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Willy's Garage with Paul Williamson

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Plenty to like about Mazda's latest zoomer

Today's cars, trucks and SUVs have come a long way -- even in the past decade. Long gone are the days of new vehicles rattling straight out of the showroom with paint jobs looking like orange peel and lacklustre plastic interiors rivaling the selection at a Tupperware party.

Today is a good day to go car shopping. There really are no bad cars left. But, there are varying degrees of good.

Case in point is the new Mazda CX-3. At first blush you'd think a gearhead like me wouldn't like Mazda's latest offering. It falls into the sport-cute category, has a relatively …

New HR-V welcome addition to the Honda family

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2016 Honda HR-V

When the first-generation Honda CR-V hit the North American market in 1997 it was a game-changer. Just the right size, great on fuel, moderately comfortable and affordable for the masses -- the CR-V carried on where the Honda Civic station wagon left off. Young outdoor enthusiasts appreciated its utility, parents and grandparents admired its people- and grocery-moving capabilities, and judging by the number of older CR-V models still on the road today, everyone loved its dependability.

Sure, the CR-V is still popular, but if you ask me, it has lost its way in recent years. It got bigger, posher, more expensive, …

GMC Canyon getting luxurious Denali upgrade

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2017 GMC Canyon Denali

GMC's upscale Denali package is coming to the Canyon mid-size truck. The 2017 Canyon Denali made its public debut Tuesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. "Canyon is the segment's first and only premium mid-size truck, offering unparalleled capability and efficiency matched with maneuverability and refinement," said Mike Speranzini, brand director, GMC in Canada. "The all-new Canyon Denali builds on that award-winning combination with the distinctive styling, luxurious interior and elevated content that has defined the Denali nameplate since its introduction nearly 17 years ago."

Like other Denali models, the new Canyon Denali offers a flashy chrome grille. Shiny wheels are …

Harley giveaway

Harley-Davidson Winnipeg is the place to be Saturday for the annual Hot Rods and Harleys open house show and shine. In addition to the cavalcade of cool cars and bikes on display, one lucky duck will ride away on a 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750. The motorcycle was donated by the dealership to the Manitoba leg of the Motorcycle Ride For Dad, an annual event that takes place in Winnipeg every spring. Orchestrated by the Winnipeg Police Service and a sea of volunteers, the local Ride For Dad has raised more than $1 million, all of which has …

2016 Chevrolet Silverado more muscular

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2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71. Available fall of 2015.

Chevrolet pickup sales in Canada are up 28 per cent so far this year. Chevy hopes to strengthen this momentum with significant updates for the 2016 Silverado 1500 full-size pickup.

Joe De Stefano, brand manager of Chevrolet Trucks in Canada, said the redesigned 2016 Silverado will feature a more muscular appearance and offer new customer-focused technologies.

"Silverado's new front-end designs with bold horizontal elements, sculpted hoods and dramatic lighting reflect the strength and refinement that have helped make Chevrolet the fastest-growing pickup brand this year." De Stefano wrote in a news release.

Other changes for 2016 will include expanded use of eight-speed automatic …

Willy gets a charge out of Smart electric car

The Winnipeg Free Press' Autos editor, Willy Williamson, is all charged up about the 2015 Smart Electric Drive. This micro-machine is powered entirely by an electric motor that is energized by a battery sandwiched in the car's floorboards. With a price tag of $26,990 (rebates and discounts may apply) and a range of approximately 100 kilometres on a full charge, Willy was thrilled with the Smart Electric Drive's zippy acceleration and sharp handling. He had a blast scooting around town, but was understandably concerned with not having enough juice to get home to his rural hideaway.

This is the first of …

Wheels of life

Manitoba Motorcycle Ride for Dad ready to roll

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Jason Halstead / Winnipeg Free Press Motorcyclists leave Polo Park to take part in last year�s Ride For Dad. Organizers anticipate about 1,600 riders will take part in the ride tomorrow that travels from Winnipeg to Gimli to raise funds and awareness in the fight against prostate cancer.

More than 1,600 local motorcycle enthusiasts will band together tomorrow for the seventh annual Manitoba Motorcycle Ride for Dad (MFRD) in support of prostate cancer research and education. To date, the local leg of this national event has raised more than $860,000, with all proceeds staying right here in Manitoba.

The ride raises funds and awareness for the fight against prostate cancer. The first ride took place in Ottawa in 2000 and has since grown to become the biggest motorcycle fundraising event of its kind, with rides in nearly 40 Canadian cities. Nationally, an estimated 265,000 men, women and children have …

Swap meet set for Sunday willy williamson / winnipeg free press files

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THE Manitoba Classic and Antique Auto Club and the Red River Exhibition Association on Sunday present the 18th annual Red River Valley Swap Meet. You can expect to find a huge assortment of automobile and motorcycle parts, collectibles, memorabilia, vintage toys and literature at this massive outdoor sale.

The event takes place at Red River Exhibition Park, rain or shine, on Sunday May 10 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes a swap meet, a corral of vintage vehicles for sale, and show-and-shine car show.

Vendor spaces for the swap meet and vintage vehicles for sale spaces are $10 each …

Motoring through time

Manitoba Motorsports Hall of Fame inducts three new members

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The 2015 Manitoba Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees, left to right, Warren Schettler, Paul Germain and Ken MacKenzie. The trio were inducted at Piston Ring�s annual World of Wheels car show.

Ken MacKenzie

The name Ken MacKenzie is synonymous with drag racing in Manitoba; he has been involved in the sport for more than 60 years. MacKenzie began his working career in the parts department at Carter Motors. He then worked for Boeing, Air Canada and Controlled Environment and was later a self employed project and operations management consultant, before officially retiring in 2004.

MacKenzie's love for cars began before he got his driver's licence. In 1957 he purchased a 1946 Ford and then a 1931 Chevrolet five window coupe that was a homebuilt hot rod. This was one of Winnipeg's …

I’m CR-Zy in love

Honda’s little hybrid a zippy, sporty sipper

Please leave a message after the beep ...

Mr. Williamson, this is Hans from the

European Health Spa. We have made repeated attempts to speak with you regarding your long-overdue account, but you have chosen to ignore our calls. As a result, we are cancelling your membership and this matter has been handed over to our collection department.

It had been months since I’d stepped foot in the spa, but they still wanted their money. Who could blame them? I’d signed up for their special “lifetime membership” and was on the hook for several hundred monthly payments of $9.99.

So what does any of …