Cars

In the ’90s I worked for Motor Trend magazine as an assistant managing editor; eventually, in 2012, that led to becoming editor of Audi and Volkswagen’s Canada-wide magazines; and in 2015, I landed at Driving.ca (National Post), where I was senior producer for two years. Most recently, I’m an automotive contributor for Bay Street Bull and Driven Women magazines (below, my article/photos for the Jaguar F-Type). Links in red.

Driven Women-Jaguar F-Type

New for 2022:

The Auto Philes, for Bay Street Bull magazine

January: The Future According to Ford

February: Green Machines Are on the Rise

March: Driving Canada’s EV Transformation

… and a bit about a driveshare program by Porsche, plus a feature in the next magazine (coming soon!)

Archives:

Test Drive: The Porsche Experience

Calling the Porsche 911 “iconic” is almost an understatement. This is the sports car by which others are measured, for better or – usually – for worse. There’s no question that the 911 is classically appealing. Its lines say “fast,” and Porsche’s history as a racetrack superstar means you can expect all the thrills the name promises. 

A conversation with Karim Habib, global executive design director for Infiniti

“Good design brings the intrinsic values of the product to the surface, whether it’s a house or a toothbrush or a car.”

Infiniti Project Black S
Infiniti Project Black S

Are you ready for the green machine revolution?

In the wake of Tesla’s success, which proves a fledgling electric car startup can take on the biggest carmakers, a ripple effect is creating the equivalent of a sonic boom in the automotive industry. (published in Bay Street Bull magazine)

The 2017 Volkswagen #PinkBeetle visits Canada’s classic car capital

I’m noticing something in the first few hours of driving the much-hyped Volkswagen #PinkBeetle: A lot of bystanders (yes, even 20-something women!) don’t give it a second look, but those who do, really, really do. Even a few construction workers called out, “Nice car!” as I drove by. Go figure.

Long-Term Review: 2017 Toyota Sienna

Ultimately, what I love about a minivan, and which is often underrated, is the sheer utility and practicality it provides. The ability to throw a truckload of camping gear in the back and still have ample room for five – or even more – passengers is the absolute definition of road trip luxury. Not the “my valet is jealous” type of luxury we often aspire for, but the “let’s go camping any damn time we want” kind.

  • Published in the National Post, Calgary Sun; includes photography

Minivan Review: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

The problem is, sex appeal often has a catch. Plus, one thing that seems to change awfully quickly is style. Yes, the Pacifica has plenty of style (for a minivan), but in a few years, will it look dated? Like the first-generation iMac, which 10 years after it debuted ended up looking like an archaeological relic? The gauges, backlit in blue and featuring bright blue illuminated markers, are what started this debate for me – I couldn’t help thinking of Lite Brite every time I checked how fast I was going.

  • Published in the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and others; includes photography

A perfect winter road trip to Niagara Falls in the Toyota Sienna

Our whirlwind weekend tour came to a close with a drive back to Toronto “the slow way,” north along the Niagara Parkway through Niagara-on-the-Lake and the area’s expansive wine fields, which took on a winter wonderland appearance with the fresh snowfall. It couldn’t have been more beautiful, as we drove into a glowing sunset reflecting off the glistening countryside; I guess Sir Winston Churchill was right when he called this road “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.”

  • Published in the National Post, Montreal Gazette and others; includes photography

Celebrate Earth Day with five all-electric (superfast) supercars

Let’s discuss the endangered elephant in the room. In the great debate between environmentalists and the automotive industry, both sides can probably agree on a few things: Many people absolutely love cars, and love driving them. Plus, modern society has become dependant on vehicles for their many conveniences, often out of necessity; our food is delivered by transport trucks, our children are sent to school on buses and many people need to drive on a daily basis, due to limited mass-transit options. But when it comes to justifying supercars – the argument gets more heated.

The all-new Ferrari 812 Superfast will (definitely) live up to its name

When Ferrari says Superfast, you’d better believe it – this supercar will have V12 power and 789 horses on tap.

The Ford vs. Ferrari rivalry made history and now it’s a movie

EVs and hybrids on the rise for 2017

  • Published in the Montreal Gazette

Toyota’s art of the “dream car” as envisioned by kids

More than 875,000 children entered Toyota’s 9th annual drawing contest.

toyota-art-awards-3d-model
Ken Ishii/Getty Images, Toyota Motor Corp.

In Remembrance: Tales of war-time drivers and mechanics

The Memory Project is an initiative by Historica Canada, sharing thousands of veteran stories online and through public speaking events. We delved into their vast archives to bring you a few of our favourite stories from war-time drivers and mechanics.

Nissan ‘Rogue Dogue’ puts Fido first – and we love it!

For some of us, dog ownership is much more than a “lifestyle choice;” they’re our family members. And while minivans cater to the families that drive (or basically, live in) them by installing vacuum cleaners, a zillion child-seat anchors and kid-oriented entertainment systems, it’s rare to find a vehicle that puts our canine friends in the front seat, so to speak.

doguetavern_3
Handout, Nissan

Victoria’s Secret billionaire wins clear title for super-rare Ferrari

After a lengthy court battle, the 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus purchased at a Bonhams auction in 2014 can finally come home to its new owner.

Continental is developing rubber tires – made from dandelion roots

The lowly dandelion proves once again that weeds tend to be underrated — but this time, instead of lending itself to a healthy tea or vitamin-rich salad, the hardy backyard “pest” is the basis for a new type of rubber that’s strong enough to take a beating under a vehicle.

Is Lamborghini eco-friendly? Never the twain shall meet – until now

The Lamborghini headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, celebrated becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral factory.

Best Contest Ever? Win an Aston Martin, meet Daniel Craig and save lives

The Future is Now: Concept cars lead the way

  • Volkswagen magazine, Fall/Winter 2012; special issue concept development and feature writing

10 Concept Cars: What were they thinking?

Dream cars can take almost any form, as many concepts have proven over the years. We dug through the archives of auto shows past (and video games present) to find a few oddities and misfits. Thankfully, none have made it to the production line – for good reason. (I developed the idea and list, shared writing duties)

And many more articles… including this monthly series I developed to highlight Driving’s top stories (in reverse chronological order):

“Five topics that got you talking…”

Jan. 2017: When a website brings in its second-highest monthly page views ever – like we did in January – you don’t even want to #humblebrag. This is an all-out celebration of awesomeness!

Driving‘s Top 10 most popular stories of 2016: The top story of the year was a weekly column (that also ran nationally in print), Your Corner Wrench, which I co-developed with the writer and was consistently among the top weekly/monthly articles.

Nov. 2016: Tacky mods, winter tires and – yes – politics dominate the top five topics.

Oct. 2016: From the hottest cars for 2017 to surprising driving laws across Canada.

Sept. 2016: Will drivers realize we lost our privacy when it’s too late? and other less serious topics.

Aug. 2016: We reached a milestone, with the second-highest monthly page views in the past year. Apparently, some of our articles hit a nerve, from serious subjects – such as why electronic key fobs are vulnerable to tech-savvy thieves – to a fun quiz about some of the world’s weirdest driving laws.

July 2016: Why you should never have your feet on the dash, signs a senior may be an unsafe driver, and details about VW’s diesel settlement.

June 2016: The lamest excuses police hear for distracted driving, hysteria over “high driving,” and more.

May 2016: Should there be automatic alcohol sensors in all cars? Is it fair when cops use telephoto lenses to bust drivers? and other questions.

April 2016: Dieselgate and highway speed limits were two of the top monthly topics.

Here are some of my other feature concepts (in most cases, I wrote the headline/intro/edited) – several also ran in the National Post and other newspapers:

Our contributors’ worst car breakdown horror stories

My story: I named her “Peaches” – due to the Okanagan-branded logo up front, featuring the fruit – and our first road trip was from Victoria to Toronto, where I spent several months neighbourhood-hopping and getting to know the city for the first time, while in her comfy (and super retro) confines.

The all-original, late-70s Chevy 350 RV was only two feet longer than my dearly departed 1967 Cadillac DeVille, and you could actually live in it. Peaches had a four-burner stove, propane furnace, “full” bath (which I could barely lie down in, with knees bent) and original real wood panelling – even if it was thin plywood – with groovy tinted orange-brown plastic “windows” to frame the loft sleeping area above the cab, plus floral wallpaper in the bathroom and 70s-style vinyl flooring. It felt like being in a wood cabin on wheels.

Back in the day, she was a luxury machine. When I owned her, she was seeing her last good years – but it was when I left Toronto that the troubles began. You never forget driving by flashlight when your alternator starts failing during a late-night marathon, sparks flying out from under the hood, while you crawl along at what feels like 5 km/h. That was the first time it failed.

I must have replaced the alternator at least four times while I owned her, and each event was nearly catastrophic – with a semi on my tail trying to push me off the road, or when I was in the middle of nowhere where one car passes every five hours, if you’re lucky.

People I call the “patron saints of the road” came to my rescue, even a trucker who stopped at 2 a.m. to tinker for an hour and get me back on the road – again. The last road trip I took with her, a mechanic laughed and said, “Good luck getting out of the city.” But she made it, kind of. Slowly. Peaches was sold to an owner who planned to “restore” her. RIP.

Lessons learned from our rotten road trips

My story: I loved her to death, but she was almost the death of me: Peaches, my late-70s Chevy RV had a host of issues in large part after being stored for a winter outdoors in Ontario; she was never the same again. It didn’t help that I then drove her to Winnipeg, and back again, in less than optimal conditions – that is, I couldn’t really afford to fix all of her issues at the time, so I “made do” – which, I can now advise, you should never, ever do.

After leaving Toronto, I stopped my “B.C. or bust” cross-country journey in Winnipeg for several reasons, but number one was the realization that attempting to climb the Rockies was sure suicide; it would be “bust.” So, after spending a year parked outdoors in Winterpeg, driving Peaches back to Ontario was optimistic, but I was stubbornly determined to get out of Manitoba. One cylinder was on the verge of death, the seals were pretty much shot (a prime candidate for a rebuild or a new engine); she was running loud, rough and slow, so there were many nail-biting moments and countless litres of oil on the way back to Ontario. Add a year-old baby crying most of the time, and you can imagine how I felt when we finally parked in Toronto after a week of crawling at a snail’s pace, with truckers bearing down on our back bumper; apparently “baby on board” was trucker bait.

The “for sale” sign was put up in Peaches’ window not long after that – and I swore that I would never attempt another road trip in anything but a mechanically pristine vehicle.

I still dream of having another RV – story “to be continued,” no doubt!

Dumb things we did (at the wheel) while we were young

Judge not, or ye shall be judged. Since we like to call out bad drivers, we thought it was time to admit a few of our own faults – from long, long ago. No assignment elicited as many “Are you serious?” responses as when we asked our contributors to admit the worst infractions from their early years of driving.

These are the longest-lasting cars we’ve ever driven

You never forget Old Faithful, the vehicle that rarely – if ever – lets you down.

My story: This is a hard question, since I haven’t owned a vehicle in about 10 years and most were vintage. It’s probably a tie between a mid-70s bright yellow Volkswagen Super Beetle that a college friend gave me — despite sitting in a back yard for several years, it started up quickly with new spark plugs and an oil change — or an early-80s compact Mitsubishi pickup that had seen many hard years, and many kilometres (forgive me for not remembering!) as a family member’s work truck. Despite other fuzzy details, I clearly remember its responsive driving manners, stiff steering (and suspension), and impeccable reliability. The thing just wouldn’t quit — not one problem, with minimal maintenance. I would bet it’s still running.

& Just for Fun…

(because if you made it to the end of this page, you’re my hero!)

After countless hours of searching for images, I came up with a silly project. Behold the masterpiece (with a couple of broken links/missing photos, hopefully their new web editor will fix them someday…)

Driving Don’ts: Stock photography that made us go, ‘Huh?’