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 30, 2013

Aug 30: Civic - left out again

We didn't get this one either. This a hatchback version of one of the original Civics and no, it didn't come to North America. What is it with the Americans and a little less so, with the Canadian aversion to hatchbacks? They are so darn practical and invariably they trump the sedan model for looks. Case in point: the Hyundai Elantra is a great looking sedan, but the GT hatch is a stunner. Check out this red one........


Anyway, back to Honda and my rant. This company has always played it safe with the Civic, but recently that course of action bit them hard and they had to make quick changes to the 2013 model, since the '12 was universally panned. But they don't always play it so safe in other parts of the world. Here is one of their recent hatches....... 


I've seen them in Europe and they look every bit as good in real life. Don't they think that this little beauty would have sold stateside? Obviously not, since we didn't get it either. But now look what Honda is about to unveil at the Frankfurt Auto Show.........


Yes, this is the new Civic Tourer concept. Concept? This means that Honda might never actually release it? Not a chance, this is a very thinly veiled Civic hatch that will be coming to Europe in the very near future. And we won't get this model either.

Forget our aversion to hatches, I believe that this model would really spark up the Civic line. Go big Honda and ship each dealer two or three to test the waters. Heck, ship one representative dealer a dozen and see what happens. Maybe just put a picture of it in the dealerships. Surely there would be interest.

Don't hold your breath, as I don't expect that there will be any experimenting. Sad, but true, we will be left out once again.

Until next time.......


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Aug 27: A question of taste

No question that this 1930's Mercedes-Benz SSK is one of the most beautiful designs of that or any other era. The flowing fenders, the slanting windscreen, the look of sheer power combined with extreme elegance. A highly desirable automobile and one that has generated collector interest, that has driven the current prices over $1m. And justifiably so.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so back in the 1970's some enterprising individuals decided that what the world needed most was not "love, sweet love", but a copy of this classic car. There were others, but the one I'm focusing on today is in my mind, the most over the top and tasteless copy, the Zimmer Golden Spirit. Behold this modern day classic(?)........


Not quite the smooth beauty of the original, Zimmer ticked off all of the cliche buttons with their version. These days, the two door is based on a Mustang chassis and body (oh, that poor car!).


Started in 1978, the Zimmer Motor Car Company has produced this model off and on since then. Probably if the Florida crowd didn't buy them, there wouldn't be any sold. Cheap? Not a chance, but not quite Rolls pricing with the two door going for $110,000k and a small variety of others topping out at about $180,000.

Love the neo-classic look, but need the convenience of a larger sedan, then look no further than this Lincoln Continental based model........


Can't quite picture this as an airport limo? Yeah, you're probably right, as it would be a bugger trying to lift those heavy bags over the spare tire. But hey, how about that nifty luggage rack, that surely has to account for something. For those a little more discerning, there is also a four door convertible version of this car.

Zimmer Golden Spirit. It takes all kinds to make a world and to support a business. If we all thought the same way, we'd all be driving Corvettes and wondering how we'd get the family in them.


But please don't ever say that this car is anywhere near as beautiful as the SSK from which it drew its inspiration.

Until next time........




Friday, August 23, 2013

Aug 23: From Russia with love - part 2

 After starting our Russian river cruise in the (very) big city of Moscow, with all its traffic chaos and luxury cars, we move north along the river to the smaller cities, towns and villages. Now we get to see Russia as it used to be and is to the most part these days as well. We see the quaint little homes surrounded by vegetable gardens, that bring me back to those old National Geographic articles of my youth. The same ones that sparked my interest in Russia and eventually caused my wife and I to visit this Summer. This is where the luxury cars fade into future dreams and we see the old Soviet era cars in a wide variety of conditions, but mostly rather poor.


As I wrote in another blog, the old Russian cars intrigue me and I have a bit of knowledge about the models, but with so many, I'm bound to be wrong a few times (feel free to correct me, Alex). I think the car above and definitely the one below is a Gaz-Volga.


Russian cars sometimes seemed to have different names in different parts of the Soviet Union, but I believe these are the same car, but different years.

Expensive suv's might be very popular in the new Russia, but they also had a place in past times, but were, you might say, considerably rougher, with a few (quite a few) less creature comforts. Here's a good example........


A classic? Sure is, it's the UAZ 469. Loved for it extreme ruggedness and probably its similarity to the older Land Rovers, before they became the darlings of the rich and famous crowd. Another classic is this little rear engined Zaporozets..........


Just imagine that in the Soviet era, if you could afford a car, you'd put down a deposit and wait maybe a couple of years to see what colour you'd be getting. Try that now a days. By the way, there are still a ton of Lada's around, but since they were sold in Canada, I didn't find them too interesting.

Russia has also become home for some Chinese imports. You know that the Chinese have never found a design that they couldn't copy, so what does this new Lifan 320 remind you of.........


How could you not say a Mini Cooper? After BMW's lawsuit, I don't think that you'll see one in Europe anytime soon.

Was this trip an eye opening experience? Absolutely. A look behind a curtain that is still foreign to most people. And for me, a look at a past and present car culture that is both intriguing and a little bit scary. I had the good luck to meet a Russian car guy, we talked cars and exchanged magazines (thanks again, Alex).

We were fortunate to be able to make this trip and it was worth every single penny..

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


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aug 20: From Russia with love - part 1

No problem identifying where this iconic image is from is there? Of course not, it's St. Basil's in Moscow's Red Square. Probably would be one of the most photographed places in the world, if Russia was a bit more open to tourists or made it easier to get there. Anyway, this is a fantastic looking building in pics or in real life and it was just one of the places my wife and I visited on our trip to Russia over the past two weeks.

But hey, isn't this a car talk blog? So what's the deal on the travel bit? Well, the deal is this......being a car guy any trip includes lots of car watching and in Russia there was tons to watch. Not only all the Euro iron that we don't get here, but also the old Soviet era "gems"(?). I'll break this into two blogs. Today let's look at the new reality........


Moscow is a very beautiful city with absolutely no trash on its streets, no coffee cups, no butts, no bits of paper, the cleanest city I've ever seen. You are more likely to see cars like this red Bentley, with a bright red interior, here than an old Moscovitch. Sure there are plenty of the old heaps, but I've never seen so many high end cars in one place ever - Bentley's, Ferrari's, Audi's, Bimmer's, Mercedes, Cadillac's.(one hotel had a line of Rolls-Royce Phantoms sitting outside as courtesy cars). If there is money in the new Russia, it's rolling around Moscow with heavily tinted windows.


Getting married? Then you need an expensive wedding car like this Benz or a stretch Escalade, or Navigator, or Hummer, or a Zimmer Golden Spirit......


Aspire to political greatness? What else says you've arrived than a German make limo like these parked outside the state duma...........


I think this pic covers all three of the high end German brands. What a scoop!

Imagine a country that up to about 20 odd years ago had minimal cars, now imagine a country that has (in the biggest cities at least), thousands and thousands and thousands of cars. What naturally comes next is traffic and in Moscow, I've never ever seen such horrific traffic jams. Example......


It doesn't look so bad in a still pic, but count the lanes of cars, then realize that this is a four lane road. Get the picture? And run it slowly thru your mind, dead slow, because that is how fast the traffic moved. Everyone else was bored, but I was enjoying car spotting. But Moscow is not the only trouble spot, as this shot in St. Petersburg shows.......


Taken in the rain from our bus, this gives you a great view of random driving.

Where does one park? In Moscow, anywhere you can find an opening and don't worry a bit about blocking anyone else.......


What a trip and a car guy's dream. Good to be back and looking forward to sharing some old Soviet era cars with you on Friday.

Until next time.......


Friday, August 2, 2013

Aug 2: Sayonara Suzuki

Remember how it all started way back around 1980? I was in Vancouver on business and I saw a dealership with these things sitting out front and I wondered what the heck were they. Kinda figured that they were some sort of Japanese import, but which one? Not long after, their distribution spread across Canada and they were everywhere. People love Jeeps and here was a bargain basement knockoff. Seems you'd see one quietly rusting away no matter where you looked. Well, that was then and this is now and Suzuki is folding up their passenger vehicle business and heading back to Japan and the countless other countries where they are sold quite successfully. Ever wonder what might have been?


I've seen this little Swift all over Europe, but we never got it here. Not a bad looking little hatch in 2 or 4 doors, while the Sport model (shown) added the make believe "go fast" parts, like larger alloy wheels. Or how about this Alto.......


Again kinda cute and with really compact cars being very popular these days, maybe it would have struck a cord. GM held the reigns for awhile, so maybe they had a greater plan that precluded these models reaching our shores. Now what could that have been?

That original little 4x4, called the Jimny (yes, it is spelled correctly) everywhere else, is still around, although I would imagine it is so much better these days. But it looks very similar to the original........


Sure, the edges are rounded, like most vehicles these days, but you can still see its ancestry.

What could Suzuki have done better in order to stay in the North American market? Would these other models have helped? Or did it need something super special and almost completely different?

How about this then........



Right on, a Suzuki "Veyron". This copycat little model is being built somewhere and is based on a Suzuki chassis. Lots of flash, but who needs the unusable 1000 HP of the real thing? No one, so this little show off uses a standard Suzuki power plant. Who would dare race you anyway, assuming they'd be humiliated plenty and plenty quickly. I can see this model bringing the lookers into the Suzuki showrooms and then the pros could sell them something that they really needed.

Suzuki it's not too late. And you can thank me later  -  a nice note on company letterhead will do. No emails, please.

Time for a vacation. My wife and I are headed to Russia for a couple of weeks, where we are doing a river cruise starting in Moscow. Hope to get some pics of old Soviet iron to share with you. Miss me? Then read my older posts until I return on the 20th.

Until next time........