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Spotted: Big tails on small cars, and a mystery to solve

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.

Executive Parking Fire lane? What fire lane?

I spotted this BMW outside a Home Depot in the Stockyards district here in Toronto.

Save the Whales

This cool vintage Porsche 911 was at Mosport last summer during one of my track sessions. The silver paint and humungous whale tail make a real statement. I love it.

Moby Porsche

The earlier 911s develop significant aerodynamic lift at high speed. This humpback-sized tail should help.

Vintage Cool

The Porsche 911’s shape is iconic. Adding a roll cage, bulged racing fenders and blacked-out Fuchs wheels only makes it better – the 911 is one of the coolest race cars of all time.
Marilyn McCrimmon

All Original, Some TLC Required

Reader Rod McCrimmon and his wife Marilyn spotted this beater Buick Skylark in Honolulu. No one knew how to make a rusty car better than Detroit in the 1960s and 1970s. And the purple wheels are a nice touch (if you like that kind of thing.)

Bill Macmillan

Redneck Engineering

Reader Bill MacMillan noticed this Buick off Interstate 66, in the Shenandoah Valley. Bill was struck by the amount of work that had gone into the homemade front bumper: “The wood was skillfully dressed – surfaces nicely planed and smooth, edges 90 deg. sharp and square, license plate centred and level, etc.,” he writes, but wondered what the weight of that massive wooden beam would do to the handling. There was also the intimidation factor: “We only shook our heads as we imagined being hit by this battering ram.” Agreed.

John McNeill/The Globe and Mail

License Plate History

My good friend and Globe librarian Paula Wilson spotted this vintage picture of former Ontario premier Bill Davis while she was combing through the archives. Taken in November of 1972, it shows Davis with the province’s new multi-year license plate (until these came along, you had to get a new set of plates every year.) The multi-year plate also introduced the new provincial logo: “Keep it Beautiful.” Speaking of which: how about that pinstripe suit?

Courtesy of Bill Brack

Back in the Day

My friend Bill Brack (shown sitting on the wheel of the #85 car) gave me this vintage shot of racing at Mosport speedway back in the 1970s. Bill, who lives in Toronto, had quite the racing career: he was a multi-time Formula Atlantic champion, and raced for BRM and Lotus in Formula One.

Gayle Brock

That Seventies Thing

My friend Pete Brock (the guy on the right in this picture) is one of the world’s great gear heads. (Among his long list of accomplishments is designing the Shelby Daytona coupe and running the BRE racing team. Pete sent along this picture of friend Steve Liebenow and his De Tomaso Mangusta, a 1970s supercar classic. Very cool!

Mystery Car

I spotted this on the autobahn during my road test of the new Porsche 911S. Does anyone know what it is? (I don’t.)

Autobahn Oddity

Flamed Detroit vans were a common sight on the interstate back in the 1970s. But I shot this one on the German autobahn in 2014. Go figure.

The Woodstock Spirit Lives

As you may know, VW has killed off the Kombi microvan. I spotted this hand painted Westphalia version in Kircheim, Germany.

Two Classics (One Driveable)

Queen Street West in Toronto is always an interesting place (my wife teaches at a school nearby.) This classic Ford pickup looked super cool parked in front of the wall-mounted Elvis-mobile at the Cadillac Lounge.

Duelling Budgies

Everyone has their own vision, and it is often expressed on our cars. But I have no idea what these angry-looking bird heads are supposed to mean. They got my attention, anyway.

The Big Wing Lotus

I just traded in my Lotus. Here are my current and previous cars, parked side by side in front of the dealer. As you can see, the new one has a gigantic wing on the tail. (If I decide I don’t like it, I can bolt on the smaller wing in five minutes…. we’ll see.) I’m now working on graphic designs for the car. If you have any great ideas on that front, please feel free to suggest.

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