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, December 15, 2017

December 15: Automotive oddities

When someone and in this case it's me, lives and breathes cars, new, old, luxury, performance, economy, street or racing, one comes across some things that seem a little unusual or in my mind are worth blogging about (it obviously doesn't take much). Shall we begin?

How about this new car...........




What we have here in descending order is the new Opel, the new Vauxhall, the new Buick and finally the new Holden. Oops, that's wrong, the second car is the Holden and the last car is the Vauxhall. Who knew? As you can see (take my word for it), they are exactly the same car, just sold in different areas with one significant difference......the badge in the centre of the front grille. Sure, you might see some other front fascia variations, but that's only because I'm showing different models in each range. I can understand the same car under a different name being used in North America or down under, in Australia (Holden), but less understandable in Europe, where the Vauxhall and Opel run across one another on a regular basis. Marketing? Automotive Oddity?

I build model cars, have hundreds of them. Some dustier than others. Wouldn't a tiny car wash be a great idea?

Of course, it would and I'm not the only one with this idea. Nissan uses theirs on a regular basis to test the longevity of different paint colours. Hundreds, thousands of swipes by those whirling brushes will in short order separate the durables from the pretenders. I gotta get me one of those. Calling Nissan this morning.

Beautiful limousine. Used by potentates, oligarchs, tin pot dictators, Elvis Presley and even popes, this Mercedes 600 Pullman exemplifies what a luxury limousine should be. Much better than all those ubiquitous stretches. Nothing odd about this is there?


Try to name a vehicle that hasn't been stretched. Now name a purpose built limo that has been made into a coupe. I could be waiting here until next Christmas and you'd still not have an answer, unless of course, you knew about this Automotive Oddity..........



Looks great and what creative genius would have thought about going the other way with this limo?

And finally, when it comes to electric cars it seems that anything goes. Make it and hope the world will embrace your strangeness. Why the hell not, it's worked many times before. And now a Ugandan firm hopes to bring mass automobile production to their African country with the Kiira EV.........


Quirky? Of course. Saleable? Not so sure. An Automotive Oddity? Absolutely.

Any Automotive Oddities on your radar? Think about it over the holidays and get back to me in January.

Until next time........

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 12: Stingray ZR1!!!

We know that the new and first midengined Corvette will be revealed at the Detroit auto show (to be precise, the North American International Auto Show) next month. If you've been scouring the web, you'll have seen spy photos and possibly the real car on Corvette Forum. But if you are a casual car person, you might have worked yourself into a frenzy, when you saw this Stingray and figured that Chevy was going in another direction with the new Corvette. Relax, it's from a different company.

2018 Suzuki Wagon R Stingray
Moving right along, the big news before the really big news is Corvette's latest ZR1. Latest, because this model shows itself only occasionally as part of the Vette line up. Originally intro'd back in 1970 for a two year run, this potent model helped to give the seventeen year old some added street cred.........


Then back on the shelf it went, as the malaise era of the Corvette started. An era when the biggest motored model (I had one) back in 1976 turned a torrid 0-60 time of just over ten seconds! Get your head around that figure for a moment. I think a well oiled bicycle might match that number these days.

Fast forward to 1990 and things had improved, so time for a second crack at the ZR1 legend........


Now, this model had real power for its time and a different back end to differentiate it from the common everyday Vette. Before it was officially released, I was driving on a side road just north of Toronto and pulled up beside one with Michigan plates. A Chevy engineer out for a weekend jaunt? Whatever, that was my thrill for the year ('nuff said about my quiet life). Another short run for the model, as it was shelved again in 1995.

Patience pays off for Corvette fans, as this range topper was once again introduced in 2009 with the tire smoking enthusiasm of a mighty powerful 650 HP engine..........


Something to spit in the face of tree huggers everywhere. Competition? Sure, but much more expensive and not nearly as practical........


As perfectly suited to composed street driving, as it was to being a track beast. This new legend was yet again shelved after 2013. No new ZR1 appeared when the Corvette was redone for 2014, but Vette fans are infinitely patient.

Waiting, waiting, waiting until last month's Dubai Auto Show. Dubai? Well, I guess that says it all as to Corvette being (or wanting to be) an international brand. Here we go again with the front engined Vette's swan song(?), the 2019 ZR1......



Time for a few cliches? Big, beautiful, bold and with a rear wing big enough to seat the entire family around for Christmas dinner. Best of all, it's packing 755 HP, 715 ft lbs of tire shredding torque and just look at those tires.........


Of course, if you can afford this monster, you can afford to burn off some of Michelin's finest. So how much? Being a Corvette, this baby is affordable and tens of thousands less than a comparable (performance wise) exotic. Start saving as the coupe is a paltry $119k, while the convertible ramps the $ up to $123k. All US dollars, of course, but even in our lower valued Canadian coin, it is a supercar bargain.

Colour? Make mine Introduction Orange or whatever they call this eye grabber. And Santa, please don't get this mixed up with that lowly Suzuki, when you are planning my Christmas presents.

Until next time.......


Friday, December 8, 2017

December 8: GAC - here comes another one


"GA8 is with lively interior and elegant driving room of Chinese style, bringing the advantage of 2900mm wheelbase and 5m ultra-large bodywork into fullest play"

That's what the ad says, so it must be true. This is the GAC (Guangzhou Auto Group) GS8, a luxury sedan from what appears to be an amazing company. Amazing, you say? Look, this company started only a few years ago in 2008 and they are about to out do Elon Musk's Tesla. No, GAC's are not electric(yet), but these new guys on the block are successfully putting out over 500,000 cars per year with a one million planned by 2020. And now they have their sights set on Europe and North America within the next two years, with a possibility of a North American factory. Recently I wrote about another eastern brand setting up shop here (Ssanysong), so the heated competition will get even hotter.

The GA8 is probably a nice car, but as you know, sedans don't cut it these days. Everybody wants an suv, so what can we expect form GAC? How about this nice little anonymous GS5.......

Yep, I agree, nothing special here, but it's a start and folks seem to love anything remotely resembling an suv. This is where things start to get interesting, as the next suv is much more contemporary........


This GS4 even features the currently trendy floating roof. What's not to like about this compact suv and with a pleasantly lower price, after all it's from China?

Want more, "What's not to like?" Then check out the this mission statement..........

"Make excellent cars for the loved ones and let the world be full of love."

How can you top that? I'd buy a GAC for this and this reason only. Oh and one more thing, they sell all the cars and suvs under the Trumpchi brand. Trumpchi? Any one taking bets on that changing before these vehicles hit our shores? But maybe not, as it would undoubtedly appeal to the Great Narcissist and would possibly avoid those, hinted at, punitive duties.

Moving right along, let's see the top of the line large suv, the GS8..........



Contemporary to the hilt. And again with that floating roof feature.

Fun fact.........for the fifth year running, this brand has topped the JD Power reliability index for highest quality in a Chinese car company. Anyone who laughed about the quality of a Chinese car a few years ago, better starting wiping that egg off their face.

Now before you think it's all sweetness and light with this brand, there is still the oddball vehicle, that the Pacific rim car companies seem to delight in producing. GAC's candidate for this award is this concept,
the i-Lounge.......


Maybe just leave this one on the dock when loading up those other Trumpchi's for our market.

Chuckle over those slightly off translations, but don't underestimate this company when it finally arrives here. Good designs. Good quality. Good prices. And a great mission statement. What's not to love?

Until next time.......



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 5: Urus - domestic cattle?

Hot. Wild. Sexy. Looking at this picture you can think of all sorts of much more imaginative descriptions. How about wanton or willing or wicked? I bet they all fit, since this is one of the wildest cars ever created, the iconic Lamborghini Countach. Oh, and that lady from this 1983 Car & Driver magazine cover? She's quite nice as well. Sunday school teacher, perhaps?

Countach. The wild child that started a line of crazy cars, all named after fighting bulls. So, what can we expect next from this brand? Before we get into that, you might remember a big and brutal 4x4 that Lambo did for the Italian military. Long before the Hummer and arguably stranger, the LM002........


Not what anyone would expect from this supercar company, but like the Hummer, a few made their way into civilian use. Saw them infrequently in Toronto and they were as unusual in real life as they appear in photos.

But that was then and now is now. What was unusual and unexpected back then, is now expected. Hard to think of any company (Ferrari so far) that hasn't stepped up to the plate and knocked one out of the park with an suv. So, Lambo is no different and now its much teased sport ute has been unveiled before a fawning and wealthy clientele. All creases and angles, like the cars, behold the Urus.......



A fighting bull name? Not quite, as "urus" is a derivative of the old name for domestic cattle. Now there is a switch for this company. Does mean that this Urus is tame?  Surely you jest. This is Lamborghini, the company known for in your face design and performance. To begin with, this new suv will run with a 641 HP powerhouse. Just what is needed to get to the ski slopes before the runs close for the day.

Park your Aventador for the inclement weather and mount this sweet ride. Be one of only a few in your 'hood. Price? A bargain at around $200k USD and I'm not being facetious when I say that. This looks like a volume product to me, when certain Porsche Cayennes and Range Rovers are close to that number and are quite common on our streets. And they aren't Lamborghini's.

Picture yourself easing into this jet fighter cockpit with your friends strapped comfortably in their seats, as you prepare to take off for your favorite restaurant. But because this is an suv and sort of capable off road, you don't mind going up on the sidewalk, but carefully as not to damage those, oh so costly, 22" rims.


A Lamborghini suv? Who could have imagined this only a few short years ago? If this is your kind of ride, then thank Porsche for thinking outside the box when they brought out the Cayenne, the start of a small suv line that handily outsells those ubiquitous 911's.


Think the Italian military will want a Urus or three done up in battlefield camo? Maybe not, but I guarantee that there will be at least one painted white and green for a certain middle eastern police force.

From wild two seater rides to a wild (soccer mom?) suv, you've come a long way Lambo..........


Until next time.......



Friday, December 1, 2017

December 1: Electrifying VW

Smoky old VW and their amazing diesels. Hitting emissions targets that no one felt would be possible with Otto Diesel's legendary engine. Here's a company that built its reputation on the smelly and noisy old diesel. And you know what? They almost had us convinced that this was the motor of the future, until we found out that they spent more of their valuable time trying to fool the tests, than trying to solve the unsolvable.

Now the sun is setting on the VW diesel and those storage lots full of thousands upon thousands of unsellable Vdubs.........


What's a company caught out like this to do? Well, folks, VW didn't get to be the biggest car manufacturer on our little blue planet, by being completely dumb. No diesels, no problem. Seems like the world is looking to electric cars, so let's hook up our old Bavarian horse to that bandwagon. Recently VW has announced that by 2030 they will have eighty electric cars in the line up. In fact, they want every car line in their vast range to include an electric model. Impressive? Optimistic?

This might be another reason that Tesla is going to run into problems and that is that they won't be the only guys in town, apart from a few other electrics scattered around the various car manufacturers. No sir, VW is committing to an approximately eighty four billion dollar investment over the next few years. Get you head around that number if you can. VW is dead serious.

The first salvo in this electric war will be these three vehicles.........



.......a retro van, a small hatch and a sporty suv type. Not a bad start. The little van should appeal to young hipsters and nostalgic oldies alike, while the small hatch will make its mark in Europe and if they can make it as lovable as the Golf, well, watch out. Now to the real sales builder, in my somewhat humble opinion, the suv type vehicle, shown as a concept called the i.d.crozz (catchy?). Drop this on an suv lovin' North American public and stand back.

Great looking from every angle..........



........and to counter the Tesla X's gullwing back doors, VW has added a slider, which might be a first for anything other than a van.

If the diesel debacle was a mere hiccup to VW, although a rather costly one, the new electric strategy should push them speedily ahead. An interesting note is that VW hardly suffered sales wise from this cheating scandal. So mix in a huge respected car company, a enormous investment, an interesting product line and watch Tesla shrivel as VW grows. It will be an interesting battle.

Until next time........



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November 28: Winter Wonderland

At this time of year two things are going to happen. Two things that happen every single year and at least one of them has probably happened since the dawn of time. The first is that in northern climes it will get cold and it will snow. No way around our winter weather. The second thing is that drivers will be unprepared mentally for this change. Even if they have winter tires, they will approach the white stuff like it is the very first time they have seen or driven on it. Taking this into consideration, the odds are that this person behind the wheel in this pic is more than likely to hit the guard rail or go off into the trees, instead of going around the bend. This sort of behavior drives me around the bend.

Now before you say, "Hey Barry, what makes you so great?", please keep in mind that I'm a very tentative snow condition driver. Hate the slippery stuff and am overly cautious, but that being said, I haven't ended up like this unlucky driver......


Wonderful balancing act and a very good way to have you and your car go viral. Now, I realize that there were contributing factors to this poor soul's unfortunate drive home, but my point is that somebody screwed up and didn't drive according to the conditions.

No doubt because of our northern weather, the sales of suvs have skyrocketed over the past few years. The added attraction of all or four wheel drive makes many (most?) drivers feel invincible. How that explains their popularity down south, I have no idea. And as you can see from this photo, here is a family that wants to cover all their bases, all the time........


Snow? No problem! Just pick your weapon of choice. I guess that with all their money being spent on so many Jeeps, they couldn't afford the more winter friendly and more comfy hardtops.

A winter accessory..........


Winter tires. Lots of deep tread to help you, along with some uncommon common sense. Both will go a long way to making the winter much less of a dreaded season. But even with these on your steed of choice, a good friend to help push you thru the deep stuff might be necessary.......


.....since you gotta remember that even with those wonderful winter treads, you are definitely not invincible.

And about those suvs or 4x4's, remember that they are a help, but they are guaranteed not to protect you, if you persist in driving like an idiot. It's often been said that a really good suv will simply get you into trouble further off the beaten path and in deeper snow. Think about that the next time you see some cowboy (cowperson?) flying past you on a snow covered road at double the sensible speed.

The same goes for those of you who can afford to drive your ultra expensive summer ride thru the winter, because it has AWD and the most expensive winter rubber you could lay your hands on......


No matter, when those icy conditions send your DB11 head first into that wonderfully solid wall of snow.

So maybe the next time you are faced with this.......


......you should resort to this........


Enjoy your winter!

Until next time........


Friday, November 24, 2017

Nov 24: What a long way you've come, Suburban

Wow, a new Chevy Suburban! Those folks must be rich to be able to afford one of those. Man oh man, how things have changed over the years. Sure you can still get a "basic" (whatever that means these days) big Chevy truck in 2018, but you'll usually see them with police markings or all blacked out in a presidential motorcade. The other end of the Suburban spectrum will be seen around affluent neighbourhoods, as these big people movers are driven by soccer moms and run high up into the $80k price range.

It wasn't always like that..........


Nope, the Suburban, not that many decades ago (are you kidding me - that's ancient!) came only one way and that was basic with the only nod to luxury being an automatic tranny and those oh so passe' these days, whitewalls. Does it look a little smaller? You bet, as the new ones are over two feet longer and also bigger in every other dimension.

So being retro fans, the CMC (Car Modeling Cat) and I jumped at the chance to reminisce (well, maybe more me than her) and build a couple of versions of a 1966 Suburban, both with commercial applications.


The results........



















One as a Clearwater police dog unit, complete with rear tinted glass, so Fido won't cook during those torrid Florida summers (no A/C back then, folks). The other as a Kingman, Arizona hardware store delivery truck. Both quite typical applications with no whitewalls and probably both manuals. As we strive for accuracy, check out those decals slapped on the back door and windows. Something the driver might have put on his work truck back in the day.


How else might this truck have changed over the years (let me count the ways). Take a look at the interior and contrast the plain Jane (politically incorrect?) 1966 dash area..........


.......with the 2018's luxury car finish. Of course, I could do this with any fifty year old car, after all what would you expect? The key point here, is that the Suburban is no longer primarily a work vehicle.


So courtesy of me and the CMC, you've received another history lesson. Next time you see a soccer mom cruising her gigantic ride in your hood, show her and her Suburban the respect that they have earned over the years. And for Pete's sake don't get in her way!

Until next time.......