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Three Ways to Love Your Car

By: Sharp Staff|November 20, 2014

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3. Go on a great Canadian road trip

Somewhere northwest of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territories, there’s a sign that says “Now leaving 911 service area.” It would be disconcerting, except that my cellphone lost reception hours ago anyway.



From Whitehorse to Dawson City is about six or seven hours of driving on the Klondike Highway. During the gold rush it would’ve taken the better part of a week to cover that distance by horse and buggy. If it weren’t for the cold and dysentery, those gold diggers might be considered lucky: it’s a nice drive to savour.



It’s a lonely piece of road through pure wilderness. Seems every few kilometres there is another lake mirroring the hills of evergreens along the route.



In places the road snakes and twists enough that I briefly wish I was driving a sports car. Soon enough, though, our full-size GMC Yukon XL feels just right. (Yukon in the Yukon, get it?) We’re thankful for having the SUV when the road turns to gravel. Four-wheel drive or not, the 6.2-litre V8 engine has enough torque to powerslide out of corners if you ask it to. Remembering the ominous sign we passed, I do my best to restrain myself.



We pass sand dunes and a turquoise lake and a yellow Hummer with Alaska plates that has “Obama sucks” spray painted badly onto its trailer.



Later, we pull into a rest stop whose main attraction is a $10 homemade cinnamon bun the size of a dinner plate. The man behind the counter says he’s seen plenty of people eat a whole bun in a single sitting. There’s no prize or anything. In the winter this place is a checkpoint on the route of the Iditarod sled dog race.







For lack of something more specific, Canada is probably best understood by its physical boundaries. To the west, the Pacific Ocean. To the east, the Atlantic. To the south, the United States. And to the north, the Arctic. Huge distances connect these far away things. Canadians are all Canadians connected the same way. By sheer distance, the furious space in-between.



We live in the second largest country in the world. The scale of that fact is impossible to comprehend most of the time, although it does start to come into focus during our drive through the Yukon.



The best way to understand the distance that defines the country is to experience it. In fact, that’s the only way to understand it. The automobile—one suited to the specific route and conditions at hand—is the best tool for the job. Flying doesn’t do it justice. Cycling is too slow. And walking is only good if you’re trying to raise money for a cause. So often road trips are used a catalyst for self-discovery—as well they should be—but, the road trip is a vital to understanding the place we live. It might seem obvious, but how often do you try it out. The longer the road trip, the better.



Specs:



Engine: 6.2-Litre V8



Power: 420 HP



Gearbox: 6-Speed Auto



Price: $73, 540

Hot tips

The two most expensive Aston Martins ever sold at auction were a 1961 Aston Martin Bertone Jet ($4.9 million in 2013) and a 1952 Aston Martin DBR2 ($3.4 million in 1985).



We asked the experts at Works which models may be ready to increase in value. Here’s what they suggested:



1976-1990 “Towns” Lagonda



1994-2004 DB7



Mid 1970s DBS



2001-07 Vanquish

2. Learn to make a car dance

Any car can dance. All you need is a bit of ice. And a closed course. And some professional help.



You don’t find those in a city, at least not at the same time. Best to go to some exotic location, say, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland to a town called Muonio. Once you do, you’ll find Audi has set up everything you need, plus catering.



It’s called the Audi Ice Experience. It’s part holiday resort, part school, part means of re-discovering the thrill of driving.



You could be forgiven for forgetting that driving is thrilling. You spend most of your time behind the wheel doing an average speed of 17 km/h on the daily commute. The joie de driving you discovered all those years ago as a teenager on that bit of road near Peggy’s Cove, say? That’s gone. What you felt near Peggy’s Cove, or wherever it was for you—besides slight fear and raging hormones—was the limit. The place where a car goes from gripping to sliding. It can feel like riding a wave in slow motion where glory is brief and is often followed, quickly, by a splash—or crash.



In a lifetime of city driving you’d never feel the limit. Cities are built to be dense. And density, of course, is the enemy of the automobile. Cars want wide-open spaces and clear views to the horizon in every direction. And, damn it, they want to dance.



Finland provides that. To drive on ice is to be perpetually on the limit. The professional driving instructors show you how to get a car sliding nicely and then how to hold it there, sideways. “Upset the car: turn, lift, then power—power, power, power—now, balance steering and throttle.” Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive means you can build up surprising speed and grip on a frozen lake. “Remember: look out the side window to see where you’re going,” they’ll say. Soon you’re drifting through corners, the car gamboling from side to side, kicking up snow squalls wherever you go. A3 or S7, it doesn’t matter, they all reveal a gracefulness you’d never feel in a city.



It’s not like Peggy’s Cove. It’s better: this is a whole continent of ice and snow, a place perfectly suited to making cars dance on the limit. You will want to stay in the car, go for one more run, and then another, maybe with a bit more speed this time.

1. Take care of a classic, then let it take care of you

The most expensive car in the world keeps getting more expensive.



This past summer, the most expensive car in the world sold at auction in California for $35.6 million. It was a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, one of 36 built between 1961-64. Before that, the most expensive car in the world was a Mercedes-Benz W196, sold at a hammer of $29.7 million last year. The classic car market is very hot indeed.



The Ferrari made headlines, where it stole page views away from stories like: “Home-price rebound lost more steam in June”. Taken together, it seems that investing in a classic car might actually be a wise use of capital. But, that’s not why you should buy one.



**



In a series of large sheds that look and smell like holdovers from the industrial revolution, a team of craftsmen use gigantic Wheeling machines and hammers to shape aluminium panels. They select, cut and stitch leather from Bridge of Weir, a tiny village of Glasgow. They drink builders’ tea. They tune twin-choke Webers by sight and by sound. You can’t plug a computer into these things. Grandfathers and fathers and sons, generations of craftsmen work here, passing on the now-arcane skills necessary for the maintenance of old cars.



Their work is peerless, which is why it will cost you. A full restoration at this shop is a flat rate: $330,000 British Pounds.



This is Aston Martin Works, the company’s in-house restoration shop in Newport-Pagnell, England, where collectable old cars are made new. This place is a time-warp, a wonderland, stocked with Zagatos and Vantages and DB5s and Lagondas all in various states of disassembly.



There’s currently an 18-month long lineup to get your classic into Works. After that, you can expect to wait between 18 months and two years for a complete restoration. The front end of a DB5 alone takes 220 hours—more than a month of work—to create out of aluminium.



It’s a cliché, but it also happens to be true: you don’t own a classic car, you look after it. If you want your investment to appreciate, you don’t ship it Maaco for a paint job. There’s no better way ensure your classic runs well and increases in value than sending it back to the factory for restoration. Aston Works is among the best in the field. It is awe inspiring to see the lengths which collectors will go to keep their prized cars pristine, fighting against time, and winning.



But, investing in a classic isn’t the same as investing in stocks or bonds. You can enjoy your automotive investment, not in some mythological future, not just the fruits of your labour after you sell it, but right now: drive it as it was meant to be driven, race it alongside other collectors at Monterey or Goodwood or Monaco. It’s a risk, sure, like any investment. But you can’t fall in love with a stock. Buy a car you love, something you’d want even if its value tanks. But, if you choose the right car and its value skyrockets, well, you’ll never have had so much fun making so much money—if, of course, you can ever bring yourself to part with it.

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