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, October 31, 2014

Oct 31: More power to the people


Those good folks at Subaru, whose rally cars have struck fear into the hearts of competitors for years, have finally seen the light. After giving us the WRX version of their Impreza and then the expensive, but great fun WRX STI, Subaru has figured out that there must be a few frustrated folks, who need an suv, but long for the "fun to drive" aspect of a performance sedan. Bingo! You gotta it, they are going to mate the STI drivetrain to the capable, but boring small Forester suv. A stroke of genius? Well, we'll see in a minute.


Here it is in the famous Subaru rally blue. Just the little trucklette for taking the kids to soccer practice, but going the long way around. Amaze their friends!

So, is this a stroke of genus or not? One actually might wonder why it took them so long to put big power and great handling into their most popular model. They sure aren't the first ones to think that, a super powerful suv might interest a few buyers.


GMC did it back in the early '90's with their insane Typhoon. I was at a Ferrari owners club outing (no I don't have a Ferrari, I was there by dumb luck) and when it came to give test drives to the innocent bystanders like me, I made an unusual decision. The Typhoon wasn't sold in Canada, but one of the Italian stallion owner's car was in the shop, so he brought his specially imported Typhoon. Me, I figured that I could get a drive in a Ferrari anytime (always the optimist), so I quickly lined up for the Typhoon. What a hoot! That thing went like crazy and actually handled extremely well for what it was. Since then, I've actually driven a Ferrari, but I've never come across another Typhoon.

GM did this again with the Chevy Blazer SS.......


Never big sellers, but they filled some sort of a need. So, you can see that, Subaru was far from the first, but certainly the first Japanese brand to go this route. The Germans have been putting nutty power into their trucks for years, like this ML63......


.........500+ HP! Those crazy, but fun loving Germans, sure do know how to tick every box when it comes to way over the top power. Even their sexy new GLA is stepping up with an AMG version, the GLA45.......


And, of course, BMW hasn't been far behind with their M series of sport utes........


So I guess, Subaru finally figured that there must be a market, so why not give it a try and create a halo model for their competent, but slightly boring Forester line? If it has worked for these other companies, then for sure Subaru figures that lightening will strike them as well..........


Well, we'll see, but thank you very much anyway.

Any one wonder what the CMC (Car Modelling Cat) has been up to lately, since we haven't seen her handy work for a few months? Check out Tuesday's blog........

Until next time........



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oct 28: Putin's great idea

Imagine that you are Valdimir Putin and after causing grief in the Ukraine, you are wondering what else you can do to increase Russia's prestige on the world stage? Think, Vlad (you don't mind if I call you that, do you?). Think. What would be reminiscent of the good old days, when Russia was in its cold war glory?


Yeah, that's it, a new limousine. Remember in days gone by, before that Iron Curtain came down? Remember those "party official only" big, black limos, that were unique to Russia? Those cars with the side and back window curtains, that would hide those humorless looking officials, as they cruised around Moscow.


Usually they would be a Zil (shown here in front of one of Stalin's "Seven Sisters" buildings in Moscow) or possibility a Chaika........


.....big, black and styled after an older American car or a combination of several. Gone, but not forgotten. When I was in Russia last Summer, I was hoping that there would be a few left, but no such luck, as I didn't see a single one of these icons from days gone by.

Anyway, back to Putin's dilemma. What could possibly help a country that is struggling economically, than a new series of these black cars? Well, surprise, surprise, that is exactly what he is considering. His Project Cortege has been in the works for a number of years, with the intention of coming up with a new Zil or Chaika type prestige limo. Tough to do in a country, which basically has no car industry, just branches of western manufacturers. I guess those stretch Mercedes, of which I saw several, are just not doing the trick.

Something unique, with maybe a hint of the past would work, as this preliminary rendering and mock up show.......



Ah, those good old days cruising to the dacha! Their prestige, which would add to Russia's standing in the world(?), would be just like the good old days, when these behemoths roamed the Russian roads.......


Yes, Vlad, no question that this is a worthwhile use of your country's somewhat limited resources. Why settle for a Mercedes, when you can make your own questionably styled status symbol?

Until next time.....



Friday, October 24, 2014

Oct 24: What we are missing


We can't buy the much unloved Tata Nano in Canada, but seriously do we give a dam? Not a chance, after all how many of us would like to be driving our highways in a car, that most likely would fold like an origami sculpture, if hit by anything bigger than a smart car? Those of you, who put up their hands, please seek help. But there are a few cars (probably more than a few), that we just might like to see on our roads. Being an equal opportunity car guy, I've selected a few from different categories that, I find interesting. Start the slide show, please........


The French will have more than one car on my list. I've always like this Citroen DS3. A neat looking little hatchback, that doesn't stick to the standard two box look design, due to its unique B pillar. And it doesn't look just plain weird, like the strange Mini Coupe', with its backwards baseball cap design. Whoever thought that was a good idea?

Or if you are into small, but very practical suv-like styling, then how about Ford's Ecosport........


.......similar in concept to the upcoming Honda HR-V, the Chevy Trax and Buick Encore (why this name, when nothing came before it?). If I was a betting man, I'd say there was a very good chance that, Ford dealers will see this on their lots within a couple of years.

I've shown you this next one once before and for the life of me, I can't figure out why Honda wouldn't drop this Civic Tourer into their North American showrooms asap......


Are we that small wagon adverse that, we wouldn't have this practical little beauty sitting in our driveway? Gee, VW sells lots of Golf wagons, so surely there must be some kind of a market and doesn't Honda have folks worshiping at their altar?

Another small suv for you fans of the breed......


......this one from Renault, the Captur. Strange name, but maybe in French it translates differently (like maybe it means "hostage"). Kinda funky looking, like something that Nissan might sell. Since Renault and Nissan are the same company, that is not surprising. Maybe the Renault designers looked over some shoulders during their last plant tour?

Small and cute (like we don't have enough of those already)........



........I present the Peugeot 108 (top) and the Citroen C3. Puppy dog cute, enough said, so moving right along.......

The French have always been on the quirky side of car design, so why should they change now? Ah, those French........


The C4 Cactus may be a prickly design (my blog, so I can pun as I see fit) to some, but I like its character. Small and endearing like its rival the Kia Soul, the Cactus succeeds in being different in a good way and not by being strange (hey Lexus, you reading this?). Check out that protective side decor  -  no more annoying door dings.

Want to start your own list of cars, vans, suvs or trucks that you'd like to see over here? A couple of options, plan a trip overseas or buy a European car magazine (the cheaper way to go). You'll see interesting stuff, that will never be covered by our North American buff books. May be you can even start a blog?

What are you missing?

Until next time......



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oct 21: More money to burn


 Money to burn? Think of Stephen Hung (the interestingly dressed guy in this pic). He definitely has money to burn, but a fellow like this prefers to give his hard earned cash to Rolls Royce rather than burn it. Hung made the news recently as he ordered thirty (!!!!) half million dollar RR Phantoms as courtesy cars for his Macau hotel, the Louis XIII (let them eat cake). This certainly wouldn't be the first hotel to use this ultra luxury car as its standard bearer, but Hung's order is the biggest ever and all these Rollers are to feature custom interiors. Which brings me to the point of today's blog..........if you have the money to spend (burn?), then look towards Rolls Royce, since they will do anything to one of their cars that you ask and for which you are able to pay. Now back to Stephen Hung's fleet.......


.......and this rather uniquely decorated interior, which will be the signature of all thirty of his Phantoms. Anything to stand out, eh? Oh, I forgotten to mention that, two will also include gold accents.

A couple of weeks ago here in Toronto, I saw a new Rolls Ghost done up in what was in my mind, a horrific colour scheme. But then again, if you ask for it and show Rolls the money, they will build it for you. Here is the Ghost in question.........


Yikes! Silver with bright green sides and matching accents on those very expensive rims. Now who ever thought that this would be a striking combo? Let me correct myself, this combination certainly is striking, but not in the most complimentary way. Money to burn?

Or how about this interior, done to match the bright outside of this Phantom coupe.......


Whether it is your taste, it does look good and perfect for those sunny days cruising the French Riviera or the Amalfi Coast. But, you want something a little less showy, while at the same time displaying your unique taste to all those who peak thru your windows........


Fit for a king or whatever you consider yourself to be these days. And of course, the stable boy can keep those pearly white seats perfectly clean or he can look for another job. I wonder if a child seat can be attached?

Enough with the interiors, you want your $500k semi limo to stand out for other reasons. You want everyone to know whose Rolls that they are lusting after (or maybe not, if this is the colour). And note the matching interior. You got the coin bucko? Then those good folks at RR will gladly bend to your every whim.


 Or how about a cabrio that will catch the sun and the attention of everyone else on the road? How about a 100% chrome plated Phantom Drophead? Who says you can't see yourself in a Rolls Royce?


You have the money and the imagination? Step right up and introduce yourself to those fine folks at Rolls Royce. They know how to make your automotive dreams come true. How to make you stand out. How to make you the hit of the country club. You only have to think it, then the Rolls factory will take your money and turn out a creation that only you will have.


Time to start saving?

Until next time.......



Friday, October 17, 2014

Oct 17: A different time

Car advertising sure has changed over the years. It doesn't seem so long ago, but time flies when you are having fun. But long ago, starting in 1959 and continuing until 1971, there was a phenomenal duo in the car advertising business that, made such an impression, they are still celebrated today. The two that I'm talking about are the famous artists, Art Fitzpatrick and Von Kaufman, the "AF and VK" shown on all the painted Pontiac ads from 1959 until 1971. These guys were so good, that for a time in the '60's, John DeLorean, head of Pontiac (and creator of the Back to the Future DeLorean) ruled that no Pontiac ad would be a photo, only the art of these two gents.     

VK died a few years ago, but AF is still going into his '90's and attending events to celebrate their famous ads and the artwork in each one.........


.......Art's mission was to make those big cars seem even longer, lower and wider, but set in a beautiful background painted by Von. The '59 ad above certainly accentuates the length and a key styling feature of those new for '59 Pontiacs. And with that background, we immediately knew that this car was upper class.
       


 Year after year, these beautiful renditions of the current model year Pontiacs graced their ads. How many advertising ideas last for 13 years these days (aside from that darn Energizer bunny, of course)?


 Based on the above pic, this '68 Pontiac was huge, but what beautiful art. Or this '63 Bonneville in front of that columned mansion. Gets the point across, doesn't it?


 When Pontiac introduced the new for '62 Grand Prix, they wanted to emphasize its European flavour, so what better way than to have Von Kaufman do some exotic European locales.......


Sure looked great, but if you've driven these roads, you'd know that anything the size of this American car, just wouldn't have been able to negotiate those twisty coastal roads of France and Italy. The European locales continued throughout the '60's in the GP's ads...........




 And the backgrounds were so good, that you could even identify some of those foreign rides, such as the Peugeot 404  in this French street scene. One might want to question those US licence plates, though.

If you loved cars, these ads would certainly get your attention. If you didn't love them so much, I think that these ads would still get your attention.........


But either way, one has to give credit to this duo for some stunning advertising. Those Pontiacs are particularly beautifully drawn. I even have one of their ads framed and hanging in my office. An attention getter? Absolutely!



And in this one below, you can almost hear the little white suited guy calling out, "The plane, the plane!". Remember that TV show? If not look up Fantasy Island.


In putting together this blog, it was difficult to select just a few examples of Art Fitzpatrick's and Von Kaufman's wonder ads. Almost every one that I saw was blog worthy. Decisions, decisions.



Car advertising sure has changed. Times change. But whichever period's ads one prefers, there is no denying that these were impressive. Miniature time capsules featuring beautiful art. Really representative of the actual cars? Well, maybe not, but that's what showrooms were for.

Until next time.......


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oct 14: It's a stretch


Happy as clams after being driven to the local airport by the local shuttle bus. Effective? Yes. Boring? Absolutely. Sure, there is plenty of space inside for luggage and lots of headroom, but all those converted vans are just that, converted vans. There was a time, not so long ago, when this was not the case (history lesson time).

Back in, well, several years ago, the typical airport limo was exactly that, an airport limo. Actually, a regular car stretched to accommodate a few more doors (you decide how many you need). Tight for space? Probably. Room for all sorts of luggage? Not always. So then, what is not to like about one of these creatively stretched regular sedans?


In so far as solving the luggage problem, the easiest solution is simply piling it on the roof.......


Secure? Not too sure about that one. Protected from the elements? You can see for yourself that, they might not be. But think of the good points. You will be jammed in with lots of interesting people, so what better way to start your time in a new city?


Sometimes these stretch jobs were based on station wagons, since they had stronger frames. Other times, a sedan, like in the middle pic, did the job. Wonder if they ever started to sag?

As you can see from this sedan from the '50's, anything was fair game to be lengthened for airport use. This particular one is an old Chrysler that has been restored for use as a tour vehicle (see old stuff in an old car).


Being a car guy, I find these old oddities interesting. Interesting, since any type of car could be converted, like this 1967 Olds Toronado. This model was a two door fastback, that ended up as a multi-door limo. Most cars would not have had to have this extensive a modification, so it's not surprising to find that there were very few Toronado's that were converted to Jetway 707 airport limos.



Note the higher roof with side windows for viewing whatever was above you (like the luggage?).

I've never been in one of these stretched sedans, but I sure can't imagine that they would be better than today's alternative. Sure, they carried more folks, but they couldn't have been more comfortable. So, like the car based ambulance, these airport cars have been long gone. The new vans are definitely better than driving one's self and also much better than being jammed into a stretched sedan.


Until next time.......