Paul “Willy” Williamson joined the Free Press editorial team in 2007, turning his back on a career as a corrections officer. His motor has been running non-stop ever since.
Throughout the past seven years, his popular Willy’s Garage column has brought readers on the road with him to car shows, motorcycle rallies and an assortment of automotive adventures that have spanned clear across North America.
Willy has also reviewed a shiny fleet of new vehicles on our behalf and in 2012 was runner-up for the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual journalist of the year award.
Although he is best known for his automotive antics, Willy is also a dedicated member of the Free Press production team and assists in the weekly layout of the Autos and Homes sections.
Willy’s journey into the exciting world of journalism was helped greatly by longtime family friend and now retired Winnipeg Sun editor in chief Bill Davidson. Back in 1999 at a family wedding, Davidson quipped, “Willy, you’re quasi-intelligent. Can you write?” He was hired later that night.
Willy’s first stint as a writer/photographer with the Sun was as his alter ego Big Blue Willy, a rabid Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan with a blue face and a gold hard hat. For two seasons, he covered the Bombers from a fan’s perspective and has the scars to prove it.
In 2001, Willy’s Garage was born and to date, more than 500 articles with topics ranging from demolition derbies to winter driving adventures in Alaska have been methodically typed out one finger at a time.
Willy has also hosted his own TV series on MTS TV and is a longtime musician who fronts the aptly named local band The Gearheads.
Throughout the summer months Willy is the host of Sunday Night Cruise at the Grant Park Pony Corral. He is also a proud member of the Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba, the Manitoba Street Rod Association and the Riff Raff Car Club.
Cars, trucks, motorcycles and music may occupy most of his time, but Willy is also an avid picker. His auction prowess and unique ability to transform junk into art was showcased nationally on the TV series, Buy it, Fix It, Sell It.
Recent articles by Willy Williamson
Henry Malanik was Manitoba's last hanging, 70 years ago today8 minute read Preview Friday, Jun. 17, 2022
Gymnast Nadia Comaneci now proud owner of rare Canuck truck4 minute read Preview Thursday, Jul. 29, 2021
Pandemic breaks pool supply chains, leaving drought of affordable options4 minute read Preview Friday, Jun. 12, 2020
Locally developed product touted as superior to plexiglass in fight against COVID-195 minute read Preview Saturday, Jun. 6, 2020
Local auto repair shops are doing their best to provide a safe environment while keeping vehicles in top shape5 minute read Preview Thursday, May. 21, 2020
Those jerks on the road? Pay them no attention4 minute read Preview Friday, Nov. 1, 2019
The snow was flying Tuesday afternoon while I made my commute from Cooks Creek to the Free Press building in the Inkster industrial park.
Normally, it’s a fairly sedate trip — a nice combination of highway and city driving.
Thanks to the snow on the road, however, things were moving much slower than usual.
This didn’t bother me one bit.
With new Jeep Cherokee, Fiat Chrysler offers much improvement on old favourite9 minute read Preview Friday, Aug. 2, 2019
Enthusiast's one-of-a-kind Chevrolet Impala will be featured at Lions Club of East St. Paul Show & Shine5 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 26, 2019
Cross-country trip in electric vehicle requires planning, patience6 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 19, 2019
Still time to sign up the kids for a kartSTART experience2 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 12, 2019
Put it in gear and smile from ear to ear on Ride for Dad7 minute read Preview Thursday, May. 23, 2019
Winter Mega Run brings off-road enthusiasts together for a day of fun4 minute read Preview Friday, Mar. 15, 2019
Birds Hill Park trails remind Willy of friend who introduced him to snowmobiling6 minute read Preview Friday, Jan. 4, 2019
New column to feature events, news and views from local automobile scene1 minute read Preview Friday, Sep. 21, 2018
Starting Oct. 5, longtime Free Press contributor Myron Love will be filing a new column aptly named Auto Details.
The column, which will run on the first and third Friday of every month, will help promote automobile-related events throughout Manitoba, and will also feature a wide range of news from the local auto industry and automobile hobbyists.
Love has been writing about local car dealers in the Autos section for the better part of two decades, so he’s already made many of the contacts required to keep the wheels turning in his new column, but he can also use a little help from Free Press readers.
If your car club, automobile dealership or auto-related business has a special event coming up, there is some automotive-related news you’d like to share or a special accomplishment that deserves recognition, please send an email with a short (75 words or less) description to Myron Love at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wisconsin rolls out the carpet for Harley-Davidson's 115th anniversary6 minute read Preview Friday, Sep. 14, 2018
New pickups steal the spotlight at North American International Auto Show5 minute read Preview Friday, Jan. 19, 2018
Sparky Award recipient taps into his inner Clark Griswold2 minute read Preview Friday, Dec. 22, 2017
Second Opinion: how much does Nissan’s comparable 370Z cost?3 minute read Preview Friday, Dec. 15, 2017
Snap-on Tools of Triumph Tour will make pit stop in Winnipeg2 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 14, 2017
Sadie Grimm Ride honours Winnipeg woman who made motorcycling history6 minute read Preview Saturday, Jun. 10, 2017
Ringleader behind violent Headingley jail uprising chooses peaceful path11 minute read Preview Sunday, Apr. 16, 2017
Canadian Car of the Year competition getting ready to fire on all cylinders3 minute read Preview Friday, Oct. 28, 2016
World of WOW1 minute read Preview Thursday, Mar. 24, 2016
Piston Ring’s 42nd annual World of Wheel’s car show rolled through town last weeekend. A rock concert featuring Danny “The Count” Coker from the hit TV show Counting Cars and his band Count’s 77 rocked a large crowd at the newly expanded RBC Convention Centre on Friday night. With more than 200 vehicles on display, the show featured a wide variety of custom and special-interest vehicles including a wild 2006 Chrysler 300C SRT8, owned by Keith Anderson from Brandon, and a barn-fresh 1952 GMC pickup owned by Winnipegger Robert Martens.
Two-wheel ticket4 minute read Preview Friday, Mar. 18, 2016
While it’s a sure bet every auto aficionado in town will check out Piston Ring’s World of Wheels car show this weekend at the newly renovated RBC Convention Centre, thanks to the CycleRama Motorcycle Show running in conjunction this year, the annual show will also draw in locals who prefer to do their cruising on two wheels.
Harley-Davidson Winnipeg has signed on as the main sponsor for the CycleRama portion of the event, meaning you are getting two tickets for the price of one.
In addition to a selection of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles and accessories, the dealership will be selling Harley clothing and accessories.
As part of the CycleRama show there will also be more than 60 local motorcycles on display ranging from vintage bikes to mind-blowing customs.
Plenty to like about Mazda’s latest zoomer3 minute read Preview Friday, Jan. 15, 2016
Today's cars, trucks and SUVs have come a long way -- even in the past decade. Long gone are the days of new vehicles rattling straight out of the showroom with paint jobs looking like orange peel and lacklustre plastic interiors rivaling the selection at a Tupperware party.
Today is a good day to go car shopping. There really are no bad cars left. But, there are varying degrees of good.
Case in point is the new Mazda CX-3. At first blush you'd think a gearhead like me wouldn't like Mazda's latest offering. It falls into the sport-cute category, has a relatively tame powertrain and is rather small. I typically like big trucks or muscular cars with gobs of horsepower. That said, within minutes of climbing behind the wheel of the CX-3, I was grinning from ear to ear.
From the curb it's a looker. By now, thanks to a relentless advertising campaign, this sporty offering has likely caught your eye too. With a low-slung roof, a stretched hood and a handsome grill, this little Mazda has style to spare. The slanted headlamps and sharp crease on the hood give it an almost sinister look, a far cry from the happy smiling (and some would say goofy) small Mazdas of just a few years ago. Even the wide wheel arches and large fender flares look right, and the mirrors are mounted on the door instead of in the corner of the side window -- a clean design cue that also increases driver visibility. From the rear the CX-3 does lose a bit of its charm -- not in a bad way, mind you; it just doesn't look dramatically different from many current vehicles in its class.
Wine train finds new home1 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015
A British Columbia landmark, the Okanagan Valley Wine Train, has been sold and will find a new home in Alberta. "It was important to us that the historic 1954 train cars would remain in Canada," said Bob Nagel, who with his wife, Pat, successfully operated the Wine Train for five seasons from 1999 to 2003. During that time the dinner-train excursion, complete with a Las Vegas-style family show, travelled throughout the Okanagan Valley with many of the train staff doubling as entertainers for the show.
In 2003 wildfires ravaged the region and destroyed more than 300 homes. The train route was subsequently cancelled and the vintage train cars were stored in Kelowna, B.C.
"We are pleased to announce that the 1954 train cars have a new owner, Gary Southgate, and a new home in Alberta," said Pat Nagel. "He will be moving the Okanagan Valley Wine Train to Aspen Crossing, southeast of Calgary, in Mossleigh, Alta., where they will be featured with several other historical cars."
Both the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways were commissioned to move the train cars to their new location.
Gearhead concession: new Explorer not a truck, I’m OK with that4 minute read Preview Friday, Oct. 2, 2015
Swap meet set for Sunday willy williamson / winnipeg free press files1 minute read Preview Friday, May. 8, 2015
Riding for a reason1 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 18, 2014
Ride for the Breath of Life is an annual motorcycle event in support of Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Riders from all backgrounds participate in rides that take place all across Canada throughout the summer months.
Funds raised by participants of the Ride for the Breath of Life support life-changing cystic fibrosis research, clinical care and advocacy. This support has resulted in outstanding progress in the quality of life for Canadians with cystic fibrosis.
The local leg of the Ride for the Breath of Life will take place this Saturday and departs from the Flying J truck stop in Headingley. Registration is from 9:30-10:30 a.m. This year the ride will make stops in Carman, at Gaslight Harley-Davidson in Morden and at Morris. The day features poker hands, breakfast, a barbecue at the end of the ride, a silent auction and 50/50 draw. Registration is $25 per rider. For further information please contact: email@example.com
DETROIT AUTO SHOW: Motor City rolls out the latest in classy chassis6 minute read Preview Friday, Jan. 25, 2013
Revved up over Randy the Ramcharger7 minute read Preview Friday, Mar. 4, 2011
TEN years ago when we moved to the RM of Springfield, the blinding excitement surrounding our escape from the city masked many of the significant challenges associated with our new rural address.
In addition to learning more than I ever wanted to know about sump pumps, wells, septic tanks and water softeners, I also quickly learned snow may be good for snowmobiling but when it piles up on your driveway its good for nothing but a pain in the you know where.
Our driveway is about 200 metres long and unless we trade in our current vehicles for monster trucks, if we get a big dump of snow we are pretty much trapped.
Over the years I've tried a number of methods to move the snow. First I did it on a battered and bruised 1947 Ford 8N tractor that came with the house. If you've ever ridden an iron horse like the 8N you know it has a cold steel saddle and you sit up about two metres from the ground. Fine if you're plowing a field in summer; not so good if you're plowing snow in the dead of winter. All I had was a back blade for that old tractor and had to spend most of the time pushing snow in reverse. The end result was a narrow trail through the snow, a frozen butt and a sore neck.
Set to rock the block2 minute read Preview Friday, Jan. 7, 2011
TICKETS are moving fast for this year's 5th annual Pat and Willy's Barrett-Jackson Bash. In addition to adding NAPA as our title sponsor, we have also sold six of the available eight $1,000 sponsor VIP tables.
A big thanks goes out to Neil McKenzie of local tech company Real Time Digital Systems, Bernie Clement, the president of PembCorp, Rocky Kile from Fountain Tire, Marietta Rewucki from Eastern Chrysler, Bob Talman from the Princess Auto Foundation and Gary and Fred Arnold from Arnold Bros. Transport. Your heartfelt donations will help children in need. There are still two $1,000 sponsor VIP tables available, so if you'd like to get your company involved you better move fast.
We have also sold seven of the available nine $400 VIP tables. In addition to groups of friends or car club members like Greg Dreger, Bernie, Geno and the Boys, members of the MB LX club, and the Oakbank Mopar Lunch Bunch, Marv from Canadian Supershops grabbed a table, as did local Remax realtor Glen J. Sytnyk, and Ralph Sommerfeld from Auto Resurrection.
We already have a pile of great prizes to give away from great sponsors including Piston Ring, but we can always use more to sweeten the pot. We are also pleased to announce Orest Horechko from Fort Garry Brewing Company is on board as our beer sponsor.
NAPA presents Barrett-Jackson Bash V details2 minute read Preview Friday, Dec. 24, 2010
THINGS have really been heating up for this year's 5th annual Barrett-Jackson Bash, and my buddy Pat Kaniuga and I are absolutely thrilled to announce that our title sponsor is NAPA Auto Parts.
Ken Sommer from NAPA has been supporting our event big time for the past three years with amazing prizes, and this year, in addition to more great prizes, the company has also offered a sizeable cash donation.
We have also sold six of the available eight $1,000 sponsor VIP tables, so if you'd like to get your company involved you better move fast. Seven of the available nine $400 VIP tables have also been sold and we are pleased to announce that Orest Horechko from Fort Garry Brewing Company is on board as our beer sponsor.
Our goal is to raise $20,000 this year. Thanks to your support we are well on the way to reaching that mark. This will mean that in the five years of the event we will have raised more than $60,000 in support of the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation. It's important for us to note that this event has ZERO overhead and every dollar raised is presented directly to the good folks at rehab.
After making its apologies, Toyota moves forward5 minute read Preview Friday, Dec. 17, 2010
When Tiger Woods was exposed for his alley-cat behaviour, he basically buried his head in a sand trap and hoped his adoring fans would forget all about his indiscretions. They didn't, and his image (and golf game) continues to suffer.
Toyota, on the other hand, did the exact opposite. It came clean.
In early 2010, Toyota Motor Corp. president Akio Toyoda issued a statement essentially admitting Toyota had let its loyal customers down.
Prior to his appearance at the U.S. congressional committee on oversight and government reform, Toyoda submitted a prepared statement that may go down in history as one of the most candid corporate apologies ever.
Rock around charity auction block5 minute read Preview Friday, Jan. 15, 2010
Wow, it's hard to imagine that a casual conversation with my buddy Pat Kaniuga nearly four years ago has resulted in the most popular winter car event Winnipeg has ever seen, yet here we are, set to host Pat and Willy's fourth annual Barrett/Jackson Bash.
It all started back in January 2006 when Kaniuga, a CBC news editor and local muscle-car aficionado, invited about 20 of his friends over on a Saturday night to watch the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction on Speed.
Throughout the evening we crowded around the TV and collectively drooled over the amazing array of vehicles that rolled across the auction block in Scottsdale, Ariz. It was a great night that offered us an opportunity to get together in the dead of winter with our friends and share our passion for classic cars. As the evening wound down, I innocently proclaimed, "Hey Patty, this is awesome, it's like the Super Bowl for car guys. We gotta go BIG next year!"
Go big or go home has since become our mantra. That first year we hosted a party for about 100 of our friends. The next year there were 300, last year there were nearly 400 revellers in attendance.
2009 INFINITI FX35: You can fall in love with an SUV — who knew?6 minute read Preview Friday, Oct. 9, 2009
FIRST DRIVE: 2010 LEXUS HS 250h — A match made in heaven5 minute read Preview Friday, Sep. 18, 2009
2009 HONDA CIVIC SPORT: A sensible car with a dash of sporty DNA5 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 17, 2009
Powersport toys are packed to the rafters3 minute read Preview Friday, Jun. 5, 2009
LAST Friday evening, hundreds of friends, family and loyal customers celebrated the grand opening of Manitoba's newest and largest motorsports dealership.
The first thing you notice when stepping into the freshly minted Enns Brothers Powersports at 925 Lagimodiere Boulevard is the sheer size of the place. Even with 40,000 square feet to work with, the massive showroom is literally packed to the rafters with recreational products, parts and accessories. The equally spacious service department is also loaded with certified technicians and the latest tools of the trade required to keep everyone smiling all year round.
The products available cover every season Manitoba has to offer, including Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Can-Am all terrain vehicles and Spyders, Sea-Doo personal watercraft, MasterCraft and Starcraft boats, Evinrude outboard engines, Sym and Peugot scooters, and even Triton trailers to tow your toys to where the fun is.
The new Enns Brothers Powersports location is yet another chapter in a great-made-in-Manitoba story. In 1953 Jake and Harry Enns entered the farm-equipment business as an Allis-Chalmers and New Holland dealer in Sanford. In 1956, a long relationship was established when Enns Brothers became the John Deere dealer for the Sanford area.
2009 FORD F-150 LARIAT SUPERCREW: Found on road… Eating Crow7 minute read Preview Friday, Jun. 5, 2009
From corn to cars5 minute read Preview Friday, Jun. 5, 2009
Ask Joe Rewucki what his favourite car is, and he doesn't miss a beat.
"A 1957 Chrysler New Yorker. It was a two-door coupe, silver and white," he says with a gleam in his eye. "It was such a beautiful car, long, big and heavy."
Ask Rewucki what is his fondest memory from his more than 50 years in the local auto industry, and his answer is considerably more complex.
Rewucki, the owner of Eastern Chrysler Dodge Jeep at 1900 Main St., got his start in the car business way back in 1946. Today, at 84, his voice sparkles with enthusiasm as he recounts his evolution from selling vegetables at the family garden market to selling literally thousands of cars and trucks to countless loyal customers.
To you from failing hands…3 minute read Preview Saturday, May. 9, 2009
Mike Seggie had always dreamed of one day restoring his prized 1968 Plymouth Barracuda, the love of his life.
Unfortunately, he never got the chance to see it happen. Cpl. Seggie, a member of the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Shilo, was killed Sept. 3, 2008 during an insurgent attack in Afghanistan.
However, his parents will see their son's dream come true.
Jim and Shirley Seggie recently learned that several of Mike's friends -- fellow soldiers from CFB Shilo -- have graciously offered to restore the car in Mike's memory.
Riding on a cloud5 minute read Preview Friday, Mar. 20, 2009
You may think building one-off custom chopper motorcycles is a skill strictly reserved for our American neighbours, but in recent years, a number of extremely talented builders have emerged on our local bike scene.
Rick Osborne, owner of the Collision Werx paint and body shop on Molson Avenue, has fast become Manitoba's premier custom motorcycle builder.
Osborne's radical ride was hand-built from scratch in the garage of his East St. Paul home. The gas tank, rear fender and oil tank were all fabricated using sheet metal, an English Wheel, a series of hammers and a big tree stump in his backyard.
"I had to work and pound the metal for days to get it just right," said Osborne, a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast who has built a number of custom bikes in the past 12 years.
Local car on SPEED2 minute read Preview Friday, Mar. 6, 2009
LOCAL fans of SPEED Channel's popular show My Classic Car, with Dennis Gage, will definitely want to tune in this Sunday to check out some made-in-Manitoba metal.
On this week's show Gage will be featuring Kari Knox and Steve Affleck's "RatBug," a cool 1962 Volkswagen Beetle that Affleck built in his Gimli garage. Gage spotted the couple's custom car at the annual Devil's Run in Devil's Lake, North Dakota last summer.
"We knew Dennis Gage would be there and we thought it would be cool to meet him," said Affleck, who built the highly modified Beetle in 2007 for his wife Kari. "We were shocked when he came racing up to us at the show in a golf cart and said he loved our car," said Affleck, who added that when Gage asked if he could feature their car on his television show they were both thrilled.
At a moment's notice, a camera crew arrived, and Gage was interviewing the proud owners. "He asked us all sorts of questions about the car and said that he had never seen another one like it," said Affleck, a proud member of the Gimli Car Club. "He's a really nice, down-to-earth guy, and after the interview was done he sat around with us and had a beer, it totally made our weekend.