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, November 29, 2013

Nov 29: New Sheriff in town, part 2 (the CMC's version)


If this is not your first time reading my blog, then you know how I like police cars and you also know that my friend, the Car Modeling Cat (CMC) and I have built our fair share of small squad cars. On the left sits our most recent build, a county sheriff's car circa 1957 from somewhere in California. We usually like our replicas to be agency specific, but in this case the old Ford is generic (so sue me!).

When the '57 Ford Custom 300 model was recently released, I knew it would be ideal as a police car. In the old days, most of these vehicles were the least expense two doors that the city, county or state/province could buy with the addition of a big motor, at least for the non-city patrols. If you had a better pic of the rear end, you'd notice dual exhausts, meaning a big engined car set up for pursuit work. In contrast to this city unit, with a smaller motor..........


This one is an accurate depiction of a Tijuana, Mexico patrol car, even down to the slightly beat up look with no hubcaps, a common sight around Mexican cities. And with just enough room for a couple of drug lords in the back seat, at least until their bribe money arrived.


I've been building models for years and these two new additions will fit right in to my police car section, a few of which you can see in this pic. By the way, the '70 Ford in the upper right, shows the hideous gold/blue/cream colours of the older Saint John, New Brunswick units (my old hometown).

As always, I have to give credit where credit is due and none of this would happen without the able assistance of the CMC.......


Not afraid to sniff a bit of glue in the pursuit of a great model, although I do have to watch her around those sharp knives - hard to hold with her paws. One more shot of that fictitious county patrol car.........


.........can't you almost hear the siren?

Until next time.......



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nov 26: So long Bandit!

Famous guy, famous name, but you just might not have heard of him unless you were a bit of a car gal/guy. Hal Needham had been in about 4500 TV shows and 310 movies. He also directed ten movies and that is where the "Bandit" part comes into play.

Hal was a Hollywood stuntman extraordinaire. When those famous and not so famous actors did death defying feats, more than likely it was Hal Needham who actually did them or at least scripted the action. But like many things in life, his risky job didn't kill him in his 80's, but a disease did, as is so often the case.


Scenes like this classic, featured Needham doing something tricky or outright dangerous. The actors get paid the really big bucks, so that the stuntman can step in and make them look great. And Needham made them look amazing. With a reputation like his, one becomes much sought after, the money and opportunities naturally come along as well. So Hal moved into directing movies. No academy award winners (Cannonball Run?), but ones that most people know anyway 30 years later. Such as the Bandit.........


Yep, "Smokey and the Bandit". This light, little car chase movie breathed new life into Burt Reynolds' career, as well as featuring quite a few other name brand players......Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed. But what Needham really did, was make the black and gold Pontiac Trans Am famous. Thirty six years later, these cars show up at auctions and car shows, with the Smokey and the Bandit designation, like this version from the second Bandit flic..........


Being a Needham movie, this car played a huge role and it was in almost every scene. But being a Needham movie, meant that action was rampant and that the cars would be doing things not normally seen outside of a movie theatre, unless of course, you lived your life like the Dukes of Hazzard county.........


Can't recall that I've ever seen a car do anything quite this spectacular in everyday life.

But Needham wasn't just about the movies. He loved cars, so with some solid sponsorship, he moved into NASCAR with the famous Skoal Bandit line of race cars........



"Hal Needham's Skoal Bandit" was a fixture in the Winston Cup series for several years and not just as a mid pack competitor. The very talented Harry Gant once drove the NASCAR Bandit to four straight wins, beating out great competitors like Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace, seen above at Martinsville, Virginia.

Atlas, that very full life came to an end last month, as Hal raced off toward that bright light at the end of the tunnel. Wonder if they had a black hearse trimmed in gold with a screaming eagle on the hood, doing some minor action moves on the way to Hal's final resting place?


So long Bandit  -  thanks for the great ride!

Until next time........





Friday, November 22, 2013

Nov 22: The Kennedy Lincoln

No surprise that on November 22nd, I would blog about one of the most famous dates in recent history or least about the car involved. I can't think of another event where the car played such a pivotal role and itself has become so famous  -  the Kennedy Lincoln.

Unfortunately (at least in this instance), John F. Kennedy loved his convertibles and from an early age had one and as much as possible drove with the top down.

Kennedy wanted the people to see him and a convertible offered a perfect way to do it. His presidential Lincoln limo had a bubble top, but it was left off much of the time. Actually, it wouldn't have given much protection anyway, since it wasn't bullet proof (at least not then). As the clips of the assassination got played over and over again, this Lincoln became more and more well known. Now you can even buy a diecast replica of it.......


Of course, I have it along with models of many of the other presidential limos. But what is interesting with this 1961 Continental, White House number SS 100-X, is that after the Kennedy killing, it was armoured and fitted with a bullet proof top........


.........and was still used by subsequent presidents, until its ultimate retirement in 1977. Strange that they would see fit to use this death car again. Normally, I'd expect this limo to be taken out of service immediately. Would you want to sit where a past president was murdered?

So where is it now?


The Henry Ford Museum, just outside of Detroit. Probably one of their more popular exhibits, since we always seem to be drawn to the macabre. By the way, the Henry Ford is worth a visit, since it is one of the great automobile museums.

So 50 years later, we still mourn Kennedy, wonder what actually happened that day in Dallas and also wonder what might have been. And many of us look at that SS 100-X and think, what a neat car.

Until next time........



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nov 19: It's only a game, right?

It's only a game, right?

Sure, from what I've heard and read, it is a very realistic game, but oh, how things have changed over the years. This game is almost reality (again from what I've read). The game I'm referring to is Vision Gran Turismo. As of December 6th, 2013 it will be celebrating its 15th anniversary.......


Scenes like this have become possible thru the amazing graphics, that can be generated on the computer. Or how about this nail bitter.......


Edge of your seat action, even down to the dust being kicked up by the McLaren as it goes off the edge of the track while passing what looks like a German Touring Car. It's been years since I've played video games and I never had an Xbox or a Playstation. Old school or out of touch, you decide. Some F1 drivers have even used video games to get familiar with a track before the race. Shades of Tom Cruise in "Days of Thunder"?

How far have these things come? Well, before the much anticipated 2014 Corvette was unveiled last January in Detroit, it was disguised and shown in this game.........


Now does that tell you how important Gran Turismo is, when a major manufacturer adds a yet to be released car to a video game? Shows you how influential these things have become.

But it's only a game, right?

One wonders, now that Mercedes has unveiled a life sized version of their next video game star.........


The AMG Vision Gran Turismo was designed and built specifically for the video game and there are no plans to make them for public consumption. Apparently even Nike is having a car (Nike ONE) designed specially for Vison Gran Turismo. And this is just the start, as a few other car manufacturers will follow shortly with game specific cars.

How things have changed. Could this be the start of a trend, when other games feature specially designed cars? How about this Monopoly piece as a start........


Now, what could Mercedes, BMW or even Nike do with this one?

Until next time........



Friday, November 15, 2013

Nov 15: A great prize or ?

Hard to believe that this car was introduced almost fifty years ago in 1966  -  the first North American front wheel drive car since the Cord. And so unusual for this configuration to be in such a big car. This Oldsmobile Toronado's styling was another thing that set it apart, simple and gorgeous. How could it be improved upon?

And so begins the topic of this blog........

Way back in 1967 Imperial Oil had a contest to celebrate Canada's 100 birthday. And for that contest they gave away four Toronado's, but not just any four. Imperial Oil had commissioned famed California customizer, George Barris (Mr. Unrestrainted Bad Taste of the custom car world), to redesign or improve upon Oldsmobile's sleek new Toro. In my opinion, a very tough thing to do, but ol' George stepped up big time with his 67X or 70-X (there seems to be some confusion about the name).

Take a look........



An improvement? After adding, what looks like several superfluous feet to a somewhat pure design, Barris unveiled a confused and ugly looking "improvement". Anyway, four people won these custom Oldsmobiles and they were quickly forgotten, until the early 2000's when one surfaced and was restored. Apparently there are two that survived.Back in 2009 this one failed to meet it's reserve on eBay  -  its high bid was $227k.


The inside might be the most restrained and tasteful part of this hideous mess. I know, I know, beauty is in the eye, etc, but somethings don't need to be argued over, and this is one of them. No discussion, it's ugly, end of story.

Need another look at the original to refresh your memory........


Wonder if the execs at Imperial felt they got their money's worth?

Until next time........



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nov 12: There's a new sheriff in town

There's a new sheriff in town. But first, let's say a sad good-bye to our late sheriff (or state or provincial or city police car), the beloved Ford Crown Victoria. The supreme ruler and enforcement vehicle of almost every city, county, province, state or federal police agency for almost 20 years. Not particularly fast, but cumbersome and with average handling, it seemed that the Crown Vic's only positive attributes were its size and reliability. Maybe that's all it had going for it. But's its shape came to mean cop car, so when you saw it, you'd better walk right.

Things change and as I noted in an earlier blog, there are a new crop of police spec sedans trying to fill the CV's shoes (or tires). But what I've also noted is how many agencies are now replacing the Crown Vic and other sedans with suvs. Now this doesn't mean, that the police "car" is going by the wayside, but I see a lot more usage of vehicles like this Tahoe, the original police spec sport utility, meant for patrol or pursuit........

New York State Police unit
Rear wheel drive, lots of room and with a high performance V8, the Tahoe in the late '90's replaced the very much loved and extremely competent Caprice (widely considered to be the best police car ever). So over the past few years, the use of these trucks for routine patrol duty has gone from nothing to quite common. Now everyone wants in on the action........

City police Dodge Durango
But the suv that seems to be giving the Tahoe a real run for its money is the new Ford Explorer. Even my city of Toronto has added them to its patrol fleet. I think you'll have to admit, that they are a great looking police truck........

Typical police Explorer
Toronto Explorer courtesy of PoliceCanada.ca
Quick enough, but with tons of room inside, one can see that these suvs make a good replacement for the Crown Vic or many other sedans. And as far as size goes, even the biggest of them, the Tahoe, is 10" or 25 cms shorter. Don't believe me? Look it up.

So shortly there'll be a new sheriff in town with the intro of the 2015 Tahoe police version.......


Think that this business isn't very important to the car companies? Then why was such a fuss made when Chevy showed this new truck last week at the much publicized SEMA Show? I believe that they sold more Tahoe police trucks, than they did the last Impala. And for 2014 the Tahoe is all they sell.

So things change over the years and we'll see more changes in the near future, because now there's a new sheriff in town.

Until next time......



Friday, November 8, 2013

Nov 8: Let's go crazy - SEMA 2013

SEMA. The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers' Association. Saying that they hold a trade show in Las Vegas every Fall is like saying John Force drives a car on a drag strip. Neither statement gives you any conception of the reality. Started several years ago, the SEMA Show has grown into a car lovers extravaganza with over 2500 exhibitors taking up about 2 million square feet of space. But the most important thing to a car guy, is that there are over 1500 cars on display with various types of modifications. From mild to nutbar it is fun to see what will be unveiled. SEMA has become so popular and influential, that many manufacturers use this venue to unveil future models. Or they give cars to a number of differential modifiers to see what they can come up with. Ok, so what's the bad news? SEMA is strictly a trade show and as such is closed to the general public All this space and very interesting car guy eye candy is only available to a mere 60,000  people. And yes, that is a tear you see me wiping from my eye.

A few samples of the kind of vehicles that show up at this great show........


 How about this Genesis coupe by Bisimoto Engineering? Looks innocent enough, except for the huge radiator and rubber band tires. What gives you ask? The answer is 1000 HP!! Just enough to push this ride to insane performance numbers.

Do your tastes run a little more to the practical, but outdoors side? Then this Toyota Tundra fishing edition should light your fire. Enough room for every hook or lure ever invented. Fish tremor in fear when this creation pulls up to the old fishing hole...........

But you have a fun side as well, so take in one of the outside shows, in this case a demonstration of an off road racing truck doing something in the parking lot.......


Fits right in.

From modern cars to old school customs and hot rods, it is almost impossible not to find every conceivable vehicle and mod on display


Of course, SEMA started out with mostly muscle cars and hot rods, so there will be plenty of those, with many companies showing their "ultimate" Mustang. The last gasp of the current generation, before the 50th anniversary edition is unveiled at Detroit in January.


These days sport compacts are hot, so every imaginable modification is being done from custom paint to rims/tires to engine/exhaust mods. This SEMA version of a 2014 Mazda3 will never be in a Mazda dealer's showroom.

Enough of the impractical toys and you are not an outdoors type, so what could SEMA possibly have for you? You need practical for a growing family and all the running around that is necessary to get from one kids' event to another. Never enough time? I have the answer or I should say, Bisimoto Engineering (remember their Genesis coupe) has the answer.........


A lightly gussied up 2014 Odyssey, lowered with bigger rims/tires...........and a highly modifed motor putting out an earth shattering 1029 HP!!! I don't think that Thule roof rack will slow this piece of insanity down one little bit. The better to make all those soccer games on time. Wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that Honda will be adding this nutbar Odyssey to their line up by Spring. Of course, the warranty will be voided if you enter it in any NHRA events. But, what the hell, it's your money, go for it.

SEMA........the car guy's dream show and only available to me in a dream.

Until next time.......


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nov 5: I was there

I was there when it all began.

Last week John Force, a funny car driver, won his 16th national championship. Amazing? Quite frankly very amazing. Here is a guy who has raced against very competitive and well funded fields of other funny cars and has won the championship 16 times! Want more amazing? How about the fact that he is 64 years old.


Get that, folks, 64 years old and driving a 10,000 HP car that requires split second timing. Driving a wild machine, that will reach over 300 MPH in a quarter mile and hit 0-60 in less than a second. Take that Corvette! And races are sometimes decided by 1000ths of a second. Sounds like a young man's game, but John Force is still racking up the wins (over 130 to date) and still winning championships.

But I was there when it began.


Force was an underfunded truck driver, who bought the car above from his uncle, Gene Beaver, in the early '70's and started to race in California. Always trying his best to put on a good show, he worked himself up to better equipment and ran under the name "Brute Force".


But as he gained experience, things began to change and he became somewhat of a phenomenon. How so? Take a close look at this picture......


Something stand out? How about all those sponsors' names? Now, at this time John hadn't won a single national event, but he had been a runner up numerous times over 14 years. He did have another skill though, he was a great self promoter. How else can you explain Coca Cola, Wendy's, Jolly Rancher and Castrol lining up to give him money.

Finally it happened and I was there to see his break through. It was at the Grand National at Sanair Dragway, in 1988. The only NHRA national event held outside of the US. And it happened on a Monday, since rain delayed the Sunday finals. I had been visiting my brother, who lived outside of Montreal, so my wife and some of his family drove to Sanair to see the finals. Everyone got in free and there were probably a few hundred people at most to witness Force's first big win. And also the last drag race, my wife would ever let me take her to (the noise!).

It was like the flood gates opened and over the next 25 years, Force would win an average of 5-6 events per year and he and his team would win 18 national championships (all but two by John himself) and the John "Brute" Force funny car show would go on and on and on.........


And I was there when it all began.

Until next time.......




Friday, November 1, 2013

Nov 1: Just beautiful!

Eech! What the heck is this misbegotten troll of a car from BMW doing in a blog that is entitled "Just Beautiful"? Relax. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I want to compare what another German car company has produced. The pic on the left, by the way, is BMW latest, their fully electric car, the i3. Coming to Canada in early 2014 at a starting list price of $45k. Green Party members (if they can afford it) can line up on the right. But why does it have to be so ugly or just plain strange looking?

So Barry, what is your point? Well, let's take a short drive over to Ingolstadt and see what Audi has been up to........


This is their beautiful RS7 Sportback. While BMW misses and hits (their Gran Coupe is stunning), they go off the rails more often than not. Audi on the other hand continues to design elegant looking rolling sculptures. The A7 above has lines that flow so well.

Those same lines flow even better on the smaller, original A5 Sportback (not available in North America). It looks almost the same, but based on the A5, it is shorter and arguably better proportioned. I've seen lots of these in Europe and they look great in real life. But being based on the A5, a car on most folks most beautiful list, how could it lose? Just take a look at this gorgeous sheet of metal.......


Even today, one never passes me, without my giving it a second look and this is about four years after its initial intro. Some cars age so well.

It's usually easier give the sport models a standout design, since they are the glamour queens of any car's line up, but how does Audi do on their sedans? Take a look at their range topping S8.........


This is one beautiful sedan, cloaked in a design that belies just how large it actually is in real life. Audi seems to hit home run after home run, while BMW in my humble(?) opinion, generally stumbles from one bad play to another (the 328 GT for example).

But greatness had to start somewhere, so let's go way back to near Audi's very humble beginnings with this 1961 DKW.........


.......always good to end a blog with a bit of humour.

Until next time.......