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, September 2, 2014

Sept 2: Back to school, kiddies



Thankfully I'm long over my fear of seeing the iconic yellow school bus in early September, a chrome yellow reminder that my Summer of carefree fun was over and ten months of oftentimes uninteresting school work was about to begin. These days, they just remind me that Summer is over, a melancholy thought, but hey, there will be another one next year and the Fall/Winter/Spring seasons bring other enjoyable things to do. Ever wonder if all school buses are like the ones we see everyday? Ever wonder if there are different models from different school districts that serve different tasks? Of course, you don't, that's why I'm here to inform and educate you, my reader.

Even the smallest school districts require a school bus to round up the four or five kids, who aren't within easy walking distance of their one room school house. Who said every school bus has to accommodate lots of students? Why have all those empty seats...........


And what about those schools in rugged mountain districts, that have roads a normal school bus couldn't easily traverse, trying to pick up all those eager for learning little beavers? Yes, there is a school bus for those areas as well.........


Nothing would stop this baby from picking up every last "yearn to learn" student. A little blizzard? Not a problem. Not very many school districts face those geographic challenges, but others like to challenge and confuse the young minds put in their charge. What better way than this creative bus........


.......now wouldn't this get you to thinking, as you walked to its front door first thing in the morning?

Other districts like to have their students spend much less time enroute and more time at their studies, so some have slightly modified their buses for a little extra speed. Probably a very good idea not to tailgate one of these quicker school buses.


Another variety of the school bus has been developed, so that it can avoid a youngster, who absent mindedly runs in front of the big yellow machine. What better way, than to quickly apply the throttle to lift the front end and avoid a life threatening person/bus collision.......


.........and what bus wouldn't have an audience at every cross walk to watch this fun?

Most of us living in North America are familiar with the buses that I've shown above. Do you think that almost everywhere else in the world would need some sort of variation of these yellow machines? Of course, even in the poorest areas, the powers that be, strive to bring those inquiring little minds to the old school house. Here are a couple of examples.........


Not at all like those "fancy" buses that do their duty around most of our country, but they hopefully get the job done none the less. I'd rather have our yellow buses remind me of Fall, than one of these creations any year.

So next time, when you see one of these big yellow buses..........well, just remember, not matter what it looks like, don't pass it when its lights are flashing.

It's that time of year again, time for my annual NASCAR road trip, so no blog until next Tuesday, the 9th (just reread some of the old ones).

Until next time........



Friday, August 29, 2014

Aug 29: Who'd of thought?


Who'd of thought? Who ever would have thought, when BMW brought out their X6 a few years back that it would sell? I remember seeing it at the Detroit show and chatting with a BMW salesperson about it. They felt it was designed to answer a question that no one asked (there are a few other cars like that). I guess in a way, that is exactly what makes a niche product a success. My feeling was if a person wanted a sport ute, then they would buy the excellent X5. Want a sedan? Then buy the equally excellent 5 series with xDrive. But when BMW mangled the two together, I couldn't figure whose need it filled. Years pass and opinions change (or mellow?), but whenever I see an X6, I still shudder.

But apparently there were and are enough buyers out there, that BMW can add to this strange amalgamation with their upcoming X4.......


BMW is becoming expert at filling every possible niche in their line up, even creating those niches to fill. Stll not a handsome design, but it improves upon the X6, like the 3 series GT has improved upon the 5 series GT (but only just). A comparison of the X models, please.........


The X4 on top, just might be a little less lumpy. But then again why this car, since the very excellent 3 series can be had in a wagon version, that is every bit as practical and looks so much better.........


.......and of course, having a matching sweater certainly adds to the appeal of your chic set of wheels.

Who would have thought that the X6 would be a success? But even more of a mystery is, who would have thought that it would generate a copycat model from their toughest competitor? Sure surprised the heck out of me, when Mercedes-Benz announced this upcoming model, the GLC Coupe(?).......


Now, I typically favor Benz designs, although I must admit that BMW's 6 series looks great, whether it has two or four doors (an anomaly?). When I heard that Mercedes was doing their own version, I had hopes for a much better design, but as you can see, whether this is actually better looking is debatable........


Personally, I'll need to see it in person, but from these pics, the only thing that is good about it, is that wonderful back drop in the bottom pic. Who wouldn't want to be driving along beside the Rhine or the Danube, with those mountains in the background? Suggestion? Close your eyes as you are walking up to your ride, get inside and now open them to the panorama thru the windscreen (you're welcome).

Who'd of thought?

Until next time.......



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Aug 26: A local cruise



After reading about the Woodward Dream Cruise, I had to get my yearly cruise fix. I had planned to go to June's Fleetwood Cruise in London Ontario, but family plans put a stop to that. Also couldn't make the Autofest in Oshawa, but thank goodness, there was one in the city and as a bonus it was not too far from my home (what's 15 minutes on a beautiful Summer Saturday AM?). The thing about a good cruise is that it is all encompassing, old, new, exotic and unusual. They all play a part. Sure there are the classics, like this beautiful early '60's Lincoln above, but it is counter balanced by a rod like this '30's Ford......


.......satin finish, tough and simply done. Check out those wheels, home grown but very effective. And from there to the fast 'n furious crowd pleasers........

 

.......nothing like a '70's Challenger tastefully, but radically done up. Down side? Owner wouldn't start it up for me. Bummer. And of course, once of my favorite rides of all time.......


........a 1968 Dodge Charger, very much like what my older brother bought new, with a 383 4 barrel and a Hurst shifter. His was dark green with the Magnum 500 wheels. This R/T was nicely done, with only the addition of a good looking set of period correct mag wheels.

Variety?


.........a very neat looking, traditional hot rod next to a contemporary Ferrari. Which one would you chose?

And to the unusual........

 
........vintage, bright yellow Toronto police cars from the '50's and from the '80's, along with a 1966 Pontiac ambulance. Unusual, since most ambulances were Cadillacs back in the day.


And of course, a make believe classic from the 1980's. GM or Ford reliability (please don't laugh) with what is called a neo-classic body. Would you drive this or the '57 Chevy next door?

And a rare 1959 Ford Ranchero, the last full size version of this car, before Ford made this style part of the small Falcon line up for 1960. Again, a very tastefully done mild custom.........



And to end this blog, the reason many of us go to these cruise shows, which is to see the cars we lusted after back in the day. Sometimes we slap ourselves and question what we ever saw in a particular car and other times, we stand quietly and let the memories flow. Possibly share a few stories with the owner, if they are nearby. For me, I don't care whether they are old, new or whatever, this car guy, just likes and (usually) appreciates all the cars at a cruise. 

Which ones turn your crank?

Until next time.......



Friday, August 22, 2014

Aug 22: Day dreaming

If you are a real car guy or gal, from time to time you'll day dream about a car in your past. One that you wish you'd kept or that you could find in the old car ads. I've had quite a few nice cars, but probably the one that warms my heart the most when I think of her, is my second new car. My first new ride, was a '71 Plymouth Satellite Sebring Plus (what a mouth full). I ordered it as soon as I graduated university, but within 18 months, my car desires were awakened by this new style for 1973..........

 I had loved the Pontiac Grand Prix from its beginning in 1962, but it got big and bloated, until 1969, when it broke new styling ground and became once again the executive hot rod, that it was in its early days. I lusted like crazy over the GP, but heck, you couldn't even buy one in Canada until 1971 and on top of that, it was way too expensive for a newly graduated Barry.


Ok, so I thought Id settle for second best, another newly restyled for 1973 car, the less expensive Chevy Monte Carlo. After all it was basically a Grand Prix body, but with Chevy styling. I had the colour all picked out and was ready to order mine,when fate stepped in. My cousin worked for GMAC and he said he knew a dealer who'd give me a killer deal on my dream ride, the GP.


A couple of phone calls later and my order was placed thru a small town dealer, about 200 miles from my home in Saint John. Heck, this little dealer hardly had a showroom and when I picked up my car a couple of months later, it was in a barn.

These cars arrived in Saint John by rail and then were trucked around the province. Being me, I'd drop by the rail yard every day or so to see if it had arrived. Back then the cars were stacked on three levels, but there was no covering, as the car carriers have now. One day I saw what looked to be what I had ordered, way up on the top level. I've mentioned before, how there were not that many fancy cars where I lived, so this GP stood out.


Dark blue with a black vinyl roof and white interior (hey, cut me some slack, this was the 1970's). In my suit, I climbed up to check out the order sheet on the window and there it was..........ordered by Toner Motors in Grand Falls. It was my car. It's a wonder that I didn't fall off the car carrier with excitement.

That was a sweet ride. I wish I had a pic of it, but this is kind of close to what it looked like.......


........with those great looking Pontiac mag wheels. I remember getting gas and a fellow asked if it was a Cadillac, as it looked sort of similar to an Eldorado (squint hard, ok). I also remember going to a movie the night I got it. My "date" was my best friend's fiance' (he was away and he approved - we are still friends). To get to the parking lot, we had to drive thru the line up for the cinema. The crowd parted and the looks I got were worth what I had paid for my Grand Prix. What a night.

Those looks continued, as there were only two of these cars in the city. Things change.......within a couple of months of delivery, I was transferred to Toronto, where there were GP's everywhere. But mine still stood out. The reason? It was the only one I ever saw without air conditioning. So all the other luxury GP's cruised coolly thru Summer, while I sweated like a pig. Oh well, I still looked good on cold days.

So what do you day dream about?

Until next time.......



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Aug 19: The Dream Cruise


Nothing says cruisin' like this classic 1959 Cadillac Eldorado coupe, low and slow, well maybe not so slow, as this old beast had a pretty big motor for its day. What got me thinking about the old car cruises, is that the most famous and biggest of them all, the Woodward Ave Dream Cruise was held last week in the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. Each year, cars come from all over to cruise Woodward Ave for several days in the middle of August. 

So why Woodward Ave? Interesting story.........Woodward is a long stretch of road, that back in the heyday of the muscle car, all the hot cars cruised this strip looking to challenge a likely target for bragging rights. From time to time, even the manufacturers would sent a pre-production car out to Woodward to test its mettle. Heck, this road became so famous that it was featured in a Pontiac GTO ad........


Whether this ad ran in Michigan, California or New Brunswick, we all knew its meaning......this GTO was out looking for blood. Everyone knew about Woodward Avenue's reputation. Twenty years ago, someone got the bright idea that there should be a commemorative gathering of a few old cars to celebrate the glory days. Well, that idea grew and grew into what it is today, a happening, that draws over one million people to the Motor City for this week of car heaven and nostalgia

.
 When you read that anything car related will show up for the Dream Cruise, well you aren't far wrong, from this '57 Chevy limo to the Monkeemobile.........



All the new car and parts manufacturers set up displays and once in a while, an upcoming model joins the cruise to gauge the public's enthusiasm or lack of it. This street has even been written about, so having the Dream Cruise on its hallowed asphalt makes so much sense........


And of course, people being people in our capitalistic society, some folks try to generate a little extra spending money.......


Any wonder why you've never seen your blogger in Detroit in mid August?

The neat thing about these car cruises, is that anything goes in terms of cars. Sure they are based on nostalgia for old American iron, but if you show up in any interesting old or new car, you are welcome to join the party........



Talk about an inclusive event. So next time someone mentions Woodward Ave (you mean this doesn't happen to you?) or you hear about the Dream Cruise, you'll know a little bit more about it. 


Time to buy a neat old (or new car) and head for Michigan?

Until next time........



Friday, August 15, 2014

Aug 15: What a surprise, Buick


Now this is a brochure we don't see very often (or at all), even in the extreme multicultural city of Toronto. But if you were living in China, it would be a rather common sight. I believe General Motors' sales in China are second only to VW and the car line that drives those sales is Buick. Why you ask? That's a very good question and like many things, the answer is routed in history.


Way back in the 1930's, one in six cars sold in China were Buicks. The leaders, whether they were the emperor or head of the Communist party drove the very prestigious Buick brand. The old one in this pic cruised the streets of Peking (Beijing) in the '40's. Their last emperor, their first president and their first premier all had Buicks, so no wonder the Buick name resonates with China's citizens all these many years later.


Recognize this car? Sure you do, it's the Verano, but in China you can see it uses a different name and also comes in a variety of body styles........


In North America, Buick sold about 220,000 cars in 2013, but in China they sold 254,000 Excelle models alone! The total number of Buicks sold worldwide last year was 1,032,000 and China contributed 810,000 sales to that total. Is it any wonder back in 2008, when GM restructured, that they disco'd the better selling (in North America) Pontiac line, but kept Buick alive?


Another winner for Buick in China is the Honda Odyssey look alike, GL8 Luxury Business Edition van. This has sold near the 100,000 mark. Compare that to Buick van sales in North America. Oops, you can't, since the Terraza van was dropped from the line years ago due to dismal sales. Just try to even find one today  -  good luck.



When was the last time you saw a single brand Buick store in your area? Might be tough trying to make a living without at least adding GMC trucks or Cadillac or Chevrolet. Of course, in China, a single line Buick dealership is not an issue as those sales keep mounting up. Expected to be over the 1 million mark by 2016.


This Holden derived model is the Buick Park Avenue, interesting since the only way to drive one of these stateside is to be a cop. This is what we see as the Chevy Caprice police car. After Holden shuts down production in Australia, the Chinese will be building these cars and shipping them back to Aussieland. Bet ya the Australians will love that fact. By the way, since many Chinese cars are chauffeur driven, the manufacturers design their Chinese market cars with better rear leg room and in many cases the same spacious car is sold over here (thank you, China).


So the next time that you are in China and are surrounded by Buicks (a rather surreal experience), don't be surprised, as this is our reality in the 21st century.

Until next time.......



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aug 12: Presenting the NKCP


Why is it that someone sees this this innocuous looking 1979 Mercury Cougar and envisions something else entirely? While most of us see a late '70's coupe, adorned with all the styling cliches of its time, someone else sees the basis for an over the top "classic", that can be sold to an over the top entertainer.


Liberace was anything but subtle in (apparently) everything he did. A few months back, I showed a custom Rolls, that belonged to the pianist and like him, it stood out, for maybe the wrong reasons. But then again, maybe not. So let's go back to the '79 Cougar and now let's add Ernst Kanzler to the mix, the result.....


Presenting the NKCP..........the Newport Kanzler Coupe Phantom. I actually didn't think that the Cougar was so bad (for its time), but I wonder how Kanzler thought that his creation was an improvement? More photos, please........



The Kanzler Coupe was designed and built in a time that was rampant with what were called neo classics. But seriously folks, take a look at this car and tell me that it is an improvement over the Cougar. Hey, don't get me wrong, I sure think that the Cougar could be improved, but why the heck not do it with a good design. Kanzler traded one set of cliches for another, but to me, there is nothing on this car that works in harmony.

Two of these dream (nightmare?) machines were built and not surprisingly one found its way into the garage of that flamboyant pianist Liberace. Since only two were ever built (you find that surprising?), this would have been a very rare ride and the odds are astronomical that you'd ever park beside another one. Back in 2006, Liberace's silver one found its way on to eBay and generated a top bid of about $23,500. No record of whether it actually was sold (sanity prevailed). Time for Barrett-Jackson to step into the mix?

So now you all know about the NKCP........another public service of the "Wheel to Wheel" blog.

Until next time.......