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, February 27, 2015

Feb 27: Audi - when 8 is not enough

The late 1970's Audi 5000. Audi's first attempt to build a more luxurious and higher end car to compete with the BMW's and Mercedes of the world. My father-in-law had one for himself and one for his wife. Surprising, since he was not really a cutting edge kind of guy. Cutting edge? Well, not really, but it was more expensive than what Audi buyers had been used to. Quality? Not so much, actually quite dismal. Resale? Not so much either. Anyway, Audi tried the upper end of the market for many years, until they got firmly planted there with their A8.

What I call the luxury car for discerning buyers, those folks who are not intoxicated by the three pointed star or the blue and white propeller. Quietly showing their hard earned cash with the A8, which has evolved into a formidable luxury car. Sure the higher end S Class is not too worried about Audi's inroads, but some of the other companies are on notice.

But when is 8 not enough? As the monied folks of this world get more money, they need and yearn for ways to spend it, so the car companies are looking for ways to take advantage of that yearning. Case in point, Mercedes' new Maybach.

So, for Audi the A8 may not be enough car. What to do? Even a grade school kid knows that, if 8 is not enough, then go to 9........

This may or may not be the car that Audi plans to build as the A9, but it shows their design direction. Called the Prologue (clever, eh?). And like Cadillac, Audi has been teasing the auto show world with this concept for the past year. Just maybe, if you were heading out to buy your "once every ten years" Mercedes, you'd hold off for another year, in case this beauty was unleashed on the world.

The important Geneva show will be held shortly, so Audi is at it again, but this time the Prologue is an Avant (station wagon for those unfamiliar with Audi terminology)......

This sure would be a first for a high end luxury model. But, hey, the A7 is a very large fastback and it sells, so why not a big and expensive wagon? And what a wagon! This version is even more striking than the coupe and that takes some doing. Would we ever see it in North America? Good question, but my educated guess would be, not a chance in h____.

And if Audi called it a "station wagon", you might as well start digging its grave now.

The main point with both of these concept vehicles, is to give notice that Audi is serious about venturing even more upmarket. Unlikely, it would start with either of these two show cars, more than likely a sedan would get the nod. These cars though, do get people's interest and by virtue of their designs, will garner lots of publicity for Audi and their upcoming A9.

When is 8 not enough? Well, you can see it sure isn't, when you have a gorgeous, new, uber luxury car waiting for its world debut.

Until next time......

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Feb 24: Volvo - where art thou?

Remember when Volvo stressed the safety of their cars in almost every ad? Safety was their big thing, after all, they were one of the first (if not the first) to have crush zones built into their cars. This pic shows exactly what that means. The front and rear crumple to absorb the energy, before it reaches the passenger compartment. Good idea, now all the cars are built that way (thank you, thank you, thank you).

A friend of mine drove his Volvo, until it was failing apart and probably not safe, but he kept it on the road, in case he got into an accident. Finally got written off, when a truck backed into it at a gas station. Anticlimatic ending.

Volvo's designers styled most of their cars like boxes. Hey, where safety is concerned, folks don't care about good looks (don't be so sure about that). But things have changed over the years. Volvo still talks about safety, but so does everyone else, so there has to be more on the table. After years of nondesigns, many of us, figured Volvo was in a terminal free fall. It was questionable, whether this company would last very far into the 2000's. Well, the jury is still out, but their new Chinese owners are doing their best to breath some life back into the brand. Take for example, the soon to be released, new XC90......

But if you check out Volvo's history, they sure have been all over the map. I'm going to walk you thru a few of Volvo's unusual misses and oddities. Let's start at one of their lowest points. Years ago, Volvo bought into DAF, a Dutch car company........

The DAF was basically a Europe only car and had a marginal market present. Volvo had a better idea.......how about making an entry level car and have DAF build it?

See the resemblance? Volvo got heat for simply putting their name plate on another car. What happened to their safety ethic in this case? Neither the Volvo 340 or the DAF lasted much longer.

Or how about the Saint's favorite ride (look it up, if you don't remember). Who would ever have figured Volvo would introduce a sports car into their line. The P1800 was a reasonable success, but that TV show sure didn't hurt. The ad above shows you the longest running example. This New Yorker has basically lived in his P1800 since it bought it new. When I saw it at a car show three years ago, he was still sitting in it. Probably hated being parked.

There was a time when Volvo sought to add style to their boxes and along came Italian design house Bertone to their aid........

Let's take a box, add a chopped formal roof and watch folks fill our showrooms to see it. Not the best seller, but I actually liked the look. This was a time, when Volvo started to see the writing on the wall. Safe boxes were not necessarily going to sustain this company until the end of time.

Not too many years ago, they figured that a hot hatch, Mini competitor, would be a smart move and a great additional to their showrooms. Hence the C30........

The customer was conflicted. What exactly did Volvo stand for? Not enough of them figured that Volvo stood for sporty coupes, so this model was quietly discontinued.

This staid old Swedish company has struggled. Their old box like designs............

........gave way to nicely styled sedans in the early 2000's, but nothing seemed to work for them except, their suv's and suv type models. Sales plummeted and that talk of them not surviving made the rounds. Enter Geely, a Chinese car company with deep pockets. They have moved production to China in the hopes of a great revival. How great? Well, you've seen the new XC90 above, now how about this model set to come out in the near future......

This high end luxury sedan will be built to compete again the Mercedes S Class, Audi A8 and the BMW 7 Series. I'll believe it, when the sale figures come in. It might be a China only model. Volvo's higher end model, the S80 hasn't worked so far and it sure didn't compete with these benchmark cars, so don't hold your breath.

But for all their trials and tribulations, Volvo has now made an surprising, historic first. This formerly Scandinavian safety icon, will end up being the very first Chinese built car sold in the US or Canada. Who would ever have thought?

Until next time.......

Friday, February 20, 2015

Feb 20: Auto Show part 2: New cars and more

The Canadian International Auto Show, aka the Toronto Auto Show, is our country's premiere show, but although it has a fancy name, it is what they call a tier 2 show. Basically, this means that it doesn't get the enormous press presence of the biggies like Detroit, Geneva or Toyko. Heck, it doesn't even get the reporting that LA, Chicago or New York do. Since the Canadian market is small by comparison, the manufacturers have shied away from making major announcements and unveilings at Toronto. A new manager, with international experience, has recently been hired to lift our show to the first level. It will be interesting to see how he does.

But back to the show. I used to love going to Detroit, but what Toronto loses in new concepts and introductions, it makes up for it with variety.

Even Detroit won't show the Cadillac Cyclone, a '50's era "dream car" from the General Motors Motorama. This was a GM only show that, toured the country with all the new models and dream cars (now called concept vehicles). The Cyclone was initially designed with huge jet plane type fins, but as they went out of vogue in the very early '60's, it was redone with down sized versions. Still very spacey. Different in that most concepts these days, look like they could hit the road in a few months.

Take for example the Elmiraj concept, again from Cadillac.......

First shown at Pebble Beach last August, this beauty looks to be road worthy. And it stokes the rumours that, Cadillac has a big, new prestige car they plan to bring to market within the next couple of years. We've heard this before, so it's a waiting game. But the Elmiraj is drop dead gorgeous.

Big shows have interesting displays, since the manufacturers pull out all the stops. Feel confident enough to walk under this GMC truck?

Infiniti is cashing in on its F1 presence, by showing Sebastian Vettel's last ride with them, before he heads to Ferrari for the 2015 season.......

This is definitely not something that, one would see at the smaller shows. Note the future driving champion having his pic taken with Seb's car.

Here's another car from the Infiniti stand. Concept? Absolutely. But this design shows many elements of the brand's future design direction.

Like what you can see on their new Q60 coupe, that will come to market later this year.......

But, as I said, the Toronto show is different and what they lack in other areas, they make up in special showings. This is the second Mustang concept, originally shown at Watkins Glen way back in 1963. As you can see, apart from certain design details, it closely mirrored the 1964 production version. Where else would you see this?

Or this very famous car from Chrysler........

There is an interesting story behind this one, but that is for a future blog (how is that for getting you to keep reading Wheel to Wheel each week?).

And like any big show, the (hopefully) next big thing from each company is displayed. Fiat showed their, soon to be in showrooms, Fiat 500x. Next big thing? I really think so. If they price it right and have supply, I think this cutie could give the Mini Countryman a run for its money. Sure better looking than that, troll of a car, the Fiat 500L (yeech!).

Star of the show? Opinions are subjective. Someone Green Party member out there is going to point to Chevy's soon to hit the market, totally new, electric Bolt........

.........but most car folks will look for something a little more exotic, something that might be considered totally irresponsible, but heck, that is what wish lists are for, aren't they. So, for me, the real star of Toronto was the 2016 Ford GT........

Introduced at Detroit and shown in every single car book, probably worldwide, this stunning car hasn't had a picture that does it justice in real life. A "dream car"? At $250k large, it sure will be for me. Cool fact? This hot Ford will be built in the Toronto suburb of Markham by longtime Ford race car builder, Multimatic.

So, that is my take on our local car show. But remember, if you are going to any big event like this, please don't do what I did, go during the week. It was so crowded on the holiday Monday, that I went, if it were not for my being 6'5", I wouldn't have seen half of the hottest exhibits.

Until next time......

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Feb 17: Auto Show, part 1: LaFerrari - thank you Robert

Went to the Canadian International Auto Show yesterday (reminder to self - never again go on a weekend or a holiday). This is Toronto's big show. No, nothing like Detroit or even Chicago, but a tier 2 show with a difference (more about that on Friday). I knew it would be crowded on Ontario's Family Day holiday, but I had the opportunity to go with my brother and my nephew, who are both into cars. Always a good time.

 Recognize this car? Of course, my title gives it away, but this is the new and extremely rare La Ferrari. And this is why, I go to auto shows, since where else am I going to see this $1.4 million Ferrari? Probably only a couple in Canada. The only reason we got to see this one, was courtesy of Shark Tank's Robert Herjavec. This guy is the "nice" shark and since he lives in Toronto, he loaned his red beast to the show.

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Not just anyone could buy a LaFerrai, since Ferrari requires that the buyer have a previous and close relationship with the brand, before they build one for them. Hey, relax, they only made 499, so it's only fair to set aside these gems for loyal clientele. And Robert Herjavec is loyal.

He loves his cars and he recently has started racing in the North American Ferrari Challenge series. A rich guys' playground for when your polo pony has a week off. Seriously, there is not enough financial payback to do this for any other reason, but love of the game. And Robert loves this game, whether on the track on in his garage.......

Just a typical car guy, who happens to be able to feed his car lusts and desires, in a way most of us cannot. This pic is taken in front of his most humble abode, not too far in distance from my home. The physical distance is small, the financial distance is enormous. Not just happy with a Gallardo, he needs one with and one without a top. Why not?

Here is another shot of some of his regal rides. I build model cars, since I can't afford the real deal, at least in multiples, so it warms my heart to see a rich car guy fuel his passion in a meaningful way. What a life!

That Rolls Royce at the rear, now has big black rims on it, so it will stand out amongst the other three or four Phantoms on his street. Some street! I've seen it parked on the shopping street in my neighbourhood and to say, it stands out, might be a tad of an understatement.

So back to the LaFerrari. If Robert Herjavec wasn't the good guy that, he appears to be, we'd never see that very special car. Few owners would be willing to share it with the thousands, who drool as they pass by it. My thoughts? Well, I can't afford one, so maybe this would change if I could, but I've never been a fan of these limited run Ferrari's, such as the Enzo. This is the best looking so far, but for my money, I'd take the lovely Italia or the muscular looking F12 Berlinetta. But again, beauty is in the eye.......

Whatever you think of this car, we once again can thank Robert Herjavec for generously allowing us to see it. Thank you, Robert, I know you'll enjoy it.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Feb 13: BMW's new van

A new BMW van? A BMW van period is a rather unusual concept, as this company has not been into that part of the market or anywhere close to it. And no, this pic is not that van. This is the copycat front end of the Chinese New Brilliance, a vehicle not coming anytime soon to a North American dealer near you. And no, also to this concept BMW van that was floated recently by an independent design house......

Ok, enough of what BMW's van isn't, let's actually see what it is.........

This is the just announced 2 Series Gran Tourer. Personally this intro got me just a bit confused, since I was expecting the 2 Series Active Tourer to be coming our way. You remember the Active Tourer, don't you? A neat looking little vehicle, that seemed to be competition for the Mercedes B250. This concept made the auto show rounds last year........

......and then it morphed into the real deal, but we have yet to see it on this side of the Atlantic. Trouble with the Active Tourer was that, it only seated five close friends. Hardly a people mover at all. You can see from this pic, that many a disappointed owner was left wondering, who was going to be left at home or in this case, at the bar?

Open every door and you still only have room for five. What to do? Surely this is the answer to a question that, few people were asking. But, hey, BMW has answered that question before with cars (or whatever) like their X6. No reason to stop now. So square up that back end, lengthen it a trifle and add a couple of more seats and announce their brand new 2 Series Gran Tourer......

.....their first van. And no doubt this little gem will handle like a BMW should. Don't you love tradition?

Pricing? Good question. Probably in the low $30k's to start, easing up to about mid $40's with a few well selected options. Hey, it's a BMW, so don't don't expect to pay Mazda5 prices. And when some stranger asks what you drive, just say a BMW and walk away. Let them figure out whether it's a Gran Tourer or a 7 series. Being specific is way too gauche for a person of your stature.

So there you have it. Active or Gran Tourer? Have lots of friends or a select few? Either way, that old Bavarian power house has just the car for you. But for the time being, you'll have to move to Europe to buy one!

Until next time........

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Feb 10: Get away from it all

Earth Cruiser
Have a yen to get away from it all? Take to the idyllic, way off the beaten path trails, like all those suv commercials show? Go to where no man or woman has ever set foot? Well, for sure, you won't be doing that in your brand new sport ute, since it probably only has the capability to venture lightly off road (your driveway?). No, what you need, is a big bruiser of a 4x4 truck. The downside, is that you also would like to have most of the comforts of home, so a tricked out Jeep, just won't cut it. No, what you need is one of those really tough off road RV's. Know what I'm talking about? Neither did I, until I read about a couple of companies recently.

Picture yourself finding a beach that, is well away from civilization, like in the pic above. This shows the Earth Cruiser, a very well respected Australian big (well, not that big) bruiser 4x4 RV, a go anywhere kind of home away from home. Who cares that, your $300k vehicle is buried up to its axles in sand (look closely), you know that, getting out will be child's play for this rig.

Ponder the unknown adventures you can have, as you survey the wilderness before you. Do you go left, go right or straight ahead? There are no obstacles to the Earth Cruiser. Watch that gas gauge though, as there are also, no gas stations this far from civilization. Not surprising that, an Aussie company developed this beast, what with all Australia's open spaces. One can see a kangaroo miles ahead.

I'm guessing that the Earth Cruiser's motto is, "Never Gets Stuck". By the way, the roof raises to give any tall adventurer, lots of extra head room. Just like at home.

But, the Earth Cruiser is not the only "way off road" RV that, you can buy. An American company, has also developed a line of heavy duty RV's. Theirs are called the Earth Roamer (wonder where they got that name?). They have a different take on their design........

.......either built onto the back of a heavy duty crew cab pick-up or on to a big rig. But both of these brands have one thing in common, they'll go just about anywhere. Of course, that big Ford F-750, might be better suited for those rather wide open spaces, as opposed to a narrow mountain trail. No matter, no one else will be there with you.

One caveat to that last comment........I find it rather funny, that folks buy these bruisers to get away from it all, and then go somewhere with a lot of other people (see in the background). Oh well, getting away from it all must mean different things to different folks.One thing is for sure, all of you have some extra coin to toss around, as Earth Roamers go from about $300-$600k. Big money anywhere.

I wonder what the "Leave No Trace" folks think of these bruisers cruising thru the hinterlands? I think those scouts that, we used to see in the old cowboy movies, might not find it too much of a challenge to follow the trail of either an Earth Cruiser or an Earth Roamer.

So, to sum up, if you have the money, there is no longer any excuse for your not being able to get away from it all. Go where no person has gone before. Do everything, but climb Mt. Everest, although, this fellow below, might be a candidate to try it.

Go for it and live large, folks.

Until next time.......

Friday, February 6, 2015

Feb 6: Intercar Modena - Hearses to die for!

Look, let's not debate this point, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Now I'm not talking about what I'm experiencing, after having recent surgery to remove my prostate. No, I'm talking about when you breathe your very last breath. Time was that, after you'd seen that very bright light at the end of the tunnel, you could look forward to a relaxing (as if you'd care) last ride in the back of a very ostentatious, black Cadillac hearse. But, hey, we are car folks and we deserve, not necessarily better, but something with more character. We want to go out in style. Well, fear not, our saviour (small "s") has arrived.

This little company, tucked away in the north of Italy, has been making dream hearses for those among us, who even if we didn't make much of a statement while alive, wouldn't mind making one, as we go to our final reward (or a sweatshop, depending on your beliefs).

When the Polish president died, he sure went in grand style in a hearse from Intercar Modena. Check it out........

You got it, this is a Maserati. No question that this made a statement on the president's final ride. Are those folks pining for their lost leader or simply trying to get a better look at this super hearse?

Not quite your style? Need something just as fancy, but with an entirely different vibe? Mercedes Benz always appealed to you? Well, Intercar Modena has handcrafted your ride of choice........

Elegant, with some extra lines to make it standout from the run of the mill hearse that, populates most of Europe. If this was the "63" version, even better. Hearing that powerful motor snap, crackle and pop as it eased you to your grave, would be remembered fondly for years.

With a little pre-departure planning, you could even visit Intercar Modena's factory to see how your final ride was made. Nothing like a knowledgeable cadaver.

Like something a little more accessible to the common folk that, populated your life? Ok, then try this one on for size.........

Recognize it? Well, it started out as a Chrysler 300, but was sold in Italy for a while as a Lancia, which is what this hearse aspires to be (the grille is the giveaway). A classic name on a classy ride.

Or do you want something even more practical? Nothing says "family man", than a transformed van........

But let's go back to the beginning. This is a blog for car guys and gals, so we want the best and most interesting rides. That Maser is right up our alley, so check out its specs and see whether it will work for you.

If not, then maybe your ultimate final ride is one that Intercar Modena currently doesn't build, but someone else does. Never mind, I'm sure that they would build one of these Ferrari's just for you (but with much more style). Now, of course, in this case size does matter and this company, asks that you provide coffin measurements to make sure that you'll fit (nothing comes easy, eh?).

No reason to be depressed that, your wonderful life is coming to an end and your final good-bye will be a whimper, when you really want it to be a loud "hurrah". Time to do some pre-planning. Check out what's available in your city and make that final trip a memorable one.

Until next time......