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Actor Fred Ewanuick in his 1992 Volkswagen Westfalia.

JOHN LEHMANN

Fred Ewanuick

Profession: Actor

Age: 39

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Hometown: Port Moody, B.C.

Notable achievements

-Played Hank Yarbo for six seasons on Corner Gas, which was nominated for an International Emmy Award for Best Comedy Show and won a Gemini Award for Best Ensemble Cast in 2007

-Other TV credits included Robson Arms, DaVinci's Inquest, Dark Angel and The Addams Family series

-The lead in the indie feature, The Delicate Art of Parking, which won him a Best Actor Award at Spain's Peniscola Film Festival, after it premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival, where it won Best Canadian Feature

Currently

-Stars as Dan in the Gemini Award-nominated CTV series, Dan for Mayor; Season two premieres on June 5

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-Just wrapped his latest feature film, French Immersion

He gained fame as sidekick Hank Yarbo on the hit series Corner Gas. But nowadays, Fred Ewanuick plays the lead role in the new comedy Dan for Mayor.

His character is a bartender who becomes the mayor of a small fictional town in Ontario. But in real life, Ewanuick is an adventure seeker who loves hitting the open road in his 1992 Volkswagen Westfalia.

Why did you buy a Westfalia?

We bought it used three-four years ago because my wife and I love camping, but we hate sleeping in tents.

We wanted something we can sleep in. It's great - you don't even have to get out of bed to make your tea in the morning. You just lean up, turn the kettle on and, when it boils, lean back up again, put the tea bag in, let it steep and then have your tea.

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When people think of Westfalias they think of the old ones with the huge VW symbol. This one literally looks like a minivan and when you camp and pop it all open everybody pokes their head in it: What? That's got a kitchen?

What's the best feature on it?

The pop top is pretty cool. You can sleep four in it.

There's literally an upstairs - you can sleep upstairs or downstairs if you wish.

There's a full-on kitchenette and cabinets. And it's small enough it just looks like a minivan. So when you're driving around town, it's easy to park.

But it must cost you a fortune in gas?

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No! It's great! It's a four-banger so it gets really good gas mileage.

Our other car is a Jeep and it gets lousy gas. We're actually trying to get rid of it.

Now we end up driving the Westfalia more because it is a lot better on gas.

Is there anything you'd change on it?

It's a work in progress. The one thing I'd love to do if I had unlimited funds would be to make it an all-wheel-drive. I added a solar feature on it so when the world goes to pooh we could actually drive up to the hills and live off the grid.

Not that that's what I want to do, but if we had to, we could.

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What's under the hood of the Westfalia?

It's an Audi four-cylinder engine. It's the stock engine that came with it.

I have a great mechanic in Port Moody - all he does is work on Volkswagens and Audis. He's in love with this van.

He says back in Europe they use these as delivery vans. They've got this big hefty clutch. He says you're not going to get anywhere fast, but you're gonna get there.

Have you had any problems with it?

We got our first tow last year - the starter blew up. That's the only major issue.

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Everything else has been maintenance and adding new cool stuff like the solar panel.

Are you handy with cars?

Not so much any more. When I was a kid I used to be.

I was into Volkswagens and my dad and I bought a 1970 VW Bug and restored it. If anything went wrong on that car I could fix it no problem. But with new cars with the computers and all that stuff, I'm lost.

What does a Westfalia say about you?

Geez, I don't know. I like being away as long as I have a home. If I can't pay the mortgage any more, I can just live in the van.

What was your first car?

It was a 1970 Volkswagen Bug. We put older fenders, a back tail lid and lowered it a bit. It looked really cool.

When my foot went through the floorboard, my mom decided I should sell it. When it became a complete safety risk, my mom was, like, "Hey come and look at this pickup truck - isn't it cute?" Alright, I get the message.

I still miss it. A few years back, I was driving in Port Moody and it was sitting there for sale and I almost bought it back.

It would have been cool, but I was, like, "No, I got to move on. I got to grow up."

What else have you owned?

I bought a '85 GMC pickup - it was a short box with IROC rims and it was lowered. It looked pretty cool - it was awesome. I was a teenager. Back then it was a lick of paint and cool rims and you were done.

Then I went to an '85 GTI. I traded that in on a '92 GTI.

I love Volkswagens. When I was growing up, my mom had a gold sun Bug. I've always loved Bugs. They're easy to work on and awesome cars.

Then, I got a '97 Jeep Cherokee. We still have it; we're trying to sell it, but we're both attached to it. We drove from coast to coast in it - my wife and I and my dog, Cloe.

It's been to every province. It was one of those things I always wanted to do. We packed up the Jeep and drove across the country - we went from Tofino on Vancouver Island, which is as far west as you can go, all the way to Cape Spear, Newfoundland - as far east as you could go.

Have you done any memorable road trips in the Westfalia?

I love driving - I love road trips. If I could get there by car, I'd do it.

For the last four years for Corner Gas I'd drive every year.

We've been up and down the east coast of Vancouver Island. Two summers ago, we did a big trip into the interior of B.C. ...

My dream trip with it - and I have to convince my wife because she's not a golfer - is to take the clubs and every day drive to a course, camp in the parking lot, play the course, then eat and drive to the next course and make my way all across Canada.

What do you listen to on the road?

It's a hodge-podge of stuff.

If I'm in charge of the radio it's anything from Johnny Cash to the Ramones to the Beastie Boys to Tragically Hip. But if Theresa has the radio, it could be audio books of Harry Potter.

If I could bring you the keys to any vehicle, what would it be?

A 1991 Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera - red. When I was a kid my uncle had a baby-blue Porsche. He took me for a ride in it and that was it - I want a Porsche!

For the longest time when I was a kid and I saw Smokey and the Bandit I wanted the Trans Am with the gold eagle on the hood.

I got Italian blood - that's my excuse.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

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