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Brendan McAleer

Automotive Writer and Photographer

Vancouver, BC

Brendan McAleer

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Postwar France’s Gang des Tractions Avant was brazen, criminal, and stylish

On February 7th, 1946, guards aboard a Crédit Lyonnais van were shocked to see two low-slung, black Citroëns screech to a halt in front of them. The cars disgorged their occupants, and in broad daylight, on Paris’s Avenue Parmentier, grim-faced men leveled Sten submachine guns and demanded cash. This was the first of a number of daring and violent raids that would see the criminals getting away with some 80 million francs, almost $8 million in today’s money.
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Go North: The 1963 Shelby Cobra That Made History

In the summer of 2018, David Karpik of Kenai, Alaska, nosed Shelby Cobra chassis CSX2060 out of his garage and onto the road. The drive was a short one, the 289-cubic-inch V-8 rumbling as the car circled the block only a couple times. However, history was made: A Cobra had finally arrived in the northernmost state.
Car and Driver Link to Story
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The mad Englishman and the Black Shadow

In July of 1955, locals in the southwest of England were somewhat bemused to see a large, burly figure unloading a sixteen-foot plank from the side of a dangerous-looking motorcycle, on the banks of the River Severn. Home to one of the largest tidal bores in the world, the Severn is England’s longest river, and flowed fast here, in the narrows.
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This 1983 VW GTI Cost $140,000 to Build, And It's Worth Every Penny

Over seven years, Derek Spratt poured tens of thousands of dollars in parts and 12,000 hours of labor into creating his vision of an ultimate first-generation Volkswagen GTI. Then he gave it away, selling the car for a fraction of what he put into it. On the surface, it sounds like one man's obsession descended into madness.
Road & Track Link to Story
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The Second Coming of the Austin Mini

Every car has its moment. For the Austin Mini, that moment was the swinging '60s, rock 'n' roll and mini-skirts and an impossibly tiny economy car four-wheel sliding through corners, taking down giants. Cheap and cheerful, the Mini was a car for the youth. But youth is fleeting, and tastes change.
Road & Track Link to Story
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This Austin-Healey Sprite escaped East Germany—twice

It was an off-hand question, but one loaded with fear and tension. As the East German border guard flipped through Norbert Konrad’s passport, he asked, “Isn’t this the same type of car one man used to get through the barriers?”. Konrad answered that he didn’t know. But he was lying. A little Austin-Healey Sprite had already slipped past the Iron Curtain once.
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“Ernest” did a lot, and he also drove a twin-turbo DeLorean

“Know what I mean, Vern?”. If you’re of a certain age, you did know what Ernest P. Worrell meant. Even if your name wasn’t Vern. A staple of 1980s entertainment, Ernest bumbled across the movie screen and into our hearts, going to camp (1987), jail (1990), saving Christmas (1988), and getting scared stupid (1991).
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Shadow, The Mysterious Racing Team Run by a Spy

For nearly a dozen years, an American racing team helmed by an ex-paratrooper and former counter-espionage agent competed at the highest level of Can-Am and Formula One racing. The team was called Shadow, its mascot was a spy, and its leader was the tall and secretive Don Nichols, fluent in Japanese and skilled at judo.
Road & Track Link to Story
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Three oceans, two Tatras, one trip of a lifetime

Twenty years ago, a traveler headed north on the Dempster Highway in the Canadian Yukon might have been shocked to stumble over an alien craft. The vehicle gleamed silver against the sparse greenery of an Arctic summer landscape, finned and louvered and looking like it had just landed amid a plume of rocket exhaust.
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How an armored Camaro and a special forces officer kept civilians alive in war-torn Bosnia

Imagine that it’s 1993 in Yugoslavia. Night falls, and the indiscriminate shelling of a brutal civil war echoes in the distance. Amidst the remnants of battle, a flat black shape emerges from the shadows, tires crunching over rubble as it navigates a cratered road. It’s low, menacing, armored, and rumbling with V-8 thunder.
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The Factory-Restored Miata Is a Window Into Mazda's Soul

Hiroshima, Japan – Rain hisses down, pattering off leaves, bouncing off the pavement, drumming on the roof of a little red convertible. The last scraps of typhoon are spiraling off into the Pacific Ocean, and there is sun in the forecast. Today, though, is wet and ordinary, made special only by a car that is doing its best to disappear.
Road & Track Link to Story
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This 82-year-old drag racer isn’t slowing down

With its mild winters and ocean vistas, Victoria, B.C., is Canada’s retirement paradise. The traffic moves slower here, with silver-haired old folks behind the wheel, headed towards the ferry terminal for a trip over to the mainland. Here comes one now. And the guy is driving a 770-horsepower, manual-transmission 1965 Mercury Comet that runs the quarter-mile in 9.4 seconds at 140 mph.

About

Brendan McAleer

Brendan McAleer first drove a stick-shift at the age of eight, and it's been pretty much downhill from there.

He has written stories on everything from a mint-condition Hyundai Pony to a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead. His work appears in the Globe & Mail, Time's TheDrive, Autos.ca, Road & Track, and elsewhere.

His inbox is always open to hearing about the machines that move us, physically and emotionally. He currently resides in North Vancouver, British Columbia.