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, July 20, 2018

July 30: Another player?

Just as you thought there were enough car manufacturers in this world of ours, the latest news tells us of another new car coming from a country not known for their automotive scene. Only a few years ago the typical vehicle seen in this far eastern county wore the colours of the US military. You said Vietnam? Good guess.


VinFast will be the automotive branch of the huge VinGroup conglomerate. Wisely partnering with an established player, General Motors, who know how to mass produce vehicles (Tesla are you listening?). Their plan is to have gas and electric vehicles, along with electric motorcycles. The first introductions will be at this Fall's Paris Auto Show.

So what do the early teasers of these vehicles look like?


Doesn't give you a real good look, so here are a couple of other shots.......


Pricing? No idea. Powerplant? No idea. Size? No idea. Will it be sold over here? No idea. So you get the idea that this is early in the game. So what do we know? We know that VinFast has a rather large factory now under construction in their home country. The teal coloured tires on the suv are also a very nice touch. An artist's prerogative or something else?

Are they going to be serious players or players at all? Count them out at your peril, after all we laughed at South Korea, chuckled over China and look where they are now. If I was to guess, I'd say that the market in China is their initial goal. If that flies, then spreading out to Europe and eventually North America would be in their business plan. One doesn't hire away a key executive from GM without thoughts of going big, do they?

Is this what is going to show up in Paris.........



In case you were wondering, these designs come from the pen (or computer) of Italy's most famous design house, Pininfarina. A good start, no matter what else you do.

And VinFast's electric.......


So there you go, the entire line up from the world's newest player in the car business. Just when you thought there wouldn't be enough business to go around as things stand today.Gee, maybe there isn't?

Until next time......



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July 17: Creating an suv

Ford's big recent announcement, that they would all but be getting out of the car business, might come as a shock to the casual reader, but not to all those Ford dealers, who have had Taurus sedans sitting on their lots for months and months (if they even stocked them). What previously had been a steady seller, the Fusion, was on the chopping block as well, crushed under the steamrolling suv charge in the marketplace. Time to free up the dealers' dollars, so they could stock what really sells and that is the aforementioned suv. Time to introduce a new nameplate to the car (I use this term loosely) buying public.

Ford has said they plan to bring out a strong Subaru Outback competitor. Surprise, surprise. But what to call it? Heck, this is easy. Call it the Fusion whatever....the Mallroad, the Lakester or the Allseason, but keep the name that most people recognize - Fusion. At least this is what Ford's dealer body is requesting and it makes a lot of sense. As does an Outback competitor. Heck, what an easy way to increase sales and use an existing station wagon. Sure, over here we don't want to hear that term, but the European Fusion, the Mondeo, has a beauty......


And we all know how easy it is to take an attractive, but slow selling wagon and make it the hottest thing on the showroom floor. Look at what Subaru did many years ago to start this trend........
 Take one station wagon, add some cladding for that go anywhere tough guy image, raise it a bit and maybe throw on a roof rack. Voila'! Like magic the Legacy wagon became the Outback. The darling of the Subaru showroom and thousands upon thousands of happy customers. Money well spent, even before the suv craze hit North America like the Trump presidency (but not in the latter's negative way).

Another early adopter was Volvo, using the exact same formula........


......so the V70 wagon became the Cross Country. Money well spent. Open those flood gates, Sam, as many of the other manufacturers saw the wisdom of these simple additions. Need some examples? Check out these current or soon to be released models from Buick, VW and Mercedes........



















The bean counters must have felt they'd died and gone to heaven. A entirely new model for relative pennies. And in the ads, for god's sake, throw something on the roof, in case folks don't immediately get the message.

So, back to Ford and the need to drop a car, while adding an suv. Taking this route, while retaining the popular and familiar Fusion name, looks like a no brainer. Send your guys out to buy some cladding and, well, you know the rest........

Photo courtesy of Autocar
Finally a station wagon, oops, an suv for the Ford dealers' showrooms. And with a name we all know. Whoever knew creating an new suv would be so easy?

Until next time.......



Friday, July 13, 2018

July 13: She's at it again

There she is, the dear little, hard working Car Modeling Cat, aka the CMC. Plum tuckered out after working with me on our latest model. This was a re-pop of a kit from fifty years ago and that it was an effort, is putting it mildly. Poor instructions and poor quality. Hey, it was an ancient kit and what passed for good quality then, wouldn't today, like many other things. But she and I struggled thru it and were very pleased with the result (if she woke up to see it).

So what was this monster build? Sharp eyes can see it in the background.

Way back in 1967 Mercury needed a entry in the booming, so called pony car field. You know that niche market being steamrolled by the Mustang and what would soon include the Camaro, the Firebird, the Barracuda and many others. Mercury's Cougar was their answer, a more upscale pony car to serve those who felt the Mustang just didn't have enough stature or maybe that it appealed to much to the fairer sex.........


And this was also the dawn of the Funny Car era. Those street car looking dragsters, with 1500 hp motors, that also were taking the drag racing world by storm. The early ones were carbon copy, fiberglass replicas of the street car, but with a tube chassis, a parachute, wheelie bars and that thumping power plant. They were a handful to drive. There were two or three Cougar Funny Cars and the CMC and I struggled with this one........


This was also the time when these machines were towed to the track on a small trailer, usually pulled by a station wagon, nothing like the huge painted up semi trailers, that populate the pits these days with their multi million dollar cargoes. Our model was Kunz and Leslie's High Country Cougar out of Colorado.........

 
 .....and now the real deal........


So, did the cat and I nail it?



 Of course, we did. With her enthusiasm and my perseverance, we hung in there until the final result materialized before us on our work bench. Would we want to make another one? Not a chance. We only have so much patience to go around.

A not so funny Funny Car.

Until next time......



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

July 10: Beauty in the eye

 Ah, that old cliche.......beauty is in the eye.........  Recently the original Citroen DS was named one of the most beautiful designs to ever hit the open (or closed) road and also named the Product of the Century. Quite a prestigious award for this space age looking car.............


Space age at least when it was introduced way back in 1955. Want proof? Check out its typical, back in the day, competition...........


Hard to believe they came out at the same time. Hard to believe the Citroen came out at all. Over here in North America the look of this DS was as foreign to us as it was to the more open minded Europeans. Regardless, this minimalistic, aero design has stood the test of time. It also came in a further out there convertible version.........


Oh to be French. This car also had the ability to raise and lower itself depending on the road surface. Even further out there for its time.

Citroen ran with this design for (too?) many years, replacing it with similar but much less futuristic designs. Makes one wonder what the DS could have looked like if only it had maintained its styling edge.......


If only.......

Want to see the other side of the Citroen corporate coin? Want to know what those DS designers were doing when not designing the Product of the Century? Their wild child must have been a one off inspiration, as this is what also came off their drawing boards..........


This 2CV was a boon for French farmers. For them they designed a very basic, one headlighted car, that any practical farmer could load up with pigs or produce and head to market. This was the original design, but in 1948, it became much better finished, a real car so to speak, or as real as this car as appliance could be......


This farmer special went on nearly forever, which would be 1990! Impress the neighbours with how easy it was to clean, in case those hogs figured out that they were going to market and all that implied.......


Now after many years of relatively normal designs, Citroen appears to be taking a few risks again. I know that on this of the Atlantic, we could care less, as it's about as likely we'll see Citroen back over here, as it is that Tesla will meet its ambitious production goals. But a quick peak at a recent Citroen, in this case the prickly Cactus, shows us the this formally daring company still has some of the old vibe remaining, although probably at this time none of the old designers.


Beauty is in the eye, but I love this model and if I were a pig, I'd be proud to be taken to market in it. But fifty or sixty years from now will this be another Product of the Century for Citroen? Unlikely, but I'll never know.

Until next time......



Friday, July 6, 2018

July 6: Hyundai's journey

A lot can happen in thirty years. Heck a lot can happen in one year, but that time line doesn't suit today's blog. Over the past thirty years, General Motors has gone from a powerhouse car maker to bankrupt and has risen again. Chrysler has been bought a couple of times, sold once and bankrupt once. Audi has gone from almost closing shop in North America, due to the bogus unintended acceleration debacle, to being the luxury stronghold they are today. And finally, the car industry has become a sport utility industry. Throw a few more in of your choosing.

Thirty years ago, Hyundai was setting the Canadian market on fire with a piece of junk called the Pony......

1975 Korean market Pony two door
.....and even before that they started their car business with a joint venture with Ford.........

                                                                                                                                                                                                           
But that was then, and thirty years later this company is churning out excellent quality cars and suvs. Adding in their other companies, Kia and Genesis, makes them the third largest car manufacturer in the world (the universe?). Chew that over for a minute or two. This brings us to their latest introduction. Every car maker is rushing to expand their suv offerings, while dropping the car models, that brought them to the dance. A marketing axiom, you have to make what sells. A couple of weeks ago, at the Busan International Motor Show (you know that one, don't you?), Hyundai showed its newest suv. Currently they have three in their line up.....small (Kona), compact (Tucson) and midsize (Sante Fe), so maybe the time is right to move up to a full size model?

Let me introduce you to the Palisade........



Maybe it won't wear that name, when it comes here next year? Maybe it won't be named after a large fence? Maybe Hyundai will follow their southwestern US theme and call it the Phoenix, or the Scottsdale or even the Las Vegas? Seriously, Scottsdale would be perfect and appropriate, but maybe it's being saved for the upcoming Genesis suv. Wait and see.

But back to the Palisade. Beautiful and rich looking. Well, sure those funky rims might not make it stateside, but hey, maybe they will. Try cleaning those on a Saturday morning. Interesting back end and of course, wearing that attractive new Hyundai corporate grille, also seen on the '19 Sante Fe below........


Thirty years. From hero (inexpensive, well equipped new Pony) to zero (Pony, Stellar and Sonata were junk and Hyundai suffered because of them) to hero again. What a track record. 

Next up? The new pick-up said to arrive in 2019........


Pretty sure it won't look like this concept, but wouldn't it be cool if it did? Hey, this is Hyundai, so expect the unexpected. In the meantime, need a full size suv? Times flies and it won't be long before the Palisade (or whatever) is ready to test drive.

Until next time........


Friday, June 29, 2018

June 29: Challenger- speak of the devil

The Demon is dead, long live the Demon. Yes and no, folks. That limited edition Dodge Challenger, the one with no back seat and only one front, was from the get go a limited edition. That Demon and it's 840 HP was meant to live at a dragstrip, drive it on the street at your peril. Shed a tear, it's gone into the annals of muscle car history.

But what's with that evil red eye on the Hellcat?


Good old Dodge. Not resting on their Demon laurels, for 2019 they have massaged that wild Hellcat with some of the Demon's good parts. You know, those good parts like the Demon motor, but slightly detuned and as a bonus, it comes with both front and rear seats. Does life get any better? The standard Hellcat cranks out a glorious sounding 707 big ones, while the Redeye ups its output to a slightly more outrageous 797 HP. Gawd, where will it all end?

Throw on a couple of new hood scoops (like the good old days), those wide body wheel flares and get ready to terrorize the neighbourhood. Start this baby up early in the a.m. and none of your neighbours will need an alarm clock.


Now what about the numbers? You know, those really important numbers. Ok, try on a quarter mile time of 10.7 seconds. Fast? If you knew, you'd know. All this from a ride you can buy off of the showroom floor.

Way back in my youth, purpose built drag Challengers, the ones that were massaged in all sorts of race car ways, were turning these kind of times. Cars like these........


No one dreamed that sometime in the distant future, one could wonder into their local Dodge dealer and come out with a nutball machine, that would run with their old time heroes. Of course, no one thought of plugging in their car at night either, unless we were talking about a block heater. Can't live in the past forever, BT.

So now there's a new bad guy coming to town with his friends and they mean business........



All hail the Challenger Redeye!

Until next time........



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 26: Peaking on Pike's Peak


Just your average peak, Pike's Peak, that is. A nice little hill of average height in Colorado. Just under three miles (or just under 5 kms for us Canucks) in elevation, but with a wicked switchback road to the summit. Just the locale to test your nerves with a death defying run to the top on a road without barriers. Fall off and we never hear from you again, at least not without a medium's help.

Since Everest doesn't have a road to the top, what better place to trot out your skills once a year in June?See how quickly you can run to the top and rise to the top in the opinion of others knowledgeable in what have you accomplished. Run against that one thing that you cannot change......time.

How serious is this run to the summit? Take a look at the purpose built machinery that has tried it..........


........and the manufacturers that have affixed their names to that machinery and you can get an idea of the esteem in which this event and the winners are held.........


Nothing like this will ever be found in a showroom, but the hoped for result is apparently worth all this effort. Kind of strange, since this little subculture of motorsport doesn't hit the main stream media and often isn't even bragged about by the companies involved. Let me know when you see the fastest suv prize shown in a Bentley ad........


But each year nutball drivers test their nerves against this unforgiving piece of geography. Knowing that a wrong turn could be their last turn..........


2018 proved to be a milestone event. How so? VW came to the mountain with millions invested in the biggest gun they could engineer and made it electric, the I.D. R . Can't get any more cutting edge than that, electric and a name that rolls off the tongue like a hulk of lead.


Did it pay off? That might be an understatement, as this electric missile cruised to the summit in just under eight minutes, breaking the five year old record by sixteen seconds! In a sport that measures accomplishments in tenths of a second, that is breaking down the door in incredible fashion. Like taking a bazooka to a knife fight.


Now, what to do with whatever info they have gained? Look for other mountains to climb? Whatever, it shows the importance of this relatively unknown event (at least to the general public).

By the way, this road is open to the innocent year around weather permitting. So next time you and the family vacation in Colorado, try a little run up the hill. Remember, 7 minutes and 57 seconds is the number to beat.

Until next time......