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 29, 2011

Friday: Car Guy's cars

Remember your first car? Of course, we all remember our first car, fondly or otherwise. My wife had an old VW Beetle called Morton (women always name their cars?) and the steering wheel came off in her hands while driving! My brother was good to me, so when he bought a new dark green 1968 Charger 383 4 speed
like the one below, he gave me his 1961 Impala convertible.

He lived in Sudbury and I in Saint John, New Brunswick, so I had to take my very first plane trip to Toronto and then to Sudbury to pick it up. What I got was similar (same colour) to the Impala in the pic. Yes, it had some rust, but it was 7 years old and that's what old cars did back then. But I was 19 and it was a convertible  -  big man on campus? Now on the east coast, convertible days were (and are) few, but down came that top whenever there was a hint of sun. Also a couple of trips down the coast to Boston and Cape Cod  -  warm weather at last!

                                              Everyone should have a convertible sometime

Not exactly sure why, but only kept that Chevy for about a year. Then I really stepped up (in my mind) to a 2 door hardtop 1964 Ford Fairlane 500, light yellow with tan buckets  -  wow, I had arrived! It looked great, but.........

...........but there were some minor bubbles on the front fender. Nothing to worry about? I took off the hubcaps, painted the wheels black with silver trim and added a sharp looking spoiler. From the perspective of several years later that spoiler looked like hell. I should have left it the way it was, but that was then, now is now.

Great car, until the engine started blowing oil all over itself and under the hood. Used 12 quarts of oil one snowy, cold winter's night on the 60 mile drive from university to my home. The night from hell. Sold the car for scrap. Oh and about that rust? It came thru both front fenders in a big way. Remember, that's what cars did in those days.

This brings us up to my graduating from university without a car.

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday: Cuba Part 2 & 2012 CR-V

Last time I blogged about the cars in Cuba, I showed a few pics that I shot last Christmas. Not too many gems remaining, but there are a few solid looking "classics" that just might not have Lada motors.

This '56 Fairlane 500 taxi looks like it might even attract attention at a Toronto cruise night  -  good paint, no rust and fair rates! Not sure where those wheels come from, but they do look respectable.

Station wagons have a strong following up here as collectors recognize their charm and they are different from the convertibles and two doors. This worn '57 is from Chev's most popular year and it doesn't look so bad. Yeah, some TLC would be a real plus, but it's not a lost junk yard cause. How about putting pontoons on it and floating it across the gulf to Miami?

Now this next vehicle is definitely not from Cuba, this is the just released pic of the 2012 Honda CR-V........

I think it's great looking with some attitude. This is a concept pic, but it's probably 95% of the actual CR-V, maybe the wheels will be different. Should rejuvenate this model.

Until next time.......

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday: Dog Days

Dog Days of Summer? Don't know about that or even what it means, but as it hit 99 degrees (yes, I know we use Celius, but this looks higher) yesterday many of us felt like the pooch in the photo. Now please don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not complaining since I remember January, but 99 (or 37) is almost oven hot.

I rarely use my a/c, preferring to open the roof and windows, but Thursday was so hot that sitting in traffic absolutely required a little chillin' breeze. This brings me to today's blog topic. As I was sitting at a light yesterday, there was a Bimmer convertible behind me with the top down (no doubt the a/c was on full blast). Seeing 37 on my dash, I new that the driver had to be absolutely cooking, the fact that his hair was smoking notwithstanding. Looked like an idiot to me.

Nothing beats a convertible for looking cool, but when I've rented one in Florida, I only put the top down at night. On many Summer days, Toronto is like Florida and the heat/sun mix precludes lowering the top any time around mid day.

Imagine crusing in this vintage Caddy during the twilight hours  -  nothing better. Or how about this beauty (the car, of course).......

I'm originally from the east coast and had a convertible as a child (well, late teens) and during those Summers, one could put the top down at anytime due to the moderate temperatures, one might even say cool temps. Good place for a drop top, but maybe not since their Summers are short and possibly nasty.

Here's a typical old convert pic.........notice once again how everyone put on their finest formal wear for a outing. Wonder what they are celebrating? Can't be that they bought a Studebaker Lark instead of a snazzy Impala, Galaxie or Fury.

Any way, convertibles can be fun, but on a day like yesterday, keep the top up and blow cool.

Until next time........

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday: An icon

Is there anyone who doesn't instantly recognize the shape of the VW Beetle, no matter how old or how new?

This is one of the very early models with the split rear window. But the question is how do you redesign an icon? Well, this is what VW thought it should look like........ 
Cute? Cute enough to warrant hanging a flower vase off the dash  -  way too many owners actually used that vase for flowers as opposed to pens and pencils. I always felt that the New Beetle looked far too big, but look how long it has lasted, so a lot of people obviously disagreed with me. I don't know the actual ownership figures, but I would think the majority of owners were female.

So how do you update an icon yet again?

This is VW's answer for 2012. No longer slanted towards females with its aggressive stance, big wheels/tires and chopped roof line. No flower vase on this one, but there is a spot to hang a jock strap. Now how much more masculine can you get? How about this........

It will be interesting to see how the sales of the new New Beetle do. I'm predicting that it will be a big hit, but unfortunately I'm not willing to put any money on it. Thoughts?

Until next time........

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday: A comparison

2011 Honda Accord coupe   
2012 Mercedes-Benz C coupe

These two cars are pretty similar aren't they? Note the character line running from below the rear side window to the front end. Also the area around the C pillar.

For the past few years I have felt that Mercedes has been nailing their styling. Just look at the gorgeous CLS, the CL coupe or the "in your face" SLS. Now what gives with the new 2012 C coupe? Some folks have compared it to the BMW 3 series, its direct competition, but I see way too much Honda Accord in the mix. Almost like they had to finish the design before lunch and an Accord drove by at that time. I mean, how else can you explain the similarity?

Want to add insult to injury, then how about this next comparison.......

This is the 2012 Civic coupe which is designed to look like big brother Accord, so now the Benz looks like the lowly(?) Civic as well. This might do wonders for Honda sales, but I think I'd pass on the C and go to a BMW or an Infiniti G37, which has real identity.

These days there are lots of cars that borrow (or steal?) design features from a competitor, but this is almost a complete body lift. Come on Benz, you can do better than that.

Until next time.......

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday: Everyday Cars

Remember when a small car meant a basic, no frills, appliance like vehicle? A to B transportation at its most minimalistic. Things we now take for granted were not even considered........power steering or brakes? Not a chance. Power windows  -  you're kidding, right? Air conditioning  -  see previous response.

How things have changed.........take a look at these two examples.........

Ford Fiesta with available leather heated front seats!

2012 Hyundai Accent GLS with power windows and remote keyless entry!

And not only do they have all the trimmings, they also look great, handle quite well and usually have plenty of room. To top it off, they are also much smaller outside than any of the small cars that were available in my youth. How about a "little" Focus that parks itself? Oh, I agree, that if you have to drive a car that parks itself, then maybe you should consider stopping driving. Too much technology!

Isn't it great to have choices? You can drive any size car you want and not have to give up luxuries that you so like. And gas mileage? Way better than anything that was made in the '50's, '60's or '70's.

Oh, I was wrong about size as you could get a tiny "big" car in years past or maybe that should be "tinny"..........

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday: What Happened to..........

What ever happened to the big family wagon like this '64 Mercury Colony Park (love the name)......

Funny that with all that interior space, the guy in the suit (yes, they dressed up to go on a trip in the '60's) looks like he's putting stuff on the roof. Maybe they are moving and the furniture is in the back?

Or how about this barge from 1959........

Actually, I always liked station wagons. They carried all one ever needed and they rode like a car, not a truck. Of course, they could also be expensive and the top of the line was usually even more costly than a convertible. Some were also very stylish, like this '61 New Yorker.......

......note the 4 door hardtop body style  -  no centre post between the front and back doors.

Well, we all know what happened to these wagons, they were replaced by sport utilities in most cases. Funny though, how the wagon has stayed with us over the years, but only in some luxury models like Mercedes, BMW and Volvo. Remember this is North America we are talking about, as the rest of the world is different (or more sensible?). There were also a very few small wagons from companies like Ford (the Focus) and Subaru, but the middle ground was vacant.

Wagons are so practical and these days handle so well, that it's a shame that "station wagon" is bad word. I notice that there are a few more creeping into the product mix like the new Acura TSX (US only) and the Caddy CTS.......

Sport utilities replaced the station wagon and now crossovers are replacing many sport utilities. These gentler sport utilities (ride & handle better, easier on gas), like the Toyota Venza below resemble in some cases the wagons of old, although they are little higher. 

Are we coming to our senses now or is this another passing phase? I'd love to see wagons of cars like the Buick LaCrosse, the Charger (why discontinue the Magnum?), the Accord, Altima.......I could go on and on. Anyway those are my thoughts on the "great station wagon debate".

Another July and another Indy car street race. Haven't been in a few years, but I did like all the accompanying show that came with the actual race. Great showcase for a great city.

Until next time.......

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday: "Test" Drive

Hope you had a great long weekend. I flew down east to New Brunswick  -  actually "up", but don't blame me as it's always phrased like this  -  for a family reunion. That's another story, but this is about my car rental.

Rented a Maxima in a burgundy with black leather/red piping  -  surprised it was a rental choice. Very nice car, looked great as do all new Maximas and had tons of room for your 6'5" blogger. Got lots of comments on the looks from my relatives (obviously good taste is a Thomas Family trait). Would I ever buy/lease one for myself after driving this one? Not a chance. Surprisingly, just not my type of car.

I was surprised that it wasn't a "sport sedan" as Maximas have been in the past. The steering lacked feel, sort of like a Camry (now that's an insult). Also the suspension seemed soft. Now I'm not a nut behind the wheel (at least I don't think I am), but more than once I went into a corner a touch too hot and had to back off or brake. These corners would not have been an issue for my Acura TL SH-AWD and I guess I was expecting something similar. When I drove it more sedately, it didn't disappoint, but still it was a surprise.

The CVT transmission also made itself felt. I was always aware that it was there  -  sometimes it seemed to be hunting for a gear and at other times it seemed like I was in low. I don't believe trans are supposed to be that noticeable.

This pic is of the first Maxima that came out in the early '80's........

Now this is going back a long ways, but if I remember correctly, it was supposed to be a 4 door Z car. I always thought that it maintained that reputation thru it's various restyles and updates  -  obviously not. One of my young suppliers (in another business) had one and I commented that his family probably didn't know it was a hot rod in disguise.

For my money, I'd step up to a G37x. I looked at one before getting my TL  -  just didn't have enough driver legroom (but what a motor!). Maybe next redesign.

Now more about that family reunion........just kidding.

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