Tempting fate in a rusty Subaru GL

By Dave S. Clark

I have a weakness for cheap cars. Cheap vintage cars especially, but really any cheap crap can. They are fun, I don’t care if I wreck them and they are the main reason I’ve owned about 20 cars so far in my life. I also have a weakness for the Whiteshell Provincial Park, where I basically grew up as a kid. In 2004, those two weaknesses collided in an ill-fated journey.

At the time, I was a broke journalism student, wanting to get away for a little summer break and show my favourite spot in the world to my then-girlfriend Karlie. What little money I did have was tied up in my Nissan 240sx, which I was swapping an SR20DET into.  I was eager to show her the cottage where I had spent all my summers as I child and take her on our first major road trip together. The only concern was I was having loads of problems troubleshooting the freshly installed engine, which was only running on three of its four cylinders.  I had two options: not go, or drive my very beat up winter beater, an early ’80s Subaru GL. Or maybe it was a DL. I’m not sure, but what mattered was that it was a wagon, rusty, smelly and possibly not worth every last dollar of the $400 purchase price. Continue reading “Tempting fate in a rusty Subaru GL”

Book Review: Mongol Rally – Three Weeks into the Unknown

mongol-rally-book-review

By Dave S. Clark

Completing the Mongol Rally is a monumental task and because of the book Mongol Rally – Three Weeks into the Unknown, it’s now an experience that is written in permanent marker on my bucket list.

Anyone who participates in the event has to be slightly insane for a number of reasons. First off, it starts in London and ends in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, which can be anywhere from 13,000 KM to 16,000 KM. Needless to say, it would be a taxing drive. But as the book illustrates, it isn’t solely the distance, the brutal terrain and the terrible or non-existent roads that make it tough. It’s the countless border crossings and police checkpoints that make the race a challenge.

On top of that, it’s basically the Chump Car of long distance rally races, meaning you’re required to do it in a crap can of a vehicle. When the rally is over, you’re required to turn the vehicle over and have it auctioned for charity, so you don’t want to invest in it too heavily.  Continue reading “Book Review: Mongol Rally – Three Weeks into the Unknown”

Classic car spotting in the former Yugoslavia

By Dave S. Clark

Some countries have cars that are synonymous with each other – Porsche, BMW and Mercedes with Germany, Ferrari and Lamborghini with Italy, the Big Three with the USA and Yugo with Yugoslavia.

Having made two trips to the former Yugoslavia and seeing every former state except Slovenia, I’ve had ample time to spot many Yugos and other classics that have been able to stay on the road. If you enjoy classic car spotting like I do and are heading to the Balkans, you’ll be excited to know that Yugos won’t be the only vintage (or vintage looking) car you’ll see.

Here are the most common classics I spotted in the region:  Continue reading “Classic car spotting in the former Yugoslavia”

Hupmobile, pre-war cars highlight Elkhorn auto museum

By Dave S. Clark

For years, I drove past the Manitoba Antique Automobile Museum in Elkhorn but never stopped to go in. Perhaps it was because I was always making good time and I know how long it can take me to go through a great antique car museum when I get sucked in. On my last time through, I made the wise move to get a glimpse of the Hupmobiles, Overlands and other pre-war cars on display.

On my way home to Edmonton from my annual retreat in the Whiteshell Provincial Park, I decided to finally commit the time and check it out. Besides, I was driving 1500 kilometres that day and this would be a good chance to get out and stretch my legs.  Continue reading “Hupmobile, pre-war cars highlight Elkhorn auto museum”

Knox Mountain Hill Climb: Historic race in beautiful Kelowna

By Dave S. Clark

For nearly 60 years, racers have been tearing up Kelowna’s Knox Mountain Hill Climb, a 2.2-mile track that ascends 800 feet through nine white-knuckled turns, and this year, I was able to get a little sample of it.

I had heard about the event many times as lots of racers from Edmonton make the drive to challenge themselves on the course and I finally got a chance to take in the action as I attended Datsun Matsuri 2014, which is held in conjuction with the race.

Although the Datsun show was my first priority for the weekend, I was excited to catch some of the racing and see some of the cars that I was familiar with from the Eurasia Cup at the Edmonton Indy, which I had covered for several years.  Continue reading “Knox Mountain Hill Climb: Historic race in beautiful Kelowna”

Datsun Matsuri a celebration of vintage Japanese tin

By Dave S. Clark

Every Victoria Day long weekend, Datsuns from across Western Canada converge on Kelowna, BC for Datsun Matsuri (which translates to Festival in Japanese), a car show honouring the Japanese classics that is run alongside the historic Knox Mountain Hill Climb.

Despite decades of snowy Canadian winters doing their best to rot away the rust-prone Datsuns, many of them survived and got into the hands of enthusiastic owners. This year, I was able to join those owners in Kelowna with my friend Dave Myers from MyAutoProject.com, who hosts the show.

This is the third year Dave has hosted the show and I was pretty excited since I hadn’t been able to make any of Dave’s Datsun meets since I drove my old 280z to the All Alberta Datsun Meet in 2011. It was a memorable day as it was barely above zero and my driver’s side window had been smashed out two days prior to the meet, which meant I had to drive to the meet windowless in order to buy a spare one off a fellow Datsun owner.  Continue reading “Datsun Matsuri a celebration of vintage Japanese tin”

Expedition to Lone Island in search of abandoned truck in Whiteshell Provincial Park

By Dave S. Clark

For many years, I’ve had a vague memory from my childhood of a 1950s truck, partially submerged in water in a swamp in a river in the Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba, Canada.

The memory was created one summer, 16 or 17 years ago, when my uncle, brother and a couple cousins came across the truck while trying to find a portage route from the river to another lake. However, the day of our expedition, I was accidently hit on the head with a paddle, which sliced my scalp open. So I wasn’t sure if the whole day was just something I dreamt up in a bout of post-head-trauma creativity or if it actually happened. I know we never found the passage we were looking for, but I always remembered the truck.  Continue reading “Expedition to Lone Island in search of abandoned truck in Whiteshell Provincial Park”

Automotive oddities at Iceland’s Ystafell Transportation Museum

Dave S. Clark

I never imagined I would see a Kewet EL Jet or a Matra-Simca Begheera in a car museum in northern Iceland just a short jaunt south of Arctic Circle. It would have been impossible to imagine because I had no idea that either of those cars had even existed.

The Danish electric microcar and the polyester-bodied French sports car are just two of the many oddball cars that have been given a home at the Ystafell Transportation MuseumContinue reading “Automotive oddities at Iceland’s Ystafell Transportation Museum”

Stumbled across an incredible collection at Legendary Motorcar Company

Dave S. Clark

Driving down Southern Ontario’s 401 highway, en route to Cambridge for a business meeting in an econobox rental car, I stumbled upon something very cool and unexpected.

As I drove through the monotonous traffic on the busy freeway, I spotted a sign for Legendary Motorcar Company and an arrow pointing me to take the next exit. I had no idea what it was, but I had to stop. What I found was better than I could have imagined.  Continue reading “Stumbled across an incredible collection at Legendary Motorcar Company”

Trans-European camping road trip… in a vintage 1926 Bentley

Bentley-Vanden-Plas-camping-006Dave S. Clark

When one thinks about doing a camping trip of a life time – a 4100-km grand tour of Europe – they think long and hard about what type of car they should take on such a journey. They may think of taking a VW Westfalia or a Volvo wagon. Maybe even a small SUV. What doesn’t come to anyone’s mind is taking an antique Bentley.

Well, nobody except Anthony Belcher.  Continue reading “Trans-European camping road trip… in a vintage 1926 Bentley”