About Me

My Photo
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, April 17, 2015

April 17: Welcome back, Jaguar

Coming out of my Thursday morning business meeting yesterday, I heard this ripping sound coming from the street. Would it be a Mercedes AMG? There are lots of them around my neighbourhood and they have that unmistakable guttural sound of pure power. No, a quick look showed me that the wonderful sound was coming from a new Jaguar F-Type Coupe R. I'd seen many of them parked or from a distance, but not heard that distinctive growl, as its lucky driver gave himself a morning wake up that, would be better than any Timmy's coffee.

Welcome back, Jag.

Got me to thinking how far Jaguar had strayed from those days, when this company meant luxury sedans and hot sports cars. Way back in the late 50's the ultra hot XK-SS served as a teaser of what was to come.......

Even Mr. Cool himself, Steve McQueen had one. As an aside, the public image of this guy was the only thing that was cool, as he was the ultimate a__hole, treating his long suffering wife and his fellow workers like dirt (another story for another day, but not in my blog). So back to cars, the XK-SS was the progenitor to the still famous XKE.......

Introduced in 1961, this car is still considered to be one of the most beautiful designs of all time. Think I'm wrong? Then ask that famous New York City art museum, why they had it on display a few years back. And for its time, it was a rocket. Respected on the street and the track. Ah, but things would change.

As the years went by, the XKE morphed into a heavy cruiser, a bloated image of its former self.......

No longer a road rocket, just an urban status symbol. But this was only the beginning of Jag's journey away from being a true sportscar and their past. Next up was the strange XJ, with a convertible roof that looked like the car was still under construction. Need visual proof?

Can't argue with reality. This big cabrio model also had a big coupe version.........

Nice looking, to be sure, but a GT cruiser, several large steps away from what had been the XKE's role in life. At the time, it probably was a good move to make this model as a Mercedes SL competitor, instead of one for Porsche. After all, one has to go where the most sales are.

The models that followed this, were also in the grand touring mode.......

......lovely to look at, but not something to go up against the neighbour in his hot new Porsche or for that matter, even a Corvette. Sure, there was usually an ungraded model, the R, with a better suspension and a bigger motor, but the car's mass was just too much to overcome on corners.

Jag did their best with what they had and their cars were usually lovely to look at.......

.......and the big power R version was a serious machine, but still, not like the old days. Even with the money behind this brand, when it was owned by Ford, Jag couldn't come up with a new model to bring back the car's track cred from so many years before.

What to do?

Well, I'm sure this next move had the old British traditionalists spitting bullets (like the sale of Bentley and Rolls to the Germans a few years before). Jaguar, that old British company from the days of tweed sports coats and jaunty caps, would be sold to the Indian mega company, Tata. Oh, the shame. But like with those other two British icons, the new owners had tons of money and  a good business plan, which included (thankfully) a return to Jag's sporting roots.

And those roots included a real, balls out sportscar. Enter the F-Type and its XKE inspired fastback, along with an equally gorgeous cabrio. Ah, the good new days!

So back to that beautifully raucous engine noise that I heard yesterday. Those old memories came flooding back, but even as they did, I realized that the good old days are really past and the good new days are so much better.

Welcome back, Jag!

Until next time.......

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14: I like Cadillacs

Out of the mist it came. No fanfare. No hurrahs. Absolutely no indication that, this was going to be Cadillac's next big thing. This image showed up on an ad run earlier this year, during the Super Bowl. Sharp eyes identified it as a teaser for Cadillac's new flagship model that was going to be unveiled at April's New York Auto Show. For years, Caddy has been trying to re-establish themselves as the "standard of the world", the tag line that they used successfully for so many years. Well, that time has come and gone and the mantle has passed to, probably, Mercedes Benz. So at the very least, Cadillac is trying to be a dominant player once more with meaningful, high quality cars.

For years, consumers have worshipped at the shrines of the two German prestige marques (BMW & M-B) and one Japanese brand (Lexus). Cadillac was slow to react and often with the wrong product. This started to change with the introduction of the CTS, back in 2002. Anyway, call it my age or whatever, but I've always been enamoured of this American luxury brand. In my home town, there was maybe one sold a year, so not only were they unattainable, but they were also rare. When one of my brother's friend's dad bought a new '58 Sedan de Ville, it finally confirmed to us that, he had serious coin. He followed that up with a '61, then a '64 and finally a '65. Don't know what happened in '68, but the Caddies were replaced by matching Ford LTD's for he and his wife. Oh, the shame!

But, as I said, I've always liked Cadillacs. At one time, they said that you had arrived. Moving to Toronto in the early '70's and having a good corporate job, I felt that the time had come to be a real shooter and get myself a regal ride - a new Cadillac (or almost new). So, in 1976........

.......I traded in my '73 Grand Prix for a lightly used demo 1975 Coupe de Ville - blue on blue on blue brocade (ah, the '70's). A huge boat of a car - perfect for one person! Finally, I was a real shooter and I was only 28! Well, longing for this ride and actually having it, were two different things, so a short ten months later, I traded it in on a '76 Corvette. More my style.

But the Caddy bug lingered on and in 1987, I was able to pick up a collector car.........

.........a very elegant (in my mind) 1967 Coupe de Ville, black on black on black. This car taught me a valuable lesson.......if you can't work on it yourself and if you couldn't pay someone else to, then you should stay with new cars. Lesson learned, the '67 was sold, money lost and I moved on (or so I thought).

After a string of sports coupes, then sedans, I once again started looking at the new Cadillac's. Things had changed, they were actually sporty and could take a corner quickly. Try that with my '75 and you'd be in the weeds, as they say. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you'll know that I now have a 2013 ATS and more than likely will replace it with a 2016, when my lease expires next Spring.

But back to that car coming out of the mist, the new for 2016 CT-6 (I don't know where those names come from, either). A flagship model to hopefully compete with the big guns.

A beautifully styled car with a very luxurious interior and according to Cadillac, technology that jumps ahead of the class leading Germans and Japanese. Well, we shall see, but this is the first time Caddy has taken on the big guns top sedan models. Buy an $80+k Lexus, BMW or a Benz or take a walk on the wild side and go for a Cadillac? This will be a game changer, if it works. This is a long term strategy, so patience will be necessary. In my opinion, dedicated showrooms would be an asset, rather than have this expensive ride sitting next to a Chevy Cruze.

A very long term strategy, but do they have the time? I like Cadillacs, so you know who I'm pulling for.

Until next time.......

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 10: Past their "best before" date

You've all heard the term "best before" date. Sure you have. It can apply to any number of things, although usually it refers to food. Personally, I use it to describe someone, who should have passed away long ago due to disease or mental condition. Take those bananas in the accompanying picture. They are a long way from their "date", but since this is a blog on cars, let's look beyond the edibles. How about that stunning example of a car, whose "best before" date must have expired, about the same time as those banana trees were planted. How in the world is that thing moving, whether under its own power or not? I wonder if it will get to wherever it is going, before its cargo reaches its "best before" date?

These are the kind of things that, one usually sees in the third world countries, like those of Africa or maybe even the Caribbean or Mexico. How do they ever keep on keeping on?

Forget about the torture those rear springs are experiencing, I wonder if that truck's frame is going to bend or break? Or just maybe, we in North America, don't use our vehicles to their full capabilities? Wouldn't expect to see this scene on one of our super highways, but there are plenty of back roads available for this stressed out old truck.

Here is an old Audi, that its owner has tricked out, just a little, before its time has come. Those dualie rear wheels will give it a bit more life, before it heads to the banana plantation for its last few rides. And what about those bullet holes? Obviously, they didn't succeed in putting it out of its misery.

Last week, this pic from Toronto's Globe & Mail, showed a bunch of happy revellers celebrating their candidate's election win. What better way, than to jump in and on your buddies sweet ride and cruise the streets, showing off the fact that, it still motors under its own power? A car wash sure wouldn't hurt this beauty.

By comparison this old French number is in first class shape, having both headlights in tact, although maybe a little air in that back tire would be to its advantage. I can see the Craig's List ad for this one already........ "only twenty three careful owners, lightly scuffed two door, well under 1m kms, comes complete with some air in the tires, price is firm." If you're not positive about your own wheels, then who will be?

Certainly past its "best before" date, is this well used Peugeot wagon.......

Another beast of burden, with a few working parts, probably just the motor and transmission, as it looks like even the roll up windows are a thing of the past. These old wagons haven't been made for many, many years, so figure that this one's "best before" date was passed in the last century.

 Is there ever a finite "best before" date? Even when everything in the car has gone to its just reward, some folks will find that there is still something to be gained, by hanging on to a few key parts and getting them moving in any way possible........

Past its "best before" date? Will this car ever be consigned to the scrap heap? You be the judge?

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7: Moments in Time

Everyone has a moment in time that, they will always remember what they were doing at the exact moment that, they heard some important news. If you are in my age bracket, it may have been when President Kennedy was shot, or to others when John Lennon was gunned down, or when you heard (for the first time) that Jennifer Anniston was pregnant or maybe when Zayn Malik announced he was leaving One Direction. Have I covered all age groups? But I'm a car guy, so my important moments include car stuff.

I remember the day, way back in 1966, when I saw my first Hemi powered car. Hold on a minute before you start to berate me. You may recall that I come from a small so called, lunch bucket, industrial city on the east coast of Canada. Hardly any fancy cars or super hot ones were sold in my little town. Anyway, I was coming out of my grandfather's house, when a silver blue Charger cruised by and I spotted the tell tale sign on its front fender.......

My excitement lasted for days, maybe even years, as I think it may have been the only Hemi sold in Saint John. One of my important car guy moments in time.

Or how about my first "409"? It was in 1962 and I had just come out of the Y and was about to enter the local bowling alley, when I saw parked outside, a new black Bel Air hardtop with fender skirts (such an eye for detail). All very nice, but the real big deal, was the insignia on the front fender. Any chance I had of going home with a girl that night went out the window, as all I could talk about was that hot engine.

Car guy moments, all defined by a rare, big motored muscle car. Wonder if my memories would be different if I'd had a life?

Another moment in time.......driving thru Haymarket Square one sunny day (ok, that's poetic licence), I saw this white 1966 Fairlane leaving the Ford dealership. No big deal, except that it had a big air scoop on the hood. This meant one thing and only one thing that, this vanilla white Ford was packing a 427 cubic inch big block muscle motor. Again, a rarity and the only one in town. For an eighteen year old car guy, that was the equivalent of having a life size Raquel Welch poster, maybe better.

And the last one that meant something special to me........driving by the same Ford dealership three years later........

......a yellow '69 Boss 302 was pulling into traffic. Again, the only one I ever saw in our little town. Another Saturday night date ruined, as all I could talk about was my latest sighting ("Who is this idiot that asked me out?").

Not surprising that, every one one of these cars was later seen at the local drag strip. In the case of the Hemi and the 409, both motors were eventually pulled and put into purpose built race cars. Heck, they might still be around.

So that brings me up to the present day. Last week I was driving by a car hauler that, was unloading in front of a small town (Stoney Creek) Dodge dealer and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted this logo on the front fender of a new black Challenger........

.......yep, you got it, a Hellcat. Now I wonder, if twenty years from now that, moment will stand out in the same way as those car guy sightings have from so many years ago? Time and memory loss will tell.

Oh, and by the way, I do remember what I was doing when I heard about Jennifer Anniston.

Until next time.......

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April 2: AMG G65 - I just don't get it

You think that this guy is thinking, what I'm thinking? Or do you imagine he is saying, this is my kind of ride? Who knows, since I wasn't there at the New York Auto Show this week, when automotive blasphemy took place.

I just don't get it. No, I really, really don't get it. Mercedes has a wonderful, big V12 power plant that, they put in a handful of their best and sportiest cars. So what do they unveil in New York? You got it, a V12 edition of their iconic G wagen. behold the G65 AMG.........

But why? First off, I've never figured out why anyone would want this truck as a status symbol, since its original purpose was to provide the German military with a light armoured vehicle, that would be dependable and versatile in a number of conflict situations. This is why, the Canadian army stocked up on them a few years ago......

You think that a V12 would make them a bit more intimidating? It certainly would get them into and out of trouble mighty fast.

The sales numbers actually speak for themselves. Benz sold just over 3000 G's in the US last year and about half had the mild(?) AMG 63 package  -  this is the 536 HP version. Obviously a "must have" for the golf club crowd, when running a tad late for their tee time. Just the person who needs the extra 80+ HP and the huge 738 ft lbs of tire shredding torque. But why? Just won the lottery and after spending most of it, one still has about $238k plus tax, burning a hole in their proverbial pocket?

Wouldn't this motor be best left in cars that, can make use of this mind numbing power, in the way that God intended?

Sure seems like this would be the best use of that terrific V12 powerhouse. And sure as heck, not in a civilianized military truck. Where are all those ex-Hummer owners? Maybe this can be your new country club ride.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm totally wrong about this and just don't get the irony of tracking this mighty offroader and running it against your smarter friends in their Italian purebreds......

Please note that with respect to truth in advertising (or blogging) the G shown, isn't quite the same as the one I'm ranting about, but for my purposes it's close enough. I sure wouldn't buy one if I had the coin, but can you imagine the fun you'd have if you did have the money? Ah, those rich folks, they certainly are different from you and me.

Ok, so now that I've got that off my chest, hope you all have a Happy Easter weekend.

Until next time......

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31: Lincoln - yet another change?

What a beautiful looking car and it should be, since it mimics another beautiful ride and that is the new Bentley Brooklands.......

But hey, I'm not here to point fingers, especially in a world where design elements of one car are freely taken for use on another car. You know the old adage, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (in most cases).

No, what this blog is about is the latest Lincoln model that, will hit showrooms in the next couple of years. Thanks to Neil Young's verbal slip up, we knew that it was coming, just not in what form. The top pic is the upcoming Continental, to be unveiled at this week's New York Auto Show. A luxury car to compete with the new big Cadillac (CT-6), also being unveiled in New York, and of course, those other pesky luxo cruisers from Lexus and the German companies. Good idea, if one is trying to re-establish the brand and what it represents. The other unveiling from Lincoln is their new front end, which will filter across their line in the coming years. What?

Now, let's just take a breather here and think about that last comment.

Remember when Lincoln intro'd the new MKX, with a grille reminiscent of what is know as the Kennedy Lincoln? You don't remember, do you? Ok take a look.......

This was supposed to be the new Lincoln front end that, would distinguish the brand from all those other luxury makes. Good idea, since those older Continentals were lovely, elegant cars. Not a bad starting point to use in order to, once again, be an important brand.

Then Lincoln's execs thought, well, if old is good, then older is even better.......

.......and here they are showing off that new "old" face to the world and telling everyone that this would indeed be the new face of Lincoln. This one came from the '30's.......

A bit awkward at first, it eventually was integrated very nicely into the front end of every new Lincoln, the latest being their new for 2015 small suv, the MKC........

Not a bad look at all. And everyone knew it was a Lincoln.

So now Lincoln has reached back into their past for a rather revered name, the Continental, put it on a great looking design.......

.......and once again put a different, new corporate face on this car. And one that mimics the Chrysler 300, which itself mimics the Bentley. We all know that product identity is very important, but for Pete's sake give it a rest and stay with one front end. Lincoln has struggled with exactly what the brand stands for and what makes it stand out, but it sure doesn't help matters to continually make changes to its frontal identity.

So, come on Lincoln, make up your mind or we'll be sitting here waiting for the next, new front end to appear in a couple of years. But in the meantime, congrats on a very nice new Continental.

Until next time......

Friday, March 27, 2015

March 27: The Car Modeling Cat makes a gift

Showing a picture of the new for 2015, totally redone, Mustang is always a good way to get attention and to start a story and this is a good story...........

My lifelong friend has like me, a real interest in cars. We can talk for extended periods just about cars and what the different designers and manufacturers have done right or wrong over the years and what they might be doing in the near future. I always prefer these chats to the brow beating I get for not watching House of Cards (any good cars in it?). Anyway, my friend took a different path in life, had several kids and headed up a large national company. But for this other car guy, one thing always was front and centre, he never really spent much on himself, either as a treat or as a necessity. Although he could afford much more, his personal wheels were usually modest, while mine were usually showier and more expensive. On the other hand, he was generous to a fault with his kids, helping them acquire new(er) cars, or with a mortgage or helping them to live a dream.

Time for another Mustang pic.........

2015 Mustang scale model
Now retired, my friend always talked about getting a "toy" to play with, like a Miata. Never happen, I thought. Well, for whatever reason, that all changed last week. He called me on Thursday to talk about the possibility of buying a new Mustang. Then, surprise, a call on Friday to order said 'Stang.

Upon hearing this, the Car Modeling Cat and I, decided to make him a scale model of his ordered Mustang. You know, for a cat, she has some pretty good ideas (but then, she's a pretty great cat).......

The Car Modeling Cat ponders her next move
So in the space of the last week, we quickly went to work and whipped up a rather good representation of his upcoming ride......a Magnetic Metallic, 6 speed manual, Mustang coupe. Something for Summer fun and so much more versatile than a Miata would be.

Now, in all honesty, our model is not quite identical to his ordered car, in that the kit came with matte black multi-spoke rims, while his will be five spoke, black with aluminum accents (much better looking in my opinion). We tried to replicate the look by painting only the top of the wheel silver, leaving the rest flat black. Not exact, but pretty good and isn't it the thought that counts? Of course, it is!

Now he has this nice little model to tide him over until his real ride arrives in a couple of months.Who are we kidding? No way a 1/25th scale model will ease the anticipation, but what the hey?

His reasoning to finally do something big for himself? Not really sure, but I'm so pleased that, he finally pulled the trigger and decided to treat himself to a very nice, shiny, new toy. He deserves it. One less regret with which to go thru life?

Until next time......