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Spotted: Bricklins, bad Slurpee flavours, and other oddities on the road

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.

Ben Holt

Necessity, The Mother of Invention

Reader Ben Holt spotted this Lamborghini with a roof rack in Vancouver. The support system for that rooftop box looks pretty interesting. Thanks to Ben for sending this.

The World’s Most Disgusting Slurpee

Until I spotted these at a Quebec truck stop, I had no idea that pizza and spaghetti-flavoured Slurpees had been invented. We thought about buying one of each to see what they tasted like, but chickened out (that may be a flavour too.)

Ian Greig

History, Written in Fibreglass

My friend Ian Greig spotted this Bricklin outside a car detailing shop in Fredericton a while ago. If you don’t remember the Bricklin, it was a short-lived venture aimed at producing a Canadian supercar (and creating jobs in New Brunswick.) I had a bit of a connection to the Bricklin – New Brunswick premier Richard Hatfield was my mom’s cousin, and we spent quite a bit of time with him. I thought it was cool that Richard was trying to make cars, but I saw some problems with the Bricklin, which would compete against the likes of the Corvette.

Ian Greig

Not Pretty

Is this the ugliest bumper ever made? The Bricklin’s body was made from chopper-gun fibreglass at a factory in Minto, N.B., and it had to conform to 1970s regulations that stipulated impact-absorbing bumpers. The result was this kluged-on battering ram front end.

Ian Greig

The Devil Is In The Details

This is the switch that operated the Bricklin’s gullwing doors. The doors looked cool, but they didn’t seal very well, and water ran into the car when you opened them. As you can see from this tacky-looking switch, the Bricklin’s execution left a lot to be desired.

Tharon Cheney

The Premier and the Project

My mom shot this picture of her cousin Richard Hatfield with the Bricklin in New Brunswick back in the 1970s. Although the car generated a lot of buzz, manufacturing problems and mismanagement by founder Malcolm Bricklin doomed the project. By the time the Bricklin operation was shut down in 1976, Bricklin owed the New Brunswick government $4.5-million. 

Ian Greig

A New Gearhead Generation

My friend Ian Greig shot this picture of his sons Colin and William at their house in Halifax. It’s great to see some young guys making real things, not just digital renderings. This picture brought back a lot of memories of when I was a kid – I spent my formative years building models and taking machinery apart to see how it worked.

Bumper Saver

I spotted this flip-down bumper apron on my last trip to New York City. Not a bad idea. Even better would be an iron dome that you can drop down over the whole car (although portability would be a problem.)

The Rolling Cartoon

This prettified Toyota Venza rolled up next to us in Toronto. Wonder if those lips and eyelashes are homemade?

The General Lee Settles Down

As you may recall, the General Lee (the car driven by Bo and Luke on The Dukes of Hazzard TV show) was a 1969 Dodge Charger. My wife and I spotted this Hazzard-ified Honda minivan on the Gardiner Expressway.

Another Teardrop

If you follow my Spotted blog regularly, you may have noticed the recent pictures of teardrop-style mini trailers. They’re interesting creations that avoid the massive weight and aerodynamic drag of a traditional house trailer. This lets you haul a teardrop with a small car. I spotted this one along I-75.

Race Ready, Except For the Track

If you spend much time at the racetrack, you’ve probably seen these removable towing attachments. If you crash, track workers use these to pull you out of the weeds. Now drivers are using them on the street as fashion accessories. I spotted this one near my wife’s school in downtown Toronto

Tire Thermometer

If you haven’t seen one of these before, it’s a tire pyrometer. The steel pin at the end of the cable measures the temperature of the rubber on your tires, which lets you fine tune the pressure. I’ve been using this for a while, and it’s great.

Marian Cheney

The Pyrometer in Action

My wife shot this last summer at the racetrack. I’m using the pyrometer to measure the temperature across the width of my car’s tires after running some high-speed laps. The temperature spread shows whether the tires are under or over-inflated. I’m going to do a video on this soon. It’s pretty interesting.

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