Dear Uncle Sam: We Used To Measure In Miles Per Hour As Well, Honest

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland
dear uncle sam we used to measure in miles per hour as well honest

I realized how far we have come off the tracks from that golden era of miles per hour when I had to cuff my over-30 nephew after he asked how many kilometers were on a large 1972 Chrysler Imperial. Those of us from a kinder and gentler time knew that old Impy was a miles car – not a kilometer kar.

Canada used to be a miles per hour country, until we recklessly elected Pierre Trudeau to run our country from the late 60s until the early 80s, with an-all-too-brief timeout from the guy in the late 70s.


Some of you older Americans may remember Trudeau’s ex-wife Maggie for her brief fame as a Rolling Stones party girl in the 70s, including a famous photo that made its way to Playboy magazine. Older Canadians are more likely to remember Pierre Trudeau as either a hero or a villain in Canadian politics.

I live in western Canada and I remember the man as a villain to put it politely in our G-rated online publication. I have a long list of grievances about his run as our Prime Minister, but, for the purposes of our car philosophy, I will concentrate on his push for metric measurement.

Trudeau was not a huge fan of the United States, and he designed many of his foreign policy decisions around his desire to make Canada more European than North American. Metric measurements came in handy in that.

The prevailing attitude was that the world was shifting toward the metric system, and away from the Imperial measurement. The metric system was based upon the efficiency of ten as a number, and it would put everyone on the same page in the measurement game, or so the idea was.

Great idea, except that the United States was not moving into a metric system. Our biggest trade partner, closest neighbor, and best global friend was standing pat in the measurement game. However, Trudeau let his ego and anti-US philosophy run the show, so we ended up as a metric country, even though all of our historical legal measurements were made in acres, quarter sections and townships.

None of that mattered to Trudeau,,= and now we have an entire generation that measures in kilometers, and has no idea about miles on a car odometer, simply because the man was an egomaniac who got the keys to the country long enough to run up a huge debt, and make it his own little social experiment.

Some of it didn’t take, because most people in Canada still measure themselves in feet and pounds, even if their driver’s licenses scream centimeters and kilograms in accordance with the Trudeau manifesto. But even Trudeau was unable to change quarter miles at drag strips, miles per gallon and 0-60 times in Canadian car guy culture.

It didn’t have to be this way. Canadians should never have moved away from miles per hour, except for one guy with a completely unchecked ego named Trudeau. For me it is just another reason to love old cars that drive in miles per hour. Any time before the Trudeau era in Canada was a golden age for cars and our country.

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  • Beken Beken on Jun 25, 2013

    one more thing missed. The imperial gallon used worldwide and the US gallon used only in the USA are different measures. So any miles per gallon measure was already different between Canada and the US.

  • Corntrollio Corntrollio on Jun 25, 2013

    Obligatory: ::The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it.::

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
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