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A question to ponder on Dominion Day: what is the ultimate Canadian car?
Answers might be found at an exhibition entitled, "In Search of the Canadian Car" a - new interactive exhibit that has just opened at Ottawa's Canada Science and Technology Museum. Although please keep in mind that "In Search of the Canadian Car" isn't SEMA.
"This [exhibit] is about the culture of the automobile, not the technology," says Garth Wilson, the museum's Curator of Transportation. "We [museum] are trying to engage visitors by asking them what makes a car Canadian."
Wilson says there are four different criteria being offered in terms of how to define a Canuck car:
1. Is the designer of a particular car Canadian - even if he happens to be working for, say, Volvo?
2. Is the car made in Canada? (Quite a varied selection these days, ranging from the Lincoln MKT and Dodge Challenger to the Chevrolet Camaro and Lexus RX350.)
3. Is the vehicle uniquely promoted to Canadians (as the Mercury Meteor Montcalm was back in the 1960s?)
4. Is the car "loved" by Canadians? (In other words, is the vehicle in question the car most Canadians purchase?)
There's plenty of time to weigh-in as Wilson notes the exhibit is slated to run for five years. And Wilson notes the automobile is "very important" to Canadians and to Canada itself.
"Many people don't realize that Canada was the second-largest manufacturer of automobiles in the 1920s," he says, noting Canada currently ranks as the world's ninth-biggest producer.
My selection for "most Canadian vehicle"? Step forward, Dodge Grand Caravan.
For starters, Chrysler minivans have been manufactured in Windsor, Ont. for almost 30 years. In keeping with the Canadian character, a minivan compared to, say, a SUV, is surely more pragmatic and less flashy. And according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, the Canadian marketshare for small vans is larger than the U.S. marketshare (5.9% in Canada versus 4.4% Stateside.)
Little wonder Chrysler markets the Grand Caravan SE with a "Canada Value Package."
Besides, has there ever been a vehicle more perfectly suited for swallowing one's big, bulky hockey bag?
O' Canada; O Caravan. A perfect fit.
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What do you consider to be the quintessential Canadian car? Please send your selections to email@example.com.
I probably would have had Briklin as the most obvious but, since this article you appear to have covered the Briklin quite wellin another article. I may be mistaken, but didn't DeLorean entertain the idea of coming to Canada before Ireland gave him a sweeter deal?
For other ideas... In the early 60s, Ford offered a "for Canada" Falcon called a "Frontenac". It's parentage was quite unmistakeable... but the changes and treatments turned the car unattractive in my humble opinion (I would be a 12ish year old motorhead at the time). The late 50s and early 60s saw Pontiac with the Laurentian and Parisienne models. Again, AFAIK, these were Canada only models - my Dad's 1959 Laurentian station Wagon sported the orange 283 rather than a blue Pontiac motor.
Pontiac also offered the Acadian... a "for Canada" clone of the Chevy 2. These also featured Chevy engines.
Again from memory.... Early to mid 60s and Studebaker dropped the Packard from it's name as well as the Hawk models. I recall Studebaker production ceasing in the US and the last years of the Lark being totally Canadian assembled.
In the early 90s, there was the Grizzly truck - manufactured around Vancouver BC... They didn't seem to last long.
I'm sure there have been many more attempts than these few I remember though I have never considered Canada as ripe in "new venture seed money".
There actually is an all Canadian car. It is called the ZENN. It stands for Zero Emissions No Noise. It is made in Quebec but cannot be sold in Canada yet. It is sold here in the USA and in Europe. Gotta love Canada, won't even approve a car wholy built in the country. BC is doing some testing and looking into certifying the car for sale there. Once every Province, individually approves the car the Feds will say ok but not till then. Crazy!!!