About Me

My photo
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.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dec 22: All I want for Christmas.....

I often get asked if I could have only one car what would it be? Well, since this is the Christmas season and someone, somewhere might want to make my dreams come true, I thought I should share my dream car wish. Being a practical guy and also needing room for golf clubs, I think a four door sedan would be a smart move. Something with a bit of panache, a bit of power and a whole whack of style. The car that makes my very short list is.........


Yep, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 with the AMG Performance Package, which would give my dream ride a nice round 550HP. Now who wouldn't want to deliver presents from behind the wheel of this beaut? Whether you like its looks or not, it sure makes a statement for about $120k large.

Now you are probably thinking that you'd love to help out but the pic below is more your style.....


Sorry, but this just won't do.

Since this will be my last blog until January 10th, the Car Modeling Cat and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas (or whatever) and a happy New Year.

A Christmas Mercedes of another type

 Until next time.........

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dec 20: Electrifying?

There are many things I just don't get  -  1000's of apps on the new Smart phones, the 100 k/hour speed limit on the 401 and people buying electric cars. Sure sounds like a great idea to pay thousands extra for a pure electric car and then have absolutely no hope at all of ever recovering any of that money thru gas savings. Yes, I know that is probably not the point......apparently it's the principle of the thing.

2012 Nissan Leaf


Take the unfortunate looking little Leaf above. Apart from the driver being stuck in someting that looks like it should have never left the design studio, there is a very real question of exactly how far (or how short) a distance it will actually go on a charge. And keep in mind that you'll need a 240 volt charging system that will set you back over $2000. There was an excellent article in last Saturday's (Dec 17th) Star Wheels section by Peter Bleakney about his experience with a Leaf (http://www.wheels.ca/). Anyway one looks at these cars they are 100% impractical (and expensive).

But what if they made them stand out, so that at least you'd be driving a great looking car? Take a look at what happened between the concept and the reality of the much more practical Chevy Volt.......



A "electrifying" looking electric went to a pudgy little compact sedan that stands out only if one is checking the sticker price. But with a secondary gas motor at least you have a chance of getting where you are going.

Pure electrics? I just don't get their point. Save gas and use electicity  -  where is the savings?

Until next time........

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dec16: Power Play Conclusion

2013 Mustang Shelby GT500

Talking about old and revered car names resurfacing, how about the Mustang Shelby GT500? Ford has used this name from the '60's for the past few years to denote their big dog, top of the line Mustang. It has always had the most power and the most aggressive looks. Apart from the name, the overall look is quite similar to the original as you can see by this '68 version.......


Pretty similar, right? These days though, the power has gone absolutely nuts, no longer is this a 428 Cobra Jet motor with a "measly" 370 or so HP. No, its 2013 namesake has a whopping 650 HP!! This makes it the least expensive car anywhere in the world that will top 200 miles/hour or about 330 kms/hour. For only about $65k you can get into this beast. Now that is amazing. I think that to find the next car with this ability, one would have to move up to a much more expensive Corvette Z06 (and even this car is a steal for its abilities).

A couple of quick Mustang Shelby stories......

1) My Toyota Fleet Manager has a 2010 GT500 convertible  -  couldn't find a Camry with enough power?

2) Back in unversity, one year I was in charge of lining up cars for our winter carnival parade. The local dealers would usually contribute a new convertible for the evening to which I would assign drivers. Much to my surprise, the local Mercury dealer gave us a '68 GT500 convertible like this one......


No question this was going to be my ride for the parade. "Pick it up after lunch and have it back first thing in the morning.", said the sales manager. Well you can just imagine the time that I had in that Mustang  -  cold weather, but dry roads. Whoppee! Whatever were they thinking, giving me that car?

We thought we had it good back in the days of the muscle cars, but nothing could compare to what is available today. Money buys power  -  if only I had the money.

Until next time........

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dec 13:Power Play, Part 2


My last blog dealt with the big motored 1969 Camaro ZL-L, well Ford had a similar Mustang called the Boss 429. Again a very rare model built for one reason only and that was to go extremely fast in a straight line for 1/4 mile, although actually the motor was designed for NASCAR racing. Confusing?

NASCAR wouldn't allow a manufacturer to use a new motor unless a minimum number were built and sold to the general public. To accomplish this, Ford put the 370 HP, 429 cubic inch engine in a Mustang for image reasons and called it the Boss 429. And in this car, it was only meant to go straight like this Boss 429 equipped Maverick driven by the rather famous "Fast Eddie" Schartman........


A rare car today, an original '69 or '70 Mustang Boss 429 can sell for upwards of $300,000. Why didn't we all buy one and put it in a garage? Back then who would have thought that 30 to 40 years later, these relatively cheap cars would be selling for 40-50 times their original prices? These are the numbers that used to be reserved for the classics from the 1920's and 1930's.

So how much for an accurate crystal ball?

Until next time.......


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dec 8: Power Play


Looks like a plain Jane old 1969 Camaro, but you are looking at "gold". One like this sold recently at auction for $307,000 and that was considered to be very low. So what gives? This is the very rare (69 built) Camaro ZL-1  -  it had an aluminium 427 cubic inch motor with an advertised 430 HP, which was extremely understated. These cars were built for 1/4 mile competition like this one driven by Dick Harrell from Illinois.....


As an aside, Dick Harrell also raced a similarly painted and sponsored fuel funny car and died from a crash at (I believe) the Georgetown, Ontario drag strip in September, 1971, when a front tire blew at speed (200 mph).

The ZL-1 was the car and motor combination you needed to have if you were planning to win. This package cost a mere $7200 US, but get this, the engine was a $4160 option charge. So while the base car was $3040, one paid $4160 for the motor! This was more than a new Cadillac at the time. As you can see, they were very subtle with no identifying logos or badging  -  you had to look for the hood bulge.

Over the years, the ZL-1 name became mythical and much revered. So much so, that when Chevrolet announced an ultra high performance version of the new Camaro, the name ZL-1 was dusted off. This time though, the car with this 550 hp motor will look the part.


Big wheels and tires, lowered stance and altered hood. And because this is now and then was then, these cars will actually corner. A far cry from the original which had one purpose only and that was to go very straight, very quickly.

When the rising insurance rates killed the original muscle cars, who would ever have thought that 40 years later, our muscle cars would be much more powerful, use the same names and use less gas! Now if only I could put my golf clubs in the trunk!

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dec 5: Surprise!

A few years back, Toyota and Subaru agreed to work together on a joint shared vehicle. Now we all know that Subaru has all wheel drive (AWD) covered and that is what they are known for (and of course their hot rally cars). So what kind of a car do Toyota and Subaru manage to come up with.......a small suv? Nope. An AWD sedan? No, way. Ok, so what do they do?

How about this.........


And this........

Who would have figured that they'd decide on a hot little coupe and a real beauty at that. Toyota's FR-S (the red car) will be sold under the Scion badge, so maybe Scion will finally have a car that sells. Subaru's version will be called the BRZ. Pricing should be in the low 20's to start, but I'll have to get back to you on the mechanicals.

Who would have thought that this neat little coupe would be the result of these minds meeting? And who would have thought that Toyota would put together such an edgy design? Take a look at the current Scion coupe and tell me that it has mass appeal. We should see the final product at the Detroit show and get all the nasty little details  -  be worth waiting for.

By the way, the Car Modelling Cat and I have started working on a nail polish pink, 1948 Ford custom coupe  -  cool. Had some issues with the Little Red Wagon, so it's temporarily sidelined, but hope to get it finished during the holidays.

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

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dec 2: Snow Job


Not the ideal car for our snowy winters, but I'm showing this Corvette pic to point out an important fact.......in snow with snow tires even the hottest sportscar is driveable, if you drive sensibly. Compare this shot to this BMW suv.......


How many times have you been driving on a snowy day, only to be passed by some nut in an suv who thinks that they are impervious to the conditions because they have a 4x4 truck? Just because one has a 4x4 sure doesn't mean that you can ignore the conditons. After a snow storm you can always see shots like this in the paper or on the news.......


The sport utility drivers always seem to find the ditches before the other drivers. They think they are the kings (or queens) of the road until they realize that 4 tires slip and slide as easily as 2. There is an old saying that having an suv allows you to get buried deeper and further from the road. Even seemingly short and simple trips can be difficult regardless of what you are piloting. How about this Toyota 4Runner stuck at the end of a driveway.......


Most of us would have shovelled an exit, so that this wouldn't happen. Not this suv driver.........just barge right thru it until you get stuck  -  now try to shovel this brute out.

No, they are not the perfect snow machines. And yes, snow tires would have helped. And no, you cannot drive like a nut. Easy does it and get home safely.

Until nex time.......

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nov 29: What is or was a "Maybach"?


Now this car has presence, an old Maybach from the 1930's. Maybach used to be a proud old German luxury car maker in the '20's and '30's (actually started in 1909). Their cars were opulent and looked important, along with costing a ton. The Second World War happened and many companies didn't resume production, Maybach was one of them. Mercedes bought the name in 1960.

Along came the new "German" Bentley and Rolls Royce in the early 2000's, companies owned by VW and BMW respectively. They had great designs and looked every inch the part of great luxury cars. Mercedes on the other didn't have an ultra luxury brand, so the old Maybach name was dusted off and put on an extremely costly, but nothing special new model.


You can see there's certainly nothing special about the look of this model, but the cost was around half a million! Even a fancy landaulet (see below) couldn't get this thing's sales moving. Interesting fact......Puff Daddy (Sean Combs) gave one to his son for his 16th birthday gift  -  money well spent?


Well it was just announced last week that Mercedes is dropping the brand after 2012. Annual sales had settled in around 200 compared to Rolls at about 2500. There has been lots written about the fact that this car was too close in design and interior features to the Benz S550. That may be so, but my opinion is that the design was nowhere  -  no charisma, no presence. Compare the silver car above to this Rolls......

Now even if you didn't know a thing about cars, I believe upon seeing the Rolls, you'd know you were in the presence of automotive royalty. If you're spending huge amounts on your wheels, most of us want everyone else to know it (except maybe those 200 Maybach buyers).

Another questionable business decision gone wrong.

Until next time........

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nov 25: By the Dashboard Light



You know you're getting older when 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago seems like yesterday. Well maybe not quite yesterday, but not that long ago. When I was doing another blog, I came across a pic of a dashboard (instrument panel these days) from the '50's  -  see above. Note how it was colour matched to the beautiful pink exterior colour. And look at all that chrome. Also note how relatively simple it was compared to the next ones........


This Chev from the late '60's was much more in keeping with what we see in front of us today. The chrome is still present but toned down considerably. But take a look at these next two from this year......


Hard to believe this is from a Jeep, but it is the Grand Cherokee, not the rough and tough Wrangler. Or how about this cockpit.......


Like piloting your own jet plane. This kind of all enveloping dash started showing up on cars in the '70's. They wrapped around the driver and had all the controls close by and more or less out of range of the co-pilot or passenger. Note how on the later instrument panels one doesn't see the steering column as it disappears into the dash. Now we can talk to our cars and they'll respond (Bluetooth) and even park themselves, which I think is just plain wrong.

Somethings improve over time and other things don't, but I sure think that our cars' instrument panels are the former.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nov 22: Infamous Date


Almost everyone will recognize this pic as President Kennedy in his open top, stretch Lincoln limo from the early '60's. Almost everyone also knows that November 22nd marks the anniversary of his assassination in this car in Dallas, Texas. The lesser know anniversary is that this is the very last time that a US president rode in an open topped car in public. Scenes like this one below from the '50's showing President Eisenhower are long gone......


Ike is shown on the day of his inauguration being driven past the Capitol in a 1953 Cadillac Eldorado  -  fully open to any nut bar with a gun. But this was the 1950's and like the early '60's, it was inconceivable that the President would be in any danger, what with all the secret service and other police surrounding him. Dallas proved that to be a misconception. One man, one gun, one dead president.

Immediately these cars were better armoured and enclosed. Even the Lincoln that Kennedy died in was reconstructed for future presidents (kinda of spooky if you ask me). In this pic you can see the new roof in place.......


From here the limos went to even greater protection, but still tried to let the president be seen by one and all. The Clinton's Cadillac is a good example of this........


Lots or armour and lots of glass. But recently everyone has become much more paranoid (for good reason?) and the latest limo is a rolling tank disguised like a Cadillac.......


Obama's limo is built on a truck chassis and he is so well hidden behind very thick glass, that the most anyone can see will be a shadow (waving, no less). Gone are those carefree and innocent times where we could see the pres and I guess, honestly, it is for the better.

I have a collection of model presidential limos showing the changes, so maybe one day I'll show a photo.

Until next time........

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nov 18: Gold Standard

Lots of things change over time, but how many companies can boast that their products have been associated with the very best for over 100 years? I would guess that the list is a very short one. Today's blog is about Rolls-Royce.......started in 1907 and still today considerd to be the epitome in rolling luxury.

This pic from the '30's says it all.......there is the chauffeur, the high class lady and Buckingham Palace  -  you draw your own conclusions. Or how about........

Nothing else needs to be said


Love this ad of a Corniche cabrio in New York City. This guy must be really wealthy if he can be as unconcerned as he appears, while being surrounded by all those NYC taxis. And of course, all those other luxury cars that the ad alludes to (Benz and Cadillac are the most noticeable).

But things have changed for RR. This grand old British institution, one that signified royalty, tradition, old world craftsmenship is now owned by VW (Volkswagen). That little company that built "peoples' cars" right after the war is now a powerhouse and now owns Rolls Royce. Current model below......



How has this changed the brand? Well these cars are even more sought after, their price was increased, the model range expanded, quality vastly improved and the sales keep on coming. I don't think that anyone would have forseen that VW would add even more cache' to the Rolls Royce brand.

The more things change, the more the stay the same. Who would have thought?

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nov 15: A Difference of Opinion


After my recent Lexus blog, a reader said they thought Mercedes used to have more "soul". I found this quite interesting, since I have felt just the opposite. Sure Benz has had some classics, but over the last 25 years, I found their designs to have gone from militaristic (like this 1990 E class above) to exciting with bigger motors and better handling.......


I think this 2011 E class coupe is stunning, but yeah, I know coupes always look better. So how about this CLS four door ........


In my opinion over the past six years Benz has nailed each new design. They are trying different cutting edge ideas like the "4 door coupe". When I look back at older models like this S class.......

.........and then compare it to this newer model, I find that their is no comparison.


I used to say that I would never want to own a Benz (and I might never own one), but it won't be for lack of desire. Put me into a 2012 CLS 63 and give me shares in a tire company and I'd be a happy man.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Of course and a friend actually told me how he loved Lexus cars and that they were his dream machines (not his exact words). So we all have our opinions, it's just that mine are obviously worth more!

Until next time........

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nov 11: Chick Car


How would this ad play in 2011? My guess is not too well, but back in 1955 Dodge thought it would be a great idea to market a high style 2 door hardtop to women. Appropriately painted in two shades of pink (sorry, "rose"), it was the only car marketed directly to females. Sure, many car companies back then pointed out that power steering and brakes made these road yachts easier for the lady of the house to drive, but no one dedicated a whole car to her.


And in addition to the female friendly colour, La femme also included a rain cape, a hat and an umbrella in a complimentary rose shade! I bet today's Rolls-Royce Phantom's umbrella isn't even colour matched.


Not enough pink outside? How about this interior  -  talk about getting carrying out a theme..........


Did La Femme sell? Nope! Wrong car, wrong idea  -  who knows, but very few sold back in the day, so if you have one now with all the lady's accessories it is a valuable automobile.

There have been several cars over the years that for some reason or another have sold predominantly to women. Would it surprise you to know there is one today that seems to be mainly driven by Moms moving around their busy families? It is what I call the Chick Car of the New Millenium. Any guesses?

The huge Chevrolet Suburban - loved by Soccer Mom's everywhere

Who would have thought?

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nov 8: Lexus = boring?

Ever since Lexus first came on the scene back in the late '80's, they have made a great name for themselves for making cars with terrific quality at a price lower than their luxury competition. That has never changed and neither has the fact that a Lexus is dead boring. Even the head of Lexus has recently stated that their cars have had no soul. Nothing special to look, nothing special in their handling, nothing in a lasting impression.


This is the ES350, basically a Camry in a tuxedo and we all know how engaging the Camry is(n't). But the market is changing, most customers are looking for a memorable driving experience. I love the look and feel of my Acura TL with the SH-AWD  -  sounds great under acceleration and handles unbelievably. I'd never ever look at a Lexus, the equivalent of an automotive sleeping pill.

Well things change and finally Lexus will change along them. Last year they introduced the incredible LFA, which was a game changer in the way people looked at a Lexus, but hey, they only made 500 of them and they were about $350k. Hard to make a lasting impression with that few of anything, but have you ever seen a wilder car.........


That's not the only car that Lexus will introduce in order to get our heart rate racing. From now on, they promise to make the brand drivers' cars and their first mainstream effort is the new yet to be released 2012 GS350.......


Check out that front end.......now that will get your attention. Lexus has decided to focus on more emotional designs and much better handling. This has worked for BMW, Benz and Audi, so why not Lexus? Look how Hyundai has changed the public's perception (and it only took 15 years).

I find it really interesting to see how companies reposition a brand with hard work and time, lots of time. Lexus has done many other things well, so should we expect them to also be able to do this?

Until next time........