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, 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........

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nov 4: Trailer Trash?

Every Fall a buddy and I go to a NASCAR race. The Sprint Cup series races almost every weekend from mid February to mid November somehwere in the US, from New Hampshire to Florida to California. All over. The drivers become heroes and develop huge (or not so huge) followings. And NASCAR fans like to wear their allegiance/support their favorite driver -  t-shirts, leather jackets, model cars, hats and whatever else you can think of. This is big business.

Following each race are several dozen big (45' long) souvenir trailers, usually one for each driver, athough the most popular drivers might have 2 or 3. They are literally a store on wheels. Take a look at this pic.........


It shows all the trailers lined up near the race track open for business, like in this close up of Jeff Burton's trailer ......


One side opens up to the display cases for the small stuff and walls where all the clothing is displayed along with 2 cash registers ready to ring up the purchases. Even a dead driver has a following........


Dale Earnhardt (#3) died in 2001, yet he still has a trailer doing a brisk business, although over the years, I've noticed that the crowds around it are no longer "crowds".


 These trailers are decorated to show the driver and usually a picture of his car. Sometimes the trailer is team effort, like the one above, but usually they are dedicated to one driver.

NASCAR fans are loyal and like to spend on souvenirs. How much? Well, a couple of years ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr, the most popular driver, sold $750 million in a year  -  seven hundred and fifty million dollars!!!! 'Nuff said.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nov 1: Fallen Colours

When did we change?  When did we decide that our cars had to be rather somber like this new BMW wearing the very latest in vogue matte paint?

At the risk of sounding way too old, I remember when you could get just about any colour on your new car. Not just 4, 5 or 6 colours, but 15 to 20 were the norm at times in the past. My wife recently wanted a bright colour on her new car and was restricted to red......sure it suited her car and it looks good, but only one choice!!


Let's look back quite a few years to this colourful Packard from the mid '50's  -  three colours on one car!



Or this bright DeSoto........


How about this magazine cover showing a few of the colourful new rides from the 1950's.......


Remember I mentioned about the range of colours one could chose from? Now, I don't know how a dealer would or could stock all of these (they obviously didn't), but wouldn't it be great to have this palette laid out before you.......

Would it drive you crazy or would you embrace the opportunity to really make your ride (in this case a Caddy) stand out? No two cars the same was not really an idle boast.

When and why did we change? Why are we so much more conservative? Any ideas?

Until next time........