About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dec 16: The perfect gift?


Christmas is next week. So those car lovers among you, who have been stumped for the perfect gift, something with a touch of history, but totally unique, listen up (or at least read this blog). How often does one get the opportunity to buy something for a car obsessed friend that, is unique and you might even say, never goes out of style (this last point is debatable)? Well, readers, I have the best idea for you, all it takes is a generous streak and your problems are solved.

So what am I talking about? The really astute car folks will probably already have guessed what this gift is. The suspense ends, the drum rolls and here it is........


Of course, you are wondering why you didn't think of this. So here is the deal. This is obviously a Checker cab. Originally brought out in 1956 as a purpose built cab  -  tough and roomy in all directions with no nonsense looks. A very good concept. Checker built these cabs from 1956 until 1982, with basically no changes. Available in the standard New York City yellow or as the ad shows in other combos. Purpose built as cabs, as you can see from this assembly line pic.......


But time moved on and the Checker didn't, so they were gradually phased out in favor of less expensive and much more up to date alternatives, such as the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria below.......


Checker tried to move into the regular passenger car business, as this ad shows, but with limited success. After all, how many people wanted a very practical, plain Jane car with a design from the 1950's?


So why the gift suggestion? Good question, but someone figured that there was a market for refurbished Checkers. Apparently, somewhere folks were pinning for the good old days of staid designs and poor mileage. That someone is Checker Motor Sales. This company finds relatively low mileage Checkers (they sure wouldn't be old cabs) and makes them like new again. The perfect gift for a car lover stuck back in the 1950's and is unsure how to move forward (slightly). And that car lover, must also have a good friend willing to spend mid $20k's for a unique gift. But would it be appreciated? Now, there is the million dollar question or at least the $24,999 plus tax one.

Many people long for the "good old days", unwilling to realize that we have it pretty good right now. But to bring back something that wasn't so great in its prime, strikes me as rather odd. Why not bring back the VW Beetle, at least it sold really well back in the day? But Checker Motor Cars sums it up in their ad, by saying that owning a Checker can be "........exciting and rewarding." Their words, not mine. And as you know, it takes all kinds.

So, do you take my valuable suggestion and get your car obsessed friend a "new" old Checker or stay with a tried and true, guaranteed to please gift........


You decide.

Until next time......




Friday, December 12, 2014

Dec 12: Big snow, little solution


Toronto received their first big snow fall of the season yesterday and no, it was nothing like what fell on Buffalo a couple of weeks back. And no, it was nothing like what this horrific photo depicts, but to Torontonians, it probably felt like it. See, I have a theory about my fellow citizens. I believe that they take the mildest winter of the past 50 years and use that as their benchmark, so anything worse is a big mistake.

What to do? Forget about a Summer sportscar (although I did see an SL and a couple of Porsches yesterday) and start looking with envy at those sport utes with their oh, so appealing all wheel drive. Hey, let's not kid ourselves, as those things still require eyes on the road and mind in gear. But the all wheel drive is a help, as I know from first hand experience in my ATS. So, back to what to do, since those big sport utes have absolutely no appeal?

Buick had an answer with their Encore.......


.........and Chevy followed up with their version of the same vehicle, the Trax.......


Small, easy on the fuel and still quite practical for around town, after all, not all of us need to head north to the ski resorts in the worst possible conditions or need to take with us, everything we own. After these two, the German luxury brands started introducing smaller and smaller versions of their tried and true numbers. BMW was the first with the X1, followed by Audi's Q3 and recently Benz with their GLA.......


Now add to them, the just introduced Lincoln and Lexus models. If you follow trends at all, you know that what becomes popular at the top filters down (the exception here, being that GM was first out of the gate with their mini's). So now there is an avalanche of little suv's, about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting, but ready to embrace them, public.

Coming to a dealer near you, quite soon, but not necessarily in this order are the Mazda CX-3.......


........and the Honda HR-V........


Not yet announced, but sure to arrive within the next year are Ford's EcoSport (currently being sold abroad, so you know that it will come to our shores)........


.......and the VW Taigun (where do they get those names?).........


Like to see what is being sold elsewhere, which I don't thing we have too much of a chance to get? This is the VW Golf wagon, but done up like an Audi Allroad. Wagons are a very niche segment in North America, as we love, really love, our big 4x4's. I don't think the Audi Allroad is setting any sales records, so I'd bet against us seeing this neat little gem anytime soon........


So, you can see that having an suv is not going to mean a bigger, gas guzzling truck. No, now you can be sort of green and still have the confidence of cruising around, during a big dump of white stuff, in an all wheel drive vehicle. Ah, progress.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Until next time.......



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dec 9: You are how old?

I've heard of and even seen some very old drivers. Matter of fact, a friend's mother got a new car last year and she was 97. Ninety seven! Now, that is old to be driving and I only hope that she was ok, when she got behind the wheel in city traffic. Most of us can think of a couple of examples of folks, who we thought should have packed in the old driver's licence long ago. This got me to thinking of a few race car drivers who have piloted hot rides into their so called "twilight years".

For example........


NASCAR driver Morgan Sheppard is 73 and still runs a limited schedule, driving those high powered stockers. His comments on the top pic say it all. But look who sponsors him......."Driving for Jesus". Maybe Morgan figures that at his age, on those fast tracks, he needs all the help he can get.

Or James Hylton, who turns 80 this year and tried to qualify for last year's Daytona 500 at speeds topping 200 MPH........


This pic of James around 1970, shows us just how long he has been in the saddle. Would any driver examiner fail him on his local driving test, when he had been running Daytona on the weekend? "Say, Granddad, can you slow down just a touch?"

What about this racer from the west coast of the US........


 Herschel McGriff, now 87, but drove, I believe, into his '80's..........the top pic is at a circle track back in the day and the bottom one, during the famous Mexican road race of the '50's, La Carrera Panamericana. Those were the days, when you could use the same car for a variety of events. I think this recent pic says it all (note the sponsor).......


But let's put these racers aside to celebrate the grandaddy of them all, and one who continues to amaze fans to this day..........


Chris Karamesines. Or the Golden Greek. Chris was racing Top Fuel racers from the beginning and even ran a Funny Car at one time........


This vintage racer has just ordered a brand new car, with which to wage the quarter mile battles of 2015. Now keep in mind that the cars Chris drives pull huge G's and do it with about 8-10,000 horsepower. Now, also keep in mind that Chris is 83! Eighty three! Unbelievable.


And Chris doesn't just run some back woods tracks for kicks. No folks, the Golden Greek mixes it up with the big boys (or should I say, young big boys?) at NHRA national events and he often qualifies! Absolutely incredible, when one thinks about the abuse one of these dragsters puts on an individual's body and yet, here is Chris at 83 getting a new car.

In golf, the Champions Tour features all those golfers over 50, who still want to play competitively, but usually can't quite keep up with the kids. But here are these racers, who were first behind the wheel, long before many of their current competitors were born, or in some cases, before their competitors parents were even born!

So think about it, will this little racer be ordering his new ride eighty years from now?

Until next time........



Friday, December 5, 2014

Dec 5: Rolls Royce Maharaja


Pretty exciting day, when a new Rolls Royce Special Edition is unveiled to its adoring public. And this one is super special and limited, since Rolls has decided to limit its sale to the Middle East, actually only Dubai. The reason? Simple, there has only been one built (so far), but others are planned for less affluent markets, so you won't have to move, in order to get one of your very own.


The name of this rather exclusive Roller? The Phantom Maharaja. Great moniker, eh? Named after those obscenely wealthy Indian rulers of times gone by, who were a great source of custom Rolls Royce's. Got me to thinking about a few other possible special editions........for Russia, the Oligarch, for North Korea, the Oppression, or the Corruption for China. One final idea, for the United States, the Corpulent. You can come up with others later, since I must move on.

Maharaja. This got me to thinking about those wealthy Indian princes, who were decadent in the extreme. With a little research, I found a plethora of custom cars, usually Rolls Royce's that, these individuals had commissioned for themselves at, as you can imagine, huge costs. An example.......


No, I don't know where the idea for this one came from, but it has one feature that shows up a lot on these custom builds, that is, the snake shaped horn on the front fender. Rolls must have got a deal on them, since they have ended up on numerous old custom Rollers ("Your Highness, there is one last embellishment that, we can highly recommend, and for you, we can offer such a deal!").

One Rolls in particular stood out and that was this model done for the Maharaja of Kota, Umed Singh.........


.......called the Tiger Car, since Umed used it to lead his hunting parties into the great unknown. Note the silver hood to distinguish this beauty from his neighbours'. And also the snake horn, but hey, all your wealthy friends have them on their RR's as well. So what else would a hunting Rolls Royce need, when heading into those (at the time) vast jungles of India?


Yes, this is a start, a high caliber mounted gun and notice all the spots for rifles on the rack below. Ok, so as I said, this is a start, but what else might come in handy?


It may not look like it, but this is a cannon used for hunting elephant. What, you thought that the pistol in the previous picture, was going to pull down one of Dumbo's ancestors? Pretty even fight, one unarmed pachyderm verses a cannon.

But this Rolls is called the Tiger Car for a reason, since hunting tigers was its main purpose. The cannon would be overkill, not to mention a rather unfair way to bring down one of those beauties, so let's make it a more even fight. Got any ideas (and don't look ahead, please?).

No guesses? Well, see below.........


The Tiger car had a trailer and mounted on that trailer was a machine gun. And that machine gun's purpose was not to chase away those pesky peasants, annoyingly looking for loose change or maybe even a few crumbs from your extravagant picnic lunch. Not a chance. These folks were true sportsmen, so they used that innocent looking machine gun to hunt tigers! No kidding. No wonder there are so few of those beautiful, stripped cats roaming the Indian countryside these days.

The Rolls Royce Phantom Maharaja. Great salute to the good old days, when money was running free and no one cared how you spent your leisure time.


Way to go Rolls, I'm so looking forward to see your next extra, special limited edition for our Russian friends, the Phantom Revolution.

Until next time.......




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dec 2: Marauder and a cat

Those involved in the aerodynamics field found out long ago that, you can't race a brick. Well, the Fords and Mercurys of the early 1960's were not exactly bricks (well actually everything was a brick back then), but they had a very upright roof line, which couldn't compete on the high speed tracks with the Chevy and Pontiac designs. Solution? Simply design a lower, sort of a fastback roof and call this model the Marauder. Now this improved things quite a lot (the lower roof line at least). Of course, what goes on the track, must, at the same time, go into the nation's showrooms and this brings us to today's blog.

I always liked the old Mercurys, so it was a natural for me and the CMC (Car Modeling Cat) to want to built our own Marauder, but the street version.......


Hard to believe these behemoths roamed the race tracks of the US. As usual with my models, the hood is glued shut, but all the details on the exterior are as close to the real car, as we can possibly get. Like the name plates, the red centres on the hubcaps, the Ontario licence plates. Just like the real thing......


Of course, I think ours looks better in yellow than the real white car below it. If I didn't tell you, would you know which one was the model?


Hard to find something to photograph it on that looks kind of realistic. Usually, I use an industrial background, but this time, I've tried a couple of different venues, one being the stairs. I think I'll go back to the usual location. Notice the other car? Of course, you do........


 It's a Toronto police car. I bought a plain white diecast and also, Toronto decals from a California company - voila' a 1/24th scale TO patrol car to add to my cop car collection (another story for another day). I did this one myself, as my trusty helper can't do much with decals. She likes doing the building part.......


......ah, yes, here is the little dear working away on the Marauder, with some of our other projects showing in the background (stay tuned). What a great cat! And a very hard worker.

Mercury Marauder. Actually a strange name for a top of the line luxury car, it probably suited the lower Mercury series better, but that is the way it was back in the day. Things have changed over time, man have they ever.

Until next time.........






Friday, November 28, 2014

Nov 28: Unbelievably blatant

How would you like to have written "Fifty Shades of Grey", only to find that, in the People's Republic of China, the identical book is selling there, but with one change? In China it is called, "Forty Nine Shades of Grey". This is not too far fetched and it could certainly happen in the Forbidden Kingdom, since they do not have copyright laws. Don't believe me, then take a look at this.........

One of these is the Chery QQ. The other one is the Daewoo Matiz. General Motors (who owned Daewoo) complained to Chery about their blatant copying to no avail. This example is extra interesting, when one considers that the Daewoo itself, might be considered a knock off of an early '90's Renault Twingo.

Another good example is this Mini knock off (the blue one)........


Not exact, but awfully close to the original. Or this Hyundai Sante Fe clone on the right........


You can see that the designers in China are equal opportunity, as they will knock off any company or type of vehicle. Now, people say that many cars look alike and I've written about exactly that recently, but there is a big difference between looking alike and looking identical. For example.......

I think you might agree that the JAC pick up in the top pic looks rather similar to the yellow Chevrolet Colorado below it.

I'm leading up to something here, so bear with me.

China is becoming a player in the car market these days and it won't be too long before they start selling outside of their region. When they do this, you have to know that, in short order, they will be a strong competitor. After all, the same thing happened with the Japanese and the Koreans. They learned that, while you can steal or "borrow" some design cues, in order to move ahead, you must develop your own style. I'm really surprised that the Chinese still knock off those designs so blatantly.

A small sport ute that I really like the design of is Land Rover's Evoque.......


To my eye, everything looks right about its aggressive stance.


No matter the angle, this is a great looking vehicle. Look again, folks, the second pic (courtesy of CarScoops.com) is not of the Evoque, but the brand new Landwind X7. See any differences? Even the name is spelled out in the same format. Need another look?


 The Evoque is on the right. A competitor? Not really, as the X7 sells Evoque style for the equivalent of about $20k in China, while the real real deal is about $70k. What a bargain! Think Land Rover is amused?

Personally, I thought that, as China strived to become a player in the world market, they would change their ways. They have shown some interesting and originaldesigns recently. But I guess I was wrong, along with many others in the car business. Old habits die hard.

Want to read "Fifty Shades of Grey", but can't spring for even the paperback version? No problem, just wait until it is knocked off in China, pick up a copy cheap. Only the name and price will have changed.

Until next time........