x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Top 5: Canadian automakers that got their moment in the sun

They're subsidised, they're quiet - silent, really - and when they finally go away, few people notice. Below are five Canadian automakers that have poked out from under the shadow of Detroit, even if only briefly.

Brooks Steamer never even got beyond a prototype.
Brooks Steamer never even got beyond a prototype.


An acronym for Zero Emission, No Noise, this electric car was created by the Zenn Motor Company. A prototype was shown at the 2011 Toronto Motor Show and for the fiscals years 2008 and 2009 the company sold 360 Zenn NEVs. In 2004, Zenn signed an agreement with EEStor, a US company looking to produce ultra-capacitors that could replace car batteries. "Analysts have cautioned Zenn stock is highly speculative", a Toronto newspaper, the National Post, reported in 2009.

Campagna T-Rex

As the Campagna Motors statement on its website reads: "We are a team of passionate visionaries based in Montréal, Canada. Our goal is to create the finest three-wheel vehicle in the world." Although classified as a motorcycle, the interior can accommodate two passengers side-by-side. In January the young firm signed an agreement with the Excalibur hotel in Las Vegas to give it extra exposure and chances to be won. A T-Rex featured in the video for he Black Eyed Peas songImma Be.


The McLaughlin automobile company began life as a carriage company in Ontario in the late 19th century. In 1907 it started making cars, forming an alliance with William C Durant and his Buick Motor Company - which eventually became General Motors - with the McLaughlin-Buick name lasting until 1942, when the cars became the Buick marque still used today. In 1918 McLaughin sold up to General Motors. Sam McLaughlin continued to run the company and held the position of chairman of the board of General Motors of Canada.


Malcolm Bricklin turned his father's building supply business into a franchised chain of handyman stores. He then formed Subaru of America, selling Subaru franchises. These two businesses reaped enough money for Bricklin to pursue his own American dream ... in Canada. The provincial government of New Brunswick provided financing to Bricklin to have the car made in the region. The car was the Bricklin SV1, with the SV standing for safety vehicle, and only 2,854 models were produced before the company went into receivership.

Brooks Steamer

The company and its vehicles were named after the American financier, Oland J Brooks, who had moved to Toronto from Buffalo, New York in 1920. The company was formed from the remnants of the Detroit Steam Motors Corporation. Brooks planned to build three lines of cars, but only one model was produced. The prototype was shown at an exhibition in Toronto in 1923 but a lack of progress led to stockholders taking charge of the company and forcing Brooks out. The company did not survive the stock market crash of 1929.