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, June 28, 2013

June 28: What would you pay for that piece of junk?


Nice old Rambler from 1956 or '57........so what would you pay for this piece of old junk (there is another word for this)? A couple of hundred? A couple of thousand? $190,000? What's that you say? Are you out of your ever lovin' mind?

Well rock this folks...........


This piece of junk proves that beauty is more than skin deep, because it sure doesn't show on the surface. $190k buys you this beat up old '52 Chrysler/DeSoto combo. Great for long Summer weekend family outings. Never have to clean up your ride for the local cruise night, because no matter what you do, it will still look like a piece of doggy do. Until..........until you either open the hood or invite people to look underneath this incredible hulk. Equipped with a modern 6.1L Hemi motor and sitting on a new Dodge SRT chassis, this ugly duckling will turn into a swan once unleashed on an unwitting road.


Or what about this old girl, a '52 Chevy with a nice patina? "Patina" may not be exactly the right word to describe this old beater. Look closely, notice anything a little unusual, like those larger than stock wheels? Yes sir, those are the give away to what lies beneath. And like the wagon, this old coupe features a modern purpose built chasis with I believe, a Vette powertrain. Also like the Chrysler, the price tag is close to $200 large.

Who thinks up these things and who buys them? You can guess at the latter, but the former is Icon, an American company, out of (where else but) California. They started by making old "iconic" 4x4's into modern machines. Jeep type rigs, like the original Toyota FJ. One thing lead to another and with their success, there came the opportunity to play. The result of this success and too much time on their hands is their "derelict" line.


Featured on the original Top Gear and Jay Leno's Garage, these derelicts have intrigued gear heads everywhere. Well, I guess, but I like my rides, even the dream ones, to look good and not just go good. I'd do something a little more mainstream with my coin if $200k were gifted to me. But of course, variety is the spice of life and so it goes.

So next time you pull up beside a beater at the traffic light and smuggly rev the engine of your Honda Civic, look closely for the tell tale signs, after all, it just might be a derelict.

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


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25: Hey Comrade! What are you driving?

Thank goodness the days of that detested Iron Curtain are many years behind us. While it existed it did several things, but what is of interest to this car guy, was the rolling stock that was made in the Soviet aligned countries. This curtain seemed to curtail the car developments that we got in the west. So much so, that whenever we saw pics of Eastern Bloc cars, they were way out of date or just plain strange looking. All the time, while we were riding in our golden chariots, that were evolving as fast as the competition would allow.

But I was intrigued by Eastern Europe and her cars. Years after that curtain was raised, there are now a number of comprehensive books that appeal to your blogger. Books that show all the old Soviet era cars, with lots of pics and descriptions. A must have for any car guy's library and this car guy has most of them. Let's take a look.......


My latest acquisition arrived last week and it deals, as the cover says, with the cars of Eastern Europe. You can see from the inside shot that their cars are well covered. Occasionally we'd get imports like the Czech Skoda or Romanian Dacia, but their sales were dismal and the brands were withdrawn from our market. Here is a chance to see what else we didn't get.


Now this book about cars from Russia really goes into depth. I'd seen a number of these cars in photos, but many were a mystery to me. Laughable by our advanced standards.


Detailed by brand and model. What is interesting, is that some cars were sold under different names, but they were identical. Something to do with government business practises, but unusual never the less.

Limousines are one of my favor types of cars, so this next book was a must have.......


Read the fine print, "Soviet Limousines 1930-2003". Exactly the kind of info that I needed to know. And look at that beautiful old Packard on the cover. Oops, it just looks like a Packard, when in reality it is a Zil. Some of those early Russian limos were either very close to the looks of a western car or blatantly borrowed design elements from them. Always many years after they were out of date in the west. Same thing happened in China, but to a lesser extent.




All sorts of great pics of big limos, that only the very wealthy could afford. But, hey, this is Russia and there were no capitalists, so these cars were made in limited numbers for only the party higher ups to drive. When the prols saw a car like this, they were very, very respectful (probably).

No such thing as any Russian walking into a showroom and walking out with a new whatever. With these books, I'm able to go back in time and see what was happening in the far, far away. See what the folks could put money down on and take delivery in a year or two. Interesting and it helps make me a very well rounded car guy...........at least in my own eyes.

Until next time.......


Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21: Quoros - here they come?

It's just a matter of time. China is a huge car market, I think it is either #1 or #2 in the world, passing or about to pass the USA. A lot of the cars sold in the Middle Kingdom are made by the Chinese branch of international car companies, such as VW or GM, but there are many that are local. The local cars may have a price advantage, but no so much in the way of prestige. This is quite important in China, as presentation and appearance are a top priority.

How much longer before a Chinese car appears on our shores? This is a big market and a big opportunity, so it can't be that far in the future. So now to the topic of today's blog. In the last few years a new joint venture was started in China, the Quoros Automotive Company, to market new cars in its home country and also in Europe. The name "Quoros" stands for "quality" (rolls off the tongue?). Its first showing was at Geneva this past Spring. Their debutante, the Quoros3.

Quite nice looking, but similar to many other small cars, like the Mazda3, which it resembles in more that just name. I don't know its market position, but it appears very well appointed and is sized like a 3 series BMW.


Also shown was a future production wagon concept, which like many of the wagons showing up in Europe is great looking. If you are selling there, this is a must have model in your range. Another must have model is the "eye candy" concept.......


It might never make the sales floor, but it will generate tons of interest and hopefully the accompanying press. As you will probably notice, this is a scale model, not even a life size mock up. But it is quite stunning and I'd buy it, even if it didn't come with the egg roll option.

So who is in on this joint venture? A large investment company and Chery Automotive Company. Surely you've heard of Chery? They have been threatening to start selling cars in North America for sometime now and even were linked to a joint venture with Chrysler to build this entry level car........


It didn't work out and the idea was quietly shelved. Chery has had its share of unusual cars, but this recent offering, the QQme is quite distinctive.......


In its first year it sold like rabid puppies. To continue the analogy, I think it is puppy dog cute, but was a real sales disaster. I probably picked their worst effort, but they have had their share of dogs (ok, enough with the canine comments).

Wonder why they don't just proceed with the Chery name? Does the world really need a new car brand and surely they'll also be marketing their own cars around the world in the near future? Questions, questions, but answers, answers not so much. As always time will tell.

Until next time.......

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18: Mike Ryan - living on the edge

The Freightliner Cascadia. Nice looking truck, smooth in a trucky kind of way. So what is the first thing that comes to mind when you see this big rig? Do you wonder what it would be like to take it on an extremely curvaceous mountain road and beat the livin' hell out of it? Not surprisingly very few of us would, but there is one person who answered, "Yeah, baby, sign me up!".......Mike Ryan.



Here is a deadly combination. One very pumped up Freightliner Cascadia and one semi crazy, but very talented driver, Mike Ryan. Mike in conjunction with Gale Banks has put an almost 2000 horsepower monster motor in this tractor and he runs it in hill climbs. Hill climbs? Climbs like this one at Pikes Peak, Colorado........




In this race to the clouds, how about a 12.42 mile course (or 20.12 kms if you prefer) up the 14,000+ foot mountain, thru 156 sharp corners with little or no protection from driving off the edge. How quickly can Mike Ryan cover this treacherous run? 12 minutes and 43 seconds! Do the math folks  -  that's about 60 miles per hour up a nutball mountain road in a Freightliner!


Is it safe? Sure it's safe as long as you stay on the road. Not so if you don't, as this driver found out. Wouldn't you rather go flying off the side in a big rig than in a normal (race)car?

All this shows is what I've said many times, if you can dream it, someone will do it and then someone like Mike Ryan will do it better. At the end of this month Mike will head to Pikes Peak for the annual event and once again will try to improve on his record runs without slipping off the edge.


Can he do it? Stay tuned.

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

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14: An unusual combination

So you finally have your dream car, that Corvette you've always wanted, ever since you were a kid in the '50's (yes, there are people that old). Great lines, great handling, great power. Can't get any better than that. Or can it?

Do you think that there is something missing from this design? Do you still yearn for one of those classic Chevies from your youth? But they sure don't handle like your new dream machine and they sure can't match it for power. What to do?

Surely someone must have an answer to this dilemma. And just when you are about to give up hope, you see this vision.........


Wow! Everything you've dreamed about rolled up in a neat, tidy little package. How so you ask? Well, because this is the "789" from N2A (no 2 alike) Motors out of, where else but, that crazy, car mad California. Simply give them your recent Corvette and presto, they take it back to the '50's with design elements from three of your favorite old Chevies. Does it work? Please keep your personal opinions to yourself.

Like it or not, the three designs are integrated into this unusual whole. Let's take a look at where these elements came from........

Front end from the iconic '57........

.......centre section from this '58........

......and finally the wild fins of this '59
Tidily wrapped up in one Corvette sized sportscar. Now, what about the price? Glad you asked. After handing over your late model Vette, you throw in an additional $75k and viola', your composite dream machine will become a reality. And you can bet it will be the only one on your block. Your city?

An unusual combination indeed. Money well spent? Only you know the answer to that particular question.

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11: Thank you, Australia

What's different about Australia apart from the fact that my sister-in-law lives there? Sure, they have an odd assortment of unusual animals like the kangaroo, the koala bear, the platypus and the wallaby. They also call the women "sheilas". It started out as a penal colony. And they like to "throw a shrimp on the barbie". Anything else?

For this last difference, we car enthusiasts should all chip in and send Australia a great big thank you card - I'll buy it. For a relatively small market, it is amazing that they have generated quite a few Australia specific cars, that we could only wish for until recently.

For a start, let's go back, way back to 1988.......


Hands up all that recognized this as a Holden VL Commodore SS Group A SV. Was that one hand that I see way in the very back? Unlikely. Holden has always had a big sedan and also a performance model of that sedan. This particular Commodore was built for Holden by Tom Walkinshaw Racing (think Jaguar). At least 500 of these had to be built and sold to make it eligible for a local racing series. Quite popular, they sold around 700+. So why should this interest us?

Firstly, because in the mid 2000's GM took notice of these very good sedans and felt they could also have a home in North America. First off was this Holden Monaro, which became the Pontiac GTO. Made in Aussie Land for North American tastes. For a number of reasons it failed to ignite any local passions, it was none the less a very competent car. Thank you, Australia.

Next up in 2009.........

.......was the late and lamented Pontiac G8, which was simply a Pontiac badged Holden Commodore. With its strong motor and great suspension, this was a very well respected car. So much so, that it has been reincarnated as the 2014 Chevrolet SS......


See the similarity? Almost the same car. Don't be too thrilled if you live in Canada though, since, at least initially, we won't be getting this US only Aussie road rocket. Something else you should know........the underpinnings of the G8/SS are used in the new Camaro. In fact the early road work was carried out down under. Thank you, Australia.

Now finally, imagine hammering down the highway in your dream machine, big V8 rumbling, carefree until you look in the rearview........


.......yikes, it's the cops and what are they driving? A Chevy Caprice (the new one), born, bred and built in Australia and even called the Holden Caprice in the markets where it is sold. A terrific car that is so far only being sold to the police in North America. Thank you, Australia?

Until next time........


Friday, June 7, 2013

June 7: A moment of silence, please

A moment of silence, please. We've just lost something that has been with us for decades and it is with a shed tear, that I say good-bye to this old friend of my youth. Let me explain.........

With the 2013 Chev Impala ending production, something that many of you are not familar with has passed into history........

......the bench seat. Now that the Impala has been completely redesigned for 2014, the bench that was available in certain trim levels, has been replaced with what most cars have been using for years........


.........the front bucket seats. The bench seat has taken a long time to finally die off, since the first bucket seat was put into anything but a sportscar and that car was the 1958 Thunderbird........


This personal luxury car dropped the traditional full front seat in favor of individual bucket seats separated by a console. American cars were well known for being able to seat six comfortably and the only way to do this was with the bench. But starting with personal luxury cars, like the T-Bird, buckets became more common. The first move into a mainstream sedan was, I believe, the '63 Ford Galaxie 500 XL 4 door hardtop (how is that for memory?). I'm sure that my friend, JK, will correct me if I'm wrong.

Gradually and I really mean gradually, the front bench was replaced by individual seats. The smaller cars started the trend first and then it moved into the larger cars, until finally all that was left was the Impala, which had a bench seat option. And now that has taken its place in history.

Buckets are so much more comfortable and hold one much better while cornering, so why do I shed a tear? SEX, pure and simple. In my youth, one could slide across the seat to easily engage the fairer sex. Try that now with a console and a floor shift and be cool at the same time. Might rip some clothes, might injure oneself, might look like a fool. It just won't work.

So my friends, I shed a tear for those never to experience the fun of having a bench front seat, it served us so very well..........


Until next time........

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4: Mercedes-Benz G wagon grows up

Humble beginnings. The very practical little G wagon (originally Gelandewagon for cross country vehicle) has been in the Benz line up for over 32 years. Wonder how many of those very wealthy city folks cruising the rough and tumble streets around their mansions would recognize this original version? This tough little number had no pretensions to be anything but a hard working truck for German farmers. But times change and Mercedes listened.

Back in the '80's there was a "gray" market (gray = independent importers) in the US for this little truck, since Mercedes didn't see an opportunity in North America. Why anyone felt they needed one of these G's I'll never know. But as always things change and Benz started importing them, but not as a plain old workaday truck, oh no, when the G arrived in the M-B showrooms it was a fully uptown vehicle..............


This very civilized G had all the high end luxury car fittings and was priced about the same as their uber luxury S class sedan. Go figure. They even made an AMG version for those wanting something a bit more sporty and quicker. Let me tell you readers, nothing, absolutely nothing, would make this truck sporty. Never figure out why our cash rich citizens would want to cruise their hoods in this lump, but each to his own.

Super luxury, but still very capable........


Our Canadian forces checked out a variety of trucks and ended up buying a boat load of G's for the army. They come in handy for tracking down senators who fudge their expense accountants (how would Mike Duffy fare one to one against an army G?). By the way, these military versions don't pack the G63 motor (more's the pity).

As I've said before, things evolve and if you can think of something, more than likely there is a customer for it. So what's next for the humble, little G? Take a look.......


Yeah baby! This over the top concept will no doubt spawn a few production versions for the urban country squire wanting something a little less common. Using the G63 544 HP drivetrain, this G63 AMG 6x6 can haul its ass to 60 mph in a mere 7 seconds. Not bad at all for a beast of this size. And certainly fast enough to surprise a few Smart cars as they disappear under your front tires. You want luxury? You got it, as nothing has been left out.......


Dual thrones  -  it's almost worth having your 6x6 chauffeur driven. I mean, who would really want to drive this beast, when they could sit in the lap of luxury, while checking their stock market reports?

Humble beginnings. Who would ever have seen this transformation? Still an ugly duckling, but with all the trimmings of a swan (nice turn of phrase). Wonder what's next for the little G?

Until next time........