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, September 27, 2013

Sept 27: Love might be blind

In my youth I had a '76 Corvette like the one in these pics. Bought new, I thought it was a great car, of course in retrospect it wasn't, but time gives objectivity to most things (most times). But the design is quite nice, powerful looking (it wasn't) and sleek (it was).

What if you were a person of discerning taste and wanted something a little different. Something that might stand out from the crowd at the local drive-in restaurant or the country club. Something that showed that you were a cut above the common crowd. Something that might scare young children or cause grown men to retch uncontrollably. I know exactly the something that you want, you need, presenting the one and hopefully only, Caballista........

. Not content with the status quo, you are, according to the Caballista ads, "today's discerning driver". So now you know exactly who and what you are or in this case, were.

The Caballista is a product of the Dunham Motor Coach Company, which in the late '70's built 50 versions of this, as they say, neo-classic. Based on a innocent Corvette, which sacrificed itself, so that a discerning driver could stand out from the masses and in my opinion, not in a good way. But, as you know from my previous blogs, it takes all kinds.

Dunham Motor Coach has been around since 1957 and is responsible for many cars of questionable taste, but they certainly have always stood out. Show stoppers like this Superfly Corvette......

A copy of a Cadillac Eldorado, but again on a Vette platform. I'm sure that with all this added fiberglas, these cars were less than a joy to drive. And with the under powered motors of their time, they were definitely cruisers in the low and slow style.

What's that you say, you think that these are the epitome of grand style and good taste and you wish that someone was producing gems like this today? Relax and rejoice, for the Dunham Motor Coach Company is still active and has announced that they are dusting off those old molds. Yeah!

Makes me want to cry.

Until next time........

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sept 24: A car/truck, a model and a cat

The "old days" were almost as interesting as today in the types of cars/trucks that found their way down the production line. Actually, no matter how nostalgic one gets, nothing can beat what we have available to us today. Anyway, enough about that, let's look at today's blog topic........the El Camino, or at least one particular El Camino, the 1966 Chevelle version.

El what? El Camino, my friends. Basically a two door station wagon with the back roof removed, so that it became a pick-up truck (pick-up car?). So in essence a car based pick-up truck. Great idea? Good question. They haven't made them for about 25 years, so you figure it out.

Today's topic is the 1966 Chevrolet El Camino. It came in a variety of trim levels matching what was offered in the Chevelle car line. What was interesting, was that you could also select any engine offered in the Chevelle line for your car based El Camino. Any engine meant anything from a weak little six cylinder to the 375 HP 396 cubic inch monster. With such a light back end, this last version would be a rear tire melter.

Not much of a car, not much of a truck, but a rather stylish answer for anyone needing to carry light loads and not wanting/needing a big truck for the job. No 4x4 available here.

Showing an interest in all things "car", the CMC (Car Modeling Cat) and I have just finished our version of this almost 50 year old hauler.........

Always a willing helper, my little CMC, checks out the finished version and makes sure that there are no errant cat hairs marring its finish (always a tough and necessary job).

The Oldsmobile Super Stock wheels add a mild custom touch, giving this little trucklet a bit tougher vibe. Hey, this is no Ford Raptor, but I work with what I've got. As you can see by the designation on the front fender, our version has the 396 big block.

Pretty good blog today.......I got to talk a little car history, show a car model and mention my cat. The big three? Better not let Barbara read this.

Until next time........

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sept 20: Need an ambulance?

Alexander Graham Bell needs an ambulance. Quick, call 911. Maybe not so fast, since old Alexander hadn't yet invented his phone. Anyway, had this scenario been real, this is the kind of ambulance that would have pulled up at his home for a quick trot to the hospital. Rough? Maybe (of course, it was), but what were the choices?

Once that great invention the car arrived, things progressed quickly. Well, over the next 100 years quickly, just a blink of an eye if you are a vampire.

Invariably, the early ambulances were run by the local fire department and may still be in many municipalities. Here is one from the '30's......

Or they could have been provided by the local funeral parlour, which used a hearse, which was quickly converted to ambulance duty, by slapping on a light and adding a bed........

Now isn't this a conflict of interest? You think that the guys who want to bury you, really want to get you life saving medical help? And how would you feel, when a hearse comes by the accident scene to pick you up......

Look closely........that old Cadillac ambulance is actually a hearse. Talk about being conflicted.

As you have probably figured out by now, most of the early ambulances were car based.

Like this Caddy with all the trimmings by Superior. Not so sure I'm a fan of those windows at the back, so that folks could see the patient taking their last breath. At least they knew, that wherever they were going, they were going in style.

Any car would do, like this ad for a lowly Ford conversion shows......

Like I said, any car would do, but, usually they were Cadillacs, until 1979, when the very last car based ambulance was built. This pic (provided by the Northland Profession Car Society) shows that particular car. I believe it went into a private collection.

So yes, the ambulance has changed a lot over the years. From horse and buggy to luxury cars to the (in my mind) very uninteresting look-alike truck based models that are mandated today.

But I guess, if I ever need their services, I really don't care what shows up, as long as the drivers and the equipment will help. Oh, but those car based models were interesting.

Until next time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sept 17: Opel dreams?

What a cute little car. But what is it?

If you live in North America this may be the closest you'll ever get to seeing the Opel Adam. The what? Well, it seems like every "with it" car company has to have a cutie in their line up. Think of the Scion IQ, the smart car, the Fiat 500, the Mini. Adam Opel founded his car company years ago, so why not call their new car the Adam. Opel Adam. Get it? Cute name for a cute car.

So why are we talking about a Opel that to us is nothing more than a dream? Well, if you are any sort of a car person, you'll know that GM's Buick division is currently made up of several Opel products (Saturn used to be the beneficiary). Just a tweak of the grille and a new name. Voila a new Buick. So extending that knowledge to the Opel Adam, might we see it selling in North America as a Buick something? Quick, think of catchy name.

Some others to drool over are these new Frankfurt Auto Show intro's that would fit right into Buick's line up. Think of the Audi Allroad when you look at this Insignia Country Tourer........

Based on the Regal that we sell here, this AWD model for those who don't want an suv, could be a natural. One caveat? How many Audi Allroad's do you see on our streets? Unfortunately not a whole lot. Europe? Now, there is another case entirely.

But how about this hot rod wagon based on the same Insignia?

This ride packs 325 HP. A real beast, that also has a car version, that we are far more likely to see in Buick showrooms than this wagon. I've mentioned this before, but why is it that you either have to be very thrifty (think Golf) or well off (think Benz/BMW/Audi/Volvo) to buy a wagon on our side of the Atlantic? Could this car give the BMW 328 Sports Wagon some competition? Yeah, sure Barry, that means Buick should bring in about a dozen and go wild.

Ok, so these are cars that we have a slight chance of seeing. One more that might stand a better chance is this concept, also shown last week at Frankfurt. Based on a real car, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Buick could import it in an attempt to lasso the younger crowd.......

Surely there are few folks who aspire to an A5, but lack the coin, who would sign up for this Monza (now there's an old name) in a hurry.

Opel dreams? I bet that as I write this blog, there are folks in GM's Detroit headquarters, who are trying to make a case for at least a couple of these Opels. As I said, change the grille, the name and make a couple of other minor tweaks and you could have Buick gold.

What about about it GM, am I right?

Until next time.......

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sept 13: What's in a name?

MKT. 328 i. C300. A5. XTS. RLX. Q50.

Know what they are?

Of course, they are car names or I wouldn't be mentioning them in this blog. But my point is who can keep track of all these different letters and numbers? Whatever happened to the good old tradition of giving a car a real name, whether made up (like Camry) or a real word (like Civic)? Those names are certainly easier to remember. The letter and number combos are a chore even for a dedicated car guy like your blogger. Now, I wasn't born yesterday, so I know why the car companies christen their creations with these unmemorable letter/number combos, but is it really necessary?

Let's look at some current "real" car names and a bit of their history.........

Chevrolet' Impala has been around since 1958, easy to remember and now a tradition.......

Or their Malibu beginning in 1964.......

Or the first Dodge Charger from 1966......

Or even the relatively recent Ford Taurus introduced a short time ago in 1986........

Easy to remember and most folks know these names, whether they know the car or not. But how many people know that a MKS is a Lincoln or that a C350 is a Mercedes or even a car? Companies like Bentley have always used real names and it hasn't hurt their brand recognition. And isn't it much more interesting to own an Azure than an S550? If you know what both cars are, then that was a dumb question. But hopefully you get my point.

Acura is a great example that I've used many times. When they switched from real names (like Integra and Legend) to letters, their cars "disappeared" from the market and in my opinion, they are still trying to get their mojo back.

Oh, one more example of a name with a little history behind it. The Nissan Rogue. Thought that it was a new nameplate when Nissan intro'd it about six years ago? Think again readers, the Rogue name goes way back to the '60's, but with a "slightly" different vehicle........


Until next time......

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sept 10: Road trip - NASCAR

September 7th -  the night race at Richmond, Virginia. The final race to determine who will be one of only 12 drivers, that will be able to compete for the very prestigious and lucrative Sprint Cup. There were still spots up for grabs and also opportunities to lose a position in that top 12. Should be an exciting race.

Every Fall for the past 17 years, my good friend SB and I have headed to a NASCAR race. A "boys" weekend road trip, usually to the land of Dixie. A great way to finish off the Summer before getting ready for (should I say it?) winter. The past three years we've traveled to Richmond, because it is an important race and usually always produces an exciting evening. This year was certainly no exception.

Ever been to a big time auto race? Very interesting experience, especially in NASCAR, which treats it like a travelling road show or circus. Lots of people, maybe 75-85k. Lots of exhibits. Lots of souvenirs. Quite an experience. Here are few of the visuals from this past weekend.........

Although one can park on the grounds, as you can see from this pic, the time to get out after the race can be mind boggling, so SB and I park downtown and take the free shuttle to the track. Easy, fast and fun(?).

While waiting for the race to start, there are always things to watch, like Fox TV's live pre-race show. Everyone tries to stand out, so that they will receive their three seconds of fame on international TV. Each to his own.

Or spend some time at the souvenir stands. Usually very busy, this pic was taken the day before when it was considerably quieter.......

Want a model car, a t-shirt, a coat, a plaque, a baby blanket? If you can think of it, you can probably find it in one of these 45' rolling stores, complete with the driver's image, autograph and sponsor.

Displays are also plentiful.........

From a driver cut out, perfect for picture taking, to a manufacturer's exhibit, in this case Ford's  -  close ups of the cars, drivers and also their new products. All in all a great show.

So what about the race? Exciting? Certainly. Controversial? Absolutely. I won't go into the details, which you can get on any sports site, but days afterwards, there are still repercussions, with the final results possibly in question.

Great way to spend a September weekend and a Saturday night!

Until next time.......

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sept 6: Red carpet time

Wow, how time flies! It's now September and in Toronto that means TIFF  -  Toronto International Film Festival. This got me thinking.......what do the celebrities (some may actually be good actors) drive up to the red carpet in? Traditionally you used to see big Lincoln Town Car limos disgorging their famous passengers on the red carpet, but that is changing.

Check out the lower right and note the name on this sport utility. Bingo! You got it, "Escalade", which has been the car of choice (probably thru an arrangement with Cadillac) at TIFF for the last few years. Makes sense as most celebrities seem to have an Escalade in their garage.

What else may appear at these special moments?

A Hummer? Why not, as for a short time these trucks were considered to be God like among those very cool people. Want something a little more traditional?

Yep, a Bentley sure would do the trick. But there have been other more, shall we say unique ways to arrive in front of those thousands of adoring fans.........

Sure thing, go to the other extreme and pull up in an old classic car from the 30's. This would certainly get folks' attention and maybe even make you stand out from those more illustrious actors and actresses pulling up in Escalades.

Want to drive yourself? Ok, how about this ultimate ride? A car that does not yet exist and when it does get released in a couple of years, it won't be as a convertible. May I present Tony Stark's ride of choice......

An 201? Acura NSX. This kind of display gets people talking for a long time and also makes all the car mags. Maybe even gets a few extra folks to line up for yet another Ironman flic.

I've never been to one of these events, but one day I may, just to see the rides. Life is good.

Until next time........

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sept 3: Hey VW, pick me up!

It's about time or is it? Is the timing right or is this a good idea whose time might never come in North America? That ram in this ad seems to be wondering the same thing. Do we or don't we? Lot's of reasons to and lots not to.

So what am I talking about?

Look closely at the bottom left of this ad. Ok, let's look at the bigger picture.......

The VW Amarok. The what? Well, apparently it means "steppe wolf" in the language of some northern Europeans. Make sense? Whatever. This is the Amarok, a rough and tough mid-sized VW pick-up truck sold in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and South America. Also comes in this two door model........

So the question is, why doesn't VW bring it to the huge pick-up countries of Canada and the USA? Don't we gobble up every new pick-up truck or would it be just another turkey (note the play on words)? Fact is our truck buyers are very specific, are extremely loyal and they like a BIG truck. Three factors that make this an extremely tough market to break into.

Nissan has tried it and they move very few of their Titans. When was the last time you saw one? Toyota, after a couple of false starts, came into the market with guns blazing and enough different Tundra models to compete head to head with the Ford, Chev/GMC and Ram versions. How have they done? Much better than Nissan, but last year they sold around 110k Tundra's. Not bad, but Ford sold this same amount in one particular month last year. Kinda puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Even still, apparently VW has been trying to put together a business case for this mid-sized truck. Nothing planned for 2014, but when the relatively new Amorek get updated, will there be one headed to North America?

By the way, for those of you with longer memories, you know that this wouldn't be VW's first try at a pick-up. Surely you must remember this "winner"........

Yep, the old Rabbit/Golf version of way back when. I still see the odd one rusting its way around Toronto.

Will VW ship the Amorek to us? Another question to ponder over the next year or so. Have fun!

Until next time.......