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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Feb 26: Danica Patrick and NASCAR


Here she is..........the talk of the Daytona 500 Miss Danica Patrick  -  pole winner of The Great American Race. You'd think not much else was going on at the track or during the race with all the coverage she received. But hey, why not? Like her or not, Danica coming to Sprint Cup is big news for NASCAR, a series not known for having female drivers or in her case, a relatively successful (remember she won a race in Japan) expat from Indy Car. It sure doesn't hurt that she is very attractive. I mean, would Jeff Gordon get as much press if he looked like a troll?

I'm a Danica fan. She did very well in the 500 and I hope she does well the rest of the season. Isn't it time NASCAR had a femme fatale behind the wheel, because NHRA has had top woman drivers for years. Let's take a look at a few who have been winning in drag racing.........

 Shirley Muldowney is probably the most famous woman in drag racing. Starting off street racing, she progressed to the professional ranks, first in a Funny Car and then she became most successful in a Top Fuel dragster (below), where she won three championships. Even had a movie done on her exploits ("Heart Like a Wheel" - well worth a watch).

Even before she made it big, there were other winning female drivers such as Shirley Shahan, the famous "Drag-on-Lady".......


But nowadays, there are very good and winning woman drivers in all three of the top professional categories.  The Force sisters (John's daughters) have all done well. Although Brittany is just getting started in Top Fuel, she did well in a lower series. Ashley and Courtney have also won in Funny Car. Some pics, please.......

Brittany Force
Ashley Force
Courtney Force


And you don't have to be a member of the Force family to achieve straight line greatness. Pro Stock driver, Erica Enders has also won several events on this very tough circuit........


The reason for this whole post (pretty bad when the blogger has to point it out) is that it shouldn't surprise anyone that Danica Patrick is going to get exposure far beyond her success (or lack of it) on the track. NASCAR has pretty much been a man's world and now this woman is breaking in to it with a top ride. As Norris MacDonald of the Toronto Star wrote me yesterday, "she is going to make those millionaire drivers, billionaires". Good point, as more non race fans tune in to see her, they'll bring publicity and that brings more sponsors.

Hang on folks, it's going to be a great ride.

Until next time........


Friday, February 22, 2013

Feb 22: Big and beautiful Bentleys

First of all, let's get this straight, James Bond never drove an Aston Martin in any of Ian Fleming's famous books. No sir, being the discerning and suave spy, he drove a blower Bentley, like this one.......

Courtesy of Ian Guy (www.motoringartist.com)
Back in the '20's, these were very hot cars that competed in the 24 Hours of LeMans. Not exactly a stealthy spy car, but neither was the Aston Martin that Hollywood made famous in the Bond movies.Surely a car like this would "shake" you as well as "stir" the soul.

Up until a very few years ago, Bentley's were simply Rolls-Royce's with a different grille and much less cache'. In my hometown of Saint John, New Brunswick, the owner of Moosehead Breweries always drove a Bentley, since a Rolls would not have been very good PR with the unionized work force. The difference in price? A few hundred dollars, but that Rolls grille was an intimidating feature that one couldn't overlook.

In a move that would have some old Brits spinning in their graves, BMW bought Rolls and Volkswagen bought Bentley and thank goodness for both tranactions. Since VW took over Bentley, this car has gone back to its roots as a sporting, luxury ride. For example, they've just unveiled the 2014 Flying Spur.......


What a beautiful machine and a great companion to the Continental coupe and cabrio. And at a very affordable price (for a lottery winner) in the low $200's. It's good to see Bentley, over the last few years go back to the beautiful grand touring machines that remind us of its past. Ever read Keith Richards' autobio, where he writes fondly of his Continental sedan, the "Blue Lena"?

Keith Richards in a quieter moment


Ahhh......great car for the discerning, drug crazed rock star. The Blue Lena features in many of Keith's and the Stones '60's adventures through Europe and North Africa. A Rolls wouldn't have suited his persona.

Another great old Bentley from the '50's, this Continental fastback coupe, designed by Mulliner.........


Feel the need for something a bit more formal, maybe this one by Park Ward?


Yeah, those were the days. But, no, "today" is actually the good old days, as these new Bentley's are every bit as stunning as those older models and their performance would spin heads back in the day. And actually will today as well.

Bentley. A great old name that no longer languishes in the shadow of Rolls-Royce. It's about time.

Until next time.......


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feb 19: The CMC and a Thunderbird

Ah, the Ford Thunderbird.

At one time it was everyone's favorite ride, star of songs and movies.It went from being a hot two seater to being a very sporty four seater and eventually came back again in the early 2000's as a homage to the original two seater. But in between, the Thunderbird morphed into a big luxury cruiser, that was about as sporty as a UPS truck with flames (and yes, I have seen a UPS van like that - it actually looked pretty good).

One of those in between "boats" was the '71..........


......which brings us to the point of today's post. I don't think this version sold worth a dam, since you hardly ever see them at shows or even saw them back in the day. But I liked them (there's no accounting for taste), so I was delighted when they recently released a model of this luxo barge. And here is how it ended up, once the Car Modeling Cat and I finished it........


Pretty good representation of the real car, if I do say so myself. Sure, in real life this T-Bird couldn't handle worth a dam, but its big 428 cubic inch motor would move it right along. I always liked the swoop of the roof line and I could even get past the beak at the front (more or less a copy of a '68 or '69 Pontiac). If I had the money back then would I have bought one? Not a chance. But I like the model.

My helper as always was the Car Modeling Cat........


Shown here finishing up the interior and checking out our next move in the instructions. Always the willing helper. And oh so smart.

Sometimes those big luxury boats are fun.......in model form!

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Feb 15: NASCAR's back!

When was a Toyota Camry the same as a Chev Impala and the same as a Ford Fusion and the same as a Dodge Charger? One place and that place was on a NASCAR track prior to 2013. What you saw in this "Car of Tomorrow" Chevrolet pic......


......was basically the same whether it was a Camry or a Ford or a Dodge, although with different front end decals and of course, the ubiquitous sponsor signage. What started as a "stock" car many years ago, like this '65 Galaxie........


........had evolved into a spec like series with all the cars exactly the same, so that no one manufacturer would have an aero advantage (once they figured out that there was such a thing as "aero"). Not unlike what had happened in the NHRA with funny cars and pro stocks or many other series.

Times change. NASCAR was losing its audience, whether it was bums in the seats at the tracks or on the couches watching TV. Something had to change. NASCAR might be a lot of things, but this officiating body was usually not dumb (well, we all have our moments). Sure the NASCAR fan followed their driver, but many also followed their favorite car manufacturer. A friend of mine doesn't get this, but I've always preferred someone driving a Chev or what was supposed to be a Chev on the track. Go figure. So what to do?

One obvious change was to make the cars more representative of what the fans could drive or saw on the street  -  at least in the look. Hand it to NASCAR and the manufacturers, as they have stepped up and have done a very good job of individualizing the cars hitting the track this weekend at Daytona.

Presenting the players in their new clothes.......

Ford Fusion with its street brother
Impala SS showing taillights and exhaust
Camry's new look
Finally, a fan will be able to tell the difference between the cars, besides just the sponsor and number. Will someone have that aero advantage? Maybe, probably, but it should even out in other ways (rule changes again?). Anyway to this blogger's eyes, the changes are very welcome. NHRA are you listening?

So now to Daytona and February 24th's big race. It starts this weekend with Sunday qualifying (don't ask, as this is such a confusing deal for this race only) and Saturday night's "The Sprint Unlimited". Sure, it's a made up race for pride and money, but kinda fun nonetheless. After Daytona, on to Phoenix and the weekly grind that ends in south Florida in November. When a driver wins this championship, you know he (assuming Danica is not a factor) has earned it.

Pull up a chair, a tasty beverage, some snacks and enjoy!

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



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Feb 13: Acura - Where to now?


Where to now, Acura?

Way back in 1989 Honda joined most of the other Japanese car companies in introducing its own luxury brand......Acura. Kind of rolls off the tongue doesn't it, no matter which way you pronounce it. They had two models, the Legend shown above and the smaller Integra. Off to a good start (after all they were Hondas), they sold well for a number of years, but there was a problem. Some marketing genius (and let's not take that term too literally), decided that there should be a name change. This is where it gets interesting.

Seems that when asked, folks said they drove an Integra or a Legend without adding the Acura name. Ask a 328 owner what they drive and they'll say a BMW, same with Benz and Lexus.Not good for brand recognition, so they changed the Acura model names. The Legend became the RL and promptly disappeared off the sales charts never to recover. Until now? Behold the new RLX........


Following along with current Acura styling cues and dropping the price by thousands, they hope to jump start the RLX sales by pushing the value button. Not a bad strategy, but will it work?

The beloved Integra became a very slightly revised Civic called the CSX and sold only in Canada. The US didn't get this model, since they probably would have seen through the mild disguise. Now that price point has been taken over by the relatively new ILX, which is also sold in the US.......


Still based on the Civic platform, but so different as not to be an issue. Attractive, well priced and well finished. Not sure why, but this model has apparently failed to ignite Acura sales in this segment State side.

The TL was redone in '09 to mixed reviews on the polarizing styling, while lauded for its handling. I have the SH-AWD version. Love the power, the look and the ride/handling. For some reason (and this is not typical), mine has been as close to a lemon as any car I've ever had. Surprising for a Honda product. Revised again recently, it seems to be holding its own in the market.

Acura's big players are the sport utilities and the MDX concept shown at the Detroit show continues a very winning formula.......


  So Acura knows sport utes, but they must be crossing their fingers, hoping that they'll get their car mojo back in the very near future. They do have a great plan to drive people into their showrooms, but it is a year or two away. Here is the plan.......


Yep, the next NSX. Any car this exotic will bring in the lookers, but then the sales staff will have to make them buyers of the other cars in the Acura line up. There is no way to over estimate the value of sexy eye candy and its ability to draw people into the showroom. It works every time.

So where to now Acura? New models and price reconfiguring. Hopefully Acura will be able to stabilize their line up and follow Lexus to the sales success that Acura must envy. Time, as always, will tell.

Until next time.....



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Feb 7: BMW - Humble New Beginnings


Do you think that cars ever wonder who their grandparents were? What they looked like? How they drove? Well, if they do, then the current BMW line has a lot to be thankful for and for how far they have progressed, since dear old grand papa was driving around the German countryside.

Back in the '50's BMW was still trying to survive the devastation of the war years, with a not too stellar line up of cars. One of the products that helped(?) to re-establish the brand was this micro number, the BMW Isetta........


Yes, you do have to love it, although giving it flowers and taking it on a picnic may be carrying "auto" love a bit too far. A few details......13 HP, 1 cylinder and 53 mph (84 kph) top speed (but not into a head wind). Always the innovator, BMW's little Isetta was no exception in its own way. How about this very trick(y) way to get in........



Imagine picking up your date in your dear little Isetta coupe. Awfully close for a first date, but once at the restaurant, you could take it inside with you. Take careful note of where the steering wheel is positioned and no getting confused over the complicated dash.

There were many uses for these little wonders(?), like this threatening police cruiser......


How would you even see it behind you? Maybe you had some road trips in mind, when you bought your new family car......


Obviously the rest of your family would have to follow in a bigger vehicle with a bigger trailer, but, hey, the freedom of the open road!

One more pic to show that size isn't always so important......

If I were a new BMW model looking back at my grandparents, I'd sure be glad that I was not born way back then. Give me today's power, room and handling. Sure this little number had four wheels and tires, but those two at the back wouldn't add much to the Isetta's stability. Wonder if they ever considered an M version. For that one, there could be 16 HP!

Thank goodness, I was built today!

Until next time.......

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Feb 5: Mighty Mites

Mighty Mites? Do you mean "Mighty Mouse"? No, that's a whole other story for someone else's blog. Take a look at this neat Hot Wheels toy........


Hot Wheels always comes up with some deliciously strange concoctions (I have a few dozen in my collection). Something that could exist but probably never would, except in the fertile mind of its designer. This BMW Isetta dragster is a good example, a real Mighty Mite. But wait, some twisted soul had a better ideal........


Whoa, what the heck is this? How about a fully operational, 500 cubic inch, 730 HP copy of the original Hot Wheels. This is one seriously twisted and very dangerous combination. Gobs of power and a way too short wheelbase, but what a blast. Want to buy it? Check out RM's Feb 16th auction of the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum collection. When you buy it, please drop by with the keys next time you are in Toronto.

But this isn't the only strange little Mighty Mite drag car, as you can see by this unique smart car.......


Obviously done up as a promo for Val-Fit, an American company that makes industrial fittings. How would you like to borrow the company car for the weekend?

What other Mighty Mite can someone think up, given time to waste and a bit too much money? Here's a monstrous idea.......


Yeah, you got it, a smart monster truck (car?). Finally a way to avoid being intimidated by those F-150's and Ram's that sidle up beside you at a traffic light. Look down at those guys for a change and you could probably do it for under $100k. Time to pony up, my friends.

Another Mighty Mite dragster is this wildly weird Fiat.......


Based on a 126 or one of its derivatives (a Polski Fiat maybe?), this looks like one seriously crazy drag car. I have my suspicions that this is a photo shopped pic, but it is oh so cool.

Couldn't have a post on Mighty Mites without the original little ride could we? This little VW fits the M M description perfectly........


Sorry about the b/w pic, but it's the best one I could find showing this little beast in action. Running a 1500 HP Chrysler motor will allow a very serious burn out. Saw this car run at New England Dragway back in the day - little, loud and proud.

Mighty Mites. Gotta love 'em for being rather strange, but lotsa fun. Think of any others?

Until next time.......


Friday, February 1, 2013

Feb 1st: The Car Modeling Cat's latest project


Here she is, the Car Modeling Cat, hard at work on our last project. This little sweetheart never fails to add her particular (perculiar?) skills to each and every model. Check out what we just finished......


......a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 XL. Can I help it that I love the cars that I grew up with? No at all, but if you've read more than a couple of my blogs, you know that I love all types and ages of cars. This is not a problem for my wife as she has known about her competition for many years. A couple of more pics......

Should I have used the flash?

The thing that I really liked about the older cars is that they had styles that were definitely distinct from one another. You could tell the difference between the main brands immediately. Have you checked out the rear end of the new Accord, the Genesis or the BMW 5 series? Pretty darn similar  -  you can check out one of my earlier posts about this exact thing.

Take a look at the '65 Galaxie in this pic........


......and first compare it to my model (patting myself and the CMC on the back) and then with this '65 Chevrolet Impala........


One is razor edged, while the other is swooping curves. No identity problem between these two. Compare them to today's designs, while being quite good, they are as I said, too similar in many cases. Doesn't just about every car now feature the famed "Hoffmeister kink"? More about that feature in another blog.

Anyway, life goes on, as do car designs and every dog has its day. And so does the Car Modeling Cat.

Until next time.......