Manuel “Matty” Moroun died on Monday at 93 years old. That name might not mean much to you if you’re not from metro Detroit or Windsor, Canada, but around these parts, he was known mainly as the billionaire who owned, among other things, the Ambassador Bridge, which just happens to carry roughly 27 percent of all merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S.
General view of the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit and Windsor, Canada on March 18, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily restrict all nonessential travel across the border after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic
Image: Gregory Shamus (Getty Images)
That’s $400 billion in trade a year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation with an average of $500 million in trade crossing the bridge daily. It generated $60 million in tolls for Moroun, according to the Detroit Free Press. At least 40 percent of trucking shipments into the US cross this bridge and the closest secondary crossing for big rigs is over two hours away, Forbes reports.
Not only is it the busiest international crossing in North America, but it is also the only one to be privately owned. Does it seem to you like this span is too important a crossing to be in private ownership? Because it always has to me! It spent two years as the longest suspension bridge in the world. How do you just own something so massive and crucial to the functioning of two huge economies?
I have lived with this strange fact in this strange town all my life and, no matter how it has been explained to me, it still boggles my mind. So I’m going to try and explain it to you, and hopefully, we can figure it out together.
A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, I talked about desirable rear-wheel-drive 1980s cars. A friend remarked that I did not mention this month’s International Underdog, although I did mention the Pontiac Catalina. There were a couple reasons for that. I was saving it, and it was only sold for a few years, (and if I remember correctly) mainly in the lower 48.
The Parisienne name was familiar to Canadians since the 1950s, gracing the fenders and dashboards of some very desirable automobiles. I still lament the loss of Pontiac; from the mid-1950s through the late 1970s, it built some of the most beautiful American cars of all time. Unfortunately, as the years passed, they looked too much like upscale Chevrolets and lost some of their luster. Fortunately, the cross-brand family resemblance between Pontiac and Chevrolet wasn’t as strong as it was at rival Mercury, whose cars were hardly distinguishable from Fords. The good news for both of these makes is that you can, in many cases, pick up a very nice Pontiac or Mercury for a fraction of the cost of an equivalent Chevrolet or Ford.
In 1977, GM downsized its full-size cars. While the other GM divisions prospered with their more sensibly styled and sized flagship fleet, the Pontiac Catalina and Bonneville failed to fire up the market. Sales were good but hardly spectacular, and in 1981, the Bonneville moved down to the midsize platform while the Catalina (my favorite Pontiac) was laid to rest.
But then, Americans started to swing back to larger cars due to the drop in gas prices and the improving economy. AMC, which had placed its fortunes on a complete line of compacts, felt the greatest impact from the market shift, and its Premier, eventually sold as an Eagle model by Chrysler, arrived too late to save the day.
Convertible has been in the family for 64 years and will most likely be passed on to the next generation
1941 Ford fuels father and son’s need for speed
The year was 1955 and Sam McVicar was a car crazy 18-year-old. He was part of the hot rod and custom scene that had taken over Vancouver streets and he’d bought himself a beautiful ride.
The immaculate Florentine Blue 1941 Ford convertible with tan convertible top and red leather interior was owned by a couple in North Vancouver. Sam had seen it once before when it was being serviced by downtown dealership Dominion Vancouver Motors. He jumped at the chance to buy it for $500 when it came up for sale.
Hopping up the flathead V8 motor was a must. He lowered the car with a dropped front axle and, after beginning work for legendary Vancouver customizer Blackie Green, he louvered the hood. Not satisfied with the performance, he dropped in torquey Oldsmobile engine topped with a six-carburetor manifold. Then Sam went drag racing.
Whenever we hear of the iconic American automaker Packard, we tend to think of beautifully crafted and technologically advanced cars from the first half of the previous century, before the Detroit brand merged with Studebaker in 1954, with the name being dropped altogether in 1958. This 1999 Packard Twelve Prototype that will soon go up for auction, doesn’t exactly fit the bill of what we expect from a car bearing the famous nameplate