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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nov 25: Starting a styling tradition

Quick, what car is this and please ignore the BMW insignia above the twin kidney shaped grilles, when you answer? Ok, so that was hardly a test, but even without those numerous clues, is there anyone, except your old, blind Aunt Maude, who wouldn't recognize this as the classic and traditional BMW front end? Brand recognition is key to helping establish a brand's identity in the market place. I drive around my neighbourhood and see all sorts of those recognizable twin kidneys and think, gee maybe that is a really good car. Surely all those people can't be wrong (another question for another time)?

Can you think of some others? Here is a hint.........


No question that the dominant three pointed star in that oblong grille is fronting a Mercedes Benz. Again brand recognition. Cadillac is another brand that has a distinctive brand end, which has similarities to their grilles going back to the '30's.


The big crest superimposed on their traditional egg crate grille, an example from 1969 is shown here........


This immediate brand recognition is one of the keys to a brand's success. People see your cars, no matter what the year and viola', instant recognition. Lately, some old brands have been struggling to get their house in order and to come up with something "special". Lincoln finally seems to have settled on their throwback design from the '30's......


........and after some false starts, they are making it a rather pleasing design. See the similarity with the old Zephyr front end from long ago?


Another brand struggling to come up with a new and readily identifiable corporate car face is Lexus. Their electric razor design might eventually work out, but for the time being it looks forced and stands out by being just plain strange and unattractive. Not the first time a company has gone over the top like this, in an effort to stand out.


Others though, have had immediate success with their front end designs. Take a look at this Mazda grille, which is being rolled out across all their lines. I really like this tulip look and it readily says "Mazda" or at least it will after it ingrains itself in our minds.


Some companies have cheated a bit and stolen from another company. Does Ford immediately come to mind? If not it should, take a look.........



I love their Aston Martin knock off grille (the lower pic is the Ford). I don't think that many folks will confuse a new Fusion or Fiesta with a $100k plus Aston sportscar, but hey, it looks great. Maybe not original, but great never the less. Obviously A-M didn't patent their grille, as Rolls Royce has with theirs.

In my opinion, two companies that are really struggling to start their own styling tradition are Hyundai and Subaru. Each one has tried different fronts, but now they seem to have settled on what they consider to be a pleasing and readily identifiable grille. What do you think.......


Do these two cars, which compete directly with one another, have a too close resemblance? And not just from the front view. My point is, wouldn't you think that two successful companies, with competent styling staffs, would end up with two cars, which are more differentiated than these two? I sure would. I'm guessing that neither of these front end designs will have staying power. Notice that I didn't identify the two models  -  can you?

Starting a styling tradition. Save this blog and come back and read it again in 2024. See which of the newer styles has morphed into a long term brand feature. Want to place any bets?

Until next time.......



Friday, November 21, 2014

Nov 21: Maybach - 2nd time around

Remember this car? Sure, you do, it's the Mercedes Benz Maybach. The car that Benz developed to compete against BMW's new Rolls Royce in the early 2000's. That hard to pronounce name came from a famous old German luxury car. Unfortunately, a few things got in the way of this car's success. It didn't look much different than a bigger and more luxurious S Class and as you can see in this picture, the only thing that stands out, is that beautiful yacht in the background. It also cost half a million Canadian and its competition was this car........


Now, you tell me, which of these two cars has more presence? The Maybach or the Rolls Royce Phantom (limo version shown)? The Maybach gets lost in traffic, but that Roller smacks you upside the head with its "look at me" style. Ok, so after a few years of poor sales to people like P Diddy, who bought one for his son's 16th birthday, Benz quietly consigned this model to the scrape heap of history.

But there is gold to be mined and Mercedes sorely lacked the equipment to find it. They were missing out on the ultra luxury car market sales. Heaven knows, they seem to have every other niche covered. So, time to give it another try, but try do it right this time. I present to you the 2016 Mercedes Benz S600 Maybach......


Sure looks like the new S Class, but please look more closely. It actually is being touted as an ultra, ultra S Class Mercedes, but this version is 8" longer and the C pillar is restyled. Oh, and the price is considerably less than the one from just over ten years ago  -  about $250,000 Canadian. Now that is much better. They are calling a spade a shovel, but gold plating it and charging a somewhat more reasonable price.

These days, the outside is one thing and an important one, but the interior is where the money is being spent. Can't you just see it oozing off those, oh so very soft, leather seats?


And doesn't that rear seat look cozy? Is there any African dictator, who wouldn't like to be envied, pulling up in front of his starving citizens in this ride? Not a single one, I think. And with enough power from that mighty V12 to lug around all that armor plating. Ah, the perfect ride.

So Mercedes has decided to reinvent the wheel, or at least that famous old name, Maybach. Let's hope that this time, they got it right and this car will once again rival the old gems from which that name was derived.


Until next time.......



Monday, November 17, 2014

Nov 18: My, how things have changed


My, how things have changed. Cadillac has just announced that the car to carry their racing colours and reputation into the 2015 season, will be the new for 2015 ATS-V coupe. Wasn't too awfully long ago that any mention of Cadillac racing would be laughed off. Maybe just the way, we might suppress a chuckle, if Lincoln unveiled a ready to race Navigator (or any other model).

Year and years ago (almost before my time), the only racing Cadillac would do, was if one of their, powerful for their time, motors was installed in an old hot rod. Theirs was the motor of choice for all the up and coming cool dudes.


Well also, there was a brief venture over to France in 1950. Briggs Cunningham had the idea to race a couple of Caddy's in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race. One was so hideous, that the French nick named it Le Monstre. Wonder why? Take a look and judge for yourself........


Yep, easy to see where that name came from. The other car was a standard Coupe de Ville with probably a few choice mods, so that it wouldn't completely wander all over the course. Seen here, the two Caddies race thru the French countryside on that famous day in June.......


But that was then and now is now. Cadillac, over the past dozen plus years, has sought to gain for itself a reputation that, could only be achieved, by winning on the racetrack. After all Audi, BMW and Mercedes all have proven themselves track capable in a variety of series. Now it was time for Cadillac to follow suit.

The first serious effort was this CTS-V sedan from the mid 2000's.......


Well known Canadian Corvette racer, Ron Fellows. helped sort out Cadillac's first effort. Eventually, their racing duties fell on the shoulders of the hot looking CTS-V coupe, seen spouting fire in this pic.......


Both achieved very good results, winning races and also series championships. More often than not, Cadillac ended up leading the pack of Porsches, Vipers and the occasional Ferrari, when they entered a race.....


My, how things have changed. No longer the track side joke, Cadillac is a real contender and winner. So, when they announce their new standard bearer, the competitors take notice. After all this ain't the '60's, bucko.



Until next time........



Friday, November 14, 2014

Nov 14: Worth duplicating?

Some things are worth duplicating and of course, some things are not. When was the last time, you saw an update of the Pontiac Aztec (hey, Barry, haven't you picked on the Aztec enough already?)? But there are other cars that, have tributes done for them many times. Take for example the stunning, Bugatti 57S Atlantic from the 1930's......


This art deco design from 1937 was, as they say, pure. Those voluptuous pontoon front fenders announce the arrival of this car like no amount of trumpeting could possibly do. The sensuous long hood and short rear deck make a wonderful design statement. Duplicated, but never equaled? Well, let's see........


This replica has added a few differences, like coach builders such as Franay of France might have done. Franay seemed to add those over the top front and rear fenders on many of their designs. Better than the original? Personal opinion, of course but, to me this design comes across as a little too heavy handed, but still rather spectacular.

Well then, what about a tribute to the tribute......


Amazing what one can do to an '80's Corvette (C4 to be exact), when time and money are relatively limitless. Almost a dead ringer for the other tribute car, seen below in the same colour as the 'Vette version. Can you imagine trying to park this example? Or hustle it around a few tight corners? By the way, a cool $65,000 buys you this Corvette based custom, recently advertised in Hemmings. Before you go off the deep end about that price, think about this......the original, of which there are several, has sold for between $30 and $40 million US in 2010. So the tribute car's price is less than pocket change to one individual.


The original is such a tasteful design, that style icon, Ralph Lauren, has one in his collection. I do as well, but the scale is much smaller.


So, folks, what other cars come to your mind as worth duplicating?

Until next time......



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nov 11: A Scion?

 The Toyota Auris. Not a bad looking car. Very reminiscence of the late Toyota Matrix, that versatile little hatch that Toyota shared with Pontiac for several years. Interesting fact: the Pontiac version was sold in Japan as the Toyota Vitz, the Matrix was not sold there. But I digress. Autoweek recently reported that this model was coming to North America badged as a Scion. Badged as a Scion? What is with Toyota?

Scion was started in 2002 as a way to connect with the Gen Y crowd, who were not too interested in the typical dealership sales techniques or the typical Toyota automobile. Hard to differentiate the name from Toyota, when they were sold out of the same building, but there was some early success........

 

.........the funky little xb breadbox really had youth appeal and it became the norm to personalize them, like the black one above. Although only available in the US, many found their way into Canada, such was the demand for this little cutie. Maybe Scion could work after all. Ah, but not so fast. When it came time to update the xb and also to bring the Scion name to Canada, here is the result.......
This bigger and uglier xb appealed to Toyota, but few others. Ungainly, but not in a good way, these models remained nailed to the showroom floor and the Scion brand withered on the vine. In Toronto, I've never sold a Scion or even had anyone ask about them. The soon to be discontinued iQ, also sold like mouldy bread. Finally, with their new sports coupe (shared with Subaru), Scion has a winner, but can it save the brand? What the heck is the Scion brand anyway at this point?

So now back to that Auris, which reportedly will arrive here as a Scion. Does Toyota really think that, this model will bring the youth market back and invigorate the brand? If I were them, I'd look at what succeeded initially and also the success Kia has had with their Soul. Interesting and funky designs.

I have an idea for Toyota. Take a look at what you have in your product line in other parts of the world. Anything fit the "funky" description? How about the Porte and Spade twins. The former is sold in Toyota/Toyopet dealerships, while the Spade is sold in Corolla/Netz stores, both in Japan. How do they look?

 

Cute? Funky? Wouldn't they do better under the Scion sign? They even come in AWD versions. And they also have a very unique feature........


Your eyes are not deceiving you, this little car has only one door on the passenger side (remember Japanese cars drive on the right). Boy, would these little cuties get folks' attention and in my opinion, the attention of the youth market, Toyota so covets and needs.


Wouldn't this be a terrific seller and make Scion stand out from the crowd? Something different than just another nice Toyota, but carrying a Scion badge like the Auris (and where does Toyota get names like this or Yaris?). So, may I be so bold, as to say loudly, "Wake up, Toyota!", and get this car stateside asap.


All I ask, is a nice thank-you card after the first sales results come in.

Until next time.......



Friday, November 7, 2014

Nov 7: Design or ?

 Two cute. Too cute. Two little cats who look almost alike, but there are subtle differences. Unusual? Not really, as they both came from the same litter. But cars are a little different, since, unless they come from the same company, they should look different. Sure, there are similar design elements that, might show up from time to time, like the Hofmeister Kink, which I wrote about in another blog. But why, with the creativity of the top designers, should two cars look alike these days? Good question, but it happens way too often. Case in point........


......and this one.......


Same car? Not at all. Same company? Not a chance. Direct competitor? Absolutely. Same design? See for yourself. Now, let's add this one to the mix........


..........and just for kicks, let's add one more.......


Four cars, all from different companies and depending on the particular trim level, they might actually all compete against one another. I don't understand. The kittens can't help it, but why would a designer, who gets paid big bucks take one car and almost duplicate it, except for the front end? I just don't understand it. If it were me, my pride would prevent this from happening.

Now take these three direct competitors from Cadillac, Mercedes and BMW..........


Not one of them looks like the other. Do they resemble other cars? Sure, but other cars from the same company and they were meant to have a family resemblance. My point being (if you haven't already figured it out), is that those other cars don't have to look so much alike. For Pete's sake, they are not kittens.

I purposely haven't identified the top four pics. Even I can't tell them apart from this angle. If I were the head of these companies, I'd fire the guy who penned these designs or the folks who approved them. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but surely this doesn't apply to direct competitors? Oh, on the other hand, maybe it does. Maybe I'm missing the point? What do you think?

Until next time.......




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nov 4: The Car Modelling Cat and a Ford


 This is the culprit. This is the reason that, the CMC (Car Modelling Cat) and I have not shown you a model that we've just completed for a few months (May 6th). This is the Pro Mod drag racer, Jukebox Ford, which should have been an interesting kit to build. Interesting, yes, kit quality, no. So after being stalled, for what seemed like forever, we have put it aside and moved on to a more modeler friendly project. One, that I could get my teeth into and the CMC, her paw. Like several of our builds, this one has a bit of history.


This 1961 Ford Galaxie is the type of kit that we both like to build. No engine and not a lot of chassis detail, so we can ignore those (we usually do anyway) and concentrate on highly detailing what we can see, when it is sitting on a shelf. Folks in the hobby call these curbside models. So after much aggravation, we moved on to this redo of an old kit. Originally produced in '61, this kit has recently been reproduced, exactly as it was back in the day, right down to the box art. And being a car from the '60's, the CMC really got into it........


Always a willing helper, the little dear adds her personal touch to everything we build together (like maybe a cat hair in the paint). Black with red interior  -  a '60's favorite. Compare our work to the real thing or at least, its brochure rendition. Note that every piece of chrome has been accurately applied to our model.......


Now for the history part.........the other car showing in the background, is also this kit, but it is the custom version and it was built by my older brother way back in 1961........


I sure know which one that I prefer. Note that our current model is accurate, even down to the chrome Galaxie script on the trunk lid. I wonder if my brother will remember building the other one way back when?

So now we are on a roll again. Maybe sometime in the future, the Jukebox Ford will be completed, but hey, life is too short to waste on aggravation.

Until next time........