Christina Kelbert and Michael Bar get around in their big rig hauling some of the most expensive classic and supercars on the continent. In eight months, they have driven back and forth between Vancouver, Halifax and Florida rolling up 220,000 kilometres of heaving hauling. They estimate they have visited 720 cities in two countries. The couple are co-drivers transporting new and used cars from dealerships to new owners as well as classic and collector cars from seller to buyer.
“The best thing about the job is the cars and learning about their stories,” Michael Bar says. “Some people are very emotional when their classic cars are driven into the trailer. For the buyers, we are like Santa Claus bringing everyone their Christmas present. Often the whole neighbourhood comes out to see how the cars are unloaded.”
Bar says more than 90 per cent of the cars transported are Ferraris, Lamborghinis or Porsches. The Toronto-based transport company he and Christina drive for has a contract with Porsche Canada. But they have picked up and delivered special interest cars to enthusiasts who have massive collections, like a Vancouver man who has a warehouse filled with almost every classic Porsche manufactured, and an Alberta collector with a stable of 45 classics. Their 2022 Freightliner and high-tech double decker trailer are 80 feet long and weigh 36,287 kg (80,000 lbs.) when fully loaded with six vehicles. The tailgate and inside ramps are operated by a sophisticated electric hydraulic system.
“It was thirty below zero in Regina, which caused the hydraulic fluid to freeze, when we were trying to unload a Chevrolet Malibu that we brought from Toronto for a lady,” Bar says of some of the challenges.
Kelbert is a night owl and usually drives her 10-hour shifts starting at four in the afternoon, while Bar takes over at 4 a.m. and drives through the day. Their driving time is limited by an Electronic Log Book and they are only allowed to work 70 hours in a week. Then they must take a mandatory 36-hour reset.
“Most of the time we stay in the truck. But we try to plan our resets for interesting places and stay in a motel,” Bar says.
On one such layover, the couple rented a convertible and went beach hopping in Florida. Kelbert and Bar met at a car slalom event in Toronto two years ago. Kelbert worked part-time for the company organizing the event.
“I heard her talking about her motorcycle and I wanted to get next to her,” Bar recalls. “Her dream was to own a small bungalow with a big garage. That was my dream too. We clicked right away.”
On their first date, Michael had to stop by the truck yard to get something out of his rig. Christina had never seen the inside of a long-haul transport truck before with closets, a microwave oven and sleeping accommodation – a home on wheels.
“Christina was fascinated by this and said: ‘Maybe I should do this. I’ll drive with you’”, Michael recalls.
Kelbert quit her full-time job as an animator for children’s shows and enrolled in driving school to complete 103 hours in a truck to get her Class 1 license which allows her to drive the big rigs. Safe Auto Vehicle Transport was looking for team drivers to handle their national and international car hauling and the couple signed on last July.
We have precious cargo. Literally two million dollars’ worth of cars.
“Christina picked up driving the truck super quick. She’s a natural,” Michael says.
The couple says the worst thing about the job is deteriorating driving habits with close calls a daily occurrence.
“People cutting in at the last minute, not giving us enough room to stop. Slowing down in front causing our brakes to overheat coming down mountains. We have precious cargo. Literally two million dollars’ worth of cars,” Kelbert says.
It’s a busy life for the young couple. “Go, go, go,” Michael says of their coast-to-coast deliveries in both Canada and the U.S.
They have put down roots in Calgary with a home purchase. “It’s got an extra long double garage. Just what we both wanted for our motorcycles and cars we want to build,” Michael says.
Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company. [email protected]