Weird cars: Sarnia couple share passion for unusual wheels

Kenn Poore wheels through Northgate traffic in his 1986 Pulse Litestar, one of only two in Canada. At any given time just three of its four wheels are touching the ground. Glenn Ogilvie

George Mathewson

Sarnia’s Kenn and Donna Poore have been drawing a lot of startled looks lately.

The self-described “gearheads” are the active owners of three wild and wonderful cars that are as much fun to operate as they are weird.

Take, for example, their 1958 Vespa.

Built in France by an Italian scooter company, the car is an 800-pound shoebox with seats that fits comfortably in the back of the Poores’ pickup truck.

“It comes with an ash tray but no seatbelts,” notes Donna, amused by its Gallic design priorities.

An 18-horsepower, two-cylinder engine powers the little red car, which produces a ride that might best be described as, well, rattley.

Top speed?

“Forty-five miles per hours,” says Kenn. “But it feels like you’re doing 145.”

Next up, their 1932 American Austin Roadster.

A favourite of Hollywood celebrities like Buster Keaton and Al Jolson, it’s a classic American roadster made in Butler, Pennsylvania.

The Poores’ model is one of just 63 known to exist. It has neither turn signals nor brake lights, but it does sport a gas cap shaped like a bantam rooster. Better yet, it was the car Donald Duck’s cartoon “Belchfire Runabout” was based on.

But the real showstopper in the Poore collection is the rocket car. Essentially a motorcycle enclosed in an airplane body, the 1986 Pulse Litestar has a cockpit with a sliding canopy and looks like something from a James Bond movie. Actually, a single-seat Litestar flew through an airplane hanger in one 007 flick.

“It only has three wheels touching the ground at any one time, unless you have two heavy people in it,” says Kenn.

The car was one of 347 made in Owosso, Michigan before 1990, and it draws plenty of pointing fingers wherever it appears around town.

Kenn, a real estate broker, and Donna, a newly retired Grade 1 teacher, began collecting cars just a few years ago.

It’s fun taking them to weekend shows and meets but they are not museum pieces, Kenn says.

“If you’re not driving your cars what’s the point of having them?”

Kenn and Donna Poore pose for a photo in their 1932 American Austin Roadster. Glenn Ogilvie

Kenn and Donna Poore pose for a photo in their 1932 American Austin Roadster.
Glenn Ogilvie

The gravity-feeed gas tank of the '32 Roadster is located above the driver's knees. Glenn Ogilvie

The gravity-feeed gas tank of the ’32 Roadster is located above the driver’s knees.
Glenn Ogilvie

The 1958 Vespa is a car that easily fits in the back of the Poores' pickup truck. Glenn Ogilvie

The 1958 Vespa is a car that easily fits in the back of the Poores’ pickup truck.
Glenn Ogilvie

The Vespa sports a two-cylinder, 18-horsepower engine located in the trunk. Glenn Ogilvie

The Vespa sports a two-cylinder, 18-horsepower engine located in the trunk.
Glenn Ogilvie

A bantam rooster gas cap graces the Poores' American Austin Roadster. Glenn Ogilvie

A bantam rooster gas cap graces the Poores’ American Austin Roadster.
Glenn Ogilvie