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, May 29, 2012

May 29: Buicks and a Cat

One of my favorite old cars is the 1963 Buick Electra 225 (actual length of this huge car). I like the squared off lines and the chrome accenting those lines. Back in '63 I made a model of a Electra coupe, but I didn't do a very good job in those days and it always disappointed me that one of my favs looked so bad.

Flash forward to the present day...........

........here is that old '63 with a major revamp. The CMC (Car Modeling Cat) and I finally decided to do something about that old model. I took it all apart and using oven cleaner stripped the lousy green paint, repainted it milk chocolate, added all of the chrome using very thin silver foil and detailed the red/white/blue emblems (enlarge the pic on the right). Now I have an excellent miniature version of a car I would have liked in real life.

The other car in one of the above pics is a '62 version of the Electra, but this is a new model. You can see the emblem detailing better in this photo. Both were great looking cars in their day.

Of course, a blog on my models wouldn't be complete if I didn't give a shout out to and acknowledge the assistance I get from the CMC..........

..........always a willing helper. Here she is looking over the just completed '63 Buick and she is eyeing the '65 Pontiac and 2010 Mustang that we are beginning to work on. What would I do without her?

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

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25: What's a Cowboy Drive?

The Ford F-150 King Ranch  -  isn't this what the upwardly mobile cowboy of today would drive? Full leather, sunroof, dvd, Bluetooth and navi. Just what is needed for a hard day out on the range, herding cattle, avoiding rattlesnakes, shooting buffalo. Was it always like this? Not a chance.

Here for example, is what a well off range rider from the '60's would patrol his spread in........

Necessities? Protective bull horns on the front end. Fender mounted six shooters. Rifle on the back fender. All the good stuff to make the job safer and easier. Now for seat comfort, take a look at the inside of this baby.......

Not sure what all the gold coins are used for, probably to buy off rustlers. Another gun on the dash and in the back seat (must be a US car, where you can never have enough guns). Check out the saddle on the console. Who needs a pick-up truck when you have a classy ride like this Pontiac Bonneville? Actually this would be an economy ride as the well to do cowpoke would have something a little more up scale, like this Caddy.......

Not sure what it's doing in the city, but those intimidating bull horns are great addition to any car. Come to think of it, a great idea to herd traffic aside as you make your way home to the ranch. Surprising that it hasn't become a common option these days. Maybe now that I've suggested it, it will.

Thought that this would be a good history lesson.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23: What Car Books I Read

No one can call themselves a true "car guy" unless they back it up with some sort of material proof, not just an "I like cars" type of comment. You've read how I work in my hobby and you know that I've been building/collecting models forever and that I once owned a vintage(?) Caddy. So what else builds my credentials in the car business and as a "car guy"? How about what I read?

I subscribe to or read several car magazines each month. Here's a rundown and some comments.......

Car & Driver  -  have subscribed to this mag since the late 60's and still have many of the old copies, like their irreverant tone

AutoWeek  -  comes out bi-weekly and has lots of very up to date info, often borrowed from its sister publication, Automotive News

Automotive News  -  trade paper we receive weekly at the office, lots of behind the scenes industry news and the very latest info on the new cars

Hemmings Classic Car  -  Hemmings is a famous name in the field of older cars and they have two very good monthly publications in addition to their old standard mag of classified ads, Hemmings Motor News

Collectible Automobile  -  bi-monthly with great, very in depth articles about older cars and their development and no ads. Have every issue except the first one  -  classy publication

Hemmings Muscle Car  -  like their Classic Car mag, this one is filled with interesting shorter articles covering shows, old photos, reminisces and restorations

Scale Auto  -  eight issues a year with all car model stuff for the car modeling car guy and his CMC

Newspapers.......Wheels (Toronto Star) and Drive (Globe & Mail) are both very well done with the "best of" nod going to Wheels, not crazy about the National Post's Friday car section.

Also read Motor Trend from time to time, as well as an assortment of other mags depending on their articles. Yes, I do have time to do other things like building models, working out, golfing, baking (I do great desserts) and book reading. These days one of my most prized possessions is my library card. A recent read that I recommend is.......

It's a story of a budding race car driver and his family as told through the eyes of his dog Enzo (you know where that comes from). Enzo relates life to racing. This is not a comedy, but a well written story by a smart dog (it sounds strange, but read it and you'll know what I mean). Haven't met anyone who didn't really love this book (except my wife). Worth your time.

'nough said about how I earn my car guy credentials.

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

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18: Cadillac Oddities

As the long weekend approaches, I thought this would be an excellent time to look back at some of the custom Cadillacs (like I really need an excuse for any topic?). Cadillac has a pretty good reputation these days as a very competent sports sedan, but not that long ago they were just a big boat and the only game in town when you wanted to make a statement. But that wasn't enough for some people and they had to go a little further, like this custom '54 convertible.......

Bought in California and immediately taken to the shop of George Barris, the famous customizer, who did some extensive bodywork and a roof job. This car is still around after a recent restoration.

For some reason station wagons were always a top choice (even Elvis had one), when it came to change your Sedan de Ville to something special(?). Here are a few.......

..........a '70 Eldorado wagon
..........a 1960 ad for a custom wagon.........

.......and the most recent custom that I could find from the late '70's.

Not satisfied with a mere wagon? Then how about this tasty pick-up custom transformation from 1975......

Load up the hay and head for the racetrack with your thoroughbred pony in the trailer just ahead of you.

Want to see the ultiamte in decadence? How about a Cadillac RV, one of a kind and thankfully so........

Just imagine this beauty pulling into the campground. Eat your heart out you poor folks with obviously lesser vehicles. Maybe you'll see this when you are camping this weekend.

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15: Carroll Shelby Memories

Carroll Shelby dies. Well it had to happen, ol' Shel hit 89 and the end of his road. A great life full of car memories and car dreams that his imagination gave to the rest of us. A great life that gave us his cars from 1963 until today. A great life that was extended many years by a new heart tranplanted in 1990. What a coincidence that his new heart had as much heart as his old one did. Not many people (Ferrari?) have had their name so associated with great cars. I have a couple of personal memories of his cars that I'd like to share..........

Back in '68 I was in charge of getting cars for our annual Winter Carnival parade (University of New Brunswick in Saint John). I'd call the local dealers and they were always ready to offer up their latest convertible to show off in front of those souls braving the cold Febuary night. A call to the local Lincoln-Mercury dealer, brought an offer of two cars for us to use, a Meteor Montcalm and a Shelby GT500. What?? Who in their right mind would offer a red hot GT500 to a university student for even a couple of hours. In this case, they said to pick it up around 2 in the afternoon and bring it back in the morning!

Saint John was a muscle car deprived city, a lunch bucket town with very few hot cars. You can imagine my surprise that Casey Motors even had a Shelby, let alone the green GT500 that awaited me (like the one in the above pic). I spent the afternoon driving around town like a god and of course, I just happened to cruise by the high school as the students were leaving for the day. Oh, but that was sweet. Even left the dance early that evening, so that me and a couple of buddies could hit the highway for some fast action. What a memory!

The second one features a car like this..........

In the early 2000's, I dealt with a dealer whose owner had an small, but very interesting muscle car collection which included a 1965 Shelby GT350. I believe it was originally bought in California and immediately road raced. Sometime in the '90's it was restored and even featured in a US magazine. The dealer and I often talked muscle cars and shared memories. He called me one day and said he had bought this Shelby and I should come by for a look and a ride. This car was built for speed  -  no back seat, no heater, no radio. The exhaust was side pipes coming out just in front of the back wheel. When he revved that GT up, the exhaust cleared away any dirt surrounding the car. When he shifted it at the redline, the front end lifted and that car flew. Raw power, minimum comforts. Another great memory.

Carroll Shelby. What a terrific life doing what he loved. His time had come, but he'll be missed.

A few of you have asked what the CMC  -  Car Modeling Cat  -  has been up to lately..........

Well, here she is looking over our latest project, a 1963 Buick Electra 225. Probably we'll wrap this model up over the next couple of weeks. Good story behind this one.

Until next time.......

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 11: Police Cars - Public Service Announcement

Pay attention, this is very important. The old classic Ford Crown Victoria police car is now out of production, so it is essential that you know what new vehicles with blue/redlights on them will be in your rearview mirror or manning the all too common radar traps.

The old.......

                                                                 .......... today's Crown Vic is actually yesterday's Crown Vic, since this old chestnut is based on the platform that originally came out in 1979. Simple math tells us that the bones of this cruiser have been around for 33 years. THIRTY THREE YEARS! That's several lifetimes for a dog and an eternity for a car. No longer will this familiar front end be looming up behind you with a stern faced, sunglasses wearing city cop, county sheriff, provincial police officer or state trooper behind the wheel.

These next pics will be your new reality......

........the tough looking Dodge Charger (already a familiar sight except in Toronto)

.......the Ford Taurus (get used to it)

........the Australian built Chevrolet Caprice (being used primarily in the US)

All of these replacements come with up to date mechanicals, much better handling and with their optional engines, can run down just about anything on the road without too much heavy breathing. Cops like rear wheel drive, so the Taurus, unless ordered with all wheel drive, might lose out on a few thousand sales.

Joking aside, this is an important segment for the companies to be in, since I believe there are about 75,000 police vehicles sold in North America each year. That was a lot of Crown Vics prowling around since they had the bulk of the market.

Study these pics, commit them to memory and please don't say that I didn't warn you!

Until next time.......

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 8: Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde.......the Juke R

The Nissan Juke........puppy dog cute or just plain ugly  -  you decide. I've always liked it because it was a little (a lot?) different and really stood out. Some might say it's just as easy to design a good looking car as it is an ugly one, but that's a whole other story or blog. Let's call this version Dr. Jekyll.

Now for Mr.Hyde.........

Some mad engineers at Nissan (nutty Europeans I believe) thought it would be a great idea to stuff the heart and soul of their GT-R supercar under the funny little Juke's body. This showed up at a recent auto show and boy, did it get our attention. Take the friendly little Juke with 188 hp and shove the wild child chassis and motor of the GT-R under it. Add a few odds and ends to the outside, so that the other person at the stoplight knows that the "devil in a car disguise" is in the other lane. The real Dr. Jekyll transformed into the evil and wild Mr. Hyde! That meagre 188 hp now goes to 485 and rockets the R to 100 km/hour in about 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 257 kph.

The donor.......

This is what separates those with wild imaginations from the rest of us. Of course, we'll have to toss out the back seat in the process of making our Mr. Hyde from the mild ol' Dr. Jekyll. All that means is that you'll have to impress your friends one at a time. More seat time for you, right?

Just a show car? In a way, but Nissan has offered to take orders and build on demand. Ok, so who reportedly bought the first three? If you guessed some oil rich prince from the Middle East, you win. For approx $200,000 each!

Be the first in your city (or country) to get Nissan's Mr. Hyde version of their Dr. Jekyll Juke. And if you live near Toronto, please, oh please drop by and give me a ride!

Until next time........

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 4th: Chinese Copycat Car Designs

In my last blog I mentioned some Chinese copycat car designs and showed a pic of the Chinese version of a Smart Car  -  seemed like a good topic to expand, so here are a few more obvious examples.

This is the Smart, but which is the original and which is the Chinese copy? Hint.......the real Smart is in dark blue. Note that everything is the same even down to the unusual headlight design.

What copyright laws??

Everyone knows what a Hummer looks like, right? Then how about this nice example from the Peoples' Republic of their version.......

Or these Benz E series copies, may I present the Geely Merrie 300 for your viewing pleasure.........

We all know what the term "blatant" means and I think that these are a great example of blatant. One of the most popular crossovers is the Lexus RX350. The Chinese did a rather close copy of this with their BYD S6, behold.........

"Knock off" is another term that comes to mind. As the Chinese market grows, they are going to have to rein in these copycat designs with far stricter copyright laws. No one is going to take these companies seriously if they don't develop their own design language. Actually though, this is happening and in a very few years, watch out, after all look what South Korea has accomplished.
Let's finish up with the good old Toyota Land Cruiser........the Dadi Shuttle is identical right down to the grille design.

This is Friday and the start of my Friday afternoon golf games, so please don't try to reach me after 2. Looks like a great day with only a late prospect of rain. Fore!

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1: Cars in China & the Beijing Auto Show

How long ago was it that the market for cars in China was minor and those that were sold there were oddball local products? Well some things never seem to change, but other things have changed drastically.

The new Red Flag sedan  -  only available to party officials

The Red Flag is a throw back to old China, who like the old Soviet Union, only sold their top luxury cars to Communist Party officials. The other thing about them was that they were odd looking (the cars that is) and copied western designs (badly). Is that front end from the '55 Chevy?

Then there are direct copies of cars from other countries since China has such weak copyright laws. How about this Smart Car knock off. Not too long ago BMW took offence to a Chinese design that was going to be sold in Europe because it looked exactly like an X5.

Did you know that there are more cars sold in China (or just about to be) than in the United States, which was formerly the biggest car market in the world? Did you know that without the Chinese market General Motors would have dropped Buick instead of Pontiac? Did you know that Buicks sold in North America have actually been designed for the Chinese market and have lots of room in the back seat? The reason.......most of them are sold in China and they are chauffeur driven. Did you know that VW is the biggest brand sold in China followed by GM?

So what is my point? One of the most important auto shows has just been held in Beijing  -  important because of the new car introductions, which formerly might have been unveiled in Geneva or Frankfurt. Remember you always play to the most important market and China is very, very important. Here are some of the important new intros that you'll be hearing plenty about........

The red suv is the (now get this) Lamborghini Uris. How important is this vehicle? Well, it's being shown about 4 years before it's first delivery in 2016 or 2017. The silver sedan is a 2013 Benz CLA  -  a smaller sport sedan (M-B calls it a coupe), that will slot in just above the C series. Available here in the Fall.

Haven't got that kind of money to spend, then how about this new MG concept that just might make it to market for the price of a Mini (?).

How things have changed, from a "have not" car country to one that is helping to shape what the rest of the world drives. To use a cliche.......you ain't seen nothing yet!.

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