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, August 31, 2012

Aug 31: Cadillac ATS - a little background

I could start this blog by saying, "here we go again", but I won't.

A little background info for you.......

The car on the left is a 1980's Chevrolet Cavalier, while the one on the right is a 1980's Cadillac Cimarron (I don't think the different shade of paint on the front fender is intentional). These cars look similar? They should, since they are exactly the same car with minor trim differences. Kinda scary that Cadillac felt the need to counteract the imports with a Chev Cavalier clone. Nobody was fooled. Not surprisingly the Cimarron did a lot for Cadillac's image  -  all negative.

Lesson learned after a very few years of poor sales and even poorer reviews. Next up was the Catera, like this one......


Imported from Europe where it was an Opel Omega. Should have been a minor hit, but the quality was terrible. I had considered getting one for a second or two, but thank god, sanity prevailed.

What was going on here? Well, as the imported entry level luxury models (ie BMW's 3 series, Audi A4, Benz C class) started selling quite well in North America, Cadillac felt the need to give them some direct competition. Caddy had the big boats which sold to an older generation, whose next ride would be in the back of a Cadillac hearse. With a demographic that was quite literally dying off, Caddy needed an import fighter that would get the younger yuppies into a GM car. Good idea, but whatever were they thinking by simply rebadging junk?

Finally they got it right with the CTS, but it was midsize and although it was a very good car, Cadillac still needed a direct 3 series competitor. So after a few false starts, here they go again.......


The 2013 ATS is finally real BMW competition, if you can believe all the pre introduction reviews. It is almost exactly the same size as the 3 series, but crucially a bit lighter. Finished well inside and out, Cadillac believes this car will get them the clientele that they have coveted. A key to being a real competitor in this segment is the handling and apparently the ATS nails it. It is also available with three engines, just like the BMW and all wheel drive. Styling is a personal thing, but I feel that it blows the Benz and the BMW out of the water, while giving the Audi A4 a run for its money. This is a car, I could go for.

Just being introduced as you read this, it will be very interesting to see how it stacks up against the imports in the most important way  -  sales. And just how will it be perceived against the 3 series?

This race will be intersting to watch. The 3 series has a lot of history on its side, all good, so ATS vs 3 series could be an epic battle or maybe a David and Goliath. Look, Caddy is not going to de-throne the champ, but can it at least make it look over its shoulder?

Until next time.......

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Aug 28: Super Stupid Stretch Limos


Something not quite right about this pic? Aren't Lambo's supposed to be a touch shorter and better proportioned? Of course they are, but this is just one example of how dumb the stretch limo business has become. It's bad enough to add 10 or 15 feet or more to a Lincoln or a Rolls, but why spoil a beauty like this Ferrari......


Or even something like this Mini.......


Is nothing sacred to these super stretch limo builders? How does one even get into these things without going thru Circ de Soleil like contortions? Is this the answer.......


Sure, just open up the gullwing door and crawl elegantly to the back seat. Pull up to a special event and be the hit of everyone's cell phone camera as you stumble out of your classy(?) ride.

I feel like taking a rocket launcher to these monstrosities whenever I see one, but some creative builder now has that covered. Behold the Armour Horse Vault XXL (I'm not kidding, that's its name).........

Can you imagine the need for something like this? Fully armoured against all attackers, complete with gun ports. Apparently it even has a stripper pole built in. Of course, that I can understand. Why go out to a strip joint, when you can arrange for one to come to you? Finally, a great idea for a super, stupid stretch limo!

Anyone have any other pics they'd like to share? Just send them via stretch limo.

Until next time........

Friday, August 24, 2012

Aug 24: Maharajas' Wonderful Cars

What is a maharaja anyway? I've heard of them for years and at one time in India they had huge amounts of money and "ostentatious" might have been an understatement. This blog isn't a history lesson, it's one on cars, so I'll leave you to do the research on maharajas. Let's take a look at some of their cars.......


This is a Rolls-Royce that was featured in a show on India at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Check out all that silver. Imagine the price of a custom made Roller with the entire front end, along with all the fenders being made from pure silver. But hey, if your subjects are starving, you had to give some them hope  -  try to figure out that logic.

The pic below shows this same Rolls from the side. While you are polishing the silver tableware, also do the car, please.




Another beautiful Rolls, but this one was built so that the maharaja could address his subjects while driving along. The top could be lowered and the brightly coloured umbrella would still protect his highness (or whatever they were called). One of my favorites is this one below with the snakes coming up over the front fenders.......


By the way, this one was done completely in silver  -  completely!! Note how the small chair on the running boards reflects on the super shiny and polished body.

Oh, how I long for the good old days when money could buy you anything and nobody questioned it. Well, that may not be exactly correct.

Some American cars were also treasured as supreme status symbols like this custom Duesenberg.......


But the ultimate in my opinion is this one, the Brooke Swan Car.........

This one was done for a swan lover in India around 1910. The interesting part is that this was not the car of some maharaja, but of an eccentric Englishman who loved swans. Check out that beautiful body work. He was such a swan lover, that he also had a cygnet version done to trail along behind or in front or whatever. This car has been restored and was recently shown at the Pebble Beach Concours.

The main idea I want you to take away from this blog, is what extremes and excesses you can go to when you score with a super big lottery win. Expand your horizons and impress your friends!

Until next time........

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aug 21: Armoured Cars


Ever been in one of those situations where you really needed an armoured car or suv? Feeling vulnerable because you're stuck in traffic and you've just given someone the finger for cutting you off? Yeah, I know exactly how you feel and we wouldn't be the first people to feel that way.

And sometimes armour just isn't enough. The top pic is an armoured 1921 Packard belonging to a Manchurian warlord in the 1920's. A little extra security was necessary, hence the machine gun for the guard riding "shotgun" (as noted by Chris Ritter in Hemmings Classic Car). Now wouldn't that be a nice addition to your Smart car? No more Mr Nice Guy!

Other armoured cars have been slightly less blatant, such as this Cadillac by that upstanding citizen of Chicago, Al Capone........

Not sure the occasion, but whatever it was, Big Al's crew felt it necessary to display some serious firepower. You don't use a machine gun for blueberry picking. This car had enforced doors, bullet proof glass and added gun ports for those times when getting out of the car was just a bit too risky.

Not sure you'll ever see too many examples quite like these two, but armouring vehicles these days is big business. Most are rather discretely done, but if you know what you are looking for you can spot them. Probably not too many in Toronto, but Mexico City is over run with them  -  mostly blacked out Surburbans, I suspect.

 Like this one, which is quite noticeably done over. Check out the wheels and tires (bullet proof and bigger to carry the load). Also note the black framed window glass  -  usually a giveaway that the windows are extra thick and bullet proof.


Laura Bush gets out of a presidential limo, which you can plainly see has bank vault doors designed to protect an unpopular pres. Reportedly, this car has a NASCAR type motor to pull this super heavy weight along at speed.

How well does this stuff work? Well it won't stop most rocket launchers (the president's limo will), but this pic gives you an idea of how protective it can be..........


Think that only the top execs and political leaders are looking for some extra coverage these days? Well, think again as you look at this pic.........

Ford offers options 65C and 65E on their Police Interceptor sedans, which is armour for the front doors. Never know when someone is going to take a shot at you as you drive thru the hood.
So next time you are sitting in traffic wondering how to protect yourself against your own indiscretions, consider some armour.

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








Friday, August 17, 2012

Aug 17: Dodge Charger - then until now


Big, bold, powerful and in your face  -  this is the 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8. Well over four hundred rip snorting horses to propel you down the highway or simply to do a smoke show on your street. There was some controversy when Dodge brought back the Charger name in the mid 2000's, as many thought it should have been a 2 door coupe. Or at least a 4 door with more styling cues harking back to the Charger's glory days. The latest restyle has answered some of those complaints, still a sedan but really, who cares. Dodge was wise to do what they did.

How did the original come to be?


This was the concept (called "dream cars" back in the day) that started it all. Shown in 1965, it was followed by an almost identical 1966 production car, sure, bumpers were added, but the rest was bang on.


And it had the neatest interior with 4 bucket seats, separated by a full console running front to back. No getting in the back seat with your date in this car!

This was followed in 1968 by the car that really made the Charger's reputation. My brother's was dark green with a 383 four barrel backed up with (I believe) a Hurst shifter. Pretty quick with loads of torque. And that sound when the full four barrels cut in  -  heavenly. The movie "Bullitt" with Steve McQueen, helped to cement this car's bad boy reputation (check out the chase scene on youtube  -  time very well wasted).
This slightly risque ad says it all

Next came the '71 version version, just as the big engines were in their dying days. These big and powerful machines slowly morphed into person luxury cars. You can see the difference below between the red '71 and the new for '75.......




This 1975 shared the Chrysler Cordoba body, both personal luxury cars with no pretensions of being a factory hot rod like the original was just 9 years before. Times changed, the cars changed and the Charger drifted away to be replaced by the Magnum. It was resurrected again the '80's, but as they say, the less said about that one, the better.

Back to the present day. A new Charger with lots more power that the original ever dreamed about. Quicker, faster with much better handling. Who said the good old days actually were?

Until next time........

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aug 14: Limousines - the good, the bad and the ugly.

You see them everywhere  -  weddings, graduations, nights on the town. Stretch limos. In my not so humble opinion, these "classy" behemoths have to be just about the least classy things around.

And in some cases just plain stupid...........




.......like this one in San Francisco which got stranded......well, take a good look for yourself.

What happened to the really classy limos that used to show up at the big events? Nowadays you often see a version of them showing up at the last big event one person will ever attend, their funeral. But by and large, the traditional classic limousine has given way to these tacky monstrosities. To prove my point, let's take a look at some past limos........

To my mind, these late '70's Cadillacs really look the part of good taste and wealth. They are almost understated, not like the white, super extended, rolling disco like limos that we usually see today.

Or how about these models........

.......a 1955 Chrysler Imperial.........

.......or a '64 or '65 Lincoln by Lehman-Peterson


No question about it, these beauties are distinct without being over the top showy. You pull up at a graduation, a big event or a wedding in something like this and everyone sees class. Take a look at this photo below and you know that pictures never lie......


Can't get much classier than this!

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Aug 10: Passat & Accord Oddities


My brother just sent this pic to me of the new Passat he rented in England this past week. New Passat? What the heck is going on here, as this doesn't look anything like what is being sold in North America.

Actually, being the complete Car Guy, I do know what is going on here. The Passat sold here has never been a real sales success and certainly not the car that VW needed in their quest to be the world's biggest car manufacturer (including all their brands). The style was nothing special and it was over priced. Remedy? A Passat made only for the North American market..........


I once berated this 2012 redesign as boring and old looking. While not one of the cutting edge designs coming out of South Korea, it is pleasant looking in a conservative way. And it has been priced to sell. And it is actually selling. And it is entirely different from the Passats sold everywhere else.

A new strategy? Sure for VW, but look who else has been doing this for a few years.........


..........good ol' Honda has been selling a North American specific Accord for the last 8 or 9 years. It is quite a bit bigger than what Honda's customers can buy anywhere else in the world and it can be bought with a V6. Better? Not really, but "better" is a subjective term.

Many of you would say the Accord sold elsewhere is definitely much more fun to drive. How would you know? Simply pull into your local Acura dealer and drive a TSX. Same car  -  different name.

Take a look at the these pics.......













Everywhere else even gets a wagon version of the Accord. Acura did bring this into the US a couple of years back, but denied Canada this sensibly sized wagon. Remember, we prefer our suv's. Obviously, so do the Americans as the TSX wagon hasn't sold very well.

Next time you are outside of North America, check out the car nameplates. You might be surprised at what you see.

Until next time........

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Aug 7: Grand Prix and a Cat

 About every six weeks I finish another model. Sure, some take much longer and a few a bit less time, but generally every month and a half, will see another newly built model on my shelves.

This one is a 1965 Pontiac Grand Prix. I had built one back in the day, but did a job typical of my skills at that time. Of course, one hopes to get better, so I bought a re-leased kit and again built this '65. Pure white with a chocolate interior.




 I don't care about the motors on my models and usually glue the hood shut (called a "curbside" model), but I want the finished car to look like the real thing. The model is spray painted, all the chrome is applied with a very thin adhesive foil and all the names are painted silver. Other detailing is done with black paint. All that's missing is a miniature me sitting in the driver's seat. How does this model compare to the real car? Take a look........



As always, I have to give a shout out to my willing helper, the CMC, Car Modeling Cat. Always an asset when it comes to putting glue to plastic........


Here she is early in the build, checking out the Grand Prix's box and assessing our next move. What a cat!

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

Friday, August 3, 2012

Aug 3: 6 wants to be a 3?

Why does a 6 want to be a 3?

I asked a couple of people this and they automatically said Mazda (and I thought I was so clever). Well, they were right. Mazda is on the verge of introducing a hot, new updated 6 series. Haven't we heard this before? The 6 sells against the Camry, Accord and Altima and has been lost against this competition. Each new generation is going to be the car that establishes Mazda as a mid-size contender. So what has happened so far?

Let's take a look at some past also rans.........


This 626 was absolutely boring looking, not that style should have been a factor when selling against the sleep inducing Camry. By the way, let's get this straight right away  -  the design comments are my personal opinion and don't reflect on the cars' quality. I once heard it said, that it costs just as much to design a good looking car as an ugly one. You do the math.

After this, Mazda brought to market a very attractive 6, although it was a touch smaller than its competition........



This time they added a wagon and a very European hatchback. They sold a couple of hatches, but I thought that the wagon was a great idea. The 6 has never been a big seller for me, but almost all I delivered were wagons. Hard to find a mid-size wagon in this price range (you can't). So much for being first into this market, as neither set the world on fire, so when the next, larger 6 was intro'd, there was only one model, the sedan........


I still think this is a great looking design, but it landed in the market place like a lead balloon and has been hidden in plain sight ever since. Nailed to the showroom floor.

Why does a 6 want to be a 3? Simple, since the 3 has been one of the best selling cars in its category since its intro in 2004. The 6 would like to have even a small sniff of the 3's strong sales. What to do? What to do? How about incorporating Mazda's new and strong design language into the 6? It worked great on the new and fast selling CX-5. Take a good look at the upcoming Mazda6.........

I think Mazda did a great job of translating their new design from concept to production. Compare this to the original concept car..........


Pretty sweet, if you ask me. Great front end  -  lots of character. They even got the neat wheels from the concept down pat. Based on past history, it will be a dud, but history doesn't always have to repeat itself, does it?

Until next time........