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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sept 30: BMW, wake up!


No question at all that this new BMW i8 is an interesting design and somewhat electrifying, if you get my drift. Sure, it has a lot going on style wise but, so do many of the other exotics that it will be competing against. My thought is, that it will just be be a little too unusual in its mechanics, to be the great success that BMW would like. Of course, only time will tell, like with everything else.

My point? My point is, that for one of the world's leading luxury car makers and depending on the year, maybe the number one in terms of volume, how come they keep getting eclipsed by Mercedes when it comes to a real sports car?


While the i8 is just coming to market, Mercedes is showing their upcoming AMG GT. The very latest in Mercedes' long history of great sports cars. It is no surprise, that they should be introducing another winner in that long line of great cars. Benz' sporting tradition goes way back, but the car that everyone typically drools over is their first gullwing, the 300 SL......


......a great design and immediately recognizable due to those wild doors. Sure, Mercedes went off track for awhile with their kind of nothing 280's.........


.......a pleasant "sporty" car, but a bit of a disappointment after the muscular beast that was the 300. Funny how time heals all wounds, as these models are gaining support among collectors and one in first class condition, will bring six figures at auction. But all the while Mercedes was developing and improving on their sports cars, BMW was mainly focusing on great sedans, with an occasional foray into the fire breathing two seater realm. I wonder why BMW hasn't come to market sooner with a real sports car, as an integral part of their line up? Even Audi, now has the well respected R8 as their standard bearer.

After the 280 SL, Mercedes introduced a continuing line of SL's that kept getting better and better, spreading and cementing the name of Mercedes Benz sports cars..........


I would have thought that BMW would have intro'd a car to halo their brand and developed it over the years. Benz certainly has, occasionally bringing something special to market, like the SLR McLaren. A cool half million dollar treat..........


Or, their latest gullwing, the SLS..........


........all the time letting the world know that Mercedes was still in the game, one that they have been involved with since way back in the '20's and '30's........


 So now, Benz, has shown us the next card in their deck of hot rods.........


......the AMG GT, a Porsche 911 and Audi R8 fighter. All the while continuing that great tradition they started many years ago of putting the three pointed star on some great sporting machines. 

So, as I said earlier, wake up BMW. Develop your own top of the line car and make it part of your tradition.

Until next time.......



Friday, September 26, 2014

Sept 26: The Mighty Mini

All hail the Mighty Mini. So, what's so mighty about a Mini? Ok, so hail BMW for taking a brand that was basically one car and making it an entire line up of vehicles. All seemingly based on the original Mini that, they reintroduced in 2001, after buying the "Mini" name. Initially, I wondered how far they could go with this basic little two door? Sure, throw in a few different engine options, but hey, this is a very distinct little body, so they can't go too far with it. Or could they? Well, you sure as heck know how wrong I was and probably a few other folks were as well. From the original has sprung........

- a station wagon version
- a convertible
- a two seater coupe with a very strange looking roof
- a convertible version of that strange coupe
- a four door suv......who ever would have thought that a sport ute could spring from the Mini fold and still look almost exactly like a Mini. No one is going to mistake this model for anything else, are they?


- a two door suv
- a variety of performance editions
(have I missed any?)

And now a four door version of the original Mini two door.......


Kind of like going full circle isn't it? One might have thought that this four door would have been one of the first of the variants. My initial skepticism has turned into wonder, as I watch what the folks at BMW have created with this "one car" brand. Without Mini's new parent, this brand would have been consigned to the history books back in 2000, when the original Mini's production finally came to an end, after a run beginning in 1959. Yes, the original was made for that long, with the last few being boutique models made for the Japanese market (go figure).


Interesting that in all that time, Mini never had near the variations that BMW has introduced in only 14 years. Sure, they had the little woody wagon (see above), a convertible, a pick-up and a panel van, but nothing like the present day's selection. They also had some different models, that were badge engineered cars like this one.........


Can you tell the difference? Nor can I. Oh, there were others as well that, relied on some design changes to differentiate them from the more common Austin and Morris versions. The upmarket Minis, so to speak.......



Funny, in that the Wolseley Hornet and the Riley Elf, while being redesigned Mini's, were in fact badge engineered versions of each other. As similar as the Morris and Austin versions were, so were these two upper class Mini's. I have a miniature of the little Riley and you have to admit that, it is a cutie. Can you picture it as an suv?

So, back to the very beginning.......


......a simple little concept that has been updated by a very astute manufacturer. The innocuous little British car, updated for the 21st century and made into one of the "go to" cars for the very cool people. Even my fertile imagination can't conceive of what they might do next.

The Mighty Mini, indeed.

Until next time.......





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sept 23: The perfect solution?

 With the big climate change conference going on in New York city, who wouldn't be thinking of a more responsible way for us to commute and to also travel the countryside? There must be some car out there that would suit everyone, be economical on fuel, while cutting down on all those nasty greenhouse gases. Unfortunately there is the perfect solution. Unfortunately?? Yes, unfortunately, since it was way before its time and is no longer in production.

Eyes left, as you take in the original ad for this very creative solution to many of the world's environmental problems. Of course, but why wasn't this thought of before.......the Peel Trident! Brought to the world in the mid '60's to be a perfect little family car. An answer to a question which at that time, no one was asking. Before you start berating your blogger and saying that this is no solution at all, check out this pics.......



 You can see for yourself how spacious the little Trident is. Only the driver and one passenger? Hey, think outside the box for a moment.......at the low price the Trident would obviously cost, any family could afford several for probably the cost of a family vacation in Mexico. Problem solved, as even the youngest child could be taught to safety handle this 4.2 HP car.

And if you had a few of these, would you really want to drive long distances at a modest top speed of 45 kph (28 mph)? Of course not, so once again fuel savings all around.


Look at this comfort, along with 360 degree sight lines, so no more accidents or at least a lot fewer. Even at top speed, damage to the car and its occupants would be minimal, lowering our very high health care costs. Although it might put a few ambulance chasing lawyers out of business.

Need more choices than just the dear little Trident? Well, here is Peel's sports model, the P50. What a stunner and as you can see, this blue one is all set for a cross country jaunt. What family wouldn't want to drive to grand mother's house in this beauty? They say that getting there is half the fun, well in a Peel, getting there is all the fun, since it would take twice as long. No more of those annoying, "Are we there yet?" questions, since any child would know better.


Parking? Glad you mentioned it. The Trident has no reverse gear, so just hop out and........


 .......you got it, simply position it where you want. Heck, take it into your office and put it in a drawer (hey, let's not be too ridiculous here). And do you notice how happy all these Peel owners appear and with good reason. Life with a Peel car is like a bowl of cherries  -  all good.


Cruising the highways in your P50, fearing no one or any other vehicle. What could be more idyllic?

So readers, picture a world filled with Peel creations. It would be a happier place. More money in our pockets, more oil in the ground, less congestion in our cities, less road rage. Urban utopia? Maybe, but we'll never know, due the genius of the Peel being yet another example of a product way ahead of its time.


Just maybe it's time to head into the future with an idea from the past.

Until next time.......





Friday, September 19, 2014

Sept 19: A belated, but fond, farewell



Who would have thought? I mean, everything has to come to an end, doesn't it? Nothing can go on forever, can it (sure, tell Jeep owners that)? But production has finally stopped (actually a couple of years back) for the most familiar of all airport limos. Yes, the ubiquitous Lincoln Town Car has reached the end of its long life. Limo drivers the world over paused for a moment's silence and dabbed the wet spots below each eye. Ford probably could have continued building this car for the livery services, and sold several thousand money making cars, year after year, after all, the tooling must have been paid off years ago. About the only redesign this model had was to make the trunk bigger after numerous complaints from the limo services. But everything has its time, I guess, so the production line closed, the lights were turned out and everyone went home.

These were amazing cars, tough as nails, or whatever metaphor you'd like to use. I saw one the other day with about 300k kms on it, so, obviously, it hadn't been in service very long. Seriously, I've ridden in Town Cars which were approaching 800,000 kms and hadn't had an engine or transmission rebuild! Try that with just about any other car. Unlikely that would happen or will ever happen again. There was a lot to be said for these tough, old technology, rear wheel drive behemoths. Rode like mush, but lasted forever.


Go to any major airport in the recent past and you'll have seen parking lots full of these black Lincolns, just waiting for their turn at the arrivals exits. Always very clean, with also clean and extremely courteous drivers. Nothing like the city taxis, which are a whole other breed. Since these TC's last so long, there are still many on the road and will be for some time to come.

And when I say any major airport, that is exactly what I mean, and not just in North America. Check out this slightly stretched one in Prague........


........and I've seen them in Moscow, Rome, London and numerous other venues. Like spotting an old friend, "Hey, good to see you, but what are you doing here?".

Ok, so the obvious question now is, what will the livery services use to replace their much loved Town Cars? That's a great question and I was very curious to see what they would fall back on. Turns out that this is the $64 question. What vehicle could possibly provide the longevity that the TC's were and are famous for?

Lincoln would like you to turn to their ugly MKT........


.......and they now offer a version specifically made for the livery services. I spoke to a driver of one and he really liked the luggage room out back. When I asked about its life span, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Who knows?". Of course, he was bang on, who does know? Me? I can't see how they'd possibly be as strong.

Right now in Toronto, there are a variety of vehicles trying out for the role of the arrivals area queen. Some that I've seen are the Chrysler 300 (good choice), Lexus ES350 (unusual choice), Lincoln MKS, Ford Expedition and Chevy Suburban or Tahoe.


Personally, I think that the Chevy cousins are the best bets since, I believe, that they'll also have the long life span of the Town Cars and they are actually pretty good on gas, all things considered. Their downside? Maybe they are a bit pricey, but if Chevy wants them in the airport fleets, then their pricing will be made to fit. Hey, they use them as police cars (trucks?) and those versions aren't exactly cheap, but almost every force has a few.

So, now we watch the beloved Town Car drive off into the sunset after giving years and years of dependable service.........


.......like an old soldier whose time to rest has finally come. You did well, old girl!

Until next time.......



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sept 16: Power to burn

Happy Birthday, Dodge!

As I blogged back in July, 2014 is the 100th year that Dodge has been in business. After a year of celebrating, those fun loving folks at Dodge have decided to give back and offer their loyal clientele a new vehicular treat to salivate over for (probably) years to come. Take a closer look at the car on the left..........those with knowledge of drag racing's "golden era" will know that this is a 1970 Dodge Challenger Funny Car. Why show you this? Easy, just look at that long smokey burnout. Power to burn, folks. Back then about 1500 horsepower's worth. A pure race car. Ok, so now take a look at this 2015 Challenger........


This one also has power to burn. Those wild and crazy engineers at Dodge have put a little high octane using bonbon under this Challenger's hood, so that in 2015, we too will be able to replicate those long smokies, that the purpose built race cars did so long ago.


Ah, the pure joy of melting rubber to impress the adoring hoards, as the traffic light turns green in front of that crowded bus stop. What gives? How about a very cool 707 horsepower in a motor appropriately named, "Hellcat". What a sincere way for those Dodge Boys to show their gratitude to us for 100 years of patronage.

The Hellcat Challenger is very simply the least expensive way on the planet earth, to buy a regular production coupe with that much power for so little money. So sad, that you really, really want one, but since you have a family, there is no way that this Challenger is even halfway practical. Well, rejoice folks, as you see what else those folks at Dodge have conjured up with you in mind........


Breathe a sigh of relief, as you now know that you can get that hellacious Hellcat in a full size family sedan. This Charger is the most powerful production sedan on the planet at any price. No more taking a back seat to that snotty neighbour's kid with his (used to be) hot, slammed Civic coupe with the stovepipe exhaust. No sir, you are now the king of your street and more than likely a few others. Christmas has come early.

Set aside a few hundred bucks for tires each year and you are good to go. Show up at church on Sunday with a car guy's or gal's version of the Almighty. Amaze the neighbours as you leave for work in the morning. Sneak off to the drag strip on Sunday, instead of going to that detested gathering with the in-laws. Use your imagination and your Hellcat to add excitement to your formerly humdrum existence.

Yes folks, Dodge has certainly paid us back in full. All hail the Hellcat with its power to burn........


Until next time.......



Friday, September 12, 2014

Sept 12: Road trip - 2014

Saturday night racing NASCAR style. Forty three "stock" cars with upwards of 900 horsepower each, going round and round the short track at Richmond, Virginia. This was the last race before the ten race stretch to determine the Sprint Cup champion. Big money, big prestige. If you are a fan, you already know who won, so let me try to describe the experience........

.........for the past 18 years, my very good friend, SB and I have done a road trip in the Fall to one of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races (formerly Nextel Cup, formerly Winston Cup). It's always fun to see a big league race, but this extended weekend (usually four days), is more about taking a trip with a good friend. Relax, chat when we want to, share thoughts or simply enjoy the experience. And we were not the only ones who thought Richmond would be a good place to be on September 6th.......


 .......tons of cars, loads of people. Being seasoned veterans, SB and I know the best way to attend the race and it sure is not driving to the track and parking in that humongous lot.......


 ........no way, we take the free shuttle bus from downtown right to the track, no fuss, no stress. Once it took me over two hours to get out of the parking lot at Michigan International Speedway. No thank you, we'll ride the bus.

These races are big events with all sorts of displays.......

Clint Bowyer's sponsor
A Ford Fusion cutaway
Chevy's display of their drivers' cars
 Lots of excitement, as we wait for the moment when the pace car finally takes to the track to lead the cars to the race's green flag........


 .....ah, the pace car and also the other thing, that every event bringing in around eighty thousand people needs, plenty of police presence, from the locals to the state police (race fans are wild and crazy and out of control - right?). Race fans also bring $, so what better way to relieve them of it, than with souvenirs of their favorite driver.......


Forty five foot trailers, which are painted up like the race car haulers, but which have opening sides, revealing a store featuring every manner of way to relieve an enthusiastic fan of a few (or a lot of) hard earned bucks. Just check out the stands and add up the ways a fan can support their favorite driver, from t's, to hats, to coolers to butt supports. You name it.


A few years back, there used to be even more trailers, but this year NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr, still had three identical trailers dishing out his wears. And yes, they willingly took some of my money as well.

So another road trip under our belts. What better way to finish off the Summer, than a hot September night under the stars with thousands of like minded people, watching the colourful spectacle called NASCAR Sprint Cup racing?


Until next time.......



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sept 9: Time for a change


 So this is how it all started way back in the mid '80's. Toyota introduced a new model to North America, the Camry in hatchback and sedan versions. Nothing special, just a new mid-sized car from the Japanese steamroller, that was slowly, but steadily pushing aside the domestic makes. I remember a good ol' boy, friend of mine, driving up to my place with his new Camry hatchback....... "Look, Barry, this is so practical and easy to load." Frankly, I couldn't see what he was so excited about, just another Toyota. And not a particularly good looking one either.

 A few short years after this, Toyota introduced their new luxury brand, Lexus (we all know how that turned out). The first model was the ultra lux, LS. As you can see from this pic, it was Mercedes similar in design, solid looking and imposing. Sold very well, even with an initial quality glitch, that Toyota handled like a casebook study, so no harm done.


Now comes the 1992 Camry........


 ........gee, it sure looks like a junior version of the Lexus. No problem, as folks snapped them up, many experiencing a Toyota for the very first time. Quality? Just like the LS that it so resembled. This was the best Camry for many years, as the next ones never quite lived up to this one's reputation. You still see them around and often times in not bad shape.

The Americans grew to love their Camrys, eventually making it their best selling car, year after year, passing first the Ford Taurus, then the beloved Honda Accord in the process. Funny, as the Camry was absent in most other markets in the world. Go to Europe and you'd be lucky to see one. At one time, Camry was selling in the hundreds per year in England. Everywhere else, the similarly sized Carina was Toyota's mid-sized standard bearer.......


Not sure why Toyota had both models, as the were very similar looking and similarly rather boring to drive. I rented one in Ireland and had to make sure I was fueled with coffee every time I got behind the wheel. But year after year, the Camry was numero uno in the American market, putting out over 400,000 units year after year. The buff books knocked Toyota, but the regular folks continued to line up.

But then there was a distinct change in the market place, as first Nissan, then Hyundai brought attractive and even cutting edge style to the mid-sized bread 'n butter market. Camry kept selling, but those previous bottom feeders were moving up the sales charts. Writing on the wall? Maybe, but this is how Toyota will be responding in 2015.........


Now don't let this pic fool you. Toyota is not making a track capable car of its venerable Camry, but like the plain Jane Corolla, they are giving this winner a thorough restyling, in the process making it a little more, dare I say, cutting edge? But no question, this is the best looking Camry in years, no longer just a great selling blob.

Toyota is trying to add more style across their entire line (check out Lexus), no matter the market. Below is the European Avensis, a Camry sized car not sold in North America, just as the Camry is not sold in Europe. Why not use the same car? Who knows, but as you can see, this new Avensis, also has character built into its lines, character that was missing from the previous model.


So, the good old Camry, so familiar and so safe, will enter 2015 with more character, but not so much that it will alienate Toyota's loyal following. Just enough so that folks like me, will no longer have to worry about falling asleep whenever we see one. Way to go, Toyota, it's about time.


Until next time........