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, October 24, 2014

Oct 24: What we are missing


We can't buy the much unloved Tata Nano in Canada, but seriously do we give a dam? Not a chance, after all how many of us would like to be driving our highways in a car, that most likely would fold like an origami sculpture, if hit by anything bigger than a smart car? Those of you, who put up their hands, please seek help. But there are a few cars (probably more than a few), that we just might like to see on our roads. Being an equal opportunity car guy, I've selected a few from different categories that, I find interesting. Start the slide show, please........


The French will have more than one car on my list. I've always like this Citroen DS3. A neat looking little hatchback, that doesn't stick to the standard two box look design, due to its unique B pillar. And it doesn't look just plain weird, like the strange Mini Coupe', with its backwards baseball cap design. Whoever thought that was a good idea?

Or if you are into small, but very practical suv-like styling, then how about Ford's Ecosport........


.......similar in concept to the upcoming Honda HR-V, the Chevy Trax and Buick Encore (why this name, when nothing came before it?). If I was a betting man, I'd say there was a very good chance that, Ford dealers will see this on their lots within a couple of years.

I've shown you this next one once before and for the life of me, I can't figure out why Honda wouldn't drop this Civic Tourer into their North American showrooms asap......


Are we that small wagon adverse that, we wouldn't have this practical little beauty sitting in our driveway? Gee, VW sells lots of Golf wagons, so surely there must be some kind of a market and doesn't Honda have folks worshiping at their altar?

Another small suv for you fans of the breed......


......this one from Renault, the Captur. Strange name, but maybe in French it translates differently (like maybe it means "hostage"). Kinda funky looking, like something that Nissan might sell. Since Renault and Nissan are the same company, that is not surprising. Maybe the Renault designers looked over some shoulders during their last plant tour?

Small and cute (like we don't have enough of those already)........



........I present the Peugeot 108 (top) and the Citroen C3. Puppy dog cute, enough said, so moving right along.......

The French have always been on the quirky side of car design, so why should they change now? Ah, those French........


The C4 Cactus may be a prickly design (my blog, so I can pun as I see fit) to some, but I like its character. Small and endearing like its rival the Kia Soul, the Cactus succeeds in being different in a good way and not by being strange (hey Lexus, you reading this?). Check out that protective side decor  -  no more annoying door dings.

Want to start your own list of cars, vans, suvs or trucks that you'd like to see over here? A couple of options, plan a trip overseas or buy a European car magazine (the cheaper way to go). You'll see interesting stuff, that will never be covered by our North American buff books. May be you can even start a blog?

What are you missing?

Until next time......



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oct 21: More money to burn


 Money to burn? Think of Stephen Hung (the interestingly dressed guy in this pic). He definitely has money to burn, but a fellow like this prefers to give his hard earned cash to Rolls Royce rather than burn it. Hung made the news recently as he ordered thirty (!!!!) half million dollar RR Phantoms as courtesy cars for his Macau hotel, the Louis XIII (let them eat cake). This certainly wouldn't be the first hotel to use this ultra luxury car as its standard bearer, but Hung's order is the biggest ever and all these Rollers are to feature custom interiors. Which brings me to the point of today's blog..........if you have the money to spend (burn?), then look towards Rolls Royce, since they will do anything to one of their cars that you ask and for which you are able to pay. Now back to Stephen Hung's fleet.......


.......and this rather uniquely decorated interior, which will be the signature of all thirty of his Phantoms. Anything to stand out, eh? Oh, I forgotten to mention that, two will also include gold accents.

A couple of weeks ago here in Toronto, I saw a new Rolls Ghost done up in what was in my mind, a horrific colour scheme. But then again, if you ask for it and show Rolls the money, they will build it for you. Here is the Ghost in question.........


Yikes! Silver with bright green sides and matching accents on those very expensive rims. Now who ever thought that this would be a striking combo? Let me correct myself, this combination certainly is striking, but not in the most complimentary way. Money to burn?

Or how about this interior, done to match the bright outside of this Phantom coupe.......


Whether it is your taste, it does look good and perfect for those sunny days cruising the French Riviera or the Amalfi Coast. But, you want something a little less showy, while at the same time displaying your unique taste to all those who peak thru your windows........


Fit for a king or whatever you consider yourself to be these days. And of course, the stable boy can keep those pearly white seats perfectly clean or he can look for another job. I wonder if a child seat can be attached?

Enough with the interiors, you want your $500k semi limo to stand out for other reasons. You want everyone to know whose Rolls that they are lusting after (or maybe not, if this is the colour). And note the matching interior. You got the coin bucko? Then those good folks at RR will gladly bend to your every whim.


 Or how about a cabrio that will catch the sun and the attention of everyone else on the road? How about a 100% chrome plated Phantom Drophead? Who says you can't see yourself in a Rolls Royce?


You have the money and the imagination? Step right up and introduce yourself to those fine folks at Rolls Royce. They know how to make your automotive dreams come true. How to make you stand out. How to make you the hit of the country club. You only have to think it, then the Rolls factory will take your money and turn out a creation that only you will have.


Time to start saving?

Until next time.......



Friday, October 17, 2014

Oct 17: A different time

Car advertising sure has changed over the years. It doesn't seem so long ago, but time flies when you are having fun. But long ago, starting in 1959 and continuing until 1971, there was a phenomenal duo in the car advertising business that, made such an impression, they are still celebrated today. The two that I'm talking about are the famous artists, Art Fitzpatrick and Von Kaufman, the "AF and VK" shown on all the painted Pontiac ads from 1959 until 1971. These guys were so good, that for a time in the '60's, John DeLorean, head of Pontiac (and creator of the Back to the Future DeLorean) ruled that no Pontiac ad would be a photo, only the art of these two gents.     

VK died a few years ago, but AF is still going into his '90's and attending events to celebrate their famous ads and the artwork in each one.........


.......Art's mission was to make those big cars seem even longer, lower and wider, but set in a beautiful background painted by Von. The '59 ad above certainly accentuates the length and a key styling feature of those new for '59 Pontiacs. And with that background, we immediately knew that this car was upper class.
       


 Year after year, these beautiful renditions of the current model year Pontiacs graced their ads. How many advertising ideas last for 13 years these days (aside from that darn Energizer bunny, of course)?


 Based on the above pic, this '68 Pontiac was huge, but what beautiful art. Or this '63 Bonneville in front of that columned mansion. Gets the point across, doesn't it?


 When Pontiac introduced the new for '62 Grand Prix, they wanted to emphasize its European flavour, so what better way than to have Von Kaufman do some exotic European locales.......


Sure looked great, but if you've driven these roads, you'd know that anything the size of this American car, just wouldn't have been able to negotiate those twisty coastal roads of France and Italy. The European locales continued throughout the '60's in the GP's ads...........




 And the backgrounds were so good, that you could even identify some of those foreign rides, such as the Peugeot 404  in this French street scene. One might want to question those US licence plates, though.

If you loved cars, these ads would certainly get your attention. If you didn't love them so much, I think that these ads would still get your attention.........


But either way, one has to give credit to this duo for some stunning advertising. Those Pontiacs are particularly beautifully drawn. I even have one of their ads framed and hanging in my office. An attention getter? Absolutely!



And in this one below, you can almost hear the little white suited guy calling out, "The plane, the plane!". Remember that TV show? If not look up Fantasy Island.


In putting together this blog, it was difficult to select just a few examples of Art Fitzpatrick's and Von Kaufman's wonder ads. Almost every one that I saw was blog worthy. Decisions, decisions.



Car advertising sure has changed. Times change. But whichever period's ads one prefers, there is no denying that these were impressive. Miniature time capsules featuring beautiful art. Really representative of the actual cars? Well, maybe not, but that's what showrooms were for.

Until next time.......


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oct 14: It's a stretch


Happy as clams after being driven to the local airport by the local shuttle bus. Effective? Yes. Boring? Absolutely. Sure, there is plenty of space inside for luggage and lots of headroom, but all those converted vans are just that, converted vans. There was a time, not so long ago, when this was not the case (history lesson time).

Back in, well, several years ago, the typical airport limo was exactly that, an airport limo. Actually, a regular car stretched to accommodate a few more doors (you decide how many you need). Tight for space? Probably. Room for all sorts of luggage? Not always. So then, what is not to like about one of these creatively stretched regular sedans?


In so far as solving the luggage problem, the easiest solution is simply piling it on the roof.......


Secure? Not too sure about that one. Protected from the elements? You can see for yourself that, they might not be. But think of the good points. You will be jammed in with lots of interesting people, so what better way to start your time in a new city?


Sometimes these stretch jobs were based on station wagons, since they had stronger frames. Other times, a sedan, like in the middle pic, did the job. Wonder if they ever started to sag?

As you can see from this sedan from the '50's, anything was fair game to be lengthened for airport use. This particular one is an old Chrysler that has been restored for use as a tour vehicle (see old stuff in an old car).


Being a car guy, I find these old oddities interesting. Interesting, since any type of car could be converted, like this 1967 Olds Toronado. This model was a two door fastback, that ended up as a multi-door limo. Most cars would not have had to have this extensive a modification, so it's not surprising to find that there were very few Toronado's that were converted to Jetway 707 airport limos.



Note the higher roof with side windows for viewing whatever was above you (like the luggage?).

I've never been in one of these stretched sedans, but I sure can't imagine that they would be better than today's alternative. Sure, they carried more folks, but they couldn't have been more comfortable. So, like the car based ambulance, these airport cars have been long gone. The new vans are definitely better than driving one's self and also much better than being jammed into a stretched sedan.


Until next time.......



Friday, October 10, 2014

Oct 10: Canadian Thanksgiving Turkey edition



 When you think of the Thanksgiving holiday, the first thing that probably comes to mind is turkey. Well, as a hobby baker, I could talk about turkey or other food all day long, but remember, this is my car blog, so let's talk turkey. Turkey in the car sense. Cars that weren't necessarily bad but, stylistically they were turkeys in every sense of the word. Stuffed and ready to be served to an unsuspecting public. One shudders to think of the cars that have been approved for production by supposedly smart managers. Where to start?

This is too easy. The very first one that comes to my mind is the.........you got it, the famous Pontiac Aztec. Unbelievably awful looking, although very practical on the inside. I was at the Detroit Auto Show when this turkey was unveiled. GM should have provided barf bags for all in attendance. The original concept was not bad looking, but from concept to production, something went horribly wrong. It should have been sold with a giant bag with which to cover it. Funnily enough, you actually could buy a tent to cover its rear end.

But, before we give the turkey crown to Pontiac (how does one decide?), let's take a look at the Marcos Mantis........


........I've shown this one before, since I find it so strange. Only the British cottage industry car makers could produce such a monstrosity. Only a few were built (go figure?). Want a really scary Halloween costume? Dress up like a Marcos Mantis. Now, I'm sure that you'd like to see a terrible looking high volume vehicle. I thought so........


.......the Fiat Multipla. Take it from me, this is its best side. Front on, this one is an even more unusual looking little van. I've seen small children in Italy run and hide when a Multiple comes around the corner.

Way back in the late '50's, a priest thought that he could design the ultimate safety car. Sure, why not give it a try, since you don't have to be a car stylist to come up with a good design. But, that was not the case with this priest, as you can see from his Aurora concept.......


Safe in every sense, as no one would ever go near this beast. I mean, what was he thinking? Only God knows, after all, he was a priest. In case you were wondering, only one was built.

How many of you have wondered what a sneaker would look like if it was made into a car? Suzuki had the same thought, so they came out with their X90. Unfortunately this was not a concept and was produced in some volume, until the world said, enough already, and it was consigned to blogs about turkey cars.


Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. The Ford Taurus once held the number one sales position for passenger cars in the US, then the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry took over. In order to regain that lofty sales spot, the Taurus was redesigned in 1996 (read the interesting book Car). The book explains the process and the money that Ford spent to produce this ugly fish of an automobile........


After all the research and all the money and all the production woes, the once #1 Taurus came back to the market in the #3 position, exactly where it had been before its dramatic and costly restyle. The Taurus' rear end view is just as bad.

I'm sure that everyone has their idea of a turkey car. One that turns their stomach, not their head, whenever they see one. And, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't? But now I'll present to you the ultimate in turkey cars and there is not one of my readers who'll disagree that this is the Thanksgiving winner........


Please hold your applause.

Until next time.......


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oct 7: And it started with a tractor



No, your eyes are not deceiving you, the name on that tractor is Lamborghini. Why is it that a couple of our great sports cars have had their beginnings as tractors? The other example being Aston Martin (David Brown tractors). Did a sporty minded tractor designer see a hot car go by one day and think, maybe we should go into the supercar business? Seem like a natural to you? Me neither. Want to see one of the hottest new vehicles from this company, that originally started in 1948.....


I know that you are as impressed as I was, when I saw this beautiful beast. Imagine cranking it up and cruising thru your fields at warp speed. Tough as a bull, hence the trademark and the fact that all Lambo's are named after famous Spanish fighting bulls.........


Ah, but that is another story. Today we are talking about getting from there to here, yesterday to today. At the famous biennial Paris Auto Show, Lambo just showed us that they can move their outrageous cars into the next century, or at least further into this one (let's not get too ahead of ourselves). The new Lamborghini Asterion........


Described by its maker as a Hyper Cruiser, this hybrid electric is the supercar for those tree huggers with tons of money and a green conscience. Just think, this concept can go all of 50 kms on pure electric power, not using one of its substantial 910 HP. And, it can do those 50 km at up to 125 kilometres per hour. Saving the world and almost having fun while doing it! Want to be completely irresponsible? Then use all that power for a quick 3.0 second 0 to 60 sprint. Then hammer on those huge brakes, before the local gendarmes turn on their flashing lights.


Notice something else about the Asterion? Well, the name is not strictly speaking a famous bull, it is from Greek mythology, a hybrid man/bull combo  -  how appropriate. But, no, what I'm referring to is this Lambo's almost conservative styling. No question, the Asterion is gorgeous, but compared to some (most or all) of the confections that this company has produced, it is simply styled. Take for instance, the Veneno.......


.......and of course, the grand daddy of all the outrageous Lamborghini's wild child designs, the famous Countach........


Shown here in this Car & Driver photo cover from December,1983. I thought it was great back then (I still have a copy) and I still think it looks great today (yes, the car and the girl). So by comparison the new concept, the Asterion, is almost normal in design. Yeah, but, it is still beautiful, isn't it? Being environmentally conscious can be fun as well.

From tractors to wild and crazy supercars, good ol' Lamborghini has run the gamut, but before we leave this company and its new Asterion, let's give a big round of applause and thanks to the company with the humble beginnings, the company that without their ownership and money, Lamborghini just might not be around.......


Need I say more?

Until next time........