Don’t look elsewhere. Perennial first on my list of Quebec’s automotive connoisseurs, is idealist Richard Petit, founder of Kébecson.
This gentleman, who I am privileged to call my friend, never ceases to amaze me, and everyone around him. He buys cars like I buy shirts, evidence of an indescribable passion for fine cars, be they new or old.
Richard takes equal pleasure in admiring the sleek lines of a Ferrari Daytona, the menacing look of a Ford GT in the colours of the John Wyer stable, the flared fenders of a Ferrari Dino, or the simple playfulness of a Fiat 500 or a Citroen 2CV.
Not surprisingly he has reserved a corner in his garage for what he calls “the cars that make me smile.” Referring to the Fiats, Citroens and other minimalist cars like the ubiquitous Volkswagen Beetle (he owns two, including a convertible, bought when his daughter was born and driven every year on her birthday), Richard reflects, “People always hold a special place in their hearts for the cars that remind them of their youth.” It’s never the value of the car that determines the enjoyment, and Richard is as passionate for his Fiat Multipla microvan as for any of his exotic high-end classics. These vintage vehicles are even more sought after when in almost new condition, witness the German bubblecar, Isetta, with its front-opening door, marketed by BMW, though designed at the time by Iso an Italian refrigerator company!
I almost forgot to mention that his collection includes scaled vintage replicas such as the Porsche Spyder, identical to the one in which James Dean died, and the Jaguar XK -E. With the help of a small electric motor, these two cars resemble originals in every detail, from horn, to handling to engine noise. Richard Petit however, does not live in the past, and his passion for the automobile and concern for the environment sold him on the Tesla Model S electric car.
Richard is not one of those taken to showboating at the wheel of a vintage car. For everyday driving, you’ll find him behind the wheel of his Tesla, or a Volkswagen GTI. But on weekends Richard can be seen early Sunday morning occupied with one or another of what he refers to as his “exhaust valves”. “Electric week and eclectic weekend,” adds the man whose love of laughter could easily have translated into a career as a comedian.
“There are people who spend their money on paintings or other works of art. I love the works of art that I can drive and listen to”. This one-of-a-kind man is also possessed of a remarkable generosity and loves to share his pleasure and passion. A few years ago, he organized a children’s party in support of Marie-Clarac school and last summer participated in the Virée Voitures de rêve (Dream Cars) benefit in support of St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Quebec City. Recently, Richard and his friend Michel Ostiguy of Montreal ad agency DentsuBos acquired a superb vintage car in which you can tour in exchange for a $500 donation to the non-profit organization, The Lighthouse Children and Families. In just two weeks, more than $13,500 was raised.
Richard Petit, clearly an idealist, but also a man of great heart and taste, and without question, an exceptional individual.
There are people who spend their money on paintings or other works of art. I love the works of art that I can drive and listen to.
By: Jacques Duval
photo: Yves Lefebvre