Auto|One CEO and car afficionado Kevin Andrews on living his passion
STORY BY CHRIS METLER
Auto|One Group is an automotive leasing company born from the passions of true “car guy” Kevin Andrews. Operating in Toronto, Vancouver, and Halifax, Auto|One offers a diverse inventory of luxury, exotic, and commercial vehicles. They also go the extra mile and specialize in sourcing specific classics that empower customers to create and experience memories with the cars they grew up with and love. That’s why they introduced a classic car lease program built from their robust, digital leasing process for all types of vehicles. And why their servicing departments in Toronto and Halifax are able to ensure classic cars’ safety and drivability!
Auto|One’s decision to introduce a classic car leasing program was easy. Founder and CEO Kevin Andrews’s personal experience with classics goes all the way back to his teen years; when his dad brought home a 1933 Buick to restore. He worked on various classic cars from a young age, even though he didn’t always know what he was doing. His first car, a red 1972 Chevelle Convertible solidified his love for classic cars. So, it was only natural that Kevin added a leasing program for classics to the business that he built from his own passion.
Not only does Kevin enjoy restoring cars, such as his current blue Chevelle SS, he loves racing them too! Over the years, he has taken part in a range of rallies; from the Gumball, to the Bullrun to the Atlantic Road Trip (ART). Partnering up, at various times, with his younger brother, wife, and friends, Kevin carries fond memories from all these rallies.
Kevin’s first rally was the Gumball 3000 in 2005. The Gumball brought together 120 unique vehicles and took them across multiple countries throughout Europe on a 5,000km, six-day journey. His younger brother, Dwayne, organized it as a special birthday gift for Kevin’s 40th birthday.
“It was meant to be fun, right? It wasn’t meant to be some kind of strange, aggressive, pretentious event. We weren’t driving a super high-end car like a Ferrari, McLaren, or Lambo. We were driving a $13,000 Porsche 928 that we bought on eBay and covered in stickers,” Kevin recalls.
It was always about enjoying the journey, not just reaching the destination. That may sound like a cliché, but it’s also a safety thing. “I don’t want to risk anyone’s life by going 100 miles an hour down a highway, weaving through construction zones, and overtaking others,” he adds. “I do things that are fun but comfortable, not reckless. Besides, they’re not races you can win, there’s no big prize at the end, it’s about having fun.”
From the excitement of the starting grid in London’s Trafalgar Square, to racing a pack of Subarus from Hungary to the coast of Croatia, to the final day’s drive along the Mediterranean coast, from Rome to Monaco, with cigars in hand. The Gumball was when Kevin fell in love with car rallies, but this experience was simply his start. In the years since he has taken part in multiple Bullrun Rallies as well 2019’s Atlantic Road Trip in Norway.
Below are a few of Kevin’s favourite memories from past rallies. He hopes to have even more stories to tell, soon!
Kevin’s Rally Recollections:
New York to Los Angeles in the Porsche 928 – My Porsche 928 was prepped and ready to roll after a supercharger upgrade to ensure peace of mind at the race track events. After a long haul across the flatlands of the Western US on a secondary highway, we headed into the mountains for a stop in Vail. We were driving with some Brits in a topless Lotus with racing tires when the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain. Those poor Brits were shit out of luck! Of course, being the nice Canadians that we are, we chose to drive with them through the mountains to offer support if they ran into trouble. After about 2 hours the rain lightened, the Brits thanked us, and we were on our way to Vail! We had a spectacular rally finish at the Beverly Hills Hilton in LA, celebrating with donuts on the roof top parkade of the hotel.
Montreal to Key West in the Porsche 928 and Ferrari 360 – The 928 wasn’t always the most reliable rally car. We had a crazy start this year as the 928 was having some last-minute engine work, so we borrowed a Ferrari 360 with a six-speed manual. However, when we arrived in Montreal, we received word the 928 was rally ready. We had one of our mechanics drive the 928 over. We left Montreal in great spirits, but about an hour outside Boston, tragedy struck as the 928 caught fire. We were the 20th car into Boston, but we arrived on a flatbed. We called the mechanic, who was still in Montreal, and he drove the Ferrari down to Boston, without missing a beat. All this led to a very hectic first 2 days of the rally! More finish line donuts at the end of the rally in Mallory Square, as we celebrated winning the Spirit of Bullrun Award in Key West.
Calgary to Scottsdale in the Porsche 928 and Porsche Boxster – The 928 was back in business for this rally! At least for a while… The driving on this rally was extraordinary, but the most beautiful drive was through the Rockies and rolling hills. Although the drive was beautiful, it was anything but lovely. We encountered serious problems driving from Aspen to Park City, Utah. High- speed travel on rolling hills caused us to bottom out, putting a hole in the oil filter and breaking the fan. Luckily, a state trooper helped us out by taking me to the next town to get the fan repaired and driving me back. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and an hour later, we were on a flatbed to Park City due to unrepairable engine damage. We rented a Boxster and continued on!
New York to Las Vegas in the Maserati GranSport – This time, we decided to save ourselves the troubles (and thrills) of driving the 928, so we chose a 2005 Maserati GranSport. The Maserati turned out to be the perfect car for various reasons. It had four seats and an automatic transmission, which made it ideal for flag girl Kim Kardashian, and the film crew, to drive to the starting line. Another memory from this rally is our police escort. I was driving the speed limit, as I had just recently been pulled over, when a cop pulled up next to us and seemed to be egging us on to go faster. I rolled my window down and the cop yelled to follow him. He flipped on his lights, pushed the petal to the metal, and began zipping around people going over 100 miles an hour, so I followed! The funniest part was that we could hear on our police scanner, reports of a car chasing a cop car. After about 30 miles, though the cops opted to exit.
The “LA LA Loop” in the Ferrari 360 Spyder – I brought a Ferrari 360 Spyder and wrapped it in plaid, as an homage to the startup of Auto|One’s used car operations. I wore a matching plaid sports jacket. The car operated stunningly, and the first stretch from LA to San Franciso turned out to be one of our best drives ever. Not in terms of our finishing spot, as we were actually last in, but in terms of enjoyment and beauty. My wife, Christine and I opted not to race and instead took the long route and enjoyed the beauty of the pacific coast highway. While I’ve loved every rally I’ve ever done, this might have been the best driving, with amazing scenery everywhere and Christine by my side.
Montreal to New Orleans in the Porsche 928 – The 928 was finally back in full force! For this rally, Dwayne and I partnered up again, ready to tackle anything! Of course, we encountered car issues, but we also had crazy adventures, drag strip competitions, and the joy of doing it all with my little brother. The Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee was a standout. This must-drive route is a complete thrill with so many twists and turns. The most fun part of this rally, however, was the epic train transport from Washington to Florida, followed closely by the mud run, which Dwayne completed by powering through four feet of mud.
Oslo, Norway to Parnu, Estonia in a BMW 850 M – My most recent “rally” experience was a little different than my other rallies. Ben, a friend I met from my years doing the Bullrun and I jetted off to Norway where we rented a BMW 850 M and took part in the Atlantic Road Trip (ART). Less of a rally and more of a trip, this was an unforgettable experience, nonetheless. Driving in Norway and Sweden is out of this world; with fiords, flying bridges, and ferries. Seeing this part of the world was incredible, and while others may not have seen this as a race, the Swedish police sure did! In fact, they were, in our eyes, a bit crazy as they used their undercover car to pull some wild maneuvers and entice us to pass them! Then… they immediately pulled us over – crazy Swedes!
These memories are just a part of what led Kevin to create his incredible leasing programs. It’s also how you know Auto|One are a business run by true car people. Contact them today to start collecting your own memories!