Hey, Spike! revs up colorful auto reviewer Andy Stonehouse | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! revs up colorful auto reviewer Andy Stonehouse

Miles F. Porter IV
Special to the Daily

Automobiles play important roles in most everyone's life, but for Andy Stonehouse they are doubly so.

You know his name and face, this 47-year-old Canadian who writes a regular car review for the Summit Daily News and other publications.

Another double feature for Andy is two Thanksgivings: ours and the north-of-the border version, though he has lived here since 1998.

"Canadian Thanksgiving, celebrated the same day as your contentious 'Columbus Day,' actually predates American Thanksgiving celebrations and is, basically, the same holiday (same foods, minus the green bean casserole). Just earlier, because there is no celebrating in Canada in the last week of November — just freezing," he offers in his typical colorful fashion.

Andy hails from Medicine Hat, Alberta, which is half-way between Moose Jaw and Red Deer.

Until recently, he was living in South Denver, reviewing cars and working at a "secret parallel career for a decade writing life insurance, annuities and employee benefits material, but everyone immediately yawns when you mention those topics."

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Andy also spent time in Washington, D.C., and Delaware, working on employee benefits for a company that ironically offered no benefits to employees.

Change was looming.

Like Horace Greeley's oft-quoted advice: "Go west, young man, go west," he did, actually ending up in Greeley, home to the SDN's sister paper, the Greeley Tribune, and the University of Northern Colorado (UNC).

He has a job at UNC while working on his master's degree in English to follow up on his BA in creative writing from University of Victoria, BC.

Andy will be teaching first year composition starting in January.

He taught journalism last fall in Canada, and became interested in teaching.

"They (UNC administrators) were kind enough to offer me funding for a master's degree, which I suspect is being paid for by Monfort, ConAgra, Exxon and Monstanto," he remarks.

Spike! knows well the area south of Greeley, having been editor of three weeklies back in the early '80s — the Fort Lupton Press, Platteville Herald and the La Salle Leader. All of these papers stretch along Weld County's treacherous U.S. 85 corridor, the intersection-dotted four-lane highway heavily trafficked by gas and oil rigs and cattle-laden 18-wheel tractor-trailers.

In addition to Horace, Greeley is known for its large feedlots and the aroma emanating from them, which prompted Spike! to inquire of Andy: Do you live up- or downwind?

His response: "Yes."

While living in northern Colorado just off I-25, Andy continues driving and reviewing the latest and greatest from the auto industry. He's done it for 12 years, powering 80 test vehicles annually through their paces, not counting "press trips."

His take: "That's a lot of cars."

True.

In addition to writing for us in Summit County, he's the auto columnist for Ski Magazine, contributor to Boulder Daily Camera, all while doing freelance for home publications in Dallas and covering the commercial sign industry for a magazine in Westminster.

Testing cars sounds like more fun than writing about signs.

His best test car was a Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, listed at $275,000. It's a beast boasting a twin-turbo W-12 engine, mated to an eight-speed transmission tied into an all-wheel-drive system.

"The smell of the leather gave me a headache each time I sat inside, all powered with 620-plus horsepower," Andy recalls.

His worst car experience ever?

"It was an early model Jeep Liberty which boiled over on Guanella Pass; I reported that and a Glenwood-area car dealer suggested I be fired immediately. Tough crowd."

So how many auto mishaps — his fault and not — has come with the testing territory?

He's been run into by other drivers twice: Once in a new Volvo S60 (airbags good, bald high performance summer tires in February, not good) and just the other day he was rear-ended in Greeley, "where everyone drives too fast and follows too closely, maybe because they are angry about living in Greeley."

Andy's other interests include being an avid skier (35 days last season), while admitting he's addicted to political social media.

Earlier in his journalistic career, Andy was a music writer for the SDN, Vail Daily and Boulder Daily Camera, attending "something like a thousand live shows." He has tinnitus (ringing in the ears) now. But does not regret it.

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com