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, July 22, 2014

July 22: The gift


The gift. My wife and I don't buy our niece and nephew gifts as such, we buy them experiences. Teen Adam (on the left in this pic) and I have gone to a few drag races, monster trucks and this year we chose the Toronto Honda Indy. I used to go every year, but over time lost interest in these cars, preferring to stick to F1, NASCAR and the NHRA. So, not having attended for over ten years, this was going to be an experience for me as well. How did it turn out?


Well, this pic says it all. We went on Saturday to take in the first race of a weekend double header. If you've read any of the papers, you'll know that the Indy cars did a few pace laps under extremely wet conditions, until it was decided to postpone the race until Sunday. Were we disappointed? I can't speak for Adam, but for me, I had been looking forward to races in a couple of other series, which I saw, so it was a good day.


Here we go! This is Robbie Gordon's Stadium Truck Series race. Robbie is a very versatile racer, having run off road trucks, NASCAR stockers, Indy cars and won in them all. Obviously a sharp businessman, he saw an opportunity to run his stadium truck series at some of the bigger tracks on the Indy Car weekends. Fun to watch these things get big air, as they negotiate the ramps on the front stretch. An observation......there were only seven trucks running, so after they passed the front stretch, you sat there watching nothing for another minute until they appeared once again. Probably better suited to a larger field or a shorter track. Anyway, I was looking forward to seeing them run and thoroughly enjoyed their race (a damp track sure didn't hurt).


Although I enjoy a variety of racing, my preference is always for cars that bear some sort or relationship to what we see on the street. Yeah, I know, NASCAR's are far removed, but at least they look like a car, opposed to a bug with wheels and tires. So the other series, I was anticipating was the Pirelli World Challenge........


Somewhat real cars, like this Bentley Continental GT..........


or these Porsches caught in the garage area.........


The variety of exotic iron was exciting........apart from Bentley and Porsche, there were cars from Aston Martin, McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Dodge, Audi, Corvette and Cadillac. Cars that I recognize and don't often see. Interesting chatting with crew members after the race, when they had some time to spare. I met a McLaren crew member, who had been flown in from England for the weekend, just to help with the race car setups.

Since I am partial to American iron........



.........I liked watching them work on the Cadillacs and actually got to say a few words to Andy Pilgrim, one of the top GM drivers, who had also driven Corvettes to numerous victories at LeMans and elsewhere.

The other class in the World Challenge had more cars from Porsche, but also had Camaros, an Aston, Mustangs and a very fast, race winning Kia Optima (not too excited about that one). 

I believe this was the first time Adam had been exposed to a big time race with all the trimmings  -  the numerous and fancy race car haulers, the displays, the special features, the food and the blatant displays of cubic money. Sure it's better on TV (and dryer), but nothing beats having the real race experience at least once.

So was it a good gift? I think so and I enjoy spending time with Adam and showing him things that excite me (not a bad use of a damp Saturday).

And finally, what better way to leave this blog, than with a pic of yours truly with good, ol' American iron?


Until next time.......



Friday, July 18, 2014

July 18: Have a Seat


Have a Seat? What the heck does that mean? Well, try pronouncing it "see it". Make sense now? Probably not if you are reading this in North America, but anywhere else and you know exactly what I'm talking about. Seat is the Spanish car line owned by VW. Volkswagen is a huge car company, with many brands under their corporate wing  -  Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Skoda, Bugatti and Seat (did I miss any?). No wonder VW has eyes on being the world's largest car manufacturer by, I believe, 2017.

So now back to Seat. What I find interesting is that in Europe VW has a very comprehensive line of cars, covering pretty much every market niche. And yet, they have built up companies, that compete in many of the same areas with similar cars with similar underpinnings. Take for example that Ibiza SC in the pic above. Hot looking little hatch, that competes directly with the Golf. Now there is confidence. VW has let their other companies come up with great looking products for the same market. We don't see them over here, so let's run thru a few of their other cars offered in Europe and around the world........

Seat Leon ST
Seat Altea XL
Seat Leon 
To my eyes these are all interesting looking cars and arguably better looking than the VW products that they compete against, but then again I like surface interest in cars and these Seats have it in spades. So does one buy a Seat or a VW or maybe a Skoda?

Skoda was an Iron Curtain standard, made in what is now the Czech Republic. Whereas most communist countries produced cars that were junk, the Skoda was always well respected. A few even made their way to North America, when Skoda tried to make it in our market. Their cars might have been well made, but they were rather out of date. When the Iron Curtain came down, Skoda needed a strong partner, if it were to succeed against the influx of thoroughly modern European cars, so they went into partnership with VW in 1990, becoming wholly owned in 2000. Now take a look at what they are turning out to compete with their owner's name brand products.......

Skoda Roomster (gotta love that name)

Skoda Yeti

Skoda Rapid Spaceback
 Interesting names, but more interesting vehicles. The Rapid is based on the Jetta, but VW hasn't anything like the Spaceback version or the Yeti or the Roomster, but then again, no one has anything like the Roomster.

So by becoming part of the VW empire, Skoda has been able to produce up to date, interesting products, that can compete anywhere. Speaking of Skoda, I'd published the pic below a few years ago, taken on the Danube when I was passing thru the Czech Republic...........


.......these Skoda cars are up to date, but their shipping method is definitely old school. I find it interesting that they still ship some of their cars by river barges. Maybe it is more direct this way.

So have a Seat. Or have a Skoda. Or possibly a VW. Whichever way you go, you have very competent and interesting products from the same company, competing for the same customer (in most cases), in the same market. Quite a strategy. Is it working? Well look at Volkswagen's sales. They recently bumped General Motors out of second place worldwide and are gaining on number one, Toyota. Should be an interesting race to watch.

So sit back and have a Seat and enjoy the ride.

Until next time.......



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15: What's next Bentley?

Franay Bentley
Back in its golden years (some would argue that they are right now), Bentley was embraced by many of the top coachbuilders of the day. They would design custom one off cars for those with discerning tastes, those who wanted something different and of course, those with money money money. So it was interesting to read a story a couple of days ago in AutoWeek (a great bi-weekly magazine, by the way), that Bentley is considering a bespoke division, that would provide their clients with their own special car. How far would the term "special" extend is not clear, but interesting that they would be looking to make their exclusive cars even more so.


Over the years, there have been a number of unusual Bentley's made for someone's specific taste, like this Buccaneer coupe. But often times, the designs are questionable, as is someone's taste, like this Empress II by Hooper........


A few were built and regardless of the angle, graceful or beautiful are not words one would use to describe this ultra expensive ride. But then again in the case of the shooting brake below, a design house, in this case Touring, will come up with a beauty and mass produce it for general consumption to the very, very rich.........


By the way, "mass production" in the case of this Bentley Flying Star means a grand total of nineteen max. Not sure of the price, but if you have to ask.......


Or a coach builder like Zagato will do a one off for a special show or event, like this beauty based on the current Continental GT. A very nice rendition of a great design and a great car.

So what does the current Bentley Motor Cars have in mind? Full on custom body work or more subtle things, like an interior redesign or a very special exterior colour.


Something relatively subtle like this black and cream example or something more over the top, like this in your face job done for a middle eastern oil prince.......


I 100% guarantee you that no one, absolutely no one, will get into this Bentley without commenting on its interior. Like it? Well it is different and depending on the outside colour, maybe. Who cares, though, since I can't afford to buy the back seat let alone the front and the car to go with it.

So what will Bentley decide to do if anything at all, which is unlikely as this sort of work is a real cash cow.

Let me finish off today's blog with one more exclusive custom, done by Pininfarina a few years back. Typical of this company, it is tasteful and not overdone (except for the price). Production model? Nope, but you can bet that it now resides in the middle east somewhere, the beneficiary of oil money changing hands.


So readers, start saving and be the first on your block with a different Bentley!

Until next time.......



Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 10: How big is BIG?



How big is BIG? Good question. Recently a very good and longtime client took delivery of a big Ford F-250 Heavy Duty Crew Cab pick-up. To both of us, this was one huge truck and the driver seemed like he was king of the road. But just how big was his F-250? From the perspective of my client, his F-250 was a monster, let the other cars on the road step aside, he was coming thru. But just how big was big?

A little research turned up some rather spectacular BIG trucks, that might make my client's Ford seem like a toy........


 Like this one, which for reference has a big pick-up and a big sport ute parked alongside. Now that is one huge truck. How about that hooked up to my client's fifth wheel travel trailer? Forget the hitch, just put it in the dump. Lots of room.......


 ........as you can see from this overhead shot of another brute, this one from the Russian company Belaz. How big? Take a look at the car that is dangerously close in the pic below. If there were scales nearby, this baby would top them at 450 metric tons! The world's biggest mining truck. Try parking that at the grocery store. Or for the ultimate test, paralled parking. Yippee!


 The big F-250 is being put into perspective isn't it? Want to pull up to your local gas station and fill 'er up? My recommendation is to bring along a good book, since you are going to be engaged for quite a long while. Wonder if it comes with its own washroom?


Or how about this beast from Caterpillar, that can carry the entire work crew on its front bumper? Small by comparison with the Belaz, but still on the large side. Just don't get the driver mad, since road rage takes on a whole new meaning and it ain't good........


 Give this guy the horn and you just might find yourself stomped on.

Prefer something in an extra large size, but North American iron is more up your alley?


Then you are a candidate for this Terex Titan, which bills itself as the world's biggest truck. The Russians say the same thing about their big brute, so maybe a shoot out is required.........


Watch out boys, there is a new gun in town and he's got earth moving on his mind.

So everything is relative (unless, of course, it isn't). My client's BIG F-250, isn't so big, is it? But then again, how many Belaz or Caterpillar or Terex monsters are roaming our streets for comparison purposes?

Until next time.......





Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8: Gawd awful

 Recognize this grille? I've not shown you much, but just enough to pinpoint this classic British (hint, hint) make. Give up? Well don't feel too bad, since there were no prizes, just a quiet confidence in knowing that your car knowledge is rather good, old chap. This is a Daimler grille and the giveaway is that fluted top. This is one of those traditional features that identify the brand and have done so for many years. Think of the BMW kidneys. Now Daimler is long gone, but even up to fairly recent times, when they were rebadged Jaguars, this fluted grille was the key identifier.......


Actually, it was the only way to spot a Daimler, other than stealing one and checking its registration (ok, you could have also checked the name on the back end, but let's not get picky).

My point today? Over the years, Daimler has had some beautiful designs........


.........like this Double Six (12 cylinder) from the '30's or its stablemate seen at the Pebble Beach Concours.......


Absolutely beautiful, but that design was done many, many years ago. More recently in the '50's (more recently? give me a break, Barry), Daimler introduced other stunning designs, such as this Hooper bodied cabriolet, the "Green Goddess"......


But it's red. Yes, it is, but the first one was green, so no matter the shading, the "Green Goddess" name stuck. Oh, those Brits!

Other Daimlers could be seen conveying royalty or members of parliament (check out the old movies)..........


Or this one, which many of you will recognize from wedding processions.......


I remember seeing one being used by the prime minister of Bermuda. A classic design, that still finds its way into official ceremonies, like this one in Sweden in 2011........


Not every dignitary has to be driven in a new Mercedes (just most of them).

Again, what is my point? Ok, here we go......how can a company with all those years of beautiful designs and a history of elegance come up with this monstrosity..........


The early 1960's SP250 (originally the Dart). Just one gawd awful design, that seemed to be a mix of Packard, Studebaker, Chrysler and whatever, badly integrated into this less than stunning design.......


Even a set of wide white walls can't help this poor child. But note the fluted grille. No matter how bad the design, there is Daimler's key identifier. Although, maybe on this model, they should have left it off. Remember that this design was done around the same time as the classic Austin-Healey, the AC (which became the Cobra) and the Jag XKE. Whatever did those Daimler designers have in mind? Someone trying to get back at the company before they resigned?


And no, this is not the British police arresting the SP250 for bad taste, there were about thirty of them put into police service. That awful design could stop a clock, so why not a speeder?

So, I just don't get it. And Daimler was not the only company, that from among the depths of their great classics, a misbegotten car design emerges to shock and gross out the world. How did it ever get past management? If anyone has the answer, there is a comment section below.

Until next time (I hope I didn't put you off of your lunch)........



Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4: July 4th


I'm a born and bred Canadian, but today is July 4th, so a great big Happy Birthday to our neighbours (excuse the Canadian spelling) to the south. What better way to celebrate, than to look at a few very patriotic cars, starting with one of the most American of past times, NASCAR........


Who else but Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing (owned by the famous football coach), would paint up their race car to celebrate this special day? Of course, wouldn't it be better if it was a Chevrolet or Ford, instead of a Toyota? But hey, such is life in these current times and that Toyota factory is in the US heartland and employs US workers. So there!

Now here is another icon proudly wearing the flag.........


........and how much more iconic can one get than the best selling vehicle in the US of A, the Ford F-150? Please stand at attention when this one rolls by, hand on your heart (the one on your left hand side).

But it doesn't have to be American to stand proud.......


.........want to guess which famous high roller decided to paint their Rolls red, white and blue? Correct, it was done in 1976 for Liberace's Vegas show at the Hilton. The flamboyant pianist drove on stage and jumped out in a red jumpsuit with a white feathered cape (where else can you read this stuff?). Wondered if he upstaged his patriotic Roller?


Yeah, this is more like it.........the Mustang horse galloping across the front end of one of the most American of cars. Nothing says, Happy Birthday quite like a 'Stang emblem adorned with the Stars & Stripes. What could possibly top this for patriotism?


Yes, just what I was thinking........a field of Corvettes flying low (actually standing still) in a flag formation, all that is missing is the actual fifty stars. But what is with that off shade of blue Vette in the upper left corner?

Ah, patriotism. No matter what one says or thinks of the US of A, their citizens love their country and wear that love out in the open. Their love of country is something of which I've always been envious. Not sure I could have done this blog with Canadian flag painted cars (just Googled it and nothing came up).

So let's finish off today's tribute to the United States with a little humour (again a Canadian spelling)........


Oops, wrong picture..........


Don't eat too much cake, my southern friends and enjoy your party.

Until next time...........