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

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland

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.

J Sutherland
J Sutherland

Online collector car writer/webmaster and enthusiast

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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.::

  • 1995 SC Modern 4 door sedans stink. The roofline on them is such that it wrecks both the back seat and trunk access in most models. Watch someone try to get their kid into a car seat in the back of a modern sedan. Then watch them try to get the stroller into the mail slot t of a trunk opening. I would happily trade the 2 MPG at highway speed that shape may be giving me for trunk and rear seat accessibility of the sedans before this stupidity took over. I ask you, back in the day when Sedans were king, would any of them with the compromises of modern sedans have sold well? So why do we expect them to sell today? Make them usable for the target audience again and just maybe people will buy them. Keep them just as they are and they'll keep buying crossovers which might be the point.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.
  • Susan O’Neil There is a good reason to keep the Chevrolet Malibu and other 4 door family sedans! You can transport your parents and other somewhat handicapped people comfortably and safety! If someone can stand and pivot you can put them in your car. An armrest in the back seat is appreciated and a handle above the door! Oh…and leather seats so your passenger can slide across the seat! 😊Plus, you can place a full sized wheelchair or walker in the trunk! The car sits a little lower…so it’s doable! I currently have a Ford Fusion and we have a Honda Accord. Our previous cars were Mercury Sables-excellent for transporting handicapped people and equipment! As the population ages-sedans are a very practical choice! POV from a retired handicapped advocate and daughter! 😊
  • Freddie Remember those ads that say "Call your doctor if you still have...after four hours"?You don't need to call your doctor, just get behind the wheel of a CUV. In fact, just look at one.I'm a car guy with finite resources; I can't afford a practical car during the week plus a fun car on the weekend. My solution is my Honda Civic Si 4 door sedan. Maybe yours is a Dodge Charger (a lot of new Chargers are still on dealer lots).
  • Daniel J Interesting in that we have several weeks where the temperature stays below 45 but all weather tires can't be found in a shop anywhere. I guess all seasons are "good enough".
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