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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday: Car Models

How many times have you seen this and breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn't you? Well in this case you would have gotten away since the police car in question is only about 8" long. If you have read any of my earlier blogs you know that I build plastic model cars. My tastes are rather eclectic and go from current models (like the Charger above), to the '50's, '60's, some drag cars and police cars (again like the North Carolina State Police Charger).

I don't worry about engines and usually glue the hood shut. My thing is called "curbside", which means that they look as real as possible sitting on a shelf. Things like accurate antenna above, licence plates and chrome trim all have to be accurate and in place (see below).

1964 Ford Galaxie 500 XL

Been doing this for over 50 years and have every model I've ever built lined up on the shelves of my basement car room along with my library. Great way to pass the time and engage in "mental mouth wash". As well, I get to own any car I want without having to pay the big bucks  -  tough to drive them though.

If you have read the earlier blogs, then you also know that I always have help in building my models.........

The Car Modeling Cat at work

The Car Modeling Cat always appears on the scene when I start to work on a model. Can't say she adds as much as she thinks she does, but a willing hand (or paw) always helps.

Until next time.......

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday: Who would have thought?

Typical 1986 Pony

Remember the Hyundai Pony? Absolutely cheap and absolute garbage! My dear departed mother-in-law had one (not on my recommendation of course) and really liked it  -  shed a tear when it finally went and she got a Civic. In the 10 years she had it, it broke down regularly (twice on one trip to Florida) and fell apart bit by bit.

What a way to introduce your company to a new and huge market. Well it took many, many years, but finally Hyundai has achieved an enviable position in North America. Their quality has been great for several years and now their designs are cutting edge  -  look at the new Sonata, Elantra, Tucson and Accent. Sales? Closing in on the Honda Civic as Canada's best selling car.

I can get any make of vehicle for my clients, but I love to recommend Hyundai as I firmly believe it is an excellent choice. J.D. Power did a survey of 4/5 year old cars and their incident of repair. Hyundai was up there with Lexus for reliability and lack of any repairs. With this kind of track record, how can one go wrong?

But who would have thought? Look at this new model.........

This is the 2012 Genesis R-Spec  -  visually it adds lower body work, bigger wheels/tires, but the real change is underneath. How about a whopping 429 horsepower and 376 ft-lbs of torque. Also a tighter, but not abusive suspension upgrade. I think you can never have enough power, so this car would be right up my alley, although I'll look forward to a hopefully more distinctive design on the next generation. But who would have thought?

And now a Genesis coupe race car.......

And a slightly stretched Equus limo.......

Who would have thought in 25 short years Hyundai would have, could have gone from a producer of pure garbage to excellent quality, sought after vehicles?

NASCAR hits the road course in Sonoma, California this Sunday  -  always fun to see these big racecars negotiate a road course. And since it's from California, it starts after your golf game or gardening or whatever. No excuse not to check it out.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday: Cuba

Old car show in Toronto?  Nope this is a scene in Cuba. For years we've heard of the treasure trove of old American iron driving around Cuba  -  cars from the 40's and 50's just waiting to be scooped up for a song (your choice). Well, yes and no........yes there are lots of old American cars and yes, they probably could be had for a song, so what's the catch? How about the fact that most of them are crap  -  loads of body filler and maybe a Lada motor.

This 1956? Olds junker typifies what most of these Cuban dream cars are all about.......body work and dents, maybe even a roof chopped off (kind of scary), lumbering along on old tractor or truck tires.

a slightly better 1957 Dodge

a mouldy 1960 Austin Westminister like my folks used to have

a 1957 Buick with typical fender mounted brake lights - a local innovation

One sees books on the cars of Cuba, but all they show are the beauties and yes, there are a few of those, but "few" is the operative word here. I think the Americans are salivating over the prospects of being able to travel to this island and scoring a classic  -  boy are they going to be surprised.

More on another day.

Until next time........ 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday: Customs

You probably all remember 1949  -  right? While I'm awaiting your answers, I'll begin..........

...........and no, I don't remember it either, but Ford introduced the Mercury in the above ad. It was a big step forward for Ford, but an even bigger opportunity for customizers. There were a lot more of these artists in the '50's, '60's and '70's. They would take a car and add/bend metal until they got their personalized vision of that particular car. Many were quite beautiful while others were quite hideous (beauty in the eye......). But the '49 Merc caught everyone's attention, so much so, that it has become iconic and the most customized car ever.

Here is one of the first chopped top trendsetters, the "Hirohata Merc"..........

Bob Hirohata & his Mercury

Done in the early '50's, it caught everyone's attention, appeared in numerous magazines and helped to elevate the 1949 Mercury's status in the eyes of customizers. Of course, some of those early fifties "greaser", "rebel without a cause" flics also helped. Want to see this car in colour? I thought so.......

Danbury Mint (the diecast company) even did a model of it, which for a couple of hundred dollars you too can enjoy. I have one and it's great.

How about this one.......

Or this one.......

You can even buy a plastic model of a chopped Mercury  -  I have built a couple, one with flames, one without. Funny how one car becomes the customizer's darling. With so many having been done, the personalization becomes not so personal  -  how many ways can you customize one car? Still I find it interesting to see how one car has had so much influence. Sixty years from now, will some other blogger be taking a look back at a recent Corolla?????

Now that the car modelling cat and I have finished the North Carolina State Police car, we are moving on to another project. I have the Little Red Wagon wheelstanding dragster on my table now, so hopefully we can get started on it this weekend.

Until next time........

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday: VW

Want to know a car company that is aiming high in terms of sales? Want to know one that is aiming really, really high? Even higher? Think Volkswagen. VW has said they want to increase their North American business by huges amounts over the next 5 years (sorry, I should have numbers). Take a look at their new Passat........

......nice styling and several thousand dollars less than the current model. The latter makes sense since the top line AWD wagon in 2010 listed for over $53,000!!. What were they thinking? You could get an A4 wagon for a similar price, actually just under $50k  -  now that makes no sense.

And for that nice, but anonymous styling, Acura's 1999 TL had similar lines  -  12 years ago! Wait until you see the back end  -  you'd never know what kind of car it is, it's so bland. Not unlike the latest Jetta. Can't VW have a bit more definition in their styling?

How will it sell? Now there is an interesting question. The latest Jetta using the same strategy has done very well, but then again the Jetta had a reputation. Who buys Passats? Even the recent and quite lovely CC has been nailed to the showroom floors. I like VW and deliver quite a few of them, but come on, get a bit creative.

Weekend racing........how about the Montreal F1 race on Sunday? Add a little rain to any race and it gets very interesting. I watched for about 1/2 hour, but got bored watching the SLS glide around the circuit in the rain, so I went out for a couple of hours. Came back home, turned on the TV to catch the end of the NASCAR race from Pocono and guess what, the F1 race was just restarting. Vettel seldoms blinks, but with Button hot on his tail, he did blink with about a 1/2 lap to go. Button made quick work of Vettel's miscue and luckily squeaked in his win before the time limit ran out, but it was very, very close.

Pocono was nothing exciting, except my favorite Dale Jr continues to be consistent, finishing 6th.

Speaking of NASCAR, I'm reading an interesting (and very short) book by Michael Waltrip, called "In the Blink of an Eye". It deals with Michael's career, but the focus is Dale Earnhardt senior's death "in the blink of an eye" on the last turn of the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. I cried when it happened and I shed another tear last night when I got to the part......well, you know.

By the way, did you notice the advertising for Michael's book on his Ferrari racecar at LeMans on the weekend?

Until next time........

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday: Changes

How things change..........gas prices keep going up - what happened to the 10 cent/gallon 1950's? You drove a big, huge, immense land yacht like this Lincoln Continental and you just didn't care  -  or maybe even then you complained about gas prices.

But you did have choices and not everyone wanted, needed or could afford a big beast, no matter how cheap gas was. My Mum was British and Dad listened to everything she said, so in the '50's when it came time for our family's first new car, there was little discussion, it had to be a Brit car and it would probably be an Austin  -  does anyone remember them? We were just an average family with not a lot of money to throw around on a car, so we ended up with a 1956 Austin Cambridge, manual trans, no radio.............

............ours was black with a white top (Mum insisted) and a red leather interior  -  everything British had a leather interior. It was a good looking little car, but in those days when we were going on a 90 mile trip, it had to be thoroughly checked over to make sure it would endure!

Our next car was bought in 1960 and at the time it was a big step up  -  a six cylinder and an automatic........

Our "luxurious" new ride was a 1960 Austin (again) A99 Westminster designed by Pininfarina. At the time and I still think today that it was a great looking car. Black and white (again) with the red leather interior and thanks to my big brother insisting, snap on whitewalls  -  they fit between the wheel rim and the tire  -  just don't tear them by hitting a curb! And once again -  no radio! Great car.

 Finally an American car in '66. Black (yet again!) and after much discussion, which I can still remember, the white top was turfed in favor of - get ready for it - a beige one with a beige interior. It looked much better than the forlorn example in the above pic, but it was a 4 door hardtop and that was a treat. Engine? You guessed it, a six, but the "big" six. Loved that car, but it still didn't have a radio. As a teen, you just can't make out to the sound of heavy breathing!

Ok so much for nostalgia........big race in Montreal this weekend, the Canadian Grand Prix. Vettel crashed in practice, but probably won't slow him down. Hoping as always for Hamilton. By the way, in a couple of weeks, Lewis Hamilton and Tony Stewart will switch rides at Watkins Glen  -  now this should be interesting. 

Until next time........

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday: Many Minis

You gotta love the Mini..........BMW takes an old car name, although one with a solid reputation and builds an entire brand around it. Not only that, but they build a much better car. How many variations have they given us so far.........the regular two door, the station wagon, a convertible, sports models, an suv(!!!!) and now a coupe.......

This is the new Mini coupe which will be coming out in the near future. Only seats two (shorter?) people  -  check out that lowered roof line. I wonder if the new Fiat will have as much success and variations?

This got me thinking about how many custom Minis have been made? How about these........

A dragster

 A classy formal limo

                                                              A not so classy limo

A pick-up

I could go on, but I'll leave you to Google the many other varieties you'll find on the net. Have fun and let me know if you see anything really unusual.

Until next time........

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday: Hemi

Check out the licence plate frame on this North Carolina State Police Dodge Charger.........

If you can't read it, it says, "Yeah, it's got a Hemi". What other motor has such a reputation that this statement strikes fear in the hearts of speeders everywhere? Just mention "Hemi" to any carguy and they'll have an imagine of a fire breathing performance car. There is no other engine anywhere that has had a reputation like that and has had it for over 45 years!

Hemi's first were used in Dodge and Plymouth production cars starting in 1966. Were they an expensive option? In Canada how about $1200, not that bad, until you realize that the base car cost about $4000 before the Hemi was added. Now that's an expensive option and back then you didn't get an upgrade to a fancy model, you just got a 426 cubic inch motor. This was an extremely rare engine.

I can even remember the very first one I ever saw in 1966. I grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick which was hot car deprived, since there just wasn't that much money around town. I was coming out of my grandfather's house and a blue '66 Charger drove by and ol' eagle eye spotted the 426 badge on the front fender (it was like the one above and you can just make out the badge). I was so excited, I rushed home to tell my big brother that I had seen a Hemi. Can't remember when I saw another one, maybe I never did, but that was the magic this engine created.

I can still remember an ad that featured drag racer Don Garlits commenting on the Hemi. He said, "It idles like a coffee can full of rocks......" and this was a positive comment!

When they brought the name back on the new Charger and 300C, it still had the magic (hence the licence plate frame above), even though it was definitely not the same motor. Great marketing. The modern interpretation was still potent  -  I had a 300C and that engine just wouldn't quit. Hit the gas at over a 100 kms per hour and it took off. Try doing that with most 6 cylinders.

Other uses for a Hemi? How about this Hemi grille..........

.......definitely a waste of a good motor, but a fun pic.

By the way, I've put the licence plate and frame from the state police car above on the model the car modelling cat and I are finishing up. I'll post a pic when we've finished it.

Until next time........