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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. We 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 pcheney@globeandmail.com, find him on Twitter @cheneydrive (#spotted), or join him on Facebook (no login required). All photos by Peter Cheney unless otherwise noted.

This week, Spotted is based on Cheney's recent road trip from San Diego to Whistler in an electric-powered Tesla. You can read about that trip here.

A California Vision

I spotted this ultra-cool Willys surf wagon in San Clemente, Calif. This is the west coast dream: blue ocean, surf, and golden hills. San Clemente is also known as the former hangout of Richard Nixon, the non-surfing U.S. president who went down in disgrace during the Watergate scandal.

Freshly Waxed Classic

Here’s a close-up of that Willys. Built in 1959, it still looks new. (The Willys has held up a lot better than Richard Nixon ever did.)

Why Your Wax Job Doesn’t Last

These seabird-covered islands were about 50 metres away from that beautiful Willys surf wagon. (I managed to get out of the way before the birds launched for an automotive strafing run.)

Enduring Style

Back in the 1960s, Detroit had a style all its own. I spotted this Chevrolet Impala on Highway 405. It’s a perfect example of the design ethic that defined Detroit’s golden age.

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

When I pulled up to the Four Seasons hotel in Santa Barbara, this 1950s Buick Roadmaster Estate wagon was parked out front. If you ever wondered what it was like to live in Dwight Eisenhower’s America, here’s your answer: porthole fenders, whitewall tires, and enough steel and chrome to build a locomotive.

To Each His Own

Recipe for a custom trike: Take one Harley Davidson. Add ape-hanger handlebars and third wheel. Mix in fencing components from Home Depot. Top with extra-large male rider. Garnish with skullcap helmet and flying goggles. We spotted this apparition on our way from San Diego to Whistler.

The Art of the Pitch

This vintage Ford Pinto ad was inside the menu of a restaurant in Grants Pass, Oregon. Who could resist a car with a SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic transmission? The ad made no mention of the faulty fuel-filler neck that made the Pinto go up in flames in a rear-end collision. But it did suggest that you could drive a hard bargain for one of these incendiary beauties: “…. remember, it’s a buyer’s market.”

The Love Bug, With a Twist

I spotted this 1970s VW Super Beetle in San Francisco. The late-model Beetle was a styling disaster, with kluged-on modifications that included a curved windshield, oversized taillights, and raised bumpers (these were required to meet federal safety standards.) Pink paint doesn’t help.

Marian Cheney

Nice Place, But You Wouldn’t Want to Live Here

This is Lombard Street in San Francisco. My wife shot this picture while I drove down through the curves. The most amazing part of the experience was realizing that people actually live on this street. Sure, the view is beautiful, but you better make sure that you enjoy tourists and an endless, snaking chain of cars.

Yes, My Favourite Colour is Pink. Why Do You Ask?

I spotted this customized Ford Probe in Corning, Calif.

An Alternate View of the Pink Probe

The woman who owns this Ford Probe showed up while I was taking this picture. I asked her how many cans of pink paint it took to cover the car. She couldn’t remember.

Hello Kitty

As I studied the Probe further, I noticed this welded-on tailpipe detail. And yes, the muffler is also painted pink.

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