Living in the Middle East we’re locked
inside a bubble of our own. Living in
Dubai I’m locked inside a little bubble
within that bubble! Sure, we’ve had our
fair share of troubles thanks to the
global recession, but in Dubai we’ve still been
wrapped in very fine cotton wool.
I spent part of the summer and early autumn
over in Canada, another area that has weathered
the storm better than most. I’ve been travelling
on and off to Canada for five years now and feel
as though I know the place quite well. Read all the
reports about the best place to live and Canada
tops most of the charts, but it is only when you
stay there do you realise why.
The Canadians are a secretive lot, keeping
most of their good stuff to themselves and failing
to declare it to the rest of the world. If ever there
is some kind of a country audit the Canada will
be in big trouble for hiding assets. The Canadian
wilderness, logging, maple syrup, beavers etc, we
all know about. But how about their world class
wine that is hardly exported? They’re also tucking
away from themselves fantastic fresh produce
thanks to amazingly warm, long summers. Their
sweetcorn is the best in the world, even their
eggs taste better! The people are incredibly
friendly, to the point that it makes you feel a little
uptight not to be smiling and happy all the time.
This time while I was over there I managed
to feel some worry in the smiling Canadian faces;
it was their sense of relief more than anything.
General Motors have a factory just outside of
Toronto (Oshawa), a factory so large it needed a
navigation system of its own. I was there to collect
a Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible to test drive.
General Motors, themselves needing a helping
hand by the US government, has invested heavily
into this Oshawa plant. While I drove around the
factory I was in awe of the vast amount of cars
being built from this plant.
What seemed like thousands of Chevrolets
(Camaro, Equinox and Impala) Cadillacs (XTS),
GMCs (Terrain) and Buiks (Regal) sat cooling in
the summer sun, fresh off the production line. I
could see the dependency of the local community
on this factory.
Jobs of course for the workers but around the
plant were subsidiary businesses, houses, schools
and the mandatory Tim Horton’s. This is a busy
community that breathed a collective sigh of relief
at GM being helped out and that GM chose Oshawa
to build the new Cadillac ATS - that’s another few
years of job security.
My house is only about forty minutes from the
factory, in a quiet village where a lot of retirees
from the GM factory live. It wasn’t quiet for too long
once my Camaro rumbled into town. Playing the
notes on the exhaust, with my roof down I could
I idled my way through the centre of the village.
Luckily the Camaro is a car capable of expressing
its muscles from the 426-bhp, V8, 6-2 litre engine
but is more than happy cruising in second gear with
the rag top down - the beauty of a manual box.
I’ve driven plenty of nice cars thanks to this job,
but I’ve never been waved at or received so many
thumbs up as I did in the Camaro. My guess was
while the other drivers loved the great noise of the
Camaro and its hunched athletic curves they were
more appreciative that I was driving a car built just
down the road.
Nipping to the shops in the Camaro wasn’t easy
though, not that there was anything wrong with the
dive of the car, it’s just that there would always be
a few people admiring the car when I returned with
With the roof left open the admirers could take
in a proper look at the interior. It’s not just the drive
or the noise of the Camaro SS that’s attracting
buyers, the interior is well thought out, rich, uses
colours and lighting really well and is sporty.
Many of these older guys told me they’d work
on previous generations of the muscle car (this is
the fifth), young guys told me put my foot down as I
The most attractive aspect of the Camaro SS
is you have all the attributes of a very expensive
sports car (sound, drive, looks) in a very affordable
There was a definite sense of pride in this car
from the community and if I lived in this part of
the world permanently the Chevrolet Camaro SS
convertible would be the car I’d be buying.