AutoShow: 5 legendary road-trip vehicles


True road trippers! The Febreze organization nailed it with their Volkswagen Bus mascot. And try as we might, this was the only one we could find at the Canadian International AutoShow. (Julia Pelish/

Rod Charles Deputy Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO — Minh, Shell, Sean and I — the four amigos — took Friday off work and headed for Quebec City and Montreal from Toronto on our “ultimate road trip of 2003.”

We landed in Quebec City in the late afternoon and checked into Laval University before heading downtown to the historic city and engaging in several adventures that won’t be mentioned here. The next day we headed for a restaurant on Montreal’s Saint Catherine Street and ordered a steak that was so large Sean actually danced in his chair when it came. After dinner, we hit the town and engaged in more adventures that won’t be mentioned here. On Sunday we headed back to Toronto, but not before stopping by Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen for lunch, the first visit of what would be many for me at this legendary eatery.

Road trips are as Canadian as beer, hockey and poutine, and almost every Canadian has a story of their favourite trip. In honour of the 2013 Canadian International AutoShow — which wraps up on Sunday — we look at five legendary road-trip vehicles.

1. Volkswagen T1

This was the first RV. Nothing flashy or fancy about this recreational vehicle, but roomy and reliable. You can’t watch a ’70’s movie without seeing a picture of the Volkswagen T1 or T2 travelling through the mountains with a group of guitar-playing hippies.

Popular Culture: This car has been spotted in the The Fall Guy TV series, Hotel Rwanda and That 70’s Show.

2. Station Wagon

The first minivan. There was a time you couldn’t drive a kilo without seeing a Station Wagon on the road and they all had the same features: folding or removable seats, no luggage compartment, hardwood design on the side. And of course, there was lots of space for gear, enough room to bring the kids along, or settle in the back for the night if you were between destinations.

Popular Culture: This car was very prominent in Revenge of the Nerds and often made an appearance during any car chase on the television show CHiPs. A Comet Station Wagon made an appearance in the Andy Griffith Show.

3. Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager

These choices are sentimental, but they’re good choices. The biggest reason for having the Voyager listed is because my family owned one when I was in high school, and at over 500,000 kilometres my brother and I continued to drive the … stuffing out of it.

The Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager were mini-vans that were perfect for slugging the kids to hockey or ringette and there was a time when everyone seemed to have one. Lots of room for everyone in the back, which was important for making those long trips to the city.

Popular Culture: A 1987 Plymouth Voyager LE makes an appearance in Desperate Housewives. A Dodge Grand Caravan is spotted in Breaking Bad, and is driven by Fat Tony and his crew to Homer’s house in The Simpsons.

It may not be military issue, but the Jeep Wrangler is available at the AutoShow. (Rod Charles/

4. Runner Up: Jeep

Okay, I realize some of you won’t agree with this choice. We don’t often equate a Jeep to “legendary Canadian road-trip vehicles.” But we couldn’t talk about road-trip vehicles without giving a nod to our armed forces, perhaps the most proficient road-trippers in our country.

Now to be clear, this isn’t your grandfather’s Jeep. The Light Utility Vehicle’s that are used by the Canadian Army today are made to such specific design standards and needs that they really don’t have anything in common with the Jeep brand that you see on our highways. But in the past, the Jeep was a workhorse for our soldiers and our allies, from the battlefields of France to Italy and Korea.

And unlike the Canadian Leopard 2A4 tank (which you won’t find at the AutoShow, unfortunately), a Jeep is within the budget of most families, and slightly more practical for our needs.

Popular Culture: You can see the Jeep in the Man From UncleDelta Force and, of course, M.A.S.H.

5. The Ultimate Canadian Road Trip Vehicle: The Ford Econoline Van — Terry’s Ride

There’s no way you can talk about legendary Canadian road-trip vehicles without mentioning the van that carried Terry Fox halfway across the country on the Marathon of Hope.

In 1980, Fox began the Marathon of Hope, a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research. Literally running a marathon a day, he managed to raise millions for cancer research and inspire the world with his efforts. In a way, every Canadian was road-tripping in that Ford Econoline Van with Terry during his miraculous run.

Popular Culture: You can check out Terry Fox’s van at the Canadian Museum of Civilization until July 3, 2013. You can also see some great shots of the Econoline in the documentary I Had a Dream.

Whether you agree or disagree with our choices, let us know! We want to hear about your favourite road-trip cars! Email or leave your thoughts in our Comments section below. 2013 Canadian International AutoShow Coverage

Dream road trips and the cars to drive
By Road Trips Columnist Terry O’Neill

10 cool cars at 2013 AutoShow in Toronto
By Photographers Julia Pelish and Terry O’Neill

More About the 2013 Canadian International AutoShow

Location: Metro Toronto Convention Centre at 255 Front Street West, Toronto, ON (see map below)


  • Adult Tickets: $19.80
  • Children Tickets (ages 7-12): $6.30
  • Family Pass (includes 2 adults and 2 children ages 7-12): $39.60

Visit the AutoShow website for details on prices, discounts and information on how to obtain coupons.

Remaining Show Times:
Sunday, February 24: 10:30 am to 6 pm

Getting Around: Use the AutoShow map to spot the sections you’d like to visit and be sure to take advantage of the free shuttle bus that moves visitors between the North and South buildings of the Convention Centre.

View Larger Map

Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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