‘There Are No Cool Cars In Ontario.’


I know, I know, I need to stop with the sensationalist titles, but I’ve heard and read variants of “there are no cool cars in Toronto” for years and usually they are precursors to the blanket statement that there are no cool cars in all of Ontario.

Whenever these discussions start, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or otherwise I have to wonder if people are talking about the same province in which I reside. No I’m not delusional, I know that Ontario is not California, Vegas or Austin, and certainly not Japan, but that doesn’t mean the scene here is terrible or in dire straits.

To prove this point I’ve interspersed photos of several unique, creative, high quality (or all of the above) builds into this post. Something that, if the title statement were true, I wouldn’t be able to do.

To double down on my point all of these photos are exclusively from the 2016 season.

In the time I’ve spent shooting and writing about vehicles in Ontario I have, year in year out, come across builds that are just as creative as the ones I see online from other parts of the globe. The rub is that these cool builds are not going to roll past your front porch while you shake your cane at those damn kids with their titled wheels, or drop you an email just because you discovered a cool cursive font to use for a logo, and put the letters ‘est’ in front of the current calendar year.

Finding the true gems takes a little effort.

fitted-lifestyle-2016-1936-copperhead-3-dtBy a little effort I mean making a point to check out events different from the ones you usually do, rather than going to the same shows year after year and being disappointed.

If you don’t like a particular show for whatever reason, be it previous experiences or the type of vehicle they cater to, then don’t go, it’s that simple.

2016-autofest-15Going, then complaining after the fact is counter productive. There are several shows in the area that simply exist to make money, it’s unfortunate but it’s true, and as long as they have the entry fee of the participants and enough spectator ticket sales to make it into the black, these shows are not going to lose sleep over criticisms lobbied after the fact. Why? Because based on support (read: dollars) there is no reason that they should.

The only way these shows and events will realize that people are tired of their lather rinse repeat approach is if their pocket books are affected.

2016-northern-showdown-13Otherwise come the same time next year they will wind their marketing machine up making claims of quality, but ultimately failing to deliver because they’ve done nothing to attract or uphold any level of quality or originality at their event.

On the other side of the coin if you run a show and are constantly taking shots at the local scene leading up to, and after, your event ask yourself what are you doing to encourage the creativity and eye for detail you’ve identified as a problem.


Do you start to let cars slip past your “rigorous” screening process once it becomes clear you’re not going to met your minimums? If so perhaps you ought to take a page from some of the more pro active events in the area.

It’s no secret that I hold Northern Showdown in high regard as one of the better outdoor shows in the surrounding greater Toronto area. The organizers not only put in a lot of work the day of to make sure things go smoothly, they spend the months leading up to the event hitting the pavement and finding the quality builds hiding out in the pockets of Ontario.

2016-autofest-5This proactive approach has allowed them to maintain and grow a fresh show field full of vehicles that are both of high standard and unique. Doing away with the typical first through third class in model for awards and opting for an over all top 50 is a quick way to cut through the politics that often ruin shows and prevent people from returning.

I’m not encouraging trophy hunting by any means but if the same cars win the same awards year after year, especially when there are better cars in the venue, why should people come to your event with their latest build?

2016-jalopy-jam-up-39Showdown isn’t alone either, the Jalopy Jam Up is another show born from a desire to do better. Jeff Norwell and crew didn’t see an event catering to the traditional hot rods they wanted to see locally so the Jam Up was born, which isn’t too far off from what David Soo at Fitted did on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, or what the organizers of Berlin Klassik have done with their events.

20160711_191512Shows of course only represent a subset of the community here in Ontario and anyone criticizing the local scene that hasn’t been to a cruise-in isn’t giving Ontario it’s fair shake.

Some of the craziest builds I’ve come across were not found at shows but instead casual weekly, free, cruise-ins that take place all over the province.


Any enthusiasts skipping out on these free events is doing themselves a disservice, and if you’re from the greater Toronto area and have never been to Engineered Automotive‘s Cars and Coffee you’re missing out on a great monthly summer event.

cars-and-coffee-toronto-finale-2016-4Still find the cars you see there lackluster? Then dig deeper still, go to BBQs and open houses held by local shops and at these events make friends and connections, word of mouth is how I’ve become aware of many of the best events I’ve ever been to.

money-gang-bbq-f20-ae86-2You’d be surprised just what level of build lay in some of the most unassuming garages in the corners of town you don’t often travel. This is to say nothing about the absolutely mind-blowing projects sitting at some of the higher end outfits in the area.

miro-charger-10Getting to know people at these events also allows you to become better embedded into your local scene rather than someone who sits on the side wagging a disapproving finger.

hitman-hot-rods-32Still disappointed? Then maybe stationary cars are not your thing, instead of taking time out of your day to harp on those who don’t like to go fast take advantage of the plethora of track events, and race series, we’re lucky to call our own in Ontario.

formula-drift-canada-2016-round-2-show-z31It’s impossible to go to a track event and not see something cool on the track and in the parking lot, and if you want the best if both worlds the Canadian Sport Compact Series is a great place to start.

formula-drift-canada-2016-round-2-mats-baribeau-5Finally if you’re standards are so high that you really can’t find any cool cars to your liking then build one yourself. Become the bar that you want people to aspire to, if absolutely nothing else at least the journey along the way will be worth it, and you will have a great build to show for your efforts.


No cool cars in Ontario? Well that statement just couldn’t be any further from the truth and if you think it is I urge you to put in a little effort to take a better look around or pick up a wrench and show us all how it’s done.


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