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, April 27, 2012

April 27: What's in a name - Chrysler 300C


What's in a name? This is the 1955 Chrysler 300B. Chrysler has used the 300 nameplate followed by a letter off and on for the past 57 years. The '55 B was the first in this series of coupes and sometimes convertibles, that always had the biggest motor available. In 1957 Chrysler called their 300 the C, which sort of became an iconic letter, even though the series continued until the L in 1965. Note the yearly letter change.
300C good enough to be on a stamp

The 1965 300 L



So what is in a name? Obviously a lot, since Chrysler brought back the 300 name a few different times, but didn't really get serious about it (in my opinion) until they introduced the 300 C again in 2005.......

This "in your face" car was the top model in the line up of new 300's and as such carried the C designation and also the new revived Hemi V8. The public's reaction was overwhelming and this became the car to have. Mine was black with deep tint glass (a very common addition), but many more buyers added a Bentley like grille. Decked out like this, the 300 C looked pretty menacing, like the gangster Ed Harris's black C in A History of Violence. This was just one of many starring roles for this car.

In 2012, the 300 C has a more refined look, a slightly more powerful motor and in Europe is also being sold as the Lancia Thema.........

They should have named this the Thema C! Probably wouldn't have had the same meaning, since I believe it carries a diesel on the Continent.

What's in a name? Plenty if a company uses it successfully for over 50 years thru almost three generations.

Until next time.......

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24: Lada Tears?


Recognize this car? This is the Fiat 124, a well respected small sedan that was introduced in Italy in 1966. Recognize this car..........


No, it's not the same car, well not really, but really it is, but not quite. Got it? This is the Russian Lada that was built in the USSR from 1970 until Monday, April 16th,2012 (talk about being precise). After the 124 had its successful run in the free world, the dies were transferred to Russia and with help from Fiat, the 124 was reborn as the Lada or maybe as the Polski Fiat (below). Also in 1985, it was introduced as the Premier in India.


We even got to buy the Lada in Canada for awhile before folks realized that even at a "give away price", they were still not good cars (junk?). For the Iron Curtain countries though, compared to what they had been used to, this was a great improvement. Basic transportation with room for the family.

Once the Curtain came down, things changed rapidly and the western car companies started making and selling new and much better cars in those previously restricted countries. No longer did they have to make due with bad cars or western hand me downs. Even the good old Lada had to change........


.......like this updated version shows. Well, it didn't change too much, new headlights and a more formal grille. All things must come to an end eventually (for example Dick Clark), so after 30 years, the ex 124 Lada reached the end of its production life. Not a bad record, 46 years combined as a Fiat and a Lada, and many millions sold. Will the collector car auctions of the future treat this car with respect and high bids? Unlikely, but the old 124/Lada still has a longevity record to be proud of.

Until next time........

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20: Amphicars - a fool and their money

My last blog was about flying cars, so I thought floating cars would be an excellent follow-up (actually recommended by my buddy, Jeff). These things make a bit more sense, but "sense" in this case is a relative term. My favorite is this one........


Road washed out? Bridge down? Tsunami? No problem, this intercity tour bus just takes to the water. Let's hope that the water is calm, since I can't imagine this behemoth being any too stable once the wind comes up. At least the yellow will be easy for the search and rescue copters to spot.

How about that well known little amphibian, the Amphicar.........

Great on land? Great in the water? Sure, believe whatever you want, but they were generally a 1960's novelty item that wasn't very good at either.

Nostalgia has its place, but be careful of it at a collector car auction. Two or three years ago, two folks got into a bidding war at a Barrett-Jackson auction and one of them ended up paying around $120k for this nutty little rig. That got everyone excited and suddenly lots of them ended up in auctions, but sanity has since reigned and I believe they now sell in the $50k range. A fool and their money......

But there has to be a good amphibian somewhere.......


This is the European Gibbs Aquada (rolls off the tongue doesn't it?). Supposedly a great car on and off the water and only costs about $250K! $250,000 dollars! For that price buy a nicely equipped 911 and a nice boat. Sure people won't look at you as if you were an idiot, but guaranteed you'll be happier. Again, a fool and their money........

Flying cars, floating cars.......will my next blog be on underground cars? Unlikely, since I only found this one pic when I was doing my research and it looks like a train.......


Until next time........

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17: Flying Cars - our future?

Now how do you like this idea..........we drop into our local dealer and pick up our new flying car. What a great concept, no longer tied to earth and its highways and biways. It won't be long now, since the new Terrafugia Transition has just been unveiled at the New York Auto Show.......

Can you just picture the whole family (or maybe a very small whole family) crowding into this beaut for a jaunt to the local theatre or up to the cottage? No longer worrying about the OPP speed traps or those long end of the weekend line ups. Of course, the fact that the wings create a huge blind spot when it is earth bound or that it only fits two folks and a cooler shouldn't be too much of an issue. Right?



Check out the cover of this July, 1957 Popular Mechanics mag. They figured, like many others in the '50's, that this type of transportation was just around the corner or at least in the very futuristic 1980's. Or how about these real life examples.......

I find it's hard enough to see cars around me on one level, so can you imagine what it would be like with them coming at you from all sides as well as above and below? Now there is a nightmare scene worth envisioning. Carnage on the highways would be nothing like the carnage in the skies. "Death from above" like what was written on those choppers in the film Apocalypse Now

The flying car is so wrong and dumb on so many levels that it defies logic (even mine). Lousy car, lousy plane. So why do these idiots keep coming up with them? The everyday world is not like a James Bond flick  -  remember the flying Matador?

Let's agree to stick with cars that fly on the road (love those big motors) and leave the skies to the pros.

Until next time.......

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13: Snake bit - the Viper


From the design depths of the company that gave us the K car, came a concept car that blew everything else that they were doing out of the water. Around 1990, Dodge showed us the car above and called it the Viper. No plans for production, just trying to generate some excitement in a dull product line. It hardly had a windshield and no top or a place to put one.

Excitement? Yeah, it generated tons and the Viper was put into production with minor changes.......


.........you can see that it got a real windshield, but there was still not much room for a top. It ended up with a lift off "cap" that looked like hell and really didn't work very well. I don't even think that it had roll up side windows. It was rough and tough  -  lots of power with no high tech items. And watch out for that side exhaust when you got out, burned legs were common. People loved it! I drove in one of these early ones and it was a thrill (understatement).

As it gained in popularity, it never really got too civilized and unlike a Porsche or a Corvette, it really wasn't suited for everyday, around town driving. The design evolved (it got roll up side windows!) and a beautiful coupe was added.........

This is the second generation styling and you can see that the look hadn't really strayed too much from the original. Still a rather basic, but very muscular sportscar (with power side windows). Then Chrysler Corporation fell on hard times and even tried to sell off the Viper brand. Fiat came along and the car was mothballed for a couple of years...........until last week's New York Auto Show.


This is the 2013(?) Viper, now branded as an SRT product, not a Dodge, but who really cares, it's a beauty. Again the look hasn't strayed much from the original, the power is now around 650 hp and it finally has traction control.

Although never meant to sell in the same quantities as a Corvette, the Viper, in a relatively short time (about 20 years) became near and dear to the hearts of performance enthusiasts. It wasn't unusual for loyal Viper owners to have several in their garage.

Now they have a new model to save up for.

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10: New York Auto Show comments

The New York Show as always had some interesting intros. I'll show three that caught my eye and give my unbiased (?) comments on each. First off, grandfathers all over North America were very interested in the debut of Toyota's newest Avalon........


This 2013 has a real mixed bag of design elements........roof from the Audi A6, back end from the Hyundai Sonata and the dual front grille from some designer's nightmare. The last Avalon probably sold so few that Toyota execs knew the names of those who bought them, so obviously in designing this one, they were trying to appeal to someone other than buyers looking for a near death experience. Speaking of which, why not make an Avalon hearse, so that the buyer can ride comfortably to the end? By the way, in all my years in the car business, I've never sold an Avalon.


2013 Altima

The next intro is a much more important one for its company. The new Altima has to sell a ton of product and once again establish Nissan firmly in the family midsize market. As such this is an evolved design of the ones that have been around for the last 10 years. Good looking, but check out that front end  -  compare it to the 2013 Lexus GS on the right. Someone sneak into a competitor's design studios?

Taxi drivers and cops love their Impalas, so take a look at what they might soon be driving......


Not bad, eh? Of course it will look different with black wheels, cheap hubcaps and a light on top. Seriously though, the Impala has been a sales success for Chevrolet since its intro in 2000 and has sold in big numbers to "normal" consumers. Since Chev now has the Caprice (a dedicated police cruiser), we might not see blue and red lights atop this new Impala.

Acura lost touch with its high luxury market when they dropped the successful Legend name, replacing it with the RL designation several years ago. The sales just never came back. Well, here is their latest effort to win the hearts and souls of the Benz E class and BMW 5 series buyers.........


Oops, I inserted a Hyundai Genesis pic or is it an Infiniti G37? No, this is the right picture, but it is just so similar to other cars on the market that I'm thoroughly underwhelmed. Not sure how Acura plans to get those lost or new customers back into their showrooms with this new RL. I've been surprised before, but I don't think I will be this time. Very good car actually, just unfortunate about the redesign.

Obviously there were other important intros, like the new Viper, but also obviously there will be other blogs.

Until next time.......

Friday, April 6, 2012

April 6: GTO and a Cat

Happy Easter and a Good Friday! The CMC (Car Modeling Cat) has been at it again.......


Here she is resting after we finished this beautiful 1969 GTO hardtop in a gorgeous candy apple red. Sometimes we mix colours and cross our fingers about what we'll get, but this was definitely a winner as you can see from this other angle.......


This was a relatively simple build and we are very pleased with how it turned out.

One of my favorite GTO's is the 1969, almost identical to the '68, but without the vent windows, giving it a cleaner appearance. The whole car looks taut, like a real muscle car should. Even though it was about the same length as the '67, it looked much shorter. Check out this real one.......



A friend of my brother's had a 1970 GTO in a boring light green. Not as nice as the previous year, but just as quick, although this guy was ultra conservative when he drove it. Why did he bother, as a plain Jane Le Mans would have worked just as well and been a ton cheaper ("less expensive" is the diplomatic way we would describe it in the car business). Oh well, those were the days.

Have a Happy Easter weekend. First golf game of the season on Saturday. I wonder how much I improved over the winter (lol)?

Until next time.......

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3: So Long Grumpy

On March 29th one of the most famous drag racing stars of the past 50 years, Pennsylvanian Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins passed away at 81. I remember seeing him race at the Grandnationals just outside of Montreal and also once or twice at Cayuga near Hamilton. If there ever was an iconic Chevy racer, Grumpy was it.



with early partner, Dave Strickler in 1962








Jenkins started out around 1962 tuning engines for Dave Strickler's Belair 409  -  the must have car for any serious drag racer. These pics show the good old days when some work went on outside the garage before the car got towed (or was driven) to a race. No big enclosed semi trailers back then.

Jenkins was a serious guy at the track and sometime in the mid '60's, picked up the nickname "Grumpy" and it became so synonymous with him, that from 1966 onward all his cars were called "Grumpy's Toy". His real fame began in the late '60's and early '70's with a string of Camaros and Vegas (not exactly like the ones you would see rotting on the street).

The '68 Camaro on the cover of this book about Jenkin's cars was one of his most successful. It was eventually replaced with a '69, but then brought back again when the '69 proved to be disappointing. But his real success/fame came with his first Vega........


In 1972, he won so much with this car and made so much money, that he was featured in Time magazine. At about $250,000, his income tied with (I believe) Wilt Chamberlain as the highest paid pro sports figures that year and brought him to the attention of the mainstream media.

After he stopped driving in the late '70's, he still fielded cars with other drivers and eventually just supplied motors to competitors. A great success story of someone doing something that they loved. Of all the car models that I have in my office, 12 are well known drag cars of the late '60's, early '70's and three of those are Jenkin's cars.

Time goes on, but the memories last forever.

Until next time.......