Hanging out at Steele Wheels Motor Museum

It’s been over a month since our trio of record-setting vehicles came home to Halifax’s  Steele Wheels Motor Museum where they’ve been loving their new digs and all the attention.

They’re not hard to find. As soon as you walk in the world-class venue, there they are.

On the turntable, you’ll meet Red Cloud, the around-the-world Halifax-built Volvo 245 DL in which Ken Langley and I set a world record for fastest circumnavigation of the world by car in 1980.


Ken Langley, left, and Garry Sowerby in Pakistan with the 1980 Volvo 245 DL wagon they drove around the world.


Then you walk into the middle of the two GMC trucks, and our full history scrolls by on the floor-to-ceiling screens. What a geography lesson! And what a display of what you can do if you put your mind to something!

There’s our bullet-riddled 1984 GMC Suburban that, 40 years ago last month, completed the Africa-Arctic Challenge, where Ken and I drove from the southernmost point of Africa to the northernmost point of Europe. The go-for-broke drive got us another record in the Guinness Book of Records plus those nine bullet holes from an ambush in Kenya.


Morning run across the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, Africa.
Photo: Garry Sowerby


Next to the Suburban, you’ll see our GMC Sierra. In 1988, adventure writer, Tim Cahill, and I blasted up the Pan-American Highway from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina to the northernmost point of the Americas, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to set a third world record.


The 1988 GMC Sierra seen here in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.


This is the first time all three vehicles have been displayed together since their five-year residency many years ago at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California. Finally, they’re home and ready to tell their stories of adventure, tenacity, planning and luck.

When we started this madcap endeavor, Ken and I were just two young Maritimers bent on success in an era before social media, GPS, computers, fax machines or the internet.

Seeing the exhibit for the first time after delivering the three relics to the Steele Wheels Motor Museum, I couldn’t believe what they had done with the photography, video and artifacts from those voyages. I just stared. I had not seen the three of them together for decades and the display was impressive.

When John Rock, General Manager of GMC Trucks division in Detroit gave me the second GMC truck to take on the Pan American Challenge back in 1988, I remembered my pledge, “I’ll keep them forever, John.”

Now, as I soaked in the sight of the three road warriors, standing proud, amongst one of the finest collections of motor vehicles in the country, I was sure happy that I did. Hope you stop by and visit them at Steele Wheels Motor Museum (check their website for hours and more!)


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