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 firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Twitter @cheneydrive (#spotted), or join him on Facebook (no login required). All photos by Peter Cheney unless otherwise noted.
You don’t see one of these every day. Reader Rick Lapas spotted this Ariel Atom at the Shops at Don Mills plaza a while back. The Atom is a limited-production English sports car that maximizes performance by eliminating non-essential components (like bodywork and a windshield.) There is apparently only one in Ontario (the provincial motor vehicle department won’t let you register them anymore.) If you get to drive an Atom, wear goggles – or a helmet.
The Minimalist Car, Minimized
I love small, elemental sports cars, and the Atom takes the concept to the extreme. The exposed frame is made from mandrel-bent tubing, and the only wind protection comes from a little instrument binnacle in front of the driver. It’s like a motorcycle with four wheels.
The Atom in Action
A Bumper That Earns Its Keep
A Personal Vision on Wheels
The art car is an interesting concept – for the price of a dozen cans of spray paint and a few hundred plastic figures, you can create a car that expresses your unique vision. You will also make your car impossible to sell. My friend Patrick Dell spotted this truly unique Toyota 4Runner SUV in Hamilton.
The Art of 3-D Automotive Decoration
I’m pretty sure these accessories didn’t come from Canadian Tire. And I have no idea how you wash the car with all these sculptures attached. Not boring, though.
How Not To Decrease Aerodynamic Drag
Patrick’s close-up of the 4Runner gives more detail on the artist’s theme. I don’t think all those millipedes and lizards are going to help this SUV’s aerodynamics.
Pimped-Out Big Rig
My wife and I spotted this light-bedecked 18-wheeler on Highway 401. You won’t miss this guy at night.
This Mercedes 190SL was parked near our house a while back. Produced between 1955 and 1963, the 190 had timeless style. Although it resembles the 300SL (the Mercedes that Pierre Trudeau used to drive), the 190 was mechanically different, with less power and shortened platform.
The 190’s interior epitomizes the elegant simplicity of the vintage Mercedes. The painted metal dash, red leather and deep chrome are absolutely beautiful. And check out that pushbutton Blaupunkt radio.
I spotted this two-door Chevy convertible in Harlem, near the Apollo Theatre. This is Mad Men era styling at its best.
How to Stop the Foreign Invasion (or at least try)
I noticed this sign in the parking lot at Chrysler Canada, but it looks like some don’t read it – if I’m not mistaken, that’s a Scion in the background.
Red Beetle Day
My friend Vaso Stojanovic sent this along. Vaso and his dad, Peter, runs Peters Garage here in Toronto. They’re among the few guys who still know how to work on air-cooled VW’s. What were the chances of having three red ones in the shop at once?
Although I quit riding motorcycles a while back, I still appreciate them. I spotted this café-racer Honda 750 in Manhattan. This is the kind of bike I longed for as a teenager – stripped down and elemental, with clip-on handlebars and a tail fairing. And the wrapped exhaust pipes are a cool touch.
More Café Style
Here’s another café racer – a Moto Guzzi I saw parked on College St. here in Toronto. The polished aluminum fuel tank conjures up the golden age of motorcycle road racing.