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 firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Twitter @cheneydrive (#spotted), or join him on Facebook (no login required).
A car for all seasons (not)
That lowered suspension and curb-dragging body kit may have seemed pretty cool back in August, when you were cruising College St. But now it’s February, and that front air dam has turned into a snowplow.
No plow, no problem
The Jeep Wrangler doesn’t make much sense as an urban vehicle – it’s tippy, it’s noisy, and it guzzles gas. But when a snowstorm hits, it rules the road. I spotted this Jeep in my Toronto neighborhood.
The alley behind our house doesn’t get plowed. And this minivan driver doesn’t have winter tires. This was his solution to the parking problem, which stopped the rest of us in our tracks.
Never say die
Some Toronto cyclists keep going no matter what. This was the scene on Queen St. in Toronto this week.
Cycle commuting, Dr. Zhivago style
If you saw 1965’s Doctor Zhivago, you will recall Omar Sharif’s long, icy journey through the Russian winter. Toronto isn’t much different these days. I spotted this hardcore rider on Bloor St.
E-bike on ice
I’m fascinated by the rise of the E-Bike, a machine you can buy for less than $1,000 and operate without a license. Most riders put their machines away in the fall. Not this guy. (I spent a week on an E-Bike last summer to learn about the culture.)
The gold paint and glue school of performance
Reader Jeff Ackert spotted this bedazzled scooter in Kingston, Jamaica. The rider spent a lot of time cutting up lengths of tubing (or is that cane?) and fitting them to his machine. A few cans of paint were required, too. He even decorated his helmet. Not sure how that seat would feel, but he gets top marks for effort and visual impact.
Rust never sleeps - a piece of Detroit history returns to Earth
To most, this rusting Oldsmobile I spotted on Bathurst St. is just another piece of scrap metal. But to students of Detroit history, the Toronado occupies a special place. When it came out in 1966, it was the first U.S.-produced front-wheel-drive car since the Cord (a car that disappeared from the market in 1937.) The Toronado also included innovations like a Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission, and a draft-free ventilation system that eliminated the flip-out vent window that was once standard on almost every car. But history overtook the Toronado - by the time it was discontinued in 1992, its features were no longer unique.
Not everything Porsche is beautiful
The Porsche Panamera is an automotive litmus test: some love it, others hate it. I’ve done many miles in the Panamera, and came away impressed with its smooth power, accurate steering, and excellent seats. But spotting this one in Toronto’s Yorkville district reminded me that the Panamera is best viewed from behind the wheel. From the outside, it looks like a fat athletic shoe. But then again, looks aren’t everything.
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