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, April 30, 2013

April 30: Dream rides?

Just livin' the dream, rollin' over the highways and bi-ways in your very own big rig. Not a care in the world, except maybe the traffic and getting that load to your destination on time. But hey, they are trivialities compared with the power under your right foot, as you look down upon your fellow travelers. Just a dream though. Even if you could afford one, you already have a job, pension(?), etc, so might as well fantasize about something else.

But wait, all is not lost, Lil Big Rigs in Tennessee has the answer to your prayers (assuming you pray for such things). Bring them an older Chev/GMC or Dodge Ram chassis/powertrain and they'll give you back your very own.........

........your very own little big rig. Normally this lady would need a big step ladder to enable her to lean against the top of her Peterbilt's grille, but not anymore. Chose between one of those two iconic trucks, a Kenworth or a Peterbilt and have Lil Big Rigs make you your own dream come true.

Almost cute and oh so manageable around town or easy to park for your gig at the local saloon. Pull up in one of these and you are so much more than the local guitar hero.

So how do they compare in size to one of the big boys?

About 1/2 size, I'd say. Sure beats that old pick-up that was sitting out back without much of a future. Best of all, since these trucklets are built to order, you get to personalize your very own little rig.

Sleeper cab? Custom paint? Wild graphics? The sky is the limit along with your budget. How much you ask? The Lil Kenny averages around $37k, while the more prestigious Lil Pete will set you back close to $50k.

Just imagine pulling into Walmart or your local gun shop with one of these babies. Respect? You'll get it by the truckload. Hit that big ol' air horn, while watching those pipes blow smoke black as coal. If you've thought this out in advance, you'll have made sure that the power plant is a diesel, even if it's a small one. It's all about image, remember?

Drop your little fella off at school in one of these and he'll never be picked on again. Instant respect and you didn't have to be a pistol packin' Momma to pull it off, either.

So go ahead, give Lil Big Rigs a call. Live the dream, cruizin the 'hood in your own personalized, semi honkin', big little truck. Life is good.

Until next time.......

Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26: What's up in Shanghai?

China. One thing we known for sure is that they have designed(?) some really funny looking cars. We also know that their quality has been laughable. Another thing we should know is that they shouldn't be taken for granted. Might be a few more years before they land in North America, but watch out when they do.

At this time the Chinese car market is the second biggest in the world. A life saver for companies like GM, which I believe is the number two foreign company behind VW in that market. So it follows that the Shanghai Auto Show should be a big deal and feature all sorts of new intros or concepts. The latest show opening this week certainly lived up to expectations. Let's look at a few of the intros that I found interesting.......

For a country which now sells more Ferraris than almost anywhere else, it makes sense that a domestic tries to break into that market. So here is the Icona Vulcano  -  no other info other that it looks very hot.

When MG faced closing in England, it was bought by a Chinese company and here is their first completely new vehicle, a rather wild looking small suv. A pretty hot market segment these days.

Now I find this Acura concept, the SUV-X to be particularly interesting. Designed to compete against the X3, it is RDX sized, but with much wilder lines. Any place for it in our market? I wouldn't think so due to the RDX, but who knows in this suv crazy country of ours.

Kia is starting up a sub brand in China, not sure why, but it will be called Horki, which is a combo of names meaning "China driving". Probably won't be sold anywhere else and with that name it's a good thing. If they are trying to attract attention, this mauve clad lady should do the trick.

Over the years, the Chinese have had a penchant for what sound to us, bizarre car names. But just to show us that China doesn't have a monopoly on strangeness, the French company Citroen showed the DS Wild Rubis concept......

Great looking whatever it is with a rather unusual back end typical of some of their European products. Trust the French to try to one up the Chinese.

Remember the Ford Escort? Probably not with any sort of fondness, but everything old is new again and I guess the Escort's time has come. Not sure where this little beauty would fit into their line, as it looks to be Focus sized. Late comer Ford is struggling to build their market in China, so they'll need cars like this.

And finally to show you that car manufacturers still have a sense of humour, I present the Toyota Me-We........

Looking like a bombed out Mini, this concept is hopefully just that, a concept. Strange for a conservative company like Toyota, but funny is funny. Just don't park it outside your home on garbage day.

Shanghai offered many, many more new intros and concepts than these few, but as I wrote at the beginning, these ones really appealed to me. Will we see any of them in Canada? Patience, my friends, patience.

Until next time.......

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23: Formula 1 and team orders

In my mind there is probably nothing worse in a race, than when a driver is told to pull over and let his team mate pass. This is racing??

I like watching F1, although it took a long time for me to come around to it. After all, F1 is definitely different. All racing series have their strange rules or practices, but F1 seems to have the strangest (again in my opinion). I remember years ago, when a team's worse results during the season were thrown out in order to get their final position in the standings. That to me was just not right.

Now to the current day and team orders.We know why the teams use them, but what could be done to stop them? This is the tough part and so hard to police, which is why I believe they are now considered ok by the governing body (Bernie Ecclestone). But how to really stop them?

This pic shows the Red Bull cars. One team, one sponsor  -  all for one, one for all. Red Bull wins no matter who finishes up front. But what if a team was allowed to have different sponsorship on each car (they currently cannot)? BAR Honda tried this a few years back and it was disallowed, so they split the paint job on their cars like this.........

This might have featured competing brands from the same company, but I'm not sure. Either way, it didn't last very long. But F1 is an obscenely expensive business, with a team like Red Bull, spending well over $200m per year to field their two cars. No wonder teams struggle to get sponsorship. Think about it, if different sponsors were allowed on each car, that means each company would have to spend less. Maybe then the back markers would have more money to spend on each individual car? Make them more competitive?

But back to team orders.........if each team car had a different sponsor, there is no way that they would be pleased, if sponsor X's car was told to pull over and let sponsor Y's car pass. No way at all. Each part of the team would be doing their absolute best to finish ahead of all the other drivers, regardless of the ownership.Take a look at NASCAR......

This pic shows all four cars from Hendrick Motorsports. Note that each has a separate big buck sponsor. Do you think that the National Guard 88 would pull over so that Lowe's 48 could have a better finish? Not a chance. These companies don't spend their millions, just so the cars can have different paint jobs. They want to finish in the spotlight. And have the best finish.

So back to F1. Ecclestone says a team should be a team in all respects, right down to the sponsorship. Now does this make sense? How about 22 cars, each fighting for the pride of their sponsor and no team orders, because money talks and it says it wants to finish in front of the other guys. Is this so wrong??

Any thoughts?

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

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19: Mercedes-Benz - dream maker?

Mercedes-Benz "dream maker"? What's up with a statement like that? Used to be that Benz cars could be equated with looks similar to plain Jane military vehicles, but those days are long, long gone. And if you've read this blog before, you'll know my very positive feelings about most of the current Mercedes designs and unfortunately their prices (out of my league). Recently I blogged about the upcoming CLA. Well it appears that there is more where that came from. Keep reading.......

This is the latest model to come off of the A class platform, the 2014 GLA. If you know Benz naming practices, you'll recognize that the G signifies a sport utility. So from the A class hatchback below, which we don't get in Canada.......

..... came the hot "coupe" sedan, the CLA.......

.....and now the GLA. Everyone one of these little gems is a real looker and more to my point about Benz being a "dream maker", they are all priced around the $30-$40k mark. Thinking of getting a loaded Camry or Accord, but actually aspire to more automotive greatness? Well then, here is the answer to your prayers.

One after another of hot, daring designs, from what we used to think of as a very conservative German car manufacturer. And at the price of a well equipped Hyundai. Mercedes-Benz "dream maker" indeed.

One certainly can't fault Benz strategy of getting young folks into one of their products and then hopefully retaining them as they move up the car ladder. At least that is the idea and with great looking, well priced vehicles like these A class derivatives. How can they lose?

Mercedes-Benz "dream maker"? Absolutely!

Until next time.....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16: "The Car Room" by Barry

So you are thinking, I know this blogger loves cars and I know he has a few years under his belt, so what has he been spending his spare time doing over the past years (and years)? Surely he can't be spending all his time with the CMC (Car Modeling Cat)?

Well this story begins on a dark and stormy night, back in the dark ages of 1960, when little Barry, in trying to emulate his big brother, started to build his first model cars. So the answer to the question above is........

Works in progress
 ......I have continued to build these little cars for the past 53 years. And to answer that other question, I absolutely do have a life and a few other interests (my wife, baking, golf, fitness, reading non-fiction, friends). But back to my models. What better way to have any car you can dream of, but couldn't possibly afford in real life. That was the reason I started to build and have since then amassed a reasonable collection......

The early years
My wife has been very supportive and in our home, she has made sure that I have a couple of car rooms for me and my cars (my man cave?) and has even made suggestions as to their displays. Thank you, BC.

My collection covers a variety of interests, for example.......

The Dale Earnhardt section
The police cars
Cars are cars, so I also have a large number of smaller metal cars from Dinky, Corgi, Hot Wheels, Brooklin and others, that I didn't have to build........

These are just cars that I liked the look of. In another room, I have a fairly good selection of the larger 1/18th diecasts (and about 40 in my office). What is all this worth? Who knows, but if I had saved all the money that I've spent on these little autos, can you imagine what I'd have to spend on one large car? Actually, I bought an old collector car a few years back, but that's another story.

These little guys are fun to build and work as a sort of "mental mouthwash"  -  you know, clears the mind while one wrestles a tiny piece of plastic into place. The neat part is that I can drop by my car room for a few minutes or an hour  -  it's always there waiting for me. And if I don't want to work on anything, I can just look or read........

......from my collection of car books covering everything from the classics, to customs, to funeral cars, to police cars, to NASCAR, to drag racing  -  need I go on?

So drop by any time you are in the 'hood and I'll give you a personal tour. You might even see something that brings back a memory or two for you.

Until next time.......

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12: The mine is bigger than yours syndrome

 "Is that your big truck fella or are you just happy to see me?"

Mine is bigger than yours!  Remember when a Hummer was a "big" truck and in my eyes, a rather dumb idea for a big truck. Well, take a look at the Hummer now........

 .......not so big anymore, eh? The old Hummer almost seems like a sensibly sized truck, when compared to something like this Canadian built Conquest Knight. What started out as a vehicle specifically for the military (just like the Hummer) or the police has spawned a civilian version for those discerning few. Let's face it, there are times when something this size is a must have. Times such as trying to cut into traffic or getting a "left lane bandit" to move over or simply intimidating the hell out of everyone else on the road. You get the picture. Price? It's the old "if you have to ask" story.

But the Conquest is not the only nut bar big truck one can buy. How about this International.......

Simply take a BIG truck and add a second row of seats and the box from a "small" dually pick-up and viola', you now have the talk of the neighbourhood. Have the guys over, crack open a few brews and watch them drool over your new house sized ride. Nothing better!

Let's not get carried away with assumptions. These trucks are huge, but definitely not for everyone, as we all have varying needs. Say you have a bigger family or have more friends, then this International just won't cut it. So maybe a few more seats like in this super sized Ford?

Yes sir, this one will do the trick. Mine is definitely bigger than yours with this beaut. Pick-up truck practicality along with room for the soccer team. I feel so stupid, when I realize that I'd never have thought of this. By the way, bring a step ladder.

But not everyone wants or needs a gargantuan pick-up, that's why this one has found a few buyers.......

Nothing like a sport utility and in this case this is nothing like a "sporty" utility. Imagine cruising the local mall parking lots looking for just the right sized space. Might as well stay home.

And just how does one power these beasts? Sure, they will definitely have a torque monster diesel under the hood, but even that won't move these hulks at more than a snail's pace. What to do, what to do? One guy had the right idea.........

You got it! Put a jet engine in the pick-up bed. Notice that it is just high enough to avoid cooking those normal folks in the family car behind him. Good thinking.

So if you subscribe to the mine is bigger than yours thinking, what are you going to buy?

Until next time.......

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9: What is an RM?

What is an RM? Good question and rather a surprise the first time it came to my attention. I follow all the top concours and am always reading about the classics (cars that is), as well as all the new stuff. Years ago, I would go to the annual classic car auction in Toronto run by a little company called RM. I also frequently used to come across the name RM, when there a winning car at some famous concours such as Pebble Beach. For some reason it took me a while to put the two together.

Then out of the mist, like this 1935 Duesenberg SJ Town Car above, I found that the two RM's were actually one. That "one" was a small company out of Blenheim, Ontario (just west of London), who was amassing an amazing record of concours wins. Tucked away in this little hamlet were some of the best craftsmen in the world, rebuilding and restoring some of the best old cars ever built. Frequently, the top cars at Pebble Beach came out of the RM shops, like this 1931 Daimler Double Six 50........

......top cars which not only won their classes, but also win the prestigious grand prize. A very hard trophy to win. Some of the very best cars have lost out to an RM restoration.

Some other cars that have passed through RM's doors are........

1947 Talbot-Lago T26
1950 Lincoln coach built limo
But not just restricted to so called "production" cars, RM has tackled some very rare (one of one) cars for which parts had to be manufactured, as opposed to being sought out. Cars like these two concepts......

1954 GM Motorama Pontiac Bonneville
1960 Plymouth XNR
What a reputation! I mentioned that I used to go to RM's annual classic car auction in Toronto. Well, they out grew that and now hold auctions literally all over the world. And not just Barrett-Jackson clones. RM gets the very best cars, from the classics to the rarest exotics. When you see the listings for an RM auction in Europe, you know they will fulfill every car guy or girls wildest fantasies (car, that is).

All this from a "little" company near Chatham, Ontario. Something for us Ontarians and Canadians to be proud of   -  a real home grown success story. Check RM out for yourself at www.rmautorestoration.com. And don't drool over your keyboard.

Until next time........

Friday, April 5, 2013

April 5: My new ride

New and old
Back in December I wrote about my big decision of what car to get next. If you read it, you know I had some specific parameters to be met  -  room (I'm 6'5"), power, looks and in my mind at least, cache'. I loved my last car, an '09 Acura TL SH-AWD, but unusual for an Acura, it had many problems over the term of my lease. So what's next?

The pic above gives it away, but this one shows it in a better light........

Yep, it's the new Cadillac ATS, recently named North American "Car of the Year". I had considered the CTS, but it was going to be changed in a few months and I liked everything I was reading about this BMW 3 series competitor. About a foot shorter than the TL, it still has lots of room for my large frame. Lacking a bit in the back seats, but since they are only used about a half dozen times a year, who really cares. Actually in any car I'm driving, there is never any room, when sitting in the back seat behind me.

I went with the Performance model and the 2.0L Turbo (272 HP). A Caddy with a 4 cylinder? How things have changed, but if you read the performance stats, this is a very quick car and it handles like a 3 series. Pretty good target to aim for. It also has 18" rims and the much discussed Cue system (navi, etc). I went with the Diamond White and to make it stand out.......... 

........I selected a burgundy interior. I love it, my wife is not too sure, but she has her own car and I didn't pick her colours. It's actually a beautifully done interior with all sorts of soft touch surfaces. And that heated steering wheel!

Now about the Cue system. Initially all the reports were quite negative. With so many cars having these systems, you'd think they could learn from each other's mistakes. Anyway, Cadillac issued new software in January, that is supposed to make it more user friendly. I'm not the most tech savvy guy around, but I find the Cue quite easy to use with its soft touch technology and look forward to learning more about what it actually can do. I do love the voice command part, where I can tell it what song, radio station or media that I want (AM, FM, XM, etc) and it finds it for me. Cool.

And white instead of black. My last two black cars showed every little spec of dust, so this is a treat to have a car that is a more forgiving. But I'll be washing it twice weekly anyway, because that's the kind of car guy I am.

Haven't slept in it yet, but I'm sure that's coming.

Until next time........

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 2: Jeep Cherokee?

Be careful with an icon. Porsche has managed to nurture their original design and so has VW to a certain extent. The Jeep Wrangler has also stayed true to the original WW II design, while getting better (it wouldn't have taken much). But Jeep has another iconic design in their portfolio, which seems to have lost its way. Let's look back to the original smaller suv.......

This simple little station wagon was practical, but it was a Jeep and that implied a certain toughness and it sure looked the part. Even if driven by a female......

Of course, she must be Wonder Woman to be able to park in that tight a space, but that is a whole other story about ads from the '50's. This Jeep was an iconic design.

Flash forward to the 1980's and the introduction of the original Cherokee, which slotted into the Jeep line up below the Wagoneer. This was a design which strongly showed its Willys heritage.......

........a simple, boxy design that sure looked like an updated knock off of the original. And that, of course was the point. Although you could make it fancy, it was Jeep tough and could handle the roughest off road trails. This design ran for years and firmly established the Cherokee name. So why change it? That is a very good question.

But change it they did to Liberty and while doing so, gave it a softer design, that although squarish, seemed a touch wimpy. So why drop an established name? Other companies have done so and faired rather badly (think Acura). Even Jeep must have had their doubts, since the Cherokee name has continued to be used in overseas markets.

Time for a redesign.......

And a very good job, with a blocky look that went right back to the original. But there was still that Liberty name.

Jeep sales have been very strong over the past few years and I believe there was even talk of doing separate Jeep dealerships. Time for another redesign, but this time it was re-christened "Cherokee", as it should have been all along. The design? Well see for yourself........

2014 Jeep Cherokee
Introduced last week at the New York Auto Show, it is now showing a real change. Interesting(?) front end interpretation of the classic up right Jeep grille, but in a softer context along with rather flowing body lines. Does it matter? Maybe not. The traditionalists are up in arms, but can it capture more sales with new buyers than it will lose with the oldies? As always time will tell (profound statement). Apparently as capable an off roader as ever.

Iconic designs. Tough to have them age and obviously Jeep doesn't feel it is an issue. Good for them, let's cross our fingers.

Until next time........