And so the wheel turns

30 03 2013

What a lovely weekend so far! Highs of 17, despite a cool start.

It was Good Friday. (It’s good any day, in my book…) Mrs E and I took our two remaining offspring and their friends to the Vancouver International Auto Show. Don’t worry – First Born is away at University, she’s not met a gruesome end or anything.

The last time I went to a motor show, it was at the massive National Exhibition Centre in the UK’s Birmingham. Maybe it’s because I was only about 13, but I remember it as being humongous! A whole day to even begin to scratch the surface. There were lorries and fire engines and all manner of things. Not just cars.

Vancouver Auto Show was a much more leisurely affair despite claiming to be Canada’s third largest. (Perhaps the fourth largest is some pub car-park). We got there good and early, safe in the knowledge that Vancouver doesn’t really rise until early afternoon. We spent about 2½ hours there in all… and saw everything. It was just the one large room. The crowds were only just arriving as we left. It didn’t close until 10pm, so I felt a little sorry for the floor staff. A very long day… especially on a Bank Holiday!

Mrs E had gone to scout out a replacement for our aging Honda Pilot. Now the kidlings are moving on to their own things we don’t need such a bus any more, and she delighted in sitting in the driver’s seat of various more sensibly sized offerings from Subaru, VW, Honda and Mazda. Oh – and Mercedes, Audi and BMW… just because she could. It really was a very pleasant couple of hours. No sales pressure at all. Most weird! It was slightly bizarre that all the gear knobs were missing from the manual cars. I couldn’t decide if they had been stolen, or removed to prevent them being stolen. I suppose I could have asked. The staff might have enjoyed the distraction.

I entered every competition I could, and managed to get a sly chuckle from the young lady at the ICBC stand. She was a bit of a hipster with large framed glasses with no lenses. Along with a couple of other folk I’d encountered at other stands, she was bemoaning the temperamental behaviour of the tethered iPads being used for data entry. “Be patient – it’s an iPad” seemed to be all that was needed to explain things. I has pressing, she was pressing, she was holding my finger to press. All to no avail. In the end, I tried my bestest “finger-tip caress”. The word “caress” seemed to cause her fits of giggles. But it didn’t work either. In the end, we found that if you sneaked up on the iPad and pressed the on-screen button when it wasn’t looking, it seemed to work OK. And no – I didn’t get her phone number. Number 3 offspring was there watching.

Chevrolet had a couple of concept cars on show, and were asking people to vote on them. I asked the young lady what it was all about and she explained that they were testing market reception to the Code 130R and Tru140S in Toronto. My face caused her to think, and then she blurted “I mean Vancouver”. Chevrolet claim Vancouver was their Canadian debut for the concept cars so I can only think she herself was the Torontonian. The show runs 10am to 10pm and was already a few days old. I’ve staffed trade shows. I know the evenings can be, er, fluid. I suspect she was just tired. Very tired.

One of the first booths we went to was Fiat. The cinquecento (500 to you) looks very familiar to my European eye, though I wait to see how resilient the famously rustable Italian bodywork proves on the Wet (sic) Coast. I did happen to notice that the booth manager had done their job well, and the “500” logo was parallel with the floor on all four wheel hubs. A little detail to be sure, but just helped to show that care had been taken.

The highlight for me of course were the “super cars”, or “exotics” as they were being billed.  (Believe it or not – I know next to nothing about cars. Or sport. Or the finer points of beer. My manhood has been called into question on more than one occasion due to these facts). There was the Jaguar F-type; the Aston Martin Vanquish; Lotus Evora; Lamborghini Gallardo; some Maserati or other (not that big on them); ditto some Ferrari (red of course)… but then, oh – delight! The McLarens. A brace of MP4-12Cs. One in red, one in a lovely shade of grey.

The Aston Martin was modelled in “Silver – Skyfall Silver”. With obsidian black and spicy red interior.

But the wheels! The wheels were all over the place on the “exotic” cars!

It was as if to say “Look, if you’re paying $15k for a Fiat, we’ll put some effort in and make the car look the best it can. If you’re willing to pay $300k for the McLaren though… Come on… who care’s if it even has wheels?!”

They have a point, perhaps.





Victoria – where old Citroën’s go to die?

10 08 2012

When we moved to White Rock, BC, there was an old Peugeot garage just by the river. It’s since become a repo car re-seller with an odd variety of merchandise… including a yellow hearse for a time. This was our first indication that Canada (along with the rest of North America) had largely spurned European mass market cars some time ago. Of course, there are still the premium brands like Mercedes and one often sees Maserati, Ferrari and even the odd Aston Martin and Lamborghini in downtown Vancouver.

Volvo, Audi and BMW are reasonably commonplace too. But come lower down the food-chain and it’s pretty much VW or nothing. Fiat are making a recent come-back with the 500, it’s true, but where are Renault, Citroën, Peugeot, Seat, Saab?

But the true Euro-fan is still out there, and I sometimes get pleasantly surprised by a Triumph TR6, an MG Midget and even once a Renault 4. Immaculately cared for and lovingly maintained.

Imagine then my surprise to see not one, but two Citroën 2CVs in Victoria! In the space of a mere 5 days. One was the relatively common (back in the day) banana yellow, but one was nothing short of amazing. I can only think the owner was either a complete extrovert, or was strapped for cash and was repainting it one panel at a time while his supplier kept running out of paint!

Apologies for the photo quality… I only had my BlackBerry with me when I stumbled across this find on Victoria’s Fort St.

And life wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Lloyd Cole now, would it?





Want one!

16 02 2012

Seen around Vancouver/White Rock recently…

Aston Martin: Vancouver

Aston Martin: Vancouver

Lotus: White Rock/South Surrey

Lotus: White Rock/South Surrey