is now.

We redid the upholstery on the seats ourselves - my mom helped me sew the seats. My dad helped with the engine stuff.

My dad knows a lot. My dad was a farmer and we didn't always have that much money growing up so when something went wrong with one of tractors or the combines we'd fix it ourselves. He'd be on the farm working on a carbureted engine. We learned a lot that way. For the most part we can pretty much handle anything that comes up.

What sparked your interest in classic cars?

It's been one of those things since I've been a little kid. Growing up and working on the farm in the field you'd see some nice old car driving by - a big engine roaring by you. I'd be out there on the hay wagon thinking I can't wait to get one of those when I grow up.

What do these vintage cars say about you?

It says my personality is a little bit different. …

The Skylark has the personality of me on the field during game day and the Caprice is me on my day off - outside of football, the Caprice is my personality - it's laid back.

I drive real slow. I never go fast in that car. I put the top down and chill out. The Skylark is drive, anger - it's game day.

Nowadays unless you spend six figures on a Maserati, an Aston Martin, or a Bentley - every car under $80,000 looks the same, to me. You look like everybody else driving on the street. I consider myself a different dude - I like to drive cars that are a little bit different - cars you don't see everyday.

I think there's a lot of respect for older cars. I get thumbs up from people driving by. It was nice driving to games in Vancouver - everybody knew who you were driving in a convertible on the way downtown - it was cool.

Are old cars a good investment?

If I go and buy a car off the lot it's going to depreciate fast. I had a 2007 Lexus GS350 and it set on fire shipping from Seattle to Toronto and it got written off. I haven't bought a new car since because I'm living downtown and I don't really need one. As soon as you take it off the lot, it depreciates so quickly - five years later you've lost $10,000.

With the old schools they don't lose value. They hold their value - they go up. They appreciate instead of depreciate. I don't think it's a great investment, but at least I know it's not going to depreciate like the new ones.

Your dad has helped restore these cars; is he allowed to drive them?

He's scared to drive them. You actually have to drive these cars. I have a couple of friends I trust who can drive them. I don't trust very many people with them because there's no ABS brakes. Everything is completely 100 per cent manual.

Is there a car design you'd like to see resurface again?

I don't think that old design should come back. …

I'm not a fan of trying to make a new car look like an old car. Remember what they did with the Thunderbirds 10 years ago - make the new ones look like the old ones. I think old cars should stay old, should stay in the past. Instead of making old cars new I think they should make new cars look more futuristic, cutting-edge and look different.

Any plans for selling the Caprice or Skylark?

I can't see myself getting rid of either one of them.

If I could bring you the keys to any car what would it be?

It would probably be the Bentley GT or a Lamborghini Murcielago. Those would be the only two new cars I really, really want to get. Other than that, I don't care about new cars. I would take a '69 Chevelle stick shift or a 1954 Impala convertible.

Is the Caprice a chick car?

That's why I was going old school. I always wanted a convertible, but all the convertibles that are out nowadays are pretty small. They're girl cars. Me and my friends call them hers. If you're driving a Miata or a 3-Series BMW convertible, it's a hers. It's not a guys' car. If you see a car this big with this much engine, I don't need to worry about the convertible.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

globedrive@globeandmail.com

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