About Me

My photo
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, May 29, 2015

May 29: A new MG - not what you'd expect?

To those of us of a certain age, this logo is readily identifiable and probably brings back a flood of memories. MG, derived from the name Morris Garages, is an old British name that, like almost all of the old Brit automobles, has been thru a very rough time. Sure, Jag, Rolls and Bentley have weathered the storm in the hands of foreign owners and actually gone on to be much better cars, but MG has had a rough and often very undistinguished ride.

But let's think back for a minute......

This classic MG was the car that captured the hearts and wallets of many soldiers returning from Europe in the '50's. This was the sportscar of the day that, populated the streets and highways of North America, as folks discovered the joys of (really) open air motoring. Side curtains, not glass windows, made this a brisk or just plain cold ride. But hey, put on a tweed hat and scarf and fight off all those lovely young maidens wanting to join you (sound like good ad copy?).

So popular was MG that when the next and thoroughly modern model arrived, the A, it set the standard for a sporting drive........

Lovely lines that, in its heyday, one could usually find in every town and city across this continent. One wonders why Carroll Shelby didn't drop a Ford V8 into an MGA?

Next up was the B series, as MG became more modern.......

I know a couple of guys who have these and one of them he bought new in 1971, before they adopted those hideous, big rubber bumpers. But times were changing and MG was not changing with them, and for that matter, neither was the entire British car industry.

So the MG languished and was never as popular again. The company tired to revive or at least trade, on this classic old nameplate, but the cars were generally rebadged Austins or other poorly received models. Finally this one proud badge ended up on a new Rover.......

......which, if memory serves was based on a Honda platform (I will not swear to this in court). A last gasp, but to no avail, the name and what was left of the company was sold to, what became the Chinese company SAIC.

And that once proud nameplate ended up on a few unforgettable sedans, like the one above, that SAIC hopes will help to invigorate the brand in foreign markets, before relaunching it in its old stomping ground, Europe.

So the time is now (actually 2016) and that famous old MG badge will be going back to its homeland. And what would you guess that, it will be on? If you said a new sportscar, well, you just haven't been paying attention to the car market these days. But if you said an suv, please give yourself a pat on the back, as you nailed it. Here is the new for 2016, MG GTS........


Thoroughly modern looking and similar to several other suv's on the market (that's an old story, Barry). So MG has hung on in one way or another, for many years. An old British name saved by a strong foreign company. Saved? Might be too early to tell, but personally, I sure wouldn't bet against those Chinese auto companies. They are big and although, their designs range between strange and outright copies, they are smart. Will we ever see MG regain their sporting roots and once again have a strong contender in the sportscar market? 

Don't count on it.

Until next time........

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26: Cars for India - how low can you go?

Take a close look at this picture. Count those bodies. Six happy family members on a little scooter, along with the family dog, all protected from grievous injury by the hair on their heads or the clothes on their bodies. An accident waiting to happen and since this is India, that shouldn't be too far in the future. I wonder why they all look so darn happy? Anyway, the movers and shakers in the auto industry see these folks as prime candidates to get off of that risky little motor bike and into a new car. But how will they do it?

Maybe an Indian company, like Tata, could produce an inexpensive alternative? Maybe it would sell in the hundreds of thousands to folks, who want to get their families off of that stupid little scooter? Maybe Tata would call it the Nano and make it nice and simple, and win over the hearts and minds of their less fortunate citizens?
Well, you know that, they did most of the above and produced the sparsely equipped little Nano. But who would have thought that an Indian company would misread their fellow citizens and have the Nano fall flat on its cute little face. The problem? They marketed it as a poor man's car, one step up from the scooter. Hey, who wants to be associated with that advertising campaign........."Yes, I happily drive a Nano, because I'm too poor to afford anything else."? You would think that they would have known. So, sales have been in the thousands, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands they envisioned.

But India has millions upon millions of people, who are experiencing a growth in their incomes, so the market is still there and getting bigger. What to do?

Carlos Ghosn, the head of Nissan, knows what to do. He recently introduced the new (with an old name) Datsun line, featuring the Go+. A very inexpensive little car for those masses of scooter drivers. And you can bet, he won't make the mistake that Tata did. Sure, it's a bit more costly, but with the right financing, even the family mutt gets to ride inside.

Where there is gold, there are of course gold diggers and who else do you think has popped up to join the party? Well, the answer would be Renault with their just introduced KWID. I know, the name is just plain strange, but look what it is going to be put on.........

Well, no not quite, that is just the original concept, let's go to the production model.........

Now, that's better. Isn't this a great looking little car? A full foot shorter than the small Ford Fiesta, but it looks like a real car, not quite a work in progress like the Nano. Sure, the price is double the Nano's $2500, but with the proper financing, that scooter riding Indian family can be new owners.

Wait a minute.......this is from Renault, but aren't they owned by Nissan? Sure, so who do you think is behind this new model?

You got it, Carlos Ghosn. If a super smart executive is trying to capture the hearts of millions of Indian drivers, why not give them a choice?

Make no mistake about it, these cars will never see European or North American shores, but with the proper marketing, they will be ubiquitous in the Third World. And there will be fewer families buried along with their motor scooters.

One has to applaud initiative and who would ever have thought that a real car could be sold for $2500 or even $5000? I sure wouldn't have believed it, but being a pet owner and animal lover, I'm happy to see that Fido no longer has to risk his life in a bag on the side of the family scooter.

Until next time.......

Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22: 2016 Camaro - evolution

What better way to start off my blog on the new 2016 Camaro, than to show the USA-1 funny car doing a burn out. USA-1 used to be the description of Chevrolet, since they out sold every other car in the good ol' USA. Even had a song, "See the USA in your Chevrolet......." to go along with all those hundreds of thousands of sales. Well, that was yesteryear and things aren't quite like that in 2015, but some things stay the same. That "thing" this week is the unveiling of the totally new for 2016 Camaro.

Looks like the 2015? Well, yes it does, but this is an evolutionary design. Hey, have you checked out BMW's over the last twenty years? Now, there is a design that has been evolved. No one would see a 1992 Bimmer and not know what is was and if it was in great condition, some poor soul might think that it was a 2015 model. But I digress. Look underneath that tautly pulled design and you'll find the underpinnings of the Cadillac ATS. This is not a bad thing, as the ATS always gets good reviews.

I like the Camaro. Cartoon looks? Maybe, but to my eyes this is one tough looking ride. I have a history with the Camaro, going back to my first one in 1984, an attractive charcoal coupe........

.........it was a plain Jane V6 with a 5 speed manual tranny and the F41 sport suspension. We had just opened a new business and there was not a lot of money to spare for Barry's dream car. If I wanted A/C, and was going to keep to our budget, I had to get the manual (my wife promised to teach me how to drive one better than I did). Actually it was a good choice and a nice little package. I think it still looks good.

Things got better with the business, so next in '87 came a nicely upgraded model, a bright red IROC Z.........

.......again with a manual, but now stirring the gears behind a "big" V8. Laughable when you think of this motor now. I think it had 185 HP, just about the same as any little four cylinder these days, but for its time, it was alright. Complete with writing on the side telling the world that this was the IROC Z. Know where that name came from? Camaros were used as the race cars in the International Race of Champions series, so Camaro adopted the name for its top model. Also a few of the body mods, so if you squinted, the street version looked like the race version (squint really hard).

The business closed, careers changed and I finally landed in what would be a car guy's dream job, selling all makes and models of every car sold in Canada. From day to day, we might sell a Tesla, then a Porsche, a Hyundai, an Audi or a Ferrari. I love to see what is lined next up for delivery. Anyway, time for another Camaro. This time a 1995 in silver and black.........

.......once again a manual, a Z28 and a really powerful V8 with a 155 mph or 250 kph top speed. Now, let's take a quick look at that "powerful" 6 litre motor  -  285 HP! I just delivered a new Mustang V6 with 300 HP and the '16 Camaro is supposed to have about 325 in six cylinder form. Any Japanese six cylinder equals the output of that hot '95 Z. Funny how things change. Anyway, it was quick for it's time and sounded great (no ultra quiet Tesla for this car guy).

So, yeah, I have a history with the Camaro.

And when they announce a new one, whether it looks evolutionary or not, it gets my attention. Time for another one? Believe me, I've tried to see myself in one, but as time goes by, needs change, as does one's body. A little hard to get out of these days and no room for those ever present golf clubs. But hey, at least I have the Camaro's chassis under my ATS!

Until next time........

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 19: Mad Max - mad indeed!

Unless you have just returned from the grave or possibly some long forgotten planet without Wi-Fi, you are aware that a Mad Max redo (or sequel or prequel) was released in the theatres over the weekend. Hard to avoid all those ads, whether you are surfing the web, watching TV, reading the paper or just watching a bus go by. I don't think I ever watched the entire movie, but have picked up bits and pieces on TV over the years. The one thing that stood out though, was the crazy vehicular creations, like absolutely anything goes. Remember the original Mad Max's custom (hey, everything is/was custom in these films) Ford.......

This was an Australian movie, so all the cars were bastardized Aussie models. I think the plot was something about a quest for gasoline. Funny then, that all the cars/trucks/whatevers should feature big gas guzzling motors (no wonder they were looking for fuel). And besides, a tricked out Corolla wouldn't have been near as much fun.

Anyway, back to Max's ride. This Ford was almost tame compared to what the current movie is offering. Like, if you can dream it in your worst nightmare, they'll make it to terrorize the heros in this film. So let's browse thru a few that appeal to me........

Nothing like an old '30's monster truck pick-up to stir up those theatre goers and this one appeals to all ages, from kiddlings to geezers. Old body for nostalgia, huge tires to make it contemporary and guns to appeal to just about everyone.

Or this pic-up, a much more conservative take on a wild and crazy baddies ride.........

Whatever it is, the owner loves tire treads. And those skulls just make the thing a bit more cuddly.

But for real wretched excess.........

.......some kind of huge truck suited up like a porcupine. Ideal for snagging those innocent folks, who for some reason are falling from the heavens. The conservatively redone old Barracuda is parked beside it for a size comparison.

And of course, these Mad movies need a few big bruiser tractor trailers that, can mow thru anything in their path. Just check out that front end  -  watch out, I'm coming thru.........

But here is the one piece that, is going to get all the raves. The one creation that, will be featured in all the ads. You gotta wonder how these ideas come about, but here is a pic of how a modeler envisioned making Immortan Joe's crazy, scene stealing ride..........

.......and from this came the piece de resistance, the Gighorse.........

Don't ask about that name, but there must be some explanation (I will not be taking in this movie to find out). Hold on a minute, if the car(?) makes no sense, then why should its name? And if you have to ask, then you just don't get it. What a concept. Two 1959 Cadillacs mounted on top of one another, in a way that Harley Earl (Google the name) could never have imagined(would never have wanted to imagine). You have to admit, this is one scary looking ride.

So see the movie if you must. Relive the old days or create new memories and please, let me know if it was worth your time.

I can feel the blood lust from here!

Until next time.......

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15: The Imperial Cat

A touch dramatic? I'll say, but oh so typical of the ads from the 1950's. Both the ads and the cars they showed were usually way over the top. I mean, just look at this pic. The elegant couple, sure, that's expected, but those columns? And that eagle insignia? A bit extreme? Yeah, no question it's a bit extreme, quite a bit. On the other hand, these were arguably more interesting than many of today's car ads. A matter for debate for another day and another blog? Stay tuned.

Anyway, these chrome laden boats from that era, are great subjects for the Car Modelling Cat and me to show off our skills(?). Putting our best paw forward, so to speak.

And so, this brings us to today's blog and another example of the model making of my famous(?) Car Modeling Cat.........


.......the 1959 Imperial two door hardtop. Modelled in the typical '50's colour of mauve. Can you imagine a new BMW 7 series rolling off the line in this shade? That being said, I've recently seen a new Bentley Flying Spur (gotta love those names) in a similar shade and also a Porsche Panamera in a very bright, 50's shade of green. And I'll tell ya, neither one was a shining example of how these cars should look (well, maybe we shouldn't get too far off discussion about the butt ugly Panamera?).

As usual, the CMC and I try to highlight every bit of chrome, which made these cars stand out so much. Detail the exterior and forget about what's under the hood. This was not a particularly good kit, but I think we did a good job of bringing it to life.

Another of those '50's ads, showing this boat in all its shining, pink, glory. Compare this to our rendition.......

No question, I'd take the mauve one.And by the way, if you think that this car was tasteless and over wrought, just check out its competition of the day, the huge finned Cadillac and the just plain big and sculpted Lincoln. This Imperial almost looks subdued by comparison.

My dear little buddy, the Car Modelling Cat, and I will be taking a break from modelling, for what I think might be a few months. My wife and I have just bought a condo, which means that my basement car room, will be relocated to a new location. I'm excited about what the new place has to offer, but after finishing this build, we will be packing up all our treasures for the move. Unpacking and then off to France for two and a half weeks, so it will probably be September, until we get to work together on another project (I'm sure you'll survive, not hearing about one of our builds).

Until next time........

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 12: What's next? A sport ute from Aston Martin?

 Aston Martin. Just say the name and one immediately conjures up images of that super spy, James Bond, suavely driving up to a casino in Monte Carlo or using the skills of the very best race car drivers, to get away from the super bad guys. Without the JB connection, I even wonder if Aston would have survived the turbulent '70's and '80's, which were so unkind to a variety of British makes, sportscars and otherwise.

But there is another image that crosses my mind, when I think of this iconic brand. I can't think of another make that, has lent itself to so many versions of a station wagon, as has Aston Martin. From the '60's to the present day, design houses and Aston itself, have created wagons or more properly, shooting brakes, from these great looking rides.

These designs below are typical of what was produced in limited numbers by the coach builders. But why Aston Martin?

Why does this brand lend itself to this type of body work as opposed to say, Jaguar? Good question and I have no idea why, but what was a tradition in the early days, has continued for many years, as this more recent dark blue example below, from Britain's Roos Engineering clearly shows.

 Even the Italian design house Bertone created their own version of a more practical Aston Martin........

Their vision was crafted from the Rapide four door sedan. Looks great, but why Aston? Ever see a Porsche version like this? Neither have I.

But these days, the manufacturers are making their own variations of just about every conceivable body style. So why not cash in? The big craze (and maybe it's not a craze) is to have a sport ute in your line. Bentley is doing one. So is Lamborghini. And dare I say it, Ferrari has mentioned it as a possibility. Not to be left out, Aston trotted their own rendition out to the auto show crowds two or three years ago.......

Yes, you are correct, it was universally panned. How could something so ugly come from the folks, who have penned some of the most automobile beautiful designs? Another good question. But you can't keep a good(?) idea down, so it was recently announced that Aston was going ahead with a car based on their DBX concept. And just in case you were wondering about what car to buy four years down the road, AM has said it will produce this model in 2019.

Their suv will, of course, ride higher, but will have only two doors and, thank goodness, a design that is Aston-like. If you are going to join the crowd, might as well do it your way and do it quite well (and a little bit different).

But still that nagging question, why has Aston Martin traditionally been the darling of the long roof crowd? Any ideas?

Friday, May 8, 2015

May 8: Now, that's just plain weird

A couple of years ago, I blogged about "art cars". You know, those strange cars, over which some happy soul has attached a million pennies or 10,000 Barbie Dolls or just about anything else that one can imagine. Unusual to be sure. Tasteless or just tacky? Well, there is that old adage about beauty being in the eye, but what the hey, half the fun is in the comments made about these very individualistic rides. Time to take another look? Not really, but I ran across a bunch of cars that, go beyond the normal individual's eccentricities. Cars that are worth poking a bit or a lot of fun at.

Where to start? Where to start?

Ok, how about a PT Cruiser? This one isn't making so much of an arty statement, as it is getting the attention of 100% of the drivers, who come across its somewhat terrifying front end. Personally, I think it's funny, but last Halloween, a bunch of folks took exception to those fake(?) arms hanging out of a car's trunk. Each to his own, when macabre humour rears its ugly head.

Or what about this upside down creation? Look closely and you'll see a windshield, a steering wheel, and an extra set of tires, but until you do.......what the heck happened here? Really well done and very creative. My guess, based on that windshield, is that this was once a K car convertible, before it morphed into this topsy turvy  Ford F-150.

Time to get a little more bizarre.......

Tell me, who hasn't yearned for a Corvette? I see quite a few hands go up. And who hasn't thought that, putting an old car's front end on one would be a terrific idea? Not as many go up this time.........actually, I count only one. Love to know the thought process that, brought about this weird one, or maybe I'm better off not knowing. Whatever. Those steer horns add a nice down home touch, don't you think?

Ok, so let's jump into the really deep end of this cesspool and see what comes up........


What can I say? A car for those among us, who are undecided about whether they want a convertible or a hardtop. Should it be made out of metal or wood? Should it have an entirely different design on each side or not? I know these are questions that, I often ponder when planning my next ride.

But just how twisted can we go, with these weird creations?

Admit it. You never, ever figured that, someone else would have the same idea as you, about what interesting modifications could be made to your personal ride to make it more personal. Hard to wash and wax, but well worth the effort.

But, let's dig deeper, for what I think could well be the weirdest, most bizarre ride yet, assuming that this beast can even be driven.........

Behold, the Finnjet. This beauty (and I use the term extremely loosely) is crafted(?) from a couple of Mercedes wagons and an early '60's Chrysler Imperial. And what creator wouldn't want to stand behind a wondrous vehicle like this? No need to hold a garage sale, just blend those cast offs into the Finnjett's design (again, a term used quite loosely). Hard to look at? You bet! Ah, the Finnjet, high tech or high tack?

What a great way to leave you for the weekend, pondering these individual rides that, stand apart from the crowd and cause you to exclaim, "Now, that's just plain weird."

Until next time.......