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, October 29, 2013

Oct 29: The CMC's latest venture

I can hear you saying it, "Enough already, we've been reading all about your interests, but what has the CMC (Car Modeling Cat) been up to lately?" I've begun to think that my own blogs are simply filler, until I can regale you with the CMC's exploits. Well, you just might be correct. So what has the furry little modeler been up to?


Those of you among the readers, who have a few more years under their belts might recognize that the CMC is working on a 1962 Chrysler. This was a milestone year for this car, since it was the first year that it was shorn of its fins, only a year later than the rest of the industry. Even then it was a chop job, that retained the rest of the '61 design, but simply had a finless back end grafted on. My industrious little friend has done a very good job in recreating this behemoth, as you can see from the following pics........



All the right details, so that this model looks exactly like a much smaller version of the actual car, which you can see in this picture of a real 300's front end........


Not a bad likeness. Or from the back.......


As you can see the CMC really captures the look and feel of this old classic. Not at all bad for a furry little creature with paws. But of course, you all know that I lend a hand where necessary.

We like the oldies, but if you've read my blog for awhile, you know that our modeling tastes range from the '50's to the present day, after all I am a true car guy.

What's next? Stay tuned to this bi-weekly blog.

Until next time.......



Friday, October 25, 2013

Oct 25: Rappers rejoice!

Once upon a time things were very different. Once upon a time a Cadillac was the epitome of good taste and wealth. Want to make an impression when you showed up? Then there was only one choice when it came to the wheels you arrived in or were seen in. Well, as you know things have changed. Way back then this was the way to roll........

Cadillac Fleetwood
Showing up in anything less was unthinkable. But as I said things have changed. In the late '90's Caddy introduced their first Escalade, which was a mildly tarted up GMC Denali, which was itself a tarted up Yukon. The Escalade was GM's answer to the Lincoln Navigator, which had beat it to market by a couple of years. Quick, throw a Cadillac grille and nameplate on the Denali and viola', a (hopefully) strong competitor. Now this is where things got interesting.



You can't make "cool". What is cool is cool and it's determined by the so called "cool" people. Well, in the case of the Escalade, those cool folks were the rappers and those rappers absolutely loved the Escalade. It became the must have vehicle and definitely the one to be seen in. So suddenly the passe' Cadillac was back in vogue (at least in the case of this giant sport utility). Originally just available in a shorter length, when it was redesigned in 2001, it came in three models  -  the original length, the longer ESV and the unusual EXT.


A Caddy pick-up? For whatever reason, it was deemed necessary and was part of the line until the present day.

So the rappers' choice also became the actors' and actresses' ride of choice. From there all the beautiful and wealthy people had to have an Escalade. Folks who would never have thought of owning a Cadillac or any American car for that matter, had to have an Escalade in their garage (along with their Benz, BMW or Ferrari). Who would ever have thought it?

So rappers and others get ready and get your orders in asap, as Cadillac has just shown their all new (and I really mean all new) 2015 Escalade.........


No getting it mixed up with anything else. When that front end shows up, folks know it's a Caddy. One with in your face presence. One which the cool people will continue to flock to as their ride of choice.

Cadillac now has a stable of other worthy vehicles with which to fight their very capable competition, but who would ever have thought that a truck would have saved the brand?

Until next time......


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oct 22: Mr. President, is that your Cadillac?

Let's say you were walking down the street, when this big black car pulls up beside you and Barrack Obama jumps out and goes in to get a coffee. Naturally, you'd follow him to see what he ordered and maybe to exchange a few words. Being a car guy/gal, you'd probably ask him how he liked his new Cadillac, the one they affectionately call, "The Beast". After all, as you can see from these pics, he takes it absolutely everywhere with him........


His answer might surprise you. Sure he likes it, but it is not a Cadillac, it is actually a custom built truck with Caddy design cues added on. So heavy in fact, that he couldn't open the back door by himself to jump out and get that double/double. But these cars haven't always been this way  -  a brief history please........


Truman's Lincoln was almost wide open, with just enough protection to shield him from a slight breeze. Of course, this was long before every terrorist group or nut bar wanted to take a shot at him (the good old days?). This lasted until John Kennedy was shot in 1963, after which each presidential limo received a little more protection, but even then they were "public friendly".


After Kennedy's assassination, open cars like this Imperial used by the president of Peru became far less common. Closed in limos like this Bush era Lincoln became the norm......


Armoured to the hilt, but not near as protective as the Beast would end up being, but at least the adoring crowds could see their president. Similar to the Clinton era Cadillacs.......


These earlier cars were actually the models they were supposed to be, an actual Lincoln or an actual Cadillac. Problem was that as the secret service added more and more things to them, they became more and more technical, they became less and less reliable (even today there are twelve copies just in case), so building a dedicated presidential limo from the ground up made sense. And not so important that your elected official be seen by everyone lining the parade route.

So while Barrack is enjoying his cup of jo and regaling you with stories of cruising in his big, black ride, you can day dream back to the old days, the days when the top official had to let you know who he was, days like the one depicted here.......


But, of course, if you remember, this guy had many other problems.

Until next time........


Friday, October 18, 2013

Oct 18: Another birthday?


Happy Birthday (actually it was the 16th) to another auto icon, the Chevrolet El Camino. Introduced on October 16,1958, this model marked the first time that Chev had entered into this crowded field of one. One? Yep, there was only one other car being sold in North America that was half car/half pick-up. A car based pick-up, get it? Ford beat Chevy to the punch two years earlier with their Ranchero.........


..........but who remembers the Ranchero these days. Heck, who remembers the El Camino? Ford stopped making their full sized car/pick-up after 1959, reintroducing it on the much smaller Falcon body for 1960. Eventually it was put on the mid-sized Torino platform and was produced until 1979 and 1/2 (no kidding, check out your Ford fun facts). Chevy ran one more year before discontinuing their version, but brought it back again in 1964 as a mid-sized Chevelle. The El Camino then ran non stop until the late '80's........


So why is the El Camino remembered, revered? Good question and I don't know the answer. Could it be because old Chevies in general are much more sought after by collectors than Fords? Not sure, but you'll see many more modified El Camino's than you ever will Ranchero's. An example is this black beauty........


So Happy Birthday to an idea whose time has come and gone at least in North America (topic for another blog). But do you know how close we came to having an El Camino revival? Awfully close and this would have been that model.......


The El Camino reincarnated as a Pontiac, the G8 ST, based on an Australian Holden ute and packing big V8 power. The timing was terrible, GM went into bankruptcy, the Pontiac brand was dropped and this model went down the toilet. Would it have sold? My guess is no. It would have become a novelty item for a couple of years, then cooler heads would have pulled the plug again, afterall they only seat two and are not much good for hauling anything except a few garden supplies.


Anyway, Happy Birthday, El Camino! You never looked so good.

Until next time......



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oct 15: Funny, you don't look 30

Happy Birthday! Yes, sir, you are 30 years old and it just seems like yesterday that you were born. And you've done so well for yourself. You've influenced many others and made so many folks happy. Who would have guessed that your 30 years on this earth would be so productive. And don't be coy, since everyone remembers when you were born, so you can't hide your age.

Remember your birth notice?


So what did you think I was talking about? Of course, it had to be Chrysler Corporation's Dodge division's Caravan, since what else has had such an impact over their relatively short live. Not only has the Dodge Caravan (and Grand Caravan) spawned tons of imitators, it also spelt the end of the line for the American station wagon as we knew it. This family sized wagon in the top photo became the mini-van in the bottom pic, complete with the absolutely necessary (at the time) imitation wood paneling.



Chrysler Corporation struck solid gold with their new garage friendly van. Even 30 years later many competitors have come and gone, but the Chrysler vans are going strong with about 50% of their market. Not bad for a thirty year old.

If not for one bad decision, Ford might have been the first ones with this great new idea. How so? Well take a look at this concept that was shown to Ford's management in November 1972, a full 12 years before the Dodge Caravan was unveiled.........


Lee Iacocca, the "father of the Mustang", tried to sell Henry Ford II on the idea of a small family van. The big guy said no and that was all she wrote. Iacocca eventually left Ford and went to Chrysler where the mini-van was introduced. Coincidence? You decide.

So thirty years on and not much has changed. Sure the looks are a bit different, the interiors are much better and a variety of techie stuff is now available, but it is still a very practical box. Not sexy at all and many folks hate the thought of driving one, but for a young family, there is no other answer. Well done Chrysler.

So what's next? The Caravan is due to be redone over the next year and Chrysler/Dodge have to try to stay one step ahead of the competition. Well, a box is a box, but this 700C concept shown earlier this year, might hold some clues of where the next Caravan is headed.......


Would this finally be the sexy mini-van, that soccer dads would love to be seen alive in? Time will tell, won't it, but for now let's just enjoy the birthday cake and count the profits.

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


Friday, October 11, 2013

Oct 11: Turkey Time

 Canadian Thanksgiving and all we think about is turkey. Well to this car guy, when I think of a turkey, there are a few cars that come to mind. Seems appropriate that with this blog, just before our turkey time, that we should give a look at a few of the cars that your blogger thinks are true turkeys  -  no light or dark meat, just all bad metal.

Now styling is a personal thing, but I pride myself on having excellent taste, so you can take today's comments to the bank. And these cars sure do rock bad taste.

Don't believe me? Well let's start with this gobbler........


.......the poor old Pontiac Aztek. Such an easy target to ridicule and such a turkey. Wonder who was at the other end of the pencil, when this thing was being drawn? Think that maybe everyone was given a section to design and they never, ever talked to each other? Sure looks that way.


What the hey? What in the world is this creation? Ever been to Europe, well if you have you've seen these Fiat Multipla's all over the place. Rampant bad taste in a design that defies description. Back, front, side  -  whichever way you look at this Fiat it is strange. Miss Congeniality maybe, but it'll never win the contest outright.

Let's go way back in time to the late '50's, when this one off safety car was unveiled........


Of course, it was a safety car, since no one would go anywhere near it. I'm can't be sure of this, but I think it was designed by a priest. If so, God help us!


Get the carving knife ready because here comes the AMC Pacer. Brought out at a time of the mid '70's gas shortages, so its size and economy were welcomed and at first folks didn't seem to mind the Pacer's unorthodox design. Economy? Yeah right! Although smaller in length, this thing was way wide and heavy and thirsty. Created for a demand of which there wasn't any  -  a smaller gas guzzling car. Great concept.

Now if you read this blog from time to time, you'll know that I take the occasional shot at BMW's designs (well heck, they're an easy target), but nothing they've done has come close to this Z3 whatever. I never thought that the original Z3 cabrio was much of a looker, but adding the rear hatch doomed it to turkey status for all time.


So let's finish off this blog, with what must be the ugliest gobbler that ever graced the highways. Its picture is bad enough, but trust me (I'm in car sales, so you know you can), in person it is a world apart and not in any good way. Behold, the Marcos Mantis 2+2........


How in the world could Marcos ever step back and say, the world needs this car? Were they hiring the visually impaired as designers?

Ok, now that you've seen my selections, what are yours? If I get a good response, maybe there is a Halloween Scariest Cars blog.

Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy your turkey (the edible kind, of course).

Until next time........



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Oct 8: What went wrong?

Nothing spectacular, but this 1956 Austin Cambridge was my family's first new car, bought at Starr Motors in Saint John, New Brunswick. Black with a white top and a red leather interior. I was thrilled that it had a large under dash package shelf, so when we went to pick it up, I brought along a few Dinky Toys to play with on that shelf. I doubt that pleased my Dad.

Fast forward to 1960 and this A99 Westminster, again in black with a white top, a red leather interior and whitewall tires. It was a beautiful car, styled by the Italian design house Pininfarina. An automatic this time, with the same 6 cylinder as found in the Austin Healey. We thought we were the cat's ass in this ride (although why we'd want to feel like that part of the cat's anatomy is beyond me).


The point of today's blog? Way back then, when one was looking for a smaller car or a foreign car, there was no other choice but to look at what the British manufacturers were shipping to our shores. Forget about VW at this time, as they were a one trick pony or in their case, bug. Limited to one country, the choice was still quite broad and in a variety of styles from sedans to wagons to sports cars to luxury cars.

Just looking at the "popular" and mid-priced cars, these were some of those that were available to the average person.......



1960 Humber Super Snipe
So what happened in those intervening years? What happened to an entire industry, once a power house that sold their cars around the world? Was it shoddy workmanship, the unions, failure to keep up with the competition, complacency? Probably a little bit of all of those and some other things as well, but to lose an entire industry. Yes, they still make Rolls-Royce (owned by BMW), Bentley (owned by VW), Jaguar (owned by Tata) and Land Rover (also owned by Tata). So even those super luxury brands couldn't stand on their own.

1960 Vauxhall Cresta
Although Vauxhall still exists selling rebadged Opels, back then they had their own distinct products, from the really small to a mid-sized sedan like this Cresta. My Mum and Dad also considered this model, before staying true to Austin and that great looking A99.

Sad to think that an entire industry in a relatively short time went from glory days to dust. A lesson for any other country to learn from. And it might have happened in North America a few short years ago, had not the government stepped in to help out with their controversial loans.


One last casualty. The Rover, a very well respected brand, which was on life support for years and eventually ended up dying in China.

What went wrong? There has to be a book in there somewhere.

Until next time.......




Friday, October 4, 2013

Oct 4: The Shooting Brake

Finally North America looks to be getting their own shooting brake. Ok, you ask, what is a "shooting brake". Well, the answer is a bit of a mish mash, but briefly it is a vehicle developed for the sporting country gentleman to hunt with. Let's assume that definition or use has gone by the wayside many years ago. Basically, now it is a sports car with a station wagon type back  -  a speedy grocery getter, so to speak.

Remember the Volvo 1800 (the Saint's car)? Remember this derivative........

......this 1800 ES is one of the earlier modern day types of shooting brakes. There have been many concept cars done on this theme, but very few have actually made it into production like this Volvo. A recent example was this Audi TT conversion from 2007......


 Not sure why Audi flirted with this body style, but it was never produced. Unless of course you consider the sold in Europe only VW Scirocco, which seems to be close to this Audi concept in design and might even have been a result of it.

Shooting brakes seem to have had much more of a place in England and Aston Martin has produced a small number of these customs over the years, like these two.......


Even Ferrari has tried their hand at this as their new FF shows. An ultra quick bread van? Also, BMW has produced the odd scary looking version based on their Z3 and Z4 models. You don't see many around and with good reason, as they were worthy of contempt, at least as far as looks go.

American shooting brakes have been nonexistent, although a couple of concepts have done the auto show rounds, like this late '70's Firebird Type K. I have a model of this one and reportedly, it came close to being added to the Firebird's line up.......


Or this purely concept Mustang from the mid '60's......


Rumour has it that is was done for a Ford designer, but you'll see a few around, since an aftermarket supplier (Intermeccanica?) did a conversion kit. Good looking until you see it straight on from the back.

So what is this bit about North America finally getting their own shooting brake? Take a look.........


Callaway, the manufacturer of hotted up Corvette's over the years, has been given the green light to start production of this 2014 Stingray conversion beginning in January, 2014. Not a big conversion, it will be sold for about $16,000 over the price of your Corvette donor car. Sure is better looking than the FF or those horrendous Bimmers. Now for sure this will not be the car of choice for your avid NRA member, since this conversion is meant to be more aero, not a carrier of assault rifles for hunting rabbits and squirrels.

A new idea? Not entirely, as way back in 1954, GM's Motorama concept car show, surprised everyone with a production car based concept, called the Nomad and it was on a Corvette body. It did get produced in 1955, but as a full sized Chevrolet station wagon.........


Everything old is new again?

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