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 email@example.com, find him on Twitter @cheneydrive (#spotted), or join him on Facebook (no login required). All photos by Peter Cheney unless otherwise noted.
I spotted this Tatra T603 in Montreal a while ago. As exotics go, this is hard to beat: you don’t see very many communist-built streamliners with rear-mounted, air-cooled V8 engines. The Tatra company was founded in Czechoslovakia back in the 1800s, and became known for original design and engineering. The 603 came out in the 1950s while the country was under communist rule, and was produced until 1975.
Tatras were interesting cars, but they demanded an expert touch. The 603 followed the layout of earlier Tatra models like the T77, with a heavy, rear-mounted engine and swing axles. This meant that it was only too easy to induce deadly oversteer if a driver went into a corner too fast and suddenly chopped the throttle. After the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938, Tatras became the favoured ride of many Nazi officers, and so many of them died in crashes that the Tatra became known as “The Czech Secret Weapon.”
A Ride From Camelot
I spotted this 1960s Lincoln on Interstate 75. These classic Lincolns always remind me of the John F. Kennedy era. Note the suicide-style rear doors – they’re hinged at the rear, which means that your own car will mow you down if you get out while it’s moving.
“Don’t Worry, I Can Walk From Here….”
Reader Andrew Kemp spotted this masterfully parked Ford in Jasper, Alberta.
Parking Like a Boss
I shot this photo at Lookout Mountain, Georgia (my favourite hang gliding site.) In the foreground is the actual parking area, which is defined by signs and a concrete curb. In the background is an SUV that scaled the curb, drove through the glider setup area, and parked next to the cliff.
This 1960s Mustang was parked in San Clemente, California. By the looks of it, this isn’t a restored car - that might even be the original paint. It’s amazing how well a car can hold up in a place where they don’t have snow (and road salt.)
“Is that you, Barack?”
The U.S. presidential limousine is a very special car. Rumoured to cost over $300,000 apiece, the current model carries a Cadillac badge, but uses running gear from a Chevrolet Kodiak truck. Secret Service Agents refer to it as “Cadillac One” or “The Beast.” My friend Patrick Dell spotted this Beast replica on a movie shooting location in Toronto.
How to Make a Speed Bump Look Like Mount Everest
You may have heard about the automotive fad known as “stancing.” To stance a car, you buy the fattest wheels and tires you can find, dial in exorbitant amounts of negative camber, then lower your machine until you can’t drive over anything taller than a sheet of paper. Angled driveways and streets with speed bumps become impassable, but you look cool (at least to other stancers.) Reader Jane Leckey spotted this ground-scraping fashion slave in Toronto.
A Blast From Beach Buggy Past
Reader Sean Dawson spotted this rig in Ottawa, and wasn’t sure what it was. Answer: it’s a Meyers Manx (or one of its many clones.) Created in 1964 by California designer and surfer Bruce Meyers, the Manx sparked the dune buggy craze. The Manx used a custom fiberglass body mounted on a shortened VW chassis.
The Build-It Yourself Car
The VW running gear used in the Manx was perfect for a dune buggy. The rear-mounted engine helped traction on loose sand, and the short wheelbase made it ultra-maneuverable. Actor Steve McQueen drove a souped-up version of the Manx in the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair. In McQueen’s Manx, the four-cylinder VW motor was replaced with a six-cylinder model taken from a Chevrolet Corvair.
“We’re going to need a bigger battery!”
I spotted this light-bedecked camper pickup in Toronto. It looked like it had enough candlepower to light up a Major League evening game.
Light Proliferation Explained
As I walked around the truck, I realized why it had so many lights. And judging by the license plate, it came from the Yukon. It gets dark up there.
That Sixties Thing
I spotted this Ford Galaxie near Aldergrove, B.C. That no-pillar coupe still looks good. Detroit designers were firing on all cylinders back in the 1960s.