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, September 29, 2015

Sept 29: Just another Saturday?

So, here I was on the first Saturday of Fall, spending an hour at the office, showing a young couple a used car. I don't work Saturday's, but if someone wants to see a car and hopefully, give me their money, well, heck, who am I to argue? While waiting for them, I noticed a couple of very throaty sounding old cars rumble by. Then on the test drive, I noticed a whole lot full of old stuff, sort of like a pop up car show, just up the street from my office. Ok, now my Saturday had even more purpose. Not a big show, but an interesting one. One fellow trailered in this 1969 Yenko Camaro replica. See that motor (how could you miss it?)? Pumping out about 1500 HP, this was one fast ride. Streetable? Good question, but I'd guess unlikely.

Rat rods? They sure don't appeal to me, but they certainly have their following. Just put together the parts to make an interesting end result, purposeful, but not pretty. Touch it? Scratch it? Who cares? Appreciate it? Absolutely.


Old VW buses took on a life of their own after the nutty numbers at the Barrett-Jackson Auction a few years back. So, now every old bus, has the chance to look at a possible show car future. Maybe even be fixed up, like this one.......


If not for those auction results, would anyone have really cared?

Like old commercial vehicles?


I do and there is a Professional Car Society and its members, that collect and restore these old working vehicles. In this case a couple of ambulances, a Packard from the '50's and a Pontiac Bonneville from 1965, the latter belonging to the Toronto EMS (emergency medical service).

Add a few of the cars from the '50's and '60's to the mix, like the '62 Dodge on the right. All tarted up with mags and custom paint. The power plant? A lowly slant six. Go figure. The centre shot car here got my vote for the most interesting. Why? Several reasons.......one, it was a '58 Edsel, two, it was a top of the line four door hardtop and three, it had power windows (not so common back then). I think that I'd lose the fender skirts though, if she were mine. But, then again, maybe not.



How often does one see a restored station wagon, like this '71 or '72 Chevelle? Not so much, as all the interest seems to be in the two doors and convertibles. There is a trend (however slight) towards these forgotten and non sexy cars. I like them, because, like the Edsel, this body style is unusual nowadays. This one wasn't exactly stock, but very nicely modified.

Recognize this one? One of the great drag cars, a 1930's Willy's. Whenever you find one of these cars, there is a very good chance, that it will have that flip up front end and a monster motor. Although you can't see it, the pinstripping was done in a barbed wire motif. Interesting.


One of my favorite cars of all time is the 1965 Chevrolet and this two door hardtop was a nicely done example, although not seen at the old car show, but at my next stop.


This next stop was the annual Fall model car show held by the Group 25 modelers. This car was in the parking lot, but on the contest table was its twin, but in that lovely Butternut Yellow colour, so popular back in the '60's......


Lots of vendors as always.........


One might get lucky and find a long lost desired model, but I've always bought the ones that I wanted, so I already had everything on offer.

Now three shots showing the variety of models being shown.........a garage diorama, a Mickey Thompson Pontiac Grand Am Funny Car, detailed to the hilt and of course, since models replicate real life trends, there were rat rods..........

 

So a good car guy Saturday morning.......a bit of business, a car show and a model car show. And yes, I did sell the used car.

Until next time.......



Friday, September 25, 2015

Sept 25: VW, what were you thinking?

Not exactly a smoking gun, but just as deadly to the beloved Volkswagen brand. In this case that gun was aimed by VW itself at its own foot, and with a steady hand, the trigger was pulled, many thousands of times. What were they thinking?

Let's go back in time and check out a a little history. How did this company so endear itself to us? Maybe it was because, Das Auto had a sense of humour, which made us feel that, they were different from the others.

Way back in the late '30's (that's 1930's), that monster, Adolf Hitler, engaged Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) to design a "people's car", the original Beetle. An inexpensive and easy to maintain little car that, would enable the masses to have reliable transportation, as portrayed in this idyllic ad from 1939...........


But, we all know what happened next and this idea fell by the wayside, as the factories geared up to produce the machines of war. But in post war Germany, VW needed something to kick start their production lines and their sales. The answer was Porsche's Beetle. These ads show how this little car endeared itself to us..........


The tongue in check ads that, brought this little car into our hearts and driveways........


North America and just about everywhere else, loved their VW Beetles. Sales went wild and the war ravaged German industrial machine climbed out of the abyss. This product led to others that, became equally loved, such as the Golf or Rabbit, if you prefer. Same car, just different names at different times.


Not quite taking the place of the Beetle in folks' hearts, but becoming an extremely important car for Volkswagen, the Golf led to the first, of what would become known as "hot hatches", the GTI.......


........ a model that is still held up, decades later, as the benchmark for the category.

VW endeared themselves to us, with strange and whimsical versions of the Golf, like the unusual(?) Harlequin.........


I mean, think about it, what other company would have the nerve to produce a car painted like this one? A body shop's dream? And who in their right mind would drive such a car? Well, the answer, was not too many people, as they languished on dealers' lots. But VW took the risk.

From those post WW 2 ashes, arose a powerhouse that eventually encompassed Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda. A company that strove to pass GM and Toyota to be the biggest car company in the world. Goal achieved, as so far this year they have edged out Toyota for that number one spot.

Diesels became a backbone of the brand. Sure, this motor only accounted for about 20-25% of VW's sales in North America, but the words VW and diesel went together hand in hand. And after building thousands upon thousands of "dirty" diesels, in 2009 VW touted their new TDI as the clean diesel, even slapped this brag on the side of their 2009 Golf World Car of the Year..........


So what went wrong? How did this image and so called new technology, end up as this editorial cartoon published earlier this week?

Very good question. The obvious answer is that VW couldn't make a clean diesel motor, no matter how hard they tried. But, they could develop a computer program that, would sense if it was being tested (smart little computer) and lower the emissions. When it was not being tested, it spewed noxious fumes into the atmosphere like a factory in China. Well, maybe not that bad, but you get my drift. Big gamble, screwing with the US EPA. They bare their very long and sharp teeth quickly, if they perceive someone is obviously trying to cheat and deceive them and the American public. So, VW, stepped up to the plate and for a few years accomplished just that. Until an independent test saw that something was a foul.

Why, why, why? In my opinion, this type of decision was being made at the top echelons of VW corporate. This isn't the work of some anonymous little techie toiling away in the basement.

So the beloved VW brand has fallen on their sword. All that good will, gone in an instant. Along with billions of dollars and thousands of sales. Hurts everyone right down to the dealer level. A story like this has "legs", so it will besmirch the VW brand for years to come or forever (whatever that means).

Looking back, this VW ad from the early '60's was prophetic........


Let's see if they can use those humorous ads to get them out of this mess.

Until next time......



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sept 22: From France with love, part 3

Ah, what is better than a breath taking view of the countryside and if that countryside happens to be Provence, France, then all the better. Great view on a great trip. As I've said before, I love travelling, but the added bonus is the different cars one sees when travelling abroad. Nothing better for a car guy. Well, I know something that comes close. I bake as a hobby (pies, cakes, squares), so a bakery anywhere is a treat. And France is a great place to hunt out a patisserie. But I digress, so back to cars of other places. So, here is this beautiful view, blocked only by the cute as a button, Renault Twingo. I mean, Twingo, how much cuter a name is there? Maybe our Nissan Micra, should have adopted a neat little name like this, instead of sounding like an insect.

But there are better examples of interesting cars, that we don't and I'd guess never will get over here........

 

.......this is the Peugeot (remember them?) RCZ. Sure, you've run out of names, so call your little sports coupe a few letters. Is imagination a thing of the past? This one looks like the top would retract, but alas, it does not. The RCZ can be had in versions up to 270 HP, which in a small coupe like this, should provide exihilarating performance, while looking pretty good.

Need something a bit more "family" oriented, but still want it to be distinctive? Will this work for you?


Or maybe this one?


There is an interesting story attached to these two cars, the top DS 3 seen in Paris and the DS 5 below in Lyon (by the way, it was 39C that day, so it's a wonder I could hold up my camera). These were formerly Citroens, but in an attempt to create a line of more exciting products and obviously, to sell a few more cars, they were renamed. Back in 2010 Citroen created the DS brand of cars that, were a little funkier looking and were supposed to be more exciting. These cars used to be Citroens, but overnight became DS's. In the future, the DS cars will have only ever been DS's. Sales are nearing half a million since the company's inception, but who knows what they would have sold as Citroen's? Quite good looking in my opinion.

But you like sport utes, so check out this one........


Caught in a Champs Elysees showroom, this Renault Captur (interesting name?) is a small suv that, must be very successful, as I saw them everywhere with their standout colours and two tone paint schemes. Similar in size to the new genre of smaller suvs we are starting to see over here, like the new Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3. Very stylish, don't you think?

And what blog would be complete without a people mover or as we call them a van?


Like unusual names? Ok, then you'll like this one, the Picasso by Renault. In my opinion, naming a car after a, well, let's say, strange artist, might say something about that car's styling. You decide. Anyway, this model is a couple of years old. The new one's design is a bit more mainstream.

So there you have it, a brief tour of some of France's more interesting cars. I could have been taking car pics non stop, but hey, remember, I was there as a tourist and had other sights to see.

Being Canadian, I have an acquaintance with the French language, so I picked up this great magazine, which previews all 2016 European models, as well as showing the cars, which the companies sell in other parts of the world. Great resource and very interesting. Never seen it over here, but if anyone does, please let me know.


And finally, when I last mentioned the car below, it had just been introduced about a year ago. Well, based on the number of them that I saw, the unusual Renault Cactus has been a big hit. This is the one with the soft sides, so that door dings are a thing of the past. Another sport cute?


Never a dull moment when you are a car guy in a foreign country, "Sure, I see the Eiffel Tower, but is that a new Twingo?"

Until next time.......





Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sept 17: It's about time, Honda!

 Well, it sure is about time. The dear old Honda Civic has been redesigned for 2016. Sure that's news, since this is such an important car for Honda, but the important news is that, the Civic will now be one car, one design for everyone. None of the Europe gets one, we in North America got another one, which is not nearly as exciting. Think I'm making this up? If you've read this blog before, you know how I've ranted about the beautiful Civics cruising the highways and biways of Europe. To refresh your memory.......


This little beauty has been the European Civic for the past, approximately, five years. Two or four doors, this one was stunning either way (for a Civic, that is). Ours has been like your best friend's plain sister. Nice to be with behind closed doors, but nothing to brag about in public. Now the Euro version was the opposite, that friend's sister was a stunner and one who you'd love to show off to your other (less fortunate) friends. And the Type R was not only great looking, but promiscuous as well (to carry on with the sister metaphor). Now we are also getting the powerhouse R, as well the thoroughly and beautifully designed new and now, universal model.

Remember how it all got started, those so may years ago? History time, of course, so here is the pre-Civic Honda that set the stage for the sales steamroller that, the Civic would become.......


This is the little 600 (well, weren't they all little?), intro'd at a time when Honda was known big time for their motorcycles. Not much chance that a cycle manufacturer could put together a good car, was there? This 600 was Honda's effort immediately before dropping the 1973 Civic on us........


Time to dredge out the friend's sister analogy again? I think not. Nothing special here, except a small Japanese car that was very good, but rusted prematurely, but, hey, didn't everything back in the day? Innocuous start for the mega car company that Honda would become.

Although the Civic has been Canad'a best selling car for a handful of years (17 to be exact), Honda got complacent, and rested on their laurels too much. The result? Still number one, but cars like the very stylish Hyundai Elantra were giving it a run for its money. Time for a re-think.

And this rethink was unveiled today........


Looks big, but designs can be deceiving. Of course, it is bigger than the original of its big brother Accord, but then, everything has increased in size over the past forty years. Either way you look at it, this is a great looking car and one has to wonder, if it will steal sales from the Accord? I believe it certainly will win back those folks who were wooed by the cool looking Elantra.

Well, it sure is about time, Honda. Good to see that you can change your conservative ways, at least as far as North America is concerned. Thank you for this "gift" - better late than never!

Until next time......







Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sept 15: Who's next?


It's your fault, yes, you in the pic above, you are the culprit. You were the first one to arrive on the scene to the horror of traditionalists everywhere. Now several years later, you've begat a baby sister (brother?) and between the two of you, your sales account for over 50% of the brand's numbers in North America. By extension, you could say worldwide, these two models are huge for the brand. No secret what this brand is, it's Porsche. Those smart guys saw that a great many of their owners also had a sport ute for drives to the cottage or the ski slopes, so why not develop their own suv, so that the 911 drivers could stay with Porsche? Good thinking, although it took a lot of getting used to. A Porsche truck?

So after the success of the Porsche Cayenne, every other luxury brand has been looking at the sales crazy suv market and pondered bringing their version of a luxury model to the market. For Pete's sake, even Ferrari was rumoured to have given this some thought. So, who might also show up with a new sport ute? This blog won't be guessing about anything, since almost all of these models are about to arrive or are planned for the next couple of years.

The first one out of the gate is Bentley, with their just unveiled Bentayga (kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?)........


Apparently, the first one is going to Queen Elizabeth. Probably as a gift from VW, but she'd certainly be able to afford the approximately $250k price, before those "must have" extras. You just have to believe that, this new model will sell like hotcakes to those wanting the latest and greatest and besides, who needs to get road salt on their beautiful Mulsanne?

Maserati, that maker of gorgeous Italian rolling sculpture, will also be coming out with an suv. The oddly named Levante will arrive in the very near future........

 

Not as great looking as their sedans and sports coupes, but you can be sure that its Italian leather interior will knock those proverbial socks off.

Next up and also just unveiled is the Jaguar F-Pace........


Jag is another of those companies making lovely sedans and hot sports cars, who we might never have thought would bring an suv to market. But as you probably know, market forces will make a company rethink their role in life and nothing is sacred these days. Will it sell? Why not ask me a question that, you don't already know the answer to?

Ferrari says no (so far) to the sport ute craze, but Lamborghini seems to be buying into it with this model scheduled to arrive in a couple of years......


Of course, being a Lambo, this one will look the part and as always, will be named after a famous fighting bull.

One more and then, I'm out of here. All these other suvs that I've shown are reality, but here is one that isn't (yet). Audi has several suv's, but they've just shown a concept at the Frankfurt show. Their E-Tron sure looks like a sport ute and so far is not planned for production (2018?), but look at this one and tell me you don't think that is it assembly line ready.......


This one has all the right styling cues to make it a success, at least among those wanting an electric suv and there have to be more than a few customers in that category.

These days, show a company a market segment that they are not yet in and see what happens. Go against tradition? Who cares? If it is done right, and Porsche has done it right, then no telling how high the sales might be. Bentley brings out an suv, can Rolls be far behind? Actually, no they won't be with their suv, the Cullinan(?) scheduled for a 2018 release.

Ferrari? Never say never.

Until next time......



Friday, September 11, 2015

Sept 11: High Rollers Rejoice

Does this mansion that, is on its way to completion, belong to any of my readers? This behemoth is being built a couple of miles from my home in Toronto and as I've said before, the prestigious Bridal Path area is a couple of miles geographically and many million of dollars monetarily, from my humble abode. Anyway, if this is your new home, then you had better have a magnificent new ride to go along with it. That old Rolls Phantom or heaven forbid, a Maybach, is just not going to cut it anymore. But before you throw your hands up in frustration, not knowing what to do, Rolls Royce and Mercedes have come to your rescue.

Rolls Royce has just unveiled their new Dawn cabrio, the drop top version of their hot looking (for a Rolls, that is) Wraith coupe. Sure, it looks similar to the recently discontinued big gun Phantom convertible, but check out those svelte new measurements. This one is fashion model lithe. And, since this is a smaller car, you only need to pay around $500k starting price, for the privilege of adding those especially important touches that, will make your Dawn stand out from the other one or two in your hood and add thousands to its price.


"Sporting" for a Rolls is definitely a relative term and of course, you know that, I'm going to show you a couple of other long gone models that, might also have used the term "sporty" in their ads. Like this one from the late '50's, which seems to be based on the Bentley Continental of the day. Not quite as snotty looking as a Silver Cloud cabrio............


Or this custom job, by Freestone & Webb, that sold three years ago back at a auction in Monaco (does that location surprise you?)..........

Sporty in a Rolls Royce kind of way, but also maybe because it was a two seater?

Anyway, the new Dawn would be a wonderful way to express to your new neighbours that, you are a person of good taste in fine homes and automobiles.

But, just maybe things are not quite as they appear. You've blown your quite substantial wad of dough on that, wonderful pile of stone and the decorating costs are going to mean that, trip to South Palm will only be for two months this winter, instead of three. So, while your neighbour flaunts their new Dawn, you take a touch more restrained view and greet the day in a new S Class Mercedes convertible........


Finally, after all these years, about forty five actually, Mercedes is once again going to bring to market a top of the line convertible, for those amongst you who find the Rolls or even a Bentley, a touch too ostentatious. Removing the top of their big coupe has wrought this luscious ride.....


And in the background is the last S Class cab, called the 280 SE back in the day. Want to see a much better pic of Mercedes' history? I thought so...........

 

Beautifully finished and still a gorgeous looking piece in 2015. But I digress, so we are back to reality, the house set you back a ton and you'll just have to bite the bullet and show up at the local BBQ in an elegant new Benz, ignoring the fact that there will be at least another dozen similar cars, after all this one will only be in the $200k range. Chump change for a roller like you, even after the new "shack" has been landscaped and open to your friends' adoration......


Yes, life is good, but not without a touch of regret that, you couldn't have cut back on the tennis courts (you don't even play) and put that money into the oh so lovely new Dawn......

 Oh well, such are the problems of the very wealthy (and you thought buying a new Accord Touring was a touch extravagant). At least Rolls and Mercedes have given the rest of us something to dream about.

Until next time.......