I do love old school,” says Toronto Argonauts’ defensive back, Willie Middlebrooks, of his taste in cars. In fact, the footballer’s favourite car is the one he bought seven years ago — a 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Convertible‚ and has lovingly restored and upgraded since.

“When I purchased the car, it was in really great shape, actually,” explains the 30-year-old Miami-native who’s also played for the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers.

Although it was nearly 30 years old at the time, the Caprice had just 27,000 miles on it.

“It think it now has 33,000,” says Middlebrooks. “I do drive it, just not that frequently.”

Aside from painting the exterior white (it had been red) to match the white interior and white top, Middlebrooks also had the vinyl interior reupholstered with leather, had the old rims replaced with bigger, fancier ones, and added a custom sound system.

“You really can’t tell there are new speakers in the car unless I pop the trunk,” he says. Under the hood, he put in a new transmission and dual exhaust.

Middlebrooks says his penchant for older cars (he’d love to get a 1967 or 1969 Camaro) goes back to his childhood days in Florida, when he would climb into his aunt’s Caprice and pretend to drive. “It was fun at the time. Now, 20 years later, I have the same car,” he quips.

And when he takes the Caprice out for a spin here, it inevitably garners plenty of attention.

“A lot of people in Florida have those cars where they’ve done a lot of fixing up, but you don’t see that in Toronto as much,” he explains.

However, the attention is from an older crowd here rather than all the single ladies.

“The main attention is from the 50 crowd and up,” he says with a laugh. “For guys in their 50s, 60s and 70s, the Caprice Classic was the prime car for them in high school, so they say ‘what are you doing with a car like this?’” he says. But matter where the attention comes from, Middlebrooks still loves cruising in his old school ride.

Middlebrooks and the rest of the Argos will play the B.C. Lions this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Rogers Centre.

– Heather Buchan is a Toronto-based journalist whohas worked at several magazines, including Hello! Canada, where she cut her teeth in the world of celebrities.

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