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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29: The Car Modeling Cat's Story

If you've been reading my blog for more than a couple of weeks, you know that I build model cars and that I have a willing helper in the Car Modeling Cat (the CMC). I blogged the pic above last year in one of my model making posts. You can see that she gets right into it and is more than just a pretty face. A few of you have asked about her, so here is her story (just what you need to tide you over the Canada Day long weekend)...........

It was a dark and rainy night (really) when the headlights on my wife Barbara's car flashed across this pathetic little kitten, trying in vain to get shelter under a neighbour's front tree. The little thing was crying and as soon as Barbara got out of her car, it ran to her, crying all the way and followed her to our back door. Now, we had two other cats at the time, so bringing this wet little creature inside was not going to happen. Barbara fed the little kitten and it happily found a temporary home in our back shed, only coming out for food. This went on for a couple of days.

CMC looks over reference photos for our next model

Barbara's heart went out to this little kitten. She had our vet check her over. No chip or owner id. We posted notices all over the neighbourhood asking if anyone had lost a little tabby. No response. So after a couple of weeks, Barbara brought her inside our home and cautiously, little by little introduced her to our other two cats. Success. We christened this new little girl cat and she became a loved part of our feline family.

CMC checks out some previous builds

On becoming the CMC.......no matter where she is sleeping (and cats are always sleeping), when I open the door to my basement Car Room, within seconds she is vocally coming down to join me. Purring as she jumps into my lap, ready to assist with the next model build. Great to have her company and her help. Sometimes she just wanders around crying for me to go to the Car Room, so that we can get started.

What a great cat!

Until next time........

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26: Funny Car Fever

Comin' at ya! I love Funny Cars, not "funny cars". The difference is the former are those 8000 (eight thousand!) horse power monsters that can run the quarter mile (actually 1000 feet) in about 4 seconds at over 300 mph. Impressive.

Now here is my story.........

........this good guy is my nephew Adam. He and his sister have a lot of things, so each year for Christmas my wife and I give them a gift of an experience. For his sister, it's musicals or the ballet, but for Adam and I it's something car related. Last year we went to a monster truck show and this year it was to be the Canadian Nitro Nationals (unquestionably a pretenious name), June 23rd at Toronto Motorsports Park, south of Hamilton. This is a famous old track, better known by its original name, Cayuga, since it is in Cayuga, Ontario (makes sense). The weather was great and your blogger, who has been following Funny Car racing since the '60's, was as excited as young Adam.

The night's menu had four Funny Cars from the US with some very well known drivers  -  Jack Wyatt, Dale Creasy Jr (saw his dad race in the early '70's), Cruz Pedregon, Tony Pedregon. The latter two brothers have both won the NHRA Funny Car championship, not an easy feat. There were also two Top Fuel cars, alcohol funny cars, Pro Mods, jet cars and an assortment of other cars.

This is one of the teams working on their car before the races. The neat thing about drag racing is that you can actually get right up close to the car/team/driver in the pits. Noisy, smelly  - wonderful!

This is the trailer of three time IHRA Funny Car champion, Rob Atchison from London, Ontario.

I like to take first timers to the drags, since I love to see their reaction to the fury of a nitro car  -  "shock and awe". I once read them being described as "sounding like a war" which is quite appropriate. I believe Adam called them "insane"  -  pretty good description. Those 8000 HP nitro burning monsters are an assault to your hearing, your body and your nose. And this is probably the only time you can see a nitro Funny Car run in Canada during the year.

The jet cars are like a side show, but have great visuals.......

All in all, it was a very good night of uncle/nephew bonding with the back drop of "Barry's fantasy evening" (not what you'd think, eh?).

Until next time........

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22: 88 = Dale Earnhardt Jr.

This was the scene at the end of last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Michigan  -  Dale Earnhardt, Jr crossing the line first, winning after a four year drought. For his fans (myself included) and for the race following media, this was a very big deal. Why? There are several reasons, but probably the biggest is that Dale Jr is by far the most popular driver in NASCAR. Forget about Danica Patrick, when it comes to NASCAR, Dale Jr, #88, is the big gun.

Dale's dad was (of course), Dale Earnhardt. Love him or hate him, he drove NASCAR and when he died during the Daytona 500 in 2001, he made the front cover of just about every mainstream media publication including Newsweek. Even I, who named his first cat after him, shed tears at his death. So the huge following that worshipped the father, also loves the son. What is interesting about Dale Jr, is that he has always been down to earth and seemingly not affected by his fame.

And this is probably what has helped him to keep his huge fan base. At NASCAR races, he'll have three 45' souvenir trailers (like the one below) selling anything you can think of branded with his name or his 88 number. Just open up the side and you have an instant store. At one time, his stuff was selling at a rate of $750 million/year. Yes, you read that number correctly. $750 million.

So Dale Jr winning last week was a very big deal in NASCAR land, punctuating an already very good season. So next time you happen to watch a NASCAR race, either on purpose or by accident and if you see the result below with 88 leading, you'll know that all is right with the world.......

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19: Convertible or Hardtop?

Fantastic.........a hardtop that is actually a convertible!! These days having a hardtop that is a convertible is quite common and probably the norm, but in 1957 it was futuristic. Although not the first hide-away roof, there were a handful in the '30's, the 1957 Ford Skyliner was the first mass produced model.

Back in the '50's the sky was the limit as to what designers and engineers could do with a car (not always a good thing). Think about it.......there was no Japanese or Korean competition and only a handful of European cars being sold in North America, so even a slow selling model might hit a 100k in sales. One year the full size Chevrolet sold over a million cars. That doesn't happen anymore due to the market fragmentation and the competition. Actually, the Skyliner sold around 20k the first year, so after three years this costly toy was dropped.

This was a wildly technical feat at the time with a huge number of moving parts, wires and relays. Just ripe for problems. I imagine the little fella in this pic is wondering what would happen to his annoying sister if she was in the trunk...........

Note the little box in the trunk, which defines where your luggage could go when the top was down. I sold a new VW Eos recently which had the same sort of set up, although quite a bit smaller. Great idea, so that your valuables or a beloved pet doesn't get squashed when the roof goes down (who puts their pet in the trunk, anyway?).

Old photos are always interesting, so I've a included this production line shot.......

Surprising that the first Skyliner doesn't have whitewalls  -  salesperson must have forgotten to tick off that option.

So next time you see a new Benz SL or SLK or Mazda MX-5 or BMW Z4 or VW EOS or one of the many other hardtop convertibles, you should think back to how it got started. And also ask yourself why the new cars only come in silver.

Until next time........

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15: Little Deuce Sedan?

Remember the old Beach Boy's song, "Little Deuce Coupe"? Well it referred to a '32 Ford coupe like in the pic above. According to the dictionary, a coupe is a "closed 2 door car" and it always had been until about 6 years ago when Mercedes-Benz confused things by calling their then new CLS a four door coupe. Wait a minute, isn't a coupe a 2 door and isn't a 4 door a sedan, so what makes a sedan a coupe? I'm confused. According to M-B a very swoopy sedan was now a coupe and here is their proof.........

.......an absolutely gorgeous car, but hey, it's not a coupe. To my mind a coupe denotes a 2 door body style, no matter how coupe-like a 4 door sedan is. Confusing, but it sure has caught on with the German manufacturers.

Following Benz' lead, VW introduced their Passat CC with the same sort of "coupe" styling........

.......and then Audi kind of followed their lead with the A7, although it looks more like a big hatchback. Now BMW has finally taken the bait with their 6 series Gran Coupe.........

To my eyes this looks more sedan like than any of the others, although it is a beautiful car whatever one calls it.

Back to my original point.........why call these cars coupes when they are great looking sedans? Does the "coupe" designation add that much to their sales bottom line? Does it add anything? Would "Little Deuce Sedan" sound as good in a song? Questions to ponder over a beautiful almost Summer weekend.

Until next time.......

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12: Fleetwood Country Cruize In, Part 2

Imagine you had good taste, tons of money and collected classic Cadillacs, wouldn't you build a beautiful French style home, that is in reality a car museum featuring chandeliers and hardwood floors? Whatever your answer might be, this is what Steve Plunkett has done at his home in London, Ontario. In blog Part 1, I told you about his annual cruise and his property. The above pic is where he shows the cream of his collection, an absolutely beautiful venue. I can just picture myself walking thru it one night with a duster.

Now, he also has many more contemporary Caddy's, but they are shown in a more low key, "down home" setting........

..........this group has some unusual models like a mid '70's Cadillac pick-up and a '70 station wagon (see my May 18: Cadillac Oddities blog), plus a few celebrity cars. And as you can see, lots of memorabilia. Being of a certain age, I love old Cadillacs, since when I was growing up there was no other choice when looking for a luxury car.

Back to the Country Cruize In. Name just about any old car and you could find it at this great show. Here are a few pics of great old cars and one oddity........

Clockwise from top left.......1934 Chrysler Airflow, 1953 Buick,
1956 Plymouth, 1957 Ford Sunliner and finally another great old Caddy, a 1958 Fleetwood  -  check out that chrome!

And now for that oddity or piece of junk........

I believe this was listed as a 1948 Chev and to be kind one might refer to it as an "art car". Someone cleaned out their garage and put all the stuff on this poor old thing. Oh well, different strokes.

All these pics just go to show you that the Fleetwood Country Cruize In has something for every taste (yes, there were also some Ferrari's) and well worth a spot on your 2013 car guy calendar.

Until next time........

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 8: The Electrifying Fisker

This is the "electrifying" new Fisker. The what? The Fisker. Not surprised you haven't heard of it, as it is a very low production, relatively expensive electric vehicle. There is one two car showroom at The Shops of Don Mills in Toronto, but no dealership per se. I don't even know where you'd get yours serviced.

Interesting car. It is an EV, electric vehicle, with an "extended range" small 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinder gas motor. Without this additional motor, you couldn't drive to your Muskoka cottage for the weekend. Couldn't drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake to show the locals your new ride. As an added bonus it comes with a solar panel roof.........

........which also adds to its range, but cancels the availability of a sunroof. A few stats......200 top speed and a 6.3 0-60 mph time. Not earth shattering, but respectable.

Pretty dramatic looking car with its 22" wheels and swoopy, wave like styling. It sure makes a statement. My problem with it is that although it is a 7 series BMW sized vehicle, it is very tight for space inside and a little claustrophobic. Take a look at the back seat........

..........but this will never be a problem for me, since at $117k, it's just a touch out of my comfort zone.

A little background........Fisker is a California company started by Henrick Fisker who has designed both BMW's and Aston Martin's (check out those lovely lines). They have delivered a little over 1000 cars internationally to date, but remain in that precarious start up mode. I believe there are two sales outlets in Canada  -  one in Toronto and one in (I think) Calgary.

One reason as a genuine "Car Guy" that I love working with cars4U, is that I get to see (and sometimes drive) all sorts of interesting vehicles like this Fisker. It was delivered by us this past Tuesday. What a life!

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5: Fleetwood Country Cruize In, Part 1

Money is a wonderful thing to have. On the outskirts of London, Ontario, a wealthy collector annually runs one of the best organized and best attended old car shows that I've seen. While Cadillac collector (hence "Fleetwood" Country Cruize In) Steve Plunkett raises tons of money for charity, he puts on a show for all ages. His estate is beautiful and the perfect venue for the cars, the exhibits and the classic groups like the Paul Revere and the Raiders or Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons who play on Friday and Saturday night.

How great is a show when the very first car one sees is this........

.........the Green Lantern's custom Imperial movie car and then this.........

......'61 Impala Super Sports  -  rare and beautiful. In university, I had a tan '61 Impala convertible, but even back then it was not in this incredible shape. Speaking of the venue, here are a couple of pics of the main house/grounds.......

What a lovely setting. And where else would you see an Amphicar exhibit like this?

A pond with about half a dozen of these funny little convertibles offering rides to show goers with a backdrop of three '59 Cadillac Eldorado's.

This pic of a '57 T-Bird shows you the quality of the cars (at least most of them - more about this on Friday) and the extent of the grounds, which includes a small golf course.

Ah, money is a wonderful thing to have. By the way, special thanks to my good and longtime friend, Glen. As soon as I took my first pic, my battery ran out, so Glen came to the rescue and took all these great shots.

More about this show in Friday's blog.

Until next time........

Friday, June 1, 2012

June 1: Car Tricks

Car tricks. Car tricks? It seems like every new car these days has some sort of techno wizardry added to it so that it will stand out. Or is it done simply to make our lives better? 

This is the 2013 Altima, a beautiful looking re-do in my opinion..........

.......and here is the latest "car trick" as outlined in AutoWeek......

"Nissan's system uses the car's four-way flashers to let the driver know air is coming in. Once the tire is full, the horn beeps once. If the driver puts in too much air, the lights blink faster and the horn beeps three times. When the tire is deflated to a proper level, the horn chirps one more time."

Great idea which will take some memory skills. Was that one beep or two? Are those lights faster? What if I'm at the back of the car, how do I see the headlights? Now don't get me wrong, I think this is a great idea, but initially it looks like it requires a skill set. Actually it would be great at parties to show up with deflated tires and voila! an audience forms as you and your car perform magic. Of course, the party probably needs to be at a gas station, so that you can have access to an air pump.

Several new cars, like this 2013 Audi S6.........

.......have a neat collision warning system. If the car senses you are about to be hit from the front or from behind, the car automatically makes adjustments to the driving postion in order to (hopefully) lessen the damage to the driver. Gives you just enough time to think, "Oh s---, I forgot to renew my insurance!", before impact. By the way, how many couples hug lovingly while looking at their new ride? Do you think this pic is staged? 
Even the lowly Ford Focus will parallel park itself.

Who would have thought that a car could actually do what I consider to be a matter of pride. Although this is a cool feature, I know if my car did this, I'd make sure I had a newspaper handy, so passersby could see me reading as the car parked itself. How cool would that be? I wished though that they had gone one step further and allowed you to hop out of your car before it proceeded to amaze the onlookers.

What "car tricks" will the future bring us next?

Until next time........