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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The 1800s: It Was a Very Good Century Part Two

A few more cars from the late 1800s from my photo collection, all from the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

1897 Daimler Grafton Phaeton
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins
First up is this 1897 Daimler Grafton Phaeton. If you’re thinking there’s a connection with Mercedes-Benz, you’d be correct. An English company (the Daimler Company) formed in 1896 had licensed the Daimler patents and was building cars in Coventry by 1897. You can find more details on the car at the Jaguar Heritage Trust website HERE. While, you’re there, check out the other cars in their collection. No, despite the Coventry connection, Jaguar’s history doesn’t go back that far.

1898 Benz Velo
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins
This 1898 Benz Velo is a German car. The Benz Velo or Velocipede first appeared in 1894, as the successor to Karl Benz’s Patent Motorwagen (Wikipedia). It’s considered “the world’s first large-scale production car” with around 1,200 produced between 1894 and 1902. More details on the Benz Velo can be found on THIS Mercedes-Benz webpage.

1898 Cannstatt Daimler
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins
I can’t find any information online on this 1898 Cannstatt Daimler other than THIS page by the National Motor Museum, so I’ll have to rely on my photo of the plaque beside it at the National Motor Museum. It was built in Bad Canstatt (hence the name) by the Daimlen Motoren Gesselschaft, a German company founded by Gottleib Daimler and Willhelm Maybach.

It wasn’t just Canadians, Brits and Germans jumping on the motor car bandwagon. Both Fiat and Renault also started building cars in 1899. Here’s an example of each.
1899 Fiat
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins

1899 Renault Type A
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The 1800s: It Was a Very Good Century - Part One

Every year, as New Year’s approaches, I tell myself I’m going to write a blog post on the cars from the model year 25 years ago, which are about to become classics by most car show rules. And every year I’m so busy trying to catch up on the paying work (oh, the joys of freelancing) after taking time off for Christmas, that it doesn’t happen. So I decided, why wait for New Year’s? Why not start now with the oldest cars in my photo collection and go from there.

But before I get started, did you know that there were people building cars in Canada in the 1800s? I certainly hadn’t, but that’s what I discovered during my research for this article. Check out this PAGE from the Canada Science and Technology Museum, where you can find out about Seth Taylor’s 1867 steam buggy, an 1893 electric vehicle designed by William Still and Frederick B. Featherstonehaugh and built in Toronto, and an 1896 gasoline-powered automobile built by George Foote Foss of Sherbrooke, Quebec.

1885 Benz Patent Motorwagen (replica)
Samsung Transportation Museum
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Here’s a picture of a replica 1885 Benz Patent Motorwagen from the Samsung Transportation Museum in Korea. While this is often called the first car, there were working steam-powered vehicles back in the 1700s. There were even steam-powered buses. Steam cars became so popular in the 1800s that legislation was passed to regulate them in the UK (the 1865 Locomotive Act) so that they had to be preceded with someone on foot waving a red flag. The annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is based on the celebration of the repeal of that law in 1896. The 1885 Benz, however, was the first production car with an internal combustion engine.

1895 Knight
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Here’s the 1895 Knight from the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England. It was the first British gas-powered vehicle to hold two people, designed by John Henry Knight. Originally a three-wheeled vehicle, it was reconfigured the following year with four wheels. According to Wikipedia, Knight built it to draw attention to the rules against motor cars at the time.

1896 Pennington Autocar
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Here’s an 1896 Pennington Autocar, also from the National Motor Museum. Designed by American Edward Joel Pennington (quite the scoundrel if you can believe the Wikipedia article on him), this is the only remaining example. Seems he took orders for the car, but never delivered.

More 1800s cars to come in my next post.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Classic Car Movie Review: Genevieve

Back when I was writing about the 2016 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, I came across a mention of a movie made about one of the cars that would be doing the run. It took me a while to run down a copy, and even longer to get around to watching it, but I’m glad I did.

The movie is called Genevieve, and it’s a 1953 comedy about the rivalry between two friends who own veteran cars that they plan on driving in the Run. The plot is light but amusing enough to entertain a non-car fan.

There are lots of great shots of classic cars in action. While most of the footage goes to the 1904 Darracq (named Genevieve) and the 1905 Spyker driven by the two male protagonists, there are also several cars from the 50s (considered modern at the time), especially an Allard that ends up towing one of the cars when they run into a spot of trouble.

If it shows up on late night telly, it’s worth a watch. You might be able to find it on Turner Classic Movies. You can read more about the history of Genevieve and how the movie influenced the vintage car hobby HERE.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Montreal and Quebec City Motorcycle Shows Return

Honda Rebel 300
Can’t wait to hit the open road? Get your fix by attending the Montreal (February 24 to 26) or Quebec City (February 3 to 5) motorcycle shows. As usual, they’ll have all the latest models and gear, not just for bikes but scooters, four-wheelers and ATVs as well. There will also be representatives from various riding clubs if you’re looking for some bike-minded friends.

She Rides Nite is back, complete with a ladies only draw for a 2017 Kawasaki Ninja, and so is the Yamaha Riding Academy for kids.

Tickets for the Motorcycle Shows are available online now at:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dodge SRT Raising the Demon

Yes, I’m still writing the blog. I apologize for the much longer than intended Christmas hiatus. First there was the Christmas holiday, then there was catching up on work after Christmas (as a freelancer, I don’t get days off), followed by the cold from hell which downed me for a week. It’s still hanging on, but the last few days I’ve been feeling at least semi-human so I’ve made a start on my backlog of press releases. Which brings me to the subject of today’s post.

Seems Dodge SRT is planning on unveiling a new member of its line-up at the New York International Auto Show (April 14-23, 2017). While of course they’re not sharing any advance details on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, they are tempting fans with a series of pre-reveal videos. You can check them out at where a new video is being released daily.

"Most cars attempt to be everything to everybody. Then there are the rare few that revel in a single objective, rendering them totally irresistible to a subculture," said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT – FCA North America. "The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is conceived, designed and engineered for a subculture of enthusiasts who know that a tenth is a car and a half second is your reputation."

So it’s to be drag racing, then?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Joy Ride

Merry Christmas to all my readers! Probably won't get another post up before the New Year, so here's wishing you many happy miles of driving.

Don’t think I’ve knowingly posted any fiction on here before, though some of the press releases I receive are rather dubious. So here’s a short story dealing with a couple of intrepid seniors and a classic car.

Eleven forty-five on a sunny autumn day. Nothing stirs in the parking lot of the Golden Oaks Seniors Residence. The halls of the residence are quiet too as most of the seniors are already in the dining room waiting for lunch to be served.

Everyone but Emily Woo and Walt Winterburn, standing behind one of the lounge windows, the curtains pulled shut, taking turns peering out. A powder blue ’51 MG TD Midget convertible turns into the driveway. Emily nods her head, white curls bouncing. “Here comes dutiful daughter Dorinda now.” She tugs a soft-brimmed hat over her curls, and pulls a pair of leather gloves from her purse.

The car sweeps past the clearly marked visitor parking and pulls up in front of the door of the Golden Oaks Seniors Residence. The middle-aged Asian woman behind the wheel turns off the ignition and exits the car.

“She left the keys in the ignition,” Walt reports.

“Told you,” says Emily. “Wants to get back to the office so she can work through her lunch hour. Like her father, that one, impatient and ambitious. You’d better go.”

Walt pulls a bomber jacket on over his checked shirt, and flips the end of his grey flannel scarf over his shoulder. He tucks a small bottle of champagne into the picnic basket sitting on the table behind them, hoists the basket and walks out as Emily continues to monitor Dorinda’s progress.

Reaching the door, Dorinda checks the time on her cell phone, shakes her head, purses her lips and pushes through into the hallway, stiletto heels clacking as she heads for the nursing station at the far end. She stalks past Walt without seeing him.

Walt pushes the door open and glances outside. There’s no one in the parking lot so he sprints straight for the car, placing the basket on the floor of the passenger side. He looks around again, whips a pair of aviator glasses out and puts them on, then eases carefully into the driver’s seat of the MG. He starts the car, then gets back out and goes around to get into the passenger seat.

Emily listens as the clacking heels go past the lounge and down the hall. There’s a shrill buzz as Dorinda slams the bell at the nursing station. As Emily exits the lounge and heads for the front door she hears one of the nurses ask Dorinda if they can help her.

“I certainly hope so. I had a call from a Doctor Winterburn saying my mother was causing some sort of commotion here.”

Emily smiles. You’d better believe it, she thinks as she opens the door. Walt waves to her from the car. She scurries towards it, her leather driving shoes making no noise on the pavement. She climbs over the door into the car, causing Walt to raise an eyebrow. Emily laughs and they high-five each other. Then she eases the car into gear.

The door of the Golden Oaks burst open, and Dorinda stands in the doorway, panting and shaking her fist. Emily toots the car horn, guns the engine, and she and Walter scorch their way across the parking lot to the main road and the open highway beyond.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Montreal’s Worst Roads

Photo by Kate Tompkins
I’m not sure whether our roads are worst in the spring, when the freeze and thaw cycle has made old potholes bigger and created new ones, or right now when the potholes are hidden by the snow and slush filling them. Either way, they’re bad. The Canadian Automobile Association does an annual survey of the worst roads in Canada, with the hope of giving those in charge a push to do something about them.

You can find a list of the worst roads in Quebec, listed by region, HERE. I’m pasting their list of the worst roads in Montreal below. Judging by the names, they’re ignoring those of us in the ‘burbs, but some of ours are pretty bad, too.

1              Boulevard Gouin Est
2              Rue Notre-Dame Est
3              Rue Sherbrooke Est
4              Avenue Papineau
5              Rue Saint-Zotique Est

How about it, guys? Do you agree, or do you regularly drive one that’s even worse?