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 20, 2017

Jan 20: Inauguration day


I should have done this blog on Friday the 13th, since Trump's inauguration is pretty scary stuff (ok, so no more politic comments). This is it. The big day. Swearing in an unpredictable (there you go again) new president? Nope, this is a big day, since this is the day that General Motors unveils the brand new chief executive's Cadillac limo. The old one, The Beast, was done for Obama and that just wasn't going to cut it with a new guy at the helm. If you've had the least bit of interest in cars, then you've known about this car and its incredible features. So what will be new? Well let's take a look.........


Gosh, even the presidential limo gets treated to new car camouflage, so that us plebs won't see its hot new design. Really, it's not going to be that much different from the last one, but rather than make believe it is a real car, it may try to look more like the Escalade truck on which it is based, with a front end that is a little more upright, maybe like this......


Trump might be the first president, who actually had a Cadillac limo named after him and had features that GM discussed with him before their inclusion. You didn't know that did you? Way back in the 1980's, this very plushly done up Cadillac was called, as you can see, the Cadillac Trump Series. They had only planned to do a run of about fifty cars, but apparently not that many hot shot execs were willing to share The Donald's love of gold laden flash.





Outfitted with all the usual tasteless toys, that these type of cars invariably come with, this Trump limo had one unusual, but important feature, a paper shredder. Oh my, how Hilary could have used that back in those pre-email days. Maybe she and Bill actually had one of these. Now wouldn't that have been ironic?

How much you ask? Over thirty years ago, this rolling whatever would set you back about $80k, before you added your own embellishments, such as a Sistine Chapel-like painted ceiling or some platinum trim to take away from all that gold. Pretty cheap for a car named after a future pres.

I'd like to think that if Donald J. Trump had his way, his presidential ride might have a bit more glamour and glitz, than the portly New Beast. Something that would confuse even the most diligent assassin. Just imagine this beauty rolling down Pennsylvania Ave after the swearing in........


Kind of sums it up, doesn't it? Show up in this and put all those other world leaders in their place, what with their stretched, militaristic Mercedes. Bling them into submission at the next negotiation. Ah, if only life were like that.

So, as we stand at the precipice of this new administration, we can only fantasize about what the head guy might show up in, if he was only given the chance........


Way to go, Donald!

Until (hopefully) next time........





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jan 17: Go China go!

Used to be that the Chinese cars could typically be called a pile of junk, much like this tower of cars art(?) sculpture somewhere in China. I  remember, probably about six years ago, a visit to the Detroit auto show, where one Chinese car manufacturer was dipping their toe in the water by showing three or four of their cars, testing the market for interest. Boy, were they bad. Forget that their designs were outdated, the quality of the cars on display was abysmal. No, that's wrong, their quality was embarrassing. At the time, I wondered why they hadn't sent them to a US company ahead of time to fix the mismatched parts. It's still a mystery to me, as was their sales literature, which had been translated, well, let's just say, "literally" to be kind. Lines like, "Makes you want to kick light hearted dance in the streets", might have been better translated into English. If you are just starting out with your swimming, why pick one of the biggest pools in the world?

Anyone with half a brain (my hand is up), knew this would only be a temporary situation, after all, look how far and how fast the South Korean cars had come. So flash forward to this week's Detroit show and who shows up, but very recent newcomer to the Chinese market, GAC Motors. Recent, like only started in 1997. Yes sir, that is recent. Sure, they had some nothing special designs, like this one........

.......but, they also were showing off others, like this very interesting looking smaller suv, the GS4, which went from this designers sketch.......


......to this in real life.......



A vehicle like this could sell anywhere in the world, good looking with very up to date styling cues. Quality? Who knows, but I'd bet it would be reasonably good and getting better. But no, I wouldn't want the first one on my block.

Like something a little smaller? The trend these days is to even smaller city runabouts suv's, so something like this GS3 is a fitting addition to any new car line..........


Another solid design. Pretty good for a company that in broad time terms, started basically yesterday. But look at what the are showing as concept vehicles.......


A larger sedan, for what is rapidly becoming a shrinking market, as suv's take over the world like Donald Trump's inane tweets. Again though, GAC has nailed the design. Derivative? Maybe, but show me a design these days, that doesn't seem to borrow elements from someone else's winner.

And what about those strange sedan/coupe/sport ute aberrations (BMW X6, numerous Mercedes), that are starting to become a bigger part of the market place? Who would have thought that a newcomer like GAC Motors, would be showing their conceptual version at the North American International Auto Show? This has got to be one of the best examples of the breed so far........



So where do GAC and those other Chinese car companies go from here? To date, we have vehicles from Volvo and Buick being made in China and being sold here. And you'll see Chinese cars in Cuba, Russia and some other areas, but nothing (to my knowledge) in Europe. And obviously nothing in North America.

You know that they are coming, but who will make the first move? Who will be the first to open their dealership in your local auto mall?


Another stay tuned moment, my friends.

Until next time......


Friday, January 13, 2017

Jan 13: Kia rising

Friday the 13th. Always a scary date, so maybe my blog today should reflect this date and in a way, it does. Way back in the early '40's a Korean company started up, but no one paid them any attention, or anything else from Korea back then. The company of course was Kia, I say of course, since you probably noticed the title of this blog. In the early days, they made motorbikes under licence from Honda, then progressed into cars, with models like this Brisa and others.......


........made under licence from Fiat and Mazda and Peugeot. Nothing of their own for many years, and then when Kia did start making their own cars, they had what one would expect, nothing special, as they obtained experience. Unfortunate models like this Amante........


.......looking like a very junior Lincoln Town Car. Cars like this bore the Kia name to mostly derisive remarks by the motoring press. And based on the Amante's sales, along with other models, the general public didn't care much for the brand either. But then Hyundai got involved, buying about one third of the company. So, if you were one of the ones who joked about the early Hyundai's (didn't we all?) and then saw what they would accomplish, you probably started paying attention. And with good reason.

Hyundai has become a powerhouse of great products and great designs. Gaining respect, they were able to hire the best designers for Kia, even those who formerly toiled for the top German luxury brands. Concepts like this Stinger started to appear.........


A hot coupe that might still end up being reality in the near future. Or how about this swoopy coupe like GT sedan.........


With teasers like this, along with good looking and performing cars and suv's already on the market, anyone who doubted Hyundai's resolve to push Kia into prominence, just wasn't thinking straight. Those German designers know a thing or three about cars and what should sell.

So what turns up at this week's Detroit show? A hot new ride using the concept coupe's name and the concept GT's body, may I present the Stinger..........


A big step from Kia, but with one key detail missing, the price. But, what is not missing is the Stinger's credentials, a hot turbo 4 and a twin turbo V6, along with all the suspension goodies to make this one thrilling road car. Who is the Stinger going after? Well, this is where we see Trump like bravado, as the Stinger's target market is supposed to be the great German cars like the BMW 3 series, the Audi A4 and Benz C Class. Big targets. Big ambitions.

Like its sister company, Hyundai, who is not taking a back seat to anyone, when it comes to luxury models, Kia is obviously making this giant jump into a market, that is alien for the brand. Full speed ahead, while they wait for the Kia name to catch up to those Germans. You gotta hand it to them. And, if you doubt that they can and will pull it off, well shame on you.


Now back to that missing component, price. Based on what Hyundai has done, it's pretty well assured that the Stinger will undercut the competition, while letting the car speak for itself. Give it time folks, like Hyundai and their Genesis luxury brand. Underestimate these brand at your peril. I'd say in ten years, give or take a year, buyers will look to Kia for sporting machines, that will continue to undercut the mainstream models.

Don't believe me? Well. it is Friday, the 13th and time for scary thoughts.

Until next time.......



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Jan 10: Camry - is that really you?


This is how it all started, Toyota teasing us with a back end shot of their new Camry to be unveiled at this week's North American International Auto Show, aka the Detroit auto show. I've blogged before about the bland Toyota designs and how that company was breaking out of the mold of those sleepy creations. Their next big reveal would be the Camry. The big gun of the Toyota line. The number one best selling sedan in the US market. Sure the suv craze has driven up their Rav4 sales, but the good and staid old Camry was still clocking in at about 450,000 yearly sales in the USA. Impressive numbers. Redesign the Camry, but don't alienate its fan base. Quite a goal for any designer.

Way back when, the Camry arrived with its first edition.........


Nothing spectacular (hey, it was a Camry), but backed up by Toyota quality. Sure it rusted out, but so did everything else back then. I remember a friend of mine bought the hatch version after being a loyal North American car buyer, and he wouldn't stop bragging about what a great car he now had. Being a car guy, I couldn't understand his euphoria.

Next came in 1992, what many consider to be the penultimate Camry........


Resembling a junior Lexus LS, this was a terrific car quality wise and you still see a few around over twenty years later. A 1992 model, being twenty five years old can now show up at old car cruise events. Kind of a scary thought.

But that was then and lots of Camry's have since flowed under the bridge, almost all (correction - all) to universal derision by the car enthusiast community. A great A to B ride, but with nothing remotely engaging for anyone who valued precise ride and handling. A sofa on wheels was a typical description, although a very good sofa.

So to the present day. A time when Toyota is doing their best to make the Lexus and Toyota brands stand out for their styling. Sure, they have tried too hard in some cases, but at least they are trying. So, what to do with their cash cow Camry?

Yesterday in the Motor City, off came the wraps of the 2018........



Wow! Sure the front end looks like it was lifted off of the predator from the old Schwarzenegger movies, but I don't have a issue with it. Overall this is a beautifully striking design, even in the base trim, as shown on the silver one in the above pic. In my opinion, this is probably the best effort so far by the Toyota/Lexus designers. Even better than the new and very costly Lexus LS model, that was also unveiled yesterday. No longer is Toyota complacent, at least not with an exterior and interior like this on their ol' standby, Camry......


I'll have to wait until I read the road tests or drive it before giving it my complete thumbs up, but if the driveability is anything like its looks, well, watch out Honda Accord. Now, maybe the Camry will show the promise, that it has so ably shown on the tracks of NASCAR........



A few years back, who would have ever thought I'd be singing the praises a beautiful new Camry and even looking forward to getting behind the wheel? What's that line about an old dog and new tricks?

Until next time.......



Friday, January 6, 2017

Jan 6: A model Christmas


What would you do over the Christmas holidays, if you had lots of time off, an industrious little cat and a great hobby? Exactly what I thought and that's exactly what I did, along with all the other things that go with the holidays.

Myself and the CMC (Car Modeling Cat) had several models lined up to build, so it was a joint decision that we'd build two versions of one of my favorites, the USA only, 1965 Plymouth Belvedere. I told the story behind this car in an earlier blog (Sept 6/16), so I won't repeat myself (that's a first, Barry). We wanted to build an everyday low end driver, which this model depicted........


Just a plain Jane car that a salesman might have, with the only option being whitewall tires, so it wouldn't look like a complete povertymobile and make the neighbours think that he had bought the lowest of the low, which, of course, he had.........



.......oh, and one more addition, a radio to help pass the time between those business calls. One other person found favor with this car, but they equipped it a little differently........


The whitewalls were skipped, a set of great looking mag wheels were added, but its real appeal was in the fact that this Belvedere 1 was light and inexpensive, the perfect setting for a monster motor and Plymouth obliged with a 426 cubic inch engine (no, not the Hemi), that found its home on the nation's dragstrips. You've no doubt noticed, that we've made two models for the price of one.

There was also one more place that this particular Plymouth found a home. Think inexpensive, think a big motor and of course, think of this version......




Of course, it was a natural and one of the last of the two door police cars. Unlikely this sheriff's car packed a 426, but the subtle dual exhausts probably indicated a still very fast 383 four barrel. Just the thing to chase down those smart ass kids in their GTO's and Mustangs. If we had used city police car decals, then it would most likely be packing a slant six.

Every model tells a story  -  imagination is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

Check out what else is attracting the attention of the CMC in the first pic and that should tell you about some upcoming blogs. Next week, the Detroit auto show opens, so stay tuned.

Until next time........



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Jan 4: What's in a colour?

What's in a colour? Apparently a lot or not much depending on who is doing the talking or thinking. Take the recent example of what has happened in my hometown, Toronto. Late last Summer it was announced that the Toronto police cars would now be a shade of grey with white graphics.......


Distinctive? I guess, but maybe not as much of a standout as the current white cars are with their blaring red and blue decals.......


Now, this is where it gets tricky. Quite a few people mentioned that the new colour scheme made the police cars seem less approachable and more militaristic. Approachable? Whoever finds any police car approachable? Beats me! Militaristic? I can see that, but should this be a problem?

On the other hand, someone also piped up and said that the new colours made the cars blend into the scenery more and didn't have the "make it stand out" look of the white cruisers. Now, we are definitely on to something, as you can see by this side by side comparison........


Keep in mind that these cars aren't meant to be stealthy, as the force has plenty of unmarked patrol cars ready to take you down. Like these Toronto police Crown Vics waiting to be put into service, just before their production ended a few years back........


After a few weeks of discussion, someone asked the police chief point blank, why the change? Now we all can come up with stupid answers to smart questions, but most of us won't have those answers published on the front page of the city's four daily newspapers for millions to see and read. The chief's answer? He simply wanted a change and didn't give it any thought. That makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Way back when, our cruisers were New York taxi yellow.......



.......and this colour stayed with us until the late '80's. No way that this shade blended into the background, but it was finally changed, when some bright soul with influence said people (tourists?) were mistaking them for taxis. Really? Toronto has never had a yellow taxi to my knowledge. Anyway, next came the ubiquitous white cars. I say ubiquitous, since white cars became the norm across North America. Ours were white with red and blue stripes........











.......which after a few years followed the trend of adding dramatic and colourful markings to police vehicles, so our cars ended up as they are now.......


So back to the first order of one hundred grey cruisers, which hit the streets over the past few months. Cruisers doing their duty for their city........


......until the Police Services Board, said, not so fast, chief, let's rethink this change. Matter of fact, let's stay with the the white, red and blues that we already have. So after much publicity and a big splashy roll out, the new grey cruisers will become a novelty item, until they can be repainted or simply wear out. You know, for a very smart police chief, this was a very public and very dumb chain of events.

I wonder what Blinky the talking Toronto police car would say about this episode?



By the way, Blinky is a pig. Funny when you think about it, as "pig" used to be a very derogatory term for police everywhere. Wonder how he would look in stealth grey?

What's in a colour? Well, that depends and in Toronto, it depends on where that colour is being applied.

Until next time.......