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, April 28, 2015

April 28: If only I had the $

At the recent Shanghai Auto Show, Volvo, catering to the Chinese market (hey, they have Chinese owners), introduced the XC90 Excellence. What this is, as you can see from the pic on the left, is an ultra luxurious suv designed for the chauffeur driven, of which there seem to be quite a few in this eastern country. Basically they have removed the right side front seat and put in a writing desk, a rear reclining chair (wouldn't we all like this in our vehicle?) and a computer. Voila', an suv that any exec would be happy to be seen in.

Now you might know that Volvo is not the first to do this sort of thing to one of their cars, as extremely luxurious back seats seem to be popping up all over. But, as I often do, let's have a little history lesson. Way back in the mid '70's, Cadillac introduced a very short lived model, called the Fleetwood Talisman........

........and as you can see, its back seat pandered to the wealthy owner, who had a driver at their beck and call. Heavily padded velour seats, separated by a large arm rest with some sort of control on it and including a throw pillow. This was the ultimate in luxury for its time. But as I said, very short lived. Now it seems to be a trend. Take for example, the newly introduced for 2016 Lincoln Continental........

This car mimics the Volvo's luxury touches, although no seats are missing, but those small cabinets on the front seat backs contain very comfy slippers. I mean, like who wouldn't want to slip into warm and welcoming footwear, as your driver whisks you to your destination?

Who else might have adopted this new trend?

  Well, no surprise that Tata's Range Rover has a very luxurious back seat in their Autobiography model. Very English, don't you know. Jaguar, also owned by Tata, coddles those wealthy owners with its Portfolio series........

You'll probably recognize the ubiquitous luxury trimmings that, are found in all these almost royal rides. Want to be an owner? It's as simple as being rich and passing an exam to make sure that, you are high tech capable (can't have the chauffeur continually stopping to point out some new gizmo, can we?).

And you know that, Lexus wouldn't be left behind in this rush to the rear......

......note the reclining seats, also a feature on most of these regal rides. And of course, a top tier luxury brand like Mercedes certainly wouldn't be left out, when designing something a little extraordinary for their super rich clientele........

.......every luxury feature and toy wrapped up in one nice Maybach model. Personally, I'd like back doors that, one could see thru, so that the common folk could see what they are missing, as I cruised silently by in my hyper expensive automobile. No point in having it, if one can't flaunt it, is there?

And one last example of how we could spend our hoped for lottery winnings and who else, but Rolls Royce, could provide us with just that little bit extra.......

.......the Phantom Limelight Edition even has twinkling lights in the headliner, reminiscent of the evening sky. Which sky? Your choice for this kind of coin.

Usually the really expensive cars get the good stuff first, before it filters down to us regular folk. So, how long will it be until this type of interior finds its way into a Toyota?

Surprise, it already has.......

Now before you wander into your local dealer asking to see the Corolla or Camry "I deserve the best" models, there are a few caveats here. One, this is a Japan only model and two, it is the Toyota Century, itself a very luxurious home market ride.

So, folks, if you have the coin, being asked to sit in the back seat, when you really wanted to ride "shotgun" is no longer a penance for some long forgotten wrong. No sir, that back seat is now your throne in your very regal ride.

Until next time.......

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 24: Shanghai Auto Show: More fun from the east

Used to be that the Shanghai Auto Show was a "Who cares?" event. After all, the Chinese had strange cars and not too many of them at that. But as you know, things have changed in a huge way over the last very few years. The Shanghai show is a biggie and there are things to watch for........

1) their strange cars, but let's just say that, they are evolving
2) world introductions
3) clones of someone else's design

Let's take a look at a few that caught my attention.........

The world has generally turned their back on the smart car and the Toyota IQ (Scion in North America), but that doesn't mean that, someone in the Forbidden Kingdom shouldn't give it another try. Witness the EX Concept. Funky fun or just another unusual design to get attention of the show goers?

Just a short time ago, who would ever have thought that, the once favorite North American car, the Taurus, would have its new for 2016 restyle introduced in China? Who would even have thought that, there might be a market for this cop car in the People's Republic?

Great looking, this 2017(?) Taurus should help to raise Ford's profile in the east. Heck it might even start selling again in North America to regular folks and not just your local sheriffs. Either way, get used to seeing it in your rear view with blue and red lights on top.

Honda is often knocked for having designs which, let's say, might be considered less than inspiring. But whoa, take a look at this "for China only" suv.......

See any reason that, this gorgeous crossover wouldn't have made a terrific addition to their line up in North America? Too sporty for Honda, then call it an Acura. My prediction? This will eventually find its way into our market place as either a Honda or an Acura (the latter for sure could use the sales boost). 

What would the Shanghai show be without a few new clones? Well, it wouldn't be the Shanghai show. Take this one for example........

......and just in case that, you didn't see the similarity, I've added a real Porsche Cayman pic below for comparison purposes. Imitation is usually the sincerest form of flattery, but what do they say about blatant coping? I know what I say.

What else can you expect to see at Shanghai? 

 These scenes are long gone from the North American shows, but one must admit they add a certain something. Not sure whether the lady in the bottom pic is highlighting that car or advertising Red Bull (get it - RB gives you wings). Any guesses?

Until next time......

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21: Fast hearse? What's the rush?

Fast hearse? Now really, what is the point of a really quick funeral car? I mean, the deceased is dead. They're not going anywhere anytime soon, at least not anywhere that, an ultra quick hearse will be of any benefit. But, as you know, there will always be someone who thinks that, a strange idea would be a really good one. So the idea of a very fast hearse, to them would have lots of appeal. Maybe the devil is on the deceased's tail, so a quick hearse would be very beneficial.

So, what are your options?

How about this classic coach, with a little work done to its motor? Just the thing to hustle the funeral procession along and maybe stop at the dragstrip on the way. If it's going to be the dear departed's last ride, then why not make it a wild one? Suggestions? Leave the casket at the starting line, as all that extra weight will add to those quarter mile times. But then, I guess that would defeat the purpose of a wild last ride, wouldn't it?

Too subtle for your over the top tastes? Sure, you like the speed, but when your final ride pulls up at the funeral home, you want it to be noticed everywhere, from heaven to hell.........

No, this one is not subtle at all. And the good thing is that, everyone will hear you coming, as you are going. What a great concept. Go easy on the length of your casket though, as this one is meant to haul ass, whether it is your's or not!

Even NASCAR star, Tony Stewart, sees the potential for a haulin' hearse. His unique Unique Autosports creation has the style, which you want your last ride to have and its 600 HP motor will get you to your grave before anyone notices that you have gone.

Want something with a little more umph, so that your trip around the graveyard will be remembered for quite some time?

The fire and brimstone that, this baby is creating, has to be much better than, what you may be on your way to experiencing for eternity. Great ride, as long as your trip to the grave is along relatively straight roads, but what if there are a few turns? Well, this is when we turn to our European friends, who value handling along with their power, no matter what the circumstances.......

No problem, with this AMG tweaked Mercedes hauling your remains around the twists and turns of the local graveyard.

Now why, you ask would your blogger want to write about fast hearses? Seems to me that, it might be an anomaly and as I said earlier, who really needs a fast hearse? But doesn't the Bible refer to the "quick and the dead"? Well, can you say for sure, that a fast hearse wasn't the point of reference here?

I rest my case. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Until next time........

Friday, April 17, 2015

April 17: Its been a long time coming, Jaguar

Coming out of my Thursday morning business meeting yesterday, I heard this ripping sound coming from the street. Would it be a Mercedes AMG? There are lots of them around my neighbourhood and they have that unmistakable guttural sound of pure power. No, a quick look showed me that the wonderful sound was coming from a new Jaguar F-Type Coupe R. I'd seen many of them parked or from a distance, but not heard that distinctive growl, as its lucky driver gave himself a morning wake up that, would be better than any Timmy's coffee.

Welcome back, Jag.

Got me to thinking how far Jaguar had strayed from those days, when this company meant luxury sedans and hot sports cars. Way back in the late 50's the ultra hot XK-SS served as a teaser of what was to come.......

Even Mr. Cool himself, Steve McQueen had one. As an aside, the public image of this guy was the only thing that was cool, as he was the ultimate a__hole, treating his long suffering wife and his fellow workers like dirt (another story for another day, but not in my blog). So back to cars, the XK-SS was the progenitor to the still famous XKE.......

Introduced in 1961, this car is still considered to be one of the most beautiful designs of all time. Think I'm wrong? Then ask that famous New York City art museum, why they had it on display a few years back. And for its time, it was a rocket. Respected on the street and the track. Ah, but things would change.

As the years went by, the XKE morphed into a heavy cruiser, a bloated image of its former self.......

No longer a road rocket, just an urban status symbol. But this was only the beginning of Jag's journey away from being a true sportscar and their past. Next up was the strange XJ, with a convertible roof that looked like the car was still under construction. Need visual proof?

Can't argue with reality. This big cabrio model also had a big coupe version.........

Nice looking, to be sure, but a GT cruiser, several large steps away from what had been the XKE's role in life. At the time, it probably was a good move to make this model as a Mercedes SL competitor, instead of one for Porsche. After all, one has to go where the most sales are.

The models that followed this, were also in the grand touring mode.......

......lovely to look at, but not something to go up against the neighbour in his hot new Porsche or for that matter, even a Corvette. Sure, there was usually an ungraded model, the R, with a better suspension and a bigger motor, but the car's mass was just too much to overcome on corners.

Jag did their best with what they had and their cars were usually lovely to look at.......

.......and the big power R version was a serious machine, but still, not like the old days. Even with the money behind this brand, when it was owned by Ford, Jag couldn't come up with a new model to bring back the car's track cred from so many years before.

What to do?

Well, I'm sure this next move had the old British traditionalists spitting bullets (like the sale of Bentley and Rolls to the Germans a few years before). Jaguar, that old British company from the days of tweed sports coats and jaunty caps, would be sold to the Indian mega company, Tata. Oh, the shame. But like with those other two British icons, the new owners had tons of money and  a good business plan, which included (thankfully) a return to Jag's sporting roots.

And those roots included a real, balls out sportscar. Enter the F-Type and its XKE inspired fastback, along with an equally gorgeous cabrio. Ah, the good new days!

So back to that beautifully raucous engine noise that I heard yesterday. Those old memories came flooding back, but even as they did, I realized that the good old days are really past and the good new days are so much better.

Welcome back, Jag!

Until next time.......

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14: I like Cadillacs

Out of the mist it came. No fanfare. No hurrahs. Absolutely no indication that, this was going to be Cadillac's next big thing. This image showed up on an ad run earlier this year, during the Super Bowl. Sharp eyes identified it as a teaser for Cadillac's new flagship model that was going to be unveiled at April's New York Auto Show. For years, Caddy has been trying to re-establish themselves as the "standard of the world", the tag line that they used successfully for so many years. Well, that time has come and gone and the mantle has passed to, probably, Mercedes Benz. So at the very least, Cadillac is trying to be a dominant player once more with meaningful, high quality cars.

For years, consumers have worshipped at the shrines of the two German prestige marques (BMW & M-B) and one Japanese brand (Lexus). Cadillac was slow to react and often with the wrong product. This started to change with the introduction of the CTS, back in 2002. Anyway, call it my age or whatever, but I've always been enamoured of this American luxury brand. In my home town, there was maybe one sold a year, so not only were they unattainable, but they were also rare. When one of my brother's friend's dad bought a new '58 Sedan de Ville, it finally confirmed to us that, he had serious coin. He followed that up with a '61, then a '64 and finally a '65. Don't know what happened in '68, but the Caddies were replaced by matching Ford LTD's for he and his wife. Oh, the shame!

But, as I said, I've always liked Cadillacs. At one time, they said that you had arrived. Moving to Toronto in the early '70's and having a good corporate job, I felt that the time had come to be a real shooter and get myself a regal ride - a new Cadillac (or almost new). So, in 1976........

.......I traded in my '73 Grand Prix for a lightly used demo 1975 Coupe de Ville - blue on blue on blue brocade (ah, the '70's). A huge boat of a car - perfect for one person! Finally, I was a real shooter and I was only 28! Well, longing for this ride and actually having it, were two different things, so a short ten months later, I traded it in on a '76 Corvette. More my style.

But the Caddy bug lingered on and in 1987, I was able to pick up a collector car.........

.........a very elegant (in my mind) 1967 Coupe de Ville, black on black on black. This car taught me a valuable lesson.......if you can't work on it yourself and if you couldn't pay someone else to, then you should stay with new cars. Lesson learned, the '67 was sold, money lost and I moved on (or so I thought).

After a string of sports coupes, then sedans, I once again started looking at the new Cadillac's. Things had changed, they were actually sporty and could take a corner quickly. Try that with my '75 and you'd be in the weeds, as they say. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you'll know that I now have a 2013 ATS and more than likely will replace it with a 2016, when my lease expires next Spring.

But back to that car coming out of the mist, the new for 2016 CT-6 (I don't know where those names come from, either). A flagship model to hopefully compete with the big guns.

A beautifully styled car with a very luxurious interior and according to Cadillac, technology that jumps ahead of the class leading Germans and Japanese. Well, we shall see, but this is the first time Caddy has taken on the big guns top sedan models. Buy an $80+k Lexus, BMW or a Benz or take a walk on the wild side and go for a Cadillac? This will be a game changer, if it works. This is a long term strategy, so patience will be necessary. In my opinion, dedicated showrooms would be an asset, rather than have this expensive ride sitting next to a Chevy Cruze.

A very long term strategy, but do they have the time? I like Cadillacs, so you know who I'm pulling for.

Until next time.......

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 10: Past their "best before" date

You've all heard the term "best before" date. Sure you have. It can apply to any number of things, although usually it refers to food. Personally, I use it to describe someone, who should have passed away long ago due to disease or mental condition. Take those bananas in the accompanying picture. They are a long way from their "date", but since this is a blog on cars, let's look beyond the edibles. How about that stunning example of a car, whose "best before" date must have expired, about the same time as those banana trees were planted. How in the world is that thing moving, whether under its own power or not? I wonder if it will get to wherever it is going, before its cargo reaches its "best before" date?

These are the kind of things that, one usually sees in the third world countries, like those of Africa or maybe even the Caribbean or Mexico. How do they ever keep on keeping on?

Forget about the torture those rear springs are experiencing, I wonder if that truck's frame is going to bend or break? Or just maybe, we in North America, don't use our vehicles to their full capabilities? Wouldn't expect to see this scene on one of our super highways, but there are plenty of back roads available for this stressed out old truck.

Here is an old Audi, that its owner has tricked out, just a little, before its time has come. Those dualie rear wheels will give it a bit more life, before it heads to the banana plantation for its last few rides. And what about those bullet holes? Obviously, they didn't succeed in putting it out of its misery.

Last week, this pic from Toronto's Globe & Mail, showed a bunch of happy revellers celebrating their candidate's election win. What better way, than to jump in and on your buddies sweet ride and cruise the streets, showing off the fact that, it still motors under its own power? A car wash sure wouldn't hurt this beauty.

By comparison this old French number is in first class shape, having both headlights in tact, although maybe a little air in that back tire would be to its advantage. I can see the Craig's List ad for this one already........ "only twenty three careful owners, lightly scuffed two door, well under 1m kms, comes complete with some air in the tires, price is firm." If you're not positive about your own wheels, then who will be?

Certainly past its "best before" date, is this well used Peugeot wagon.......

Another beast of burden, with a few working parts, probably just the motor and transmission, as it looks like even the roll up windows are a thing of the past. These old wagons haven't been made for many, many years, so figure that this one's "best before" date was passed in the last century.

 Is there ever a finite "best before" date? Even when everything in the car has gone to its just reward, some folks will find that there is still something to be gained, by hanging on to a few key parts and getting them moving in any way possible........

Past its "best before" date? Will this car ever be consigned to the scrap heap? You be the judge?

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7: Moments in Time

Everyone has a moment in time that, they will always remember what they were doing at the exact moment that, they heard some important news. If you are in my age bracket, it may have been when President Kennedy was shot, or to others when John Lennon was gunned down, or when you heard (for the first time) that Jennifer Anniston was pregnant or maybe when Zayn Malik announced he was leaving One Direction. Have I covered all age groups? But I'm a car guy, so my important moments include car stuff.

I remember the day, way back in 1966, when I saw my first Hemi powered car. Hold on a minute before you start to berate me. You may recall that I come from a small so called, lunch bucket, industrial city on the east coast of Canada. Hardly any fancy cars or super hot ones were sold in my little town. Anyway, I was coming out of my grandfather's house, when a silver blue Charger cruised by and I spotted the tell tale sign on its front fender.......

My excitement lasted for days, maybe even years, as I think it may have been the only Hemi sold in Saint John. One of my important car guy moments in time.

Or how about my first "409"? It was in 1962 and I had just come out of the Y and was about to enter the local bowling alley, when I saw parked outside, a new black Bel Air hardtop with fender skirts (such an eye for detail). All very nice, but the real big deal, was the insignia on the front fender. Any chance I had of going home with a girl that night went out the window, as all I could talk about was that hot engine.

Car guy moments, all defined by a rare, big motored muscle car. Wonder if my memories would be different if I'd had a life?

Another moment in time.......driving thru Haymarket Square one sunny day (ok, that's poetic licence), I saw this white 1966 Fairlane leaving the Ford dealership. No big deal, except that it had a big air scoop on the hood. This meant one thing and only one thing that, this vanilla white Ford was packing a 427 cubic inch big block muscle motor. Again, a rarity and the only one in town. For an eighteen year old car guy, that was the equivalent of having a life size Raquel Welch poster, maybe better.

And the last one that meant something special to me........driving by the same Ford dealership three years later........

......a yellow '69 Boss 302 was pulling into traffic. Again, the only one I ever saw in our little town. Another Saturday night date ruined, as all I could talk about was my latest sighting ("Who is this idiot that asked me out?").

Not surprising that, every one one of these cars was later seen at the local drag strip. In the case of the Hemi and the 409, both motors were eventually pulled and put into purpose built race cars. Heck, they might still be around.

So that brings me up to the present day. Last week I was driving by a car hauler that, was unloading in front of a small town (Stoney Creek) Dodge dealer and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted this logo on the front fender of a new black Challenger........

.......yep, you got it, a Hellcat. Now I wonder, if twenty years from now that, moment will stand out in the same way as those car guy sightings have from so many years ago? Time and memory loss will tell.

Oh, and by the way, I do remember what I was doing when I heard about Jennifer Anniston.

Until next time.......