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You never know what’s going to happen or when enthusiasm for a new hobby might be passed onto a loved one, Lou Trottier writes.Lou Trottier/The Globe and Mail

For many years, I was under the impression that my love for car events and car hobbies would, for the most part, be something I enjoyed solo in my family. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I have two daughters, and one of my most vivid memories occurred when my eldest daughter was around 11 years old. I was servicing a customer’s Ferrari 308 at the time, and it required a test drive. As any small business owner knows, quite often our young children must spend parts of their summers at their parents’ workplace. This was one of those days.

I asked the owner of the Ferrari if I could take my child with me for the quick test drive.

She no longer required a booster seat, so I coaxed her into going for a drive with me. I was positive this was going to be a life changing event for her. Somehow, taking a spin in this red Ferrari was going to ignite a spark in her for a love of cars. No such thing happened, and she couldn’t wait to get out of the old, musty smelling, bumpy car. The only positive thing she had to say was that it was a pretty red. Crushed, I went back about my business of fixing cars, sure that my passion would continue to be a solitary affair.

Lou Trottier's daughter Danielle joined her father for his first autocross of the 2021 season at the CNE grounds in Toronto.Lou Trottier/The Globe and Mail

Fast forward a half dozen years, and I’m happy to report back that my assumption turned out to be totally false. My girlfriend/partner loves cars and eagerly attends all of my events with me. The enthusiasm that she has for my automotive passions has infected her own 19-year-old daughter and, in a surprising turn of events, my very own Ferrari-snubbing, now-18-year-old daughter Danielle. She has become keenly aware that her dad owns a few cool cars and that maybe, if she plays her cards right, she might eventually be able to borrow one some day. I became mindful of this earlier this year, when both eldest girls suddenly and oddly were adamant that they both wanted to learn how to drive a manual transmission vehicle.

Father’s Day weekend this year coincided with my first autocross of the 2021 season, held at the CNE grounds in downtown Toronto. For the first time, Danielle also insisted that she want to go out with me for a few laps. First impressions are always the most important, and fortunately, everything went right according to plan. The seed was planted, and I believe I now have a new convert. She was thrilled with the experience and slyly asked if my old Porsche 912 needed a driver for future autocross events. I may not be quite ready for that yet, but I’m happy to have the company.

As summer is now fully under way and life slowly develops into some new version of normalcy, maybe it’s time to rekindle those long-lost passions and hobbies and take your kids along for the ride. You never know what’s going to happen or when enthusiasm for a new hobby might be passed onto a loved one.

Your automotive questions, answered

Hi Lou,

In your story advising grounded snowbirds to buy winter tires, I wondered why you didn’t suggest all-weather tires. You are based in Toronto, so perhaps you don’t feel all-weathers, although they carry the mountain-snowflake symbol, are up to handling an Ontario winter. I think they would be for most drivers. We have all-weathers on my wife’s RAV4 hybrid and they were sure-footed on snow and ice in the Comox Valley last winter, and handled everything that the road to Mount Washington Alpine Resort threw at them. On central and southern Vancouver Island. where full-on winter tires are overkill for most drivers, the all-weathers eliminate the expense and hassle of a twice-yearly changeover, ensure traction below 7 degrees Celsius, run quietly all year round and eliminate the need to store tires – which is difficult for apartment-dwellers.

Brent R Comox Valley, B.C.

Once upon a time, all-season tires were truly four-season-usable tires, and one could live with them all year round. Then gas prices started skyrocketing and peaked in 2008, which opened the eyes of auto and tire manufacturers when it came to rolling resistance – these tires specifically were significant offenders when it came to fuel economy. Slowly, all-season tires morphed into theoretical three-season-tires and winter tires took their place as a fourth-season tire.

Currently, we now have all-season, all-weather and winter tires. So much confusion for the average consumer.

So, wouldn’t it stand to reason that all-weather tires should just completely replace all-season tires? They do the same thing, right? Why then do we still have all-season products? Well, no, they don’t. They are a compromise being offered in one neat, tidy and convenient package. Though this solution works for some, this compromise is not for everyone. I still find that all-weather tires cannot replace my two dedicated sets. Remember, it’s not just about winter driving, because the compromise is felt year-round. For those who drive fewer kilometres per year or have storage limitations, all-weather tires provide a great option though.

As more tire manufacturers invest in the technology, I’m sure my thinking will adjust accordingly. But for now, I’m still not ready to offer a wholehearted endorsement of all-weather tires.

I’ve recently inherited an old mid-60′s Ford Mustang coupe. It has been sitting in a garage where it was parked about 30 years ago. To the best of my knowledge, the fluids were never drained, or the engine preserved; it was just parked and left there. At least it was indoors and not sitting outside in the snow. I’m told that the car was in good shape with no rust the last time it was driven.

Is this old car worth any kind of restoration effort? If I wanted to get it up to safe, reliable, roadworthy condition what kind of repairs should I anticipate? Or is it just a money pit that will never even be worth the cost of basic repairs to get it running again?

James P

Oddly enough, we have a 1966 Mustang Coupe in the shop for repairs right now, so yours is a timely question. I rely on the valuation tools from to establish the approximate value of classic cars. Without knowing the exact details of the car, I had to guess at few variables like engine size and trim level. But I came up with a rough value of between $13,000 and $23,000 for a vehicle that is considered to be in fair or good condition respectively. At this point, the vehicle you just inherited is in unknown condition; therefore, it doesn’t even reach the minimum value as stated above.

Any person who has restored a classic vehicle will tell you that it always costs more than you think. So, my advice is to tow the car to your preferred shop, have them only replace fluids, and perform some basic maintenance to get it running. From there, I would have your shop give you an idea of what is needed to make it roadworthy, and I would also suggest hiring a professional classic car appraiser to survey the vehicle. Even if the repairs to make it roadworthy are more than you want to spend at this time, it will be far easier to sell in running condition than in non-running condition and you should be able to easily recoup your upfront costs.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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