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Spotted: A racing star, a VW camper van and two great licence plates

Spotted is Globe Drive writer Peter Cheney's weekly feature that takes you behind the scenes of his life as a vehicle and engineering journalist. In coming weeks, we'll also highlight the best of your original photos and short video clips (10 seconds or less), which you should send with a short explanation. E-mail, find him on Twitter @cheneydrive (#spotted), or join him on Facebook (no login required). All photos by Peter Cheney unless otherwise noted.

Peter Cheney

A Ride With Racing Royalty

If you’re a racing fan, you’ll probably recognize this guy. That’s Sebastian Vettel, four-time Formula One champion. I shot this picture as I jumped into the car with him for a lapping session this week. It was like playing street hockey with Sidney Crosby. Click here for the full story.

Peter Cheney

How the F1 Master Rolls

This is Vettel running through Turn 10 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in an Infiniti Q50. He’d never driven the track before, but after a few minutes of practice he was faster than most guys who’ve been driving it for years (including me.) It wasn’t hard to see why he’s the F1 champ.

Peter Cheney

Lessons from the F1 Guys

We also got to run through an autocross course with former F1 driver David Coulthard. As you can see, he had a nice touch with the car.

Patrick Dell

How Not to Improve a Smart Car

My friend Patrick Dell spotted this wrapped Smart car here in Toronto. It reminds me of the velvet suit Prince used to wear back in the late 1980s.

Bradley Alvarez

The White and Purple Lemon

You don’t see the legendary Ford Edsel customized very often. (As you probably know, this is the car that went down in history as the biggest flop of all time.) Reader Bradley Alvarez spotted this lowered, purple-roofed Edsel outside a mechanic’s shop in Richmond, B.C. It even has side pipes. (I did a video on the Edsel a while back. You can see it here.)

Peter Cheney

A Custom Plate That Says it All

I spotted this Jeep Wrangler on Highway 401 this week. Although most owners rarely go off road, I think we can assume that this guy does, judging by the license plate.

Peter Cheney

Another Well-Written Custom Plate

The Tesla Model S is the most beautiful electric car on the market. And this custom plate captures its spirit. I spotted this one a few blocks from my house, here in Toronto.

Scott Innes

A Vision of the Sixties

Reader Scott Innes spotted this 1960s-vintage Porsche 911 in a Toronto parking garage. It’s amazing how well the 911’s shape has stood the test of time.

Peter Cheney

The Yorkville Express

I spotted this Mercedes AMG 6.3 pulling out of Yorkville, which may have the world’s single highest concentration of matte-wrapped cars.

Peter Cheney

Under the Skin

This is what you see when you pop the plastic body panels off a BMW i3 electric car – a carbon chassis and a lot of digital components. I shot this one up at BMW Canada headquarters after driving the i3. (You’ll see the story soon).

Peter Cheney

Life Before Winnebago

You may recall the Volkswagen Westphalia, a camper van that once defined the on-the-road lifestyle. I spotted this one on Bloor Street in Toronto, and remembered a time when motorhomes weren’t gas guzzling, locomotive-sized behemoths.

Peter Cheney

Destination Woodstock

Here’s another view of that VW Westphalia. There’s a little kitchen inside, and the roof cranks up to create a double bed. Perfect for a trip to an outdoor rock concert.

Paul Hodgson

The Nineties Called – They Want Their Car Back

My friend Paul Hodgson, an ever-keen observer of the Yorkville district car scene, spotted this silver Lamborghini Diablo on cruise night. Not every Italian exotic is beautiful.

Peter Cheney

Lost in Translation

I spotted this contractor’s truck outside Tim Horton’s store in Bowmanville, Ontario. Seems that the word “sinister” may have different connotations in French than it does in English.

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