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, September 30, 2011

Sept 30: Barry's cars cont'd

So the Caddy was causing me "metal" anquish as there was so much of it to move around and after 10 months, I realized my mistake. Doing a 180 degree turn, I got the following.......


My '76 Corvette was dark brown with beige leather, aluminum wheels, automatic with the "big" motor, the L82. Now remember, this was the mid '70's, so big or powerful was a relative term. Yes, it was faster than a transport truck, but in today's terms it was dead slow. How about 0-60 in about 10 seconds! You can beat that today with ANY economy car. Problem.......it had a habit of tossing the fanbelt. Like one January day on the 401 near Guelph  -  dam it was cold as I waited 3 hours for a tow truck!! Other than that I enjoyed my Vette experience. Did you know you could fit two pairs of Xcountry skis into this car?

After two and a half years it was time to trade in. I had just got married (and 32 years later am still to the same lady) and I wanted something with more room. I thought the new for '79 Toronado was striking, so I ordered an '80, but after a few second thoughts and the possibility of buying a house, my plans changed. Two people were now making these decisions, not only one as before. So this was next.......


Yes, I succumbed to the GM X car fever. This was an '80 Skylark coupe in dark blue/white vinyl (left over form the '70's) with every power option and mag wheels. The money we saved was used for a house down payment  -  the house is now worth tons while the Buick less than 0. Nice little car, but oh what a lemon. Everything broke on that car, even had the headliner burn through due to faulty wiring and it started to rust after ONE year. The X cars in general had a bad reputation and deserved every ounce of it.

Suffered thru this car until '84 and then went back to something a bit more sporty........


I loved the new Camaro that had come out in 1982, but since I had started a new business, was a bit strapped for car cash. This was the base model in dark gray, manual trans (my wife taught me how to drive it) and wheels like in the pic. I had ordered the F41 suspension, so this little 6 cylinder handled quite well. Not tons of power, but being a manual, it was quite peppy  -  probably as quick as the smogged up Vette had been.

It's fun looking back at my past cars and remembering their good and bad points   -  not everything improves with age.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sept 27: Racy Racing

Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney circa 1972

For some reason hot cars and hot babes have always gone together. Even today you can find magazines with semi nude "hot" ladies posing next to "hot" rods. For some reason I would have thought that this would now be passe'. Check out the promo pic above of Shirley Muldowney done about 40 years ago. The "Cha Cha" was a promo tag that I believe she hated, since she wanted to be taken seriously and be a serious racer. If she wasn't serious, she wouldn't be driving cars like this one........


Interesting that this pic was taken at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire -  a famous track that we'd go to once a year, driving the 6 hours down from New Brunswick. They put on some terrific shows. Shirley went on to be a great driver and won 3 national championships in Top Fuel  -  also dropping the tag "Cha Cha" as soon as she could. Back then though, she needed a gimmick to get attention and that was the times.

Now let's take a look at a current racer's pic from a magazine cover........


I've seen all the adds featuring Danica Patrick and some of them are quite, how shall I say it, "alluring", but when I found this raunchy one on the net, it really surprised me. Danica is a successful driver and really hasn't needed these cheescake shots, but I guess this is called marketing  -  but what are they selling? By the way, this is what she'll be driving full time next year........ 


My point is that as the years have gone by, I'm surprised that certain things haven't changed, after all 40 years is a longtime. And I also think that Danica really doesn't need this kind of a shot.

Is this an example of the more things change, the more they stay the same?

Until next time.......

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sept 23: Modern Muscle


1969 Mustang Boss 429
 
2012 Mustang Boss 302
Notice a resemblance? Forty years apart and the modern day "pony cars" (Mustang, Camaro, Challenger)have gone back to their roots for design cues. I mention this because the other day, my wife said she saw this neat new bright, bright green car, which looked old and (for me) she asked what it was  -  a new Challenger done up in one of these wild colours from the late '60's, early '70's. Now she is savvy enough to know that it looked the same as a Challenger from 40 years ago. Compare.......

 1970 Challenger in that bright green


and now the 2012 version......

These cars are almost identical in everyway, except for size. Believe it or not the current Challenger is the same, yes the same size as a full size 2012 Chrysler 300C. Go figure!

Camaro has also followed the retro theme, but like the Mustang, it is not a carbon copy. Compare this 1969 Z/28 to the new 2012 below it..........

 You can see the family resemblance, but the designers have done a very nice job of picking up styling cues while giving it its own identity. 
Now which do you think has been the most successful? To date the Camaro is ahead of the Mustang and the Challenger is at maybe 25% of the Chevy's sales. Maybe size does matter, but in this case in a negative way. 

Until next time........

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sept 19: What?

Veloster? What is a Veloster? I like car names much better than the dumb letters or numbers that are endlessly confusing. But let's put a name on a car that some of us can pronounce and maybe even understand. That said, this new Hyundai coupe looks to be a real sweetheart.


Just another hot little hatchback? Well, not quite, but it's certainly different and if one is looking for style I think it has it in spades. To begin with, it is being introduced with a 138 HP motor, so don't expect riveting performance. Knowing Hyundai though, we should expect an upgrade over the next year (like the Sonata). But leave it to Hyundai to be different. Take a look at this pic........


This is the other side of the "three door" Veloster. It's a three door on the driver's side and a four door on the curb side (assuming you park on the correct side of the street). Neat idea since climbing into the back seat of any small hatch is a painful exercise. By the way, there is a very controversial European ad for the Velostar, that you should check out on You Tube. I thought it was a riot, but not everyone agrees.

I don't deliver many Civic coupes and no Scion tC's (but then again, nobody else does either), so what do I think will happen with the Veloster? I believe it has a couple of very important points going for it.......

1) it is dramatic looking which works well in the coupe market

2) it is a Hyundai and they are on a big roll these days

Be interesting to see what actually happens. But what about that name?

Until next time........

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sept 16: Barry's Cars #2

The very first thing I did when I graduated from university was to order a new car. I lived at home, had a good job and also a love of cars  -  my first new car!

Performance had been all the rage, so it was natural that I'd look at a muscle car  -  great idea until I received an insurance quote. Ok, so no muscle. What I settled on was a car that looked the part, but only had a mild V8 under the hood.
1971 Plymouth Satelite Sebring Plus

My Satelite was gold with a black half roof like in the picture. Bucket seats, automatic floor shift and Magnum 500 wheels. It looked great and I think it still does. Also had a 150 MPH speedo (part of the "Plus" package) which was optimistic in the extreme. I came from a small town, so there were few of these around and mine was by far the best looking.

I dragged raced it a bit, although it only had a small 318. Even won a trophy when a much faster car spun its tires. I had a choice of $5 or the trophy, so I took the trophy, still got it.

My Sebring also had a tendency to hit other things. In the short year and a half that I had it, my poor car was involved in 4 accidents, the last one ocurring the morning after I had sold it. Bummer. I signed off on the ownership at the body shop.

I feel in love in the fall of 1972. My lust was directed towards the new for '73, Pontiac Grand Prix. This was a time when the Grand Prix name meant something. Not a cheap car, probably be around $50k today, but I was still living at home. It had all the luxury touches (power windows, locks, seats), all except one.

1973 Grand Prix

This car really hauled ass. Even with the downgrades in the engines due to emissions, it still had a 400 cubic inch V8 with lots of torque. Loved that car and probably of all my past cars, this is the one I'd like back. Colour........dark blue, black vinyl roof, white vinyl and mag wheels. Showy, but with class (my opinion only).

Shortly after taking delivery I was transferred to Toronto. Oops, maybe this car wasn't such a great idea since I now had to pay rent. Oh well. Loved Toronto with its glorious summer heat, a far cry from those cold Bay of Fundy summers. This brings us back to the one option I didn't buy, a/c, air conditioning. Didn't need it back home, but I died stuck in traffic at 90 degrees up here.

Great car, no accidents, a few tickets, had it for almost 4 years.

Always envisioned myself as a "shooter", so my next car had to be a real luxury boat (maritime boy makes good?). Hey, I was only 28 and thinking with my eyes, not my brain. So this what I got next........

1975 Cadillac Coupe de Ville

Found this beauty at the long gone Parkwood Central Cadillac at Yonge and Eglinton. There it was sitting on the showroom floor in dark blue, dark blue vinyl top and dark blue brocade interior (hey, this was the '70's remember?). Couldn't sleep for 2 weeks, as I waited to sell the Grand Prix so I could drive it home.

Some things look better than reality proves them to be. Great car on the highway, but don't go near a corner. Took me ages to get into my condo parking spot or the underground garage at the office. On the plus side it had a 500 cubic inch motor and would smoke the tires endlessly  -  quite a scene from this big boat. But the really hard part was facing the ridicule this young guy got for buying a Cadillac. Created a very bad vibe at my work and many hard feelings at a very conservative company. Even a kind of confident guy like me was feeling the heat.

What to do?

Until next time........

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sept 13: A stock car?

This past weekend was spent at the NASCAR race in Richmond, Virginia. Every Fall for the past 15 years, my friend and I have taken in a race south of the border  -  New Hampshire, Dover (Delaware), Rockingham (North Carolina), Atlanta, Charlotte and Martinsville (Virginia). Now we tend to go exclusively to Virginia or North Carolina  -  I like those areas and it usually gives us one last shot of warm weather before we button down for the cold months ahead. This was earlier than normal for us, but we hadn't been to Richmond before and it's usually an exciting race  -  it didn't disappoint.

This is called "stock car" racing, but anyone should know that the only thing "stock" about these cars are their names  -  pure racecars thru and thru. It wasn't always like this as the following pic from around 1960 shows.....



Note that all the chrome bumpers are in place and they look almost exactly as one would see them on the street. Buy a big engined model from the dealer, work it over, add racing tires, improved suspension, a roll bar, tie down the hood and hit the track. Pretty sparse sponsor id as well. Now how about this approx 20 years later........


This Chevy and Buick still resembled their street counterparts, but really the entire car was purpose built for racing. I believe the roof and glass were supposed to be stock. Note that the sponsorship was now a dominant part of the paint scheme. Now let's skip forward another 20 years or so......


Now there is absolutely nothing stock about these cars and to identify them, one has to read the name on the front fascia. The headlights are decals, which kind of resemble their street counterpart. Still the name "stock cars" has stuck. These days it's hard to find any space on the car where a sponsor's name has not been placed. Progress  -  you decide.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday: Evolution

Porsche has just announced their 2012 911 and as always it is an evolution of their current model. It actually amazes me that Porsche can keep redesigning (and improving) their 911 and have it look basically the same as it has for years. I pride myself on knowing the year or approximate age of a car, but Porsche has me stumped most times. Take a look at the first 911 from 1964.......


And now this one from 1974........


And this one from 1984..........


Now let's jump ahead to 1999 and some "radical" changes.........


I think that you can now see some real differences as this car gets smoother and its design more integrated. Thirteen years later, Porsche has made more changes........


I tell you folks, apart from some different front air inlets, it is really hard to notice that this car is new. Sure, its slightly bigger, but I defy you to notice that as it drives by. A friend of mine has a 1979 version and he can point out most of the very minor changes from series to series, but he may be a special case (well he is a case).

The more they change the more they stay the same. How does Porsche do it?

I'm off to Richmond, Virginia tomorrow for my annual NASCAR weekend. I like the smaller tracks and this is the final race to lock in the Chase competitors, so it should be a lot of fun. Back to you next Tuesday.

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

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday: On Second Thought

Seldom do I feel the need to backtrack on my (humble?) opinion and I'm not really doing it here........read on........ I had a chance yesterday to "touch & feel" the 2012 VW Passat and Beetle. I originally thought that the Passat looked dated (see below).......

Passat  - made in US, hence the American flag

And to some extent it still does, but I also felt that it looked quite classy in real life. It's a large car with what seems to be a strong price point (car lingo for competitive). Now Passats haven't exactly flown off the dealers' lots, so the name recognition may be a tad lacking. On the other hand, one gets German engineering at an Accord price, so VW may be on to something. Anyway, I now feel it is worth a look.

The other new VW got my approval from the first time I saw it.........


This is the 2012 Beetle, better proportions and an aggressive look. The one I saw rode on 18's and looked aggressive as all get out. A look that might scare the previously predominantly femaleaudience away from it, but should widen its appeal to the guys. I can see this one being personalized in many different ways. One of the best changes in my eyes, is that the huge expanse of dashboard has now been dropped and it is like a "normal" car.

Anyway, that is the way I see it.

Until next time.......