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Spotted: Cool cars, bad parking jobs, flux capacitors

Welcome to Spotted: Globe Drive writer Peter Cheney's new weekly feature that takes you behind the scenes of his life as a vehicle and engineering journalist. Spotted includes photos and commentary on great and terrible cars, cool technology, bad parking, scenes from garages, car show tidbits, crashes, factories, road trips, driving etiquette, and anything Peter and you, the reader, "spot" on the streets each week that's related to vehicle culture. 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).

An earlier online version of this story incorrectly stated that the Oldsmobile 442's name was based on its engine size. This online version has been corrected.


Trevor the truck driver loads the cars into a Freightliner 18-wheeler as we head down to the Toronto car show. Getting a car up the ramp and into the truck calls for real skill with the clutch and wheel. (Getting out of the car is the hardest part of all.)


A Wing for the King - Richard Petty's 1970 Superbird stock car is on display at the Toronto car show. Forty-four years later, that giant wing and aero front end are still amazing. With declining attendance and look-alike cars, maybe NASCAR needs something this crazy again.

Jaguar CX-17

Designer at Work: Jaguar designer Sandy Boyes gave us an exclusive look at the gauges in his CX-17 crossover concept at the Toronto car show. Note the Back To The Future-style flux-capacitor indicator in the middle.

Mechanical Porn

I spotted this turbo Audi R8 at Pfaff Tuning's booth in the Toronto car show. I really like the billet aluminum detail and the way the turbo piping wraps around the engine and transaxle. It seems like a shame to cover this with body panels.


My new Lotus with vented fender panels. These are track-oriented pieces that duct hot air away from the brakes. I'm designing a set of stainless-steel mesh grills that will cover the openings so rocks don't get launched off those sticky Pirelli tires.


My race driver friend Dave Empringham opened a new winter-storage site called The Auto Storage Palace in the Toronto suburbs. I love going there - It's like a private car show. The Corvette Z06 at the front was modified by a racing team crew chief - note the removable tow-eye in the front air intake.

Auto Storage

The Auto Storage Palace is brand new, so it hasn't filled up yet. Dave and his brother Zack spent months stripping the building and painting it. The space makes me think of a Hemingway story I once studied: A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.

The English Beat

Three new Lotus Evora S models showed up at the Gentry Lane dealership last week. This is only a couple of blocks from my house, and it's my second home. I bought my Lotus at Gentry, and the owner lets me use the shop for all my maintenance work. I helped Colin bolt the new wing on the tail end of this new Evora. How do you like that Motorsport Green colour?

When Minis Were Truly Mini

This is my mechanic friend Colin Beggs working on a 1275 Cooper S at the Gentry Lane shop in downtown Toronto. Although it looks like a 1960s Mini, this particular car was built in 1996 as a commemorative edition. Unlike the original, the windows roll up and down inside of sliding. It's amazing how small these Minis are compared to the current model. They're like Matchbox toys you can drive.

Mini Engine

The Mini's transverse engine / front wheel drive layout became a template for millions of future cars. Designer Sir Alex Issigonis was a genius.

Mini Headlights

I love the old-school halogen headlamps on the original Cooper S.


Miniature Gearhead Paradise

I spotted this in an alley after testing out a shortcut to my wife's school. I love coach house garages, and this one is unique.


Another hard-living Oldsmobile in downtown Detroit. Looked liked that left rear tire could use some air. The house could use some TLC too.

Motown Blues

I spotted this in downtown Detroit on a recent trip. Looks like a late-sixties / early 70's Olds 442. The 442's name is based on its specifications: four-barrel carburetor, four-speed shifter, and dual exhaust. That's the way we rolled back in the golden age of the Detroit muscle car. The original wheels would have been 14 inches, these add-ons look like 22's.


Another Detroit ride that's seen better days. I spotted this old tandem-axle motorhome a few blocks away from the ruined Packard plant.

Corvette C7R

Also in Detroit - the new C7R Corvette race car. I spent time with the engineers from the program, and came away impressed. They're smart guys, and they made a supercool race car.

Trees: Two. Cars: Zero.

As you may have heard, Toronto got walloped by a major ice storm. Weeks later, there were still ruined cars everywhere. This Mazda was parked near University Ave., and it looked like it had been smitten by a giant battle-hammer. Nasty.

Another ice-storm victim

Weeks after the storm, this poor Honda Odyssey was still trapped under the giant tree that finished it off. The chainsaw crews had a rough time - look at the size of the trunk they had to cut through. This was in the Annex, a beautiful old Toronto neighbourhood known for its majestic oaks.

Adventures in Parking

Although I'm not a fan of the parking ticket, there are drivers who richly deserve one. This Jetta was parked at the front door of Sears at Toronto's Yorkdale Mall, directly in front of a Fire Route sign. The Jetta stayed there for two hours. It was ticketed, but against all odds, not towed.


Guaranteed ticket?

Without the Official Business exemption, this was a guaranteed ticket. (Official Business does not necessarily include parking discipline.)

More parking trouble

A parking ticket is even harder to swallow when it gets written by a Green Hornet who parks like this. (This was at Bay and Elm St., in the heart of downtown Toronto.)

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