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.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Jan 30: A longtime favorite

We all have favorite cars for one reason or another  -  it was reliable, it fit all your buddies, was a chick or guy magnet or whatever. Sometimes it was just because in the eye of the beholder it looked great. One of my favorites, while growing up was the 1963 Chev, which I just loved. This was an interesting time for Chevrolet, as their designs sometimes mimicked Cadillac's, but a couple of years later. See if you can see the similarities between this 1961 Caddy and the '63 Impala below it........

Now before you blow me off and tell me that I'm seeing things, take a look at the grille, the v'ed out bodysides, the lower body line and the back end. Anyway, I've always liked this model, so it should come as no surprise that the CMC (car modeling cat) and I, have made our own version of this classic Chevy........


 Is it real or is it Memorex? An associate dropped by our home last week and saw my car room for the first time. He knew that I made model cars, but really had no idea of what it entailed. He thought (and maybe many others do as well) that, we simply opened the box and put together the model, as it already came painted and chromed. He was quite surprised that we paint them, painstakingly apply the chrome foil and also paint the intricate nameplates. To think that he thought, I simply glued parts together. Gawd! Glad I cleared that up.


Beauty is in the eye, but my helper, the CMC, and I really like this era of car design, as every car had it's own identity and there was no confusing a Subaru for a Hyundai or for a Ford . Although she doesn't actually talk (she's a cat after all), I know that the CMC shares my enthusiasm by the way she attacks each '60's build............


And one more thing..........I know I'm not the only one who gets confused by all the alpha-numeric naming of cars these days. Look, I'm in the car business and I immerse myself in the car hobby that, I love so much, but even I get confused with all the various names and numbers. So back to the Impala. A name you can recognize and remember. And one with some longevity and history, as the name first appeared in 1958 and has continued to the present day on the 2015 Impala shown here.......


Pretty comprehensive blog. I did a comparison, showed a new model we made and ranted about cars' names. Only at Wheel to Wheel!

Until next time........


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jan 27: Save $ - buy a supercar

 Go ahead, pick any one of the supercars in this picture and try to save some hard earned bucks. Pick that Ferrari, the Lambo or the Porsche and try to fit that particular model in under $200 large. Tough to do, actually impossible, unless you find a car loving philanthropist, who'll take pity on you. So, smart guy blogger, how do you buy a new supercar for under $200k?


Simple answer, get a new Corvette Z06.........


The, hot off the assembly for 2015, Z06 model is by the reviews of all the major car buff books, one wild ride, yet tractable enough to handle your daily commute. Every review lauds this new Vette's power, handling and all around capability, which definitely land this ride in the supercar territory at Chevy prices.

"Z06"? Where did that name come from? Sure, it is the continuation of the past generation's performance model, but before that? Another history lesson upcoming........

Let's go way back to 1963, when the hot looking and totally new for 1963 Corvette had just been introduced. Chevrolet was working hard to develop the Stingray's competition cred, so they introduced a track package, which was designated "Z06" on the order form.


 This option included suspension upgrades that, would let this Vette compete with the toughest competition. Also included was a much larger fuel tank, so fewer stops would be needed during the longer races. Corvettes with this rare option, were called "tankers". Rare, because it was only offered at the beginning of production and later dropped. A basic Stingray back then was about $4200 US, the Z06 option added a hefty $1800 to the price, but to get this option, one also had to add other mandatory options (like fuel injection) totalling about $700. So all in all, this track pack made for one pricey, but very well equipped race car.

Flash forward to the early 2000's and Chevy added a high performance Z06 model to their range.......


Only available on the lighter weight non fastback model, at the time this was one impressive machine. Nowadays, the base Corvette is just as good as the Z06 was back then. I worked out with an avid Porschephile, who had had a string of Boxsters and 911's, then one day, he shows up at the gym in a new Z06. What gives, I asked? For the $, he told me, his Z06 would out perform any Porsche model and at a fraction of a 911's price. Now, there was one open minded guy.

So, flash forward once more to the current generation of Stingray and the new for 2015 Z06 model. Hugely powerful and extremely track capable. A few years back, I'd been driven around a track by a professional driver in his Corvette and I couldn't get that s___eatin' grin off of my face. I wonder if I could arrange for that to happen again, but with this new model?


Now you can save money, while increasing your driving fun, in a Corvette supercar, that is a coupe or a convertible. Blow off those other cars on the track, while the wind blows thru whatever hair you might have. Ah, the life. How much can you save? A base Z06 coupe is $85k in Canada, but fully optioned out barely tops $120K. Almost an economy car.

And no wife is going to argue with a smart money saving purchase like this, when you tell her, that your new supercar was tens of thousands of dollars below the price of those other foreign supercars. She'll love you forever.

Until next time......



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jan 22: What the ?

 Sometimes a great notion, sometimes not. To much bewilderment, Hyundai at the current Detroit auto show unveiled to rabid anticipation (my words, not theirs), the Santa Cruz concept truck or whatever it is. This is Hyundai's effort to produce a vehicle for "the urban adventurers" (I thought that they drove Corvettes). Apparently Hyundai thinks that, this Santa Cruz meets the unspoken needs of the growing millennial lifestylers. Maybe it does, maybe not, but this vehicle sure brings to mind a few other vehicles that were actually built in order to meet "unspoken needs". It also brings to mind a quote from MAD magazine, many long years ago, talking about the disastrous Edsel car......."It was built for a demand of which there wasn't any." I wonder.

 Hasn't Honda been producing a similar type of vehicle? I speak of their now discontinued Ridgeline. Not quite a pick-up and not quite an adventurous urban assault vehicle ("Load 'er up, boys, we're going to Walmart.")? Well, we all know how well, it didn't sell.

Honda Ridgeline
 Or consider the ill conceived Subaru Outback pick-up, the Baja.........


 Apart from an over wrought design, this whatever, wasn't really anything useful. Later redesigned or I should say, modified slightly to make it a more cohesive design, the Baja still stayed nailed to the showroom floors until Sub could put it out of its misery. This wasn't their first time with an adventurous vehicle, attempting to fill an unwanted need. Remember the Brat........


Well, someone was adventurous, especially if they were seated in one of those highly dangerous back seats. Living on the edge, like our nutty American friends with all their guns. The right to bear arms or be fatally injured in a rear end collision. Your choice.

But, what is with manufacturers making a vehicle for a hip, young group and telling them that this is their ride? I don't think that this ever works, the specific group decides what they decide, not what they are told. Think of another vehicle that was built for a particular subset of society? How about the kinda funky, Honda Element or as my friend called his, the Honda Hummer.........


Targeted again to those urban warriors, but, who ended up buying most of them? You got it. Old guys, like my friend, who didn't want anything as big as a van, but loved the functionality of the Element to shuttle the kids back and forth to university. Or those slightly older folks, who needed room for their annual pilgrimage to Florida. The target market? Not by a country mile.

Even Mitsubishi gave it a whirl with this concept truck/car/suv or whatever, which hit the auto show circuit sometime over the past ten years. No gentle prodding of the "desire to have" glands could help this effort and it withered away to some storage facility somewhere.


Does bear more than a passing resemblance to Hyundai's latest effort, though doesn't it? So, did Hyundai dust off this old design and decide to take another shot?


I think the adventure should be in the advertising for this number. If Hyundai is really serious (consensus is that they are not), go for it. Idea for an ad.......Attention all you urban adventurers (and you know who you are), this is the last time we are going to satisfy your unspoken needs. Send a text, a tweet, an email, a smoke signal and commit to buying a Santa Cruz or we're sending this one to the crusher and we'll never tempt you again. LAST CHANCE, FRIENDO!

We'll see, but Hyundai can thank me, if they try it and it works.

Until next time........



Monday, January 19, 2015

Jan 19: You finish - you win!

 The Dakar Rally - held in South America. Hold on, just one minute there. Isn't Dakar, the famous African rally, which for years has challenged all types of strange rally vehicles, held in Africa? Isn't that where one would find Dakar? No and yes. A few years back, after a couple of contestants were kidnapped and killed, it was decided that this was one sporting event that needed to be moved. Africa had gotten way too dangerous. Heck, the rally was tough enough, without trying to outrun terrorists. But tradition being what it is, the name stuck, while the event moved to South America, as you can see on this map. Safe, but still an extreme challenge.

Tough course? Always had been and it still is. Out of 137 cars entered, only 67 finished. Hence my title - "You finish - you win!". Tough, tough, tough! Seasoned veterans, like the US's Robbie Gordon, only managed nineteenth, although he won the last stage.........


 .........and believe me, this jump was not being done for a good pic, it's just part of the course. Just like this Mini sand situation was.....


And speaking of Mini's, this year's winner was driving one. Not quite like what your local dealership is selling and probably, the only "Mini" part on it is the name..........


 This a real test of man and machine (cliche' well used). Always unpredictable, but this year's winner was a four timer. Funny, how this is often the case.

 Run what you brung? Not really, but Dakar has cars/suv's, all terrain vehicles, bikes and the really, big, full size trucks. Talk about eclectic........



 Think you are up to a couple of week's worth of good, old fashioned fun with your trusty suv and you'd also like to see some of South America? Well, give your head a shake. Or your bank account. These rally efforts require a big and very dedicated crew, big sponsorship, a purpose built ride and tons of good old cash. Worth the effort? Why not? Maybe you can be one of the favoured ones and actually finish. Either way, you'll have one heck of a good story to tell the folks back home.

And remember, the Dakar is in South America!

Until next time.......




Friday, January 16, 2015

Jan 16: "Tennessee dreaming" - an opinion

Gee, up until a couple of years ago, I could have entitled today's blog California dreaming (with apologies to the Momas & the Pappas). Stay tuned........

This is the opening day for the Detroit Auto Show, one of the biggies. I used to go to it as often as I could, since it's only about 3-4 hours down the 401 from Toronto. Leave early in the morning and be back home early evening - piece of cake. Well, as time goes by, those quick runs become more of a pain than a pleasure (a couple of years ago, we stayed overnight). But, and this is a very big "BUT", this time of year, the weather is unpredictable and last time, we had a very unpleasant and extended drive home thru a surprise storm (well, it was a surprise to me). So, for now, love that internet.

Anyway, back to the big show.........


Wouldn't be a North American auto show, unless some form of new pick-up was being intro'd. Ford had a continuation of the biggest news, but Ram showed up with a kinda Raptor competitor, the Rebel. More of an off road beast and less of a demonically fast off road beast, like the Ford, but still interesting and worth a look. Ram sells about 617k of their pick-ups, so this model will definitely add a few thousand to that total. Note the absence of Ram's traditional cross hairs grille.

The new aluminum F150 is only now arriving at the Ford dealers, so a little gasoline is needed to make sure that the fire keeps burning.........


Rough, tough and ready, this is the latest Raptor. Great for going off road the right way or just amazing the neighbourhood children with its over the top power. Either way, Ford did the job right with the original version and haven't let us down with this latest edition.

But it was left up to Nissan to introduce a completely new version of their full size pick-up, the Titan..........



Here is the man, Carlos Ghosn, during the intro. Now this guy is one smart cookie and he has done some amazing work for Nissan and Renault. As he explained, the Titan was not built to do battle with the Big 3 - Ford, Chev/GMC, Ram - pick-up brands, but was built to slide into a niche that they don't compete in. Now, I'm not going to go into his explanation of this supposed niche, since I think that it is make believe.

Now comes the Tennessee dreaming, since Nissan's US headquarters has been relocated to the Deep South from California. Ghosn expects this latest Titan to take 5% of the nearly two million in salesof the  pick-up truck segment, with up to 10% an achievable goal. Now, hold on just a cotton pickin' minute, fella. That is about 100k in sales at the low end. Not really very many, but in 2014, the Titan sold just over 15,000 trucks! Maybe the Nissan folks have swapped their west coast chemical substances for Tennessee moonshine, but someone is smoking or drinking something to come up with those numbers. Toyota plays with a full field of Tundra models and they can only manage about 128k in sales. Me, I can't see sales passing 50k in the first full year and that might be a stretch.

Always good to be an optimist, but here is a good case of Tennessee dreaming in the extreme. Stay tuned and check back here in about eighteen months.

Until next time........


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jan 13: Detroit surprise?

I'm feeling pumped about myself right now. Why you might ask? Very simply, this morning at the North American Auto Show (ie Detroit), Buck announced the 2016 Cascada cabrio (remember when they were called convertibles?), all set to arrive on our shores in early 2016. So why so proud? Back in November, 2013, I blogged about GM's European Opel line and noted that they had a sweet model called the Cascada, a drop top with more than a passing resemblance to the BMW 6 series (not a bad thing)

 


So why not bring it to our shores, after all, Buick has been selling Opels over here for years (like the Regal/Opel Insignia), so why not the Cascada? So with Buick finally getting the news (almost a year and a half after my suggestion), it will be coming here. Thank you, Barry.

Remember those other big bruisers from back in the day? BIG rides like this '63 Electra..........




Well for several years now, Buick has been tossing flag ship models onto the auto show circuit to see if anything would stick. Yesterday's announcement of the Avenir - French for future - is their latest effort. And what an effort. Almost looks ready to go down the production line.





Size is probably like an Impala, but if the car/photographer in the mock up shot is accurate, then it is about the size of a Yaris. Let's just assume the Impala comparison is correct. And that interior. Picture getting out of the back seat, while parked in front of the Forbidden City (see below). Eat your heart out Mercedes.

But why a flagship? Haven't read my blogs about the Chinese market then. Buick sells about 1.17 million cars worldwide, 920,000 of them go to China. That is why they need a flagship, folks.


Design is subjective, but to me, there is not a bad line on the Avenir.

So is it ready for primetime, somewhere in the world? Good question. I was right about the Cascada, so am I ready to put money on this one? I'll give a qualified "yes" and that is based on a weak point. That point is that, this car is so well finished and contemporary, instead of futuristic, it looks like production is firmly in mind for its future, depending of course, on the auto circuit reaction.

Any thoughts?

Until next time......



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jan 9: Ambulance chasing

Always parked outside of our resort in the Dominican over Christmas, was a fairly new and well equipped Toyota Sienna ambulance. Now I ask you, would this make you wonder why and give you added confidence in your accommodations? Something about the food? Anyway, no issues arose. Returning to Toronto, I had to go into hospital, this past week for major surgery (you really wanted to know?), so these things got me to thinking about ambulances (it doesn't take much).

 This York Regional one, from just outside Toronto is typical of the van based EMS vehicles that rush to our aid and us to hospital if necessary.........


While other areas, like Montreal, prefer the big bruisers, like this one, to make sure that we get that aid quickly and well.........


But years ago, it wasn't always like this, as car based ambulances were the norm. Sure, any car could be converted to ferry patients, but the best ones, in my opinion, were the elegant luxury car based units. Would you care, if you lived or died, as long as they picked you up in this Packard?


Or this big, impressive, monster of a Cadillac.........


But other than the local community's prestige, were these really the best use of a station wagon or a large luxury sedan? Probably not. In fact, some governments started to legislate the type of vehicle and their requirements for its "passengers". This is an early example from International.......



............but more common were the van based units, which morphed over the years into the ones we typically see today, like York Regional's at the start of this blog. But all sorts of additional specialty vehicles also performed these tasks. Locally, we have several sport utes, as well as some bus units, like this one......


One stop shopping?

Now, if you have been the least bit aware of the North American truck market, you'll have read that the traditional domestic delivery van is disappearing, in fact only the Chev and GMC versions are all that remain. So since many ambulances have been based on these chassis, the ambulance will one again have to go thru a major change. Here is a European example........



............based on the Mercedes Sprinter. But, Ford has always been a big supplier, so expect a version like this to show up shortly, although with the raised roof.........


As you can see, this one is a sample built by Ford to show how effective their Transit would be.

So stay tuned and watch for your local EMS unit, to see what they will come up with, to once again replace "tradition". And in case you were wondering, my surgery went very well (thanks for asking).

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