About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nov 27: Art Fitzpatrick - RIP

Art Fitzpatrick.Gone at 96, a long, productive and very interesting life comes to an end.

Growing up I didn't know who Art Fitzpatrick was, but I was surrounded by him and his partner's work Being a car guy from the very beginning (car enfant?), I loved cars and being from a "have not" city on the east coast, usually the only way I got to see the best cars were in their ads. Cars, like that perennial favorite of mine, the '69 Pontiac Grand Prix, pictured beside Art. Drawn as large as life, or in some cases, like this "68 model, larger than life........


Cars that, pushed out of the frame to emphasize how enormous they were. Those were the days or at least we thought they were. Art drew those beautiful cars in a way that made them seem to go on forever. Was there anyone who didn't envy the people in the ads and the life that they seemed to live?

His advertising work in the '50's started to be recognized and appreciated.........


.......like this 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood. This scene said it all without having to say a thing. Same thing can be said about this Buick Roadmaster ad.........


Going into the '60's, Art worked exclusively for the Pontiac Division of General Motors. At one time the Division Manager, John Delorean (the snowman?) decreed that all Pontiac's ads had to be drawn by Art Fitzpatrick. Now that is a very impressive endorsement.

The Pontiac ads featured Art's gorgeous artwork against some interesting or exotic background.........

 

Many of the Grand Prix ads featured European backdrops. Funny, when you consider that those narrow, twisty roads would hardly support a truck, let alone a big, wide American car. But the image was the thing. If we drove a GP, that could be us cruising those quaint towns and villages and maybe even Monte Carlo.

Fitzpatrick was very well respected (I guess that goes without saying). When the US Postal Service decided to do a series of milestone car stamps, who did they go to? Of course, Art Fitzpatrick. A couple of blogs ago, I showed the 1953 Studebaker stamp, which Art is holding in this pic.........


And here are the others.........
Yep, this guy was an icon. I have this Grand Prix ad framed and hanging in my office.............


I often think that, so many of the car ads today have lost some of their romance, or should I say, emotion. So many are sterile representations of all the techno features. Hey, I know that times change and probably for the better in most cases (some not), but those old ads were great.........

 

I seem to be fixated on the '60 Pontiac with this series of ads, but they are truly representative of Art's work. I mean, who wouldn't want the car shown in these beautiful renderings? Exaggerated features, like that front end or the length, but the added excitement of those pics must have played on buyers' minds and brought them into the showrooms.

A Pontiac fixture into the '70's.........

 

........Art was eventually replaced by photography. Better? That would be a personal opinion, but maybe more "truthful"? A few more ads for Opel and Art and his artwork were consigned to history.


But, what a great history and a great legacy. While this type of advertising was in its prime, Art Fitzpatrick couldn't be topped. Great ads and great memories. Thanks, Art, you were the best!

Until next time........



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nov 24: When is a Fiat not a Fiat

When is a Fiat, not a Fiat?


Ah, the famous Fiat 124 Spider. Almost everyone's idea of an inexpensive Italian sportscar, but the key word here is "Italian". What, with all the other sportscars from Italy costing BIG bucks, this little gem was the next best thing, unless you wanted to rob a bank or run some sort of ponzi scheme. Naw, much better to revel in this fun little Fiat sports car for relatively little coin. Gone but not forgotten, after all didn't Mazda develop their beloved Miata to take the place of cars like this Fiat 124 or those old and long gone Brit roadsters?

The Miata........


........a great little car and its gotten better with each new generation. Maybe time for Fiat to develop a new, little and affordable car to compete against the Mazda? Well, the time is exactly right, since Fiat unveiled their new 124 at last week's Los Angeles Auto Show. The result.........


Look familiar? You have a good eye, since to compete with the Miata, Fiat has gone into a joint venture with Mazda and developed their own sports model based on the Miata. Although they have done a good job of adding in 124 design features, there is no doubt about its origins. A bad thing? No, not at all. These days there are all sorts of cars that exist as different models by different companies, such as the Scion and Subaru sports coupes - same car, different name. With all the competition these days, it's very tough to make a case for spending millions (billions?) to develop a car for a relatively small market segment.

When is another Fiat not a Fiat?


Recognize the bottom pic as the Dodge Journey? Recognize the top pic as the Fiat Freemont? Probably not, but to enter this segment in Europe, it was easy for Fiat to "borrow" one of their vehicles from the North American market and rebadge it as a Fiat crossover. Make a few minor changes and for a couple of hundred bucks you get yourself a brand new vehicle for Europe. Inspired?

This makes sense to me, although it is rather odd to see the companies advertising that, their version is the best, when the dealership next door has the same thing. Fiat is not the only one to do this. Recognize the origins of this Chevy van? Hint, check out the Nissan below it.


Just the realities of today's ultra competitive and ultra fragmented market place.

Want to see one more (do you have a choice?)?. Now, this one is only sold in Europe........

  
This is the Lancia Thema. Look familiar?

Until next time........



Friday, November 20, 2015

Nov 20: The new car room, a cat and a Studie

After just over 36 years, my wife and I decided to retire from house ownership. No more yard work, no more shoveling, no more unexpected house repairs. Yep, we cashed out in the lovely Leaside area of Toronto, selling our little home and buying a condo about three blocks away. Same area, no maintenance, bigger place (and my own full bathroom!). Win, win, win! One of the areas that, I cherished most in the old house was my car room, so it was very important for me to be able to reconstruct one in our new digs.

Was I successful?

 

What do you think? I'd say I scored big time. Sure, I had to downsize my collection a bit, but lost nothing that I truly cared about. The focus now is on the 1/24th scale models that, I've been building since I don't know when (actually, I do). So now that everything is in place, the Car Modeling Cat (CMC) and I can get back to work. Our first project? Well, this pic gives you a hint.......


Yes, this is the adorable CMC looking over our workbench at a work in progress. The car? Going way back to 1953, here is an ad for it from back then.......


 Hard to believe that this '53 Studebaker Starliner didn't rock the world when it was intro'd, since it was so far ahead of anything else on the road. All the other cars featured lumpy and frumpy designs, but this one from Raymond Loewy was all elegant simplicity. Probably the fact that it was a Studebaker hindered it immensely. So what does our finished model look like?

 

Pretty darn close to the real car, missing only those happy occupants, but, hey, I don't build people.

This car was a real milestone when it came out, but it took many years for it to be appreciated as such. Back about ten years ago, the US Postal Service decided to do a run of stamps celebrating milestone cars and it's no surprise that this Studie made the cut........


Appropriate as well, that it be in the same colour as my model and that old ad. Note that, in all those winter scenes, depicted so lovingly back then, that the cars were always sparkling clean and all the windows were rolled (now it would be powered) down? So who was the artist? That's another blog for another day.

So there you have it. A beautiful and quite under appreciated car in its day, but a great model now. A good way for the CMC and me to get back into the swing of our model building. Next up? Well, I'm not sure, but my buddy is already at her post waiting for the action to begin.......


Until next time........



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nov 17: A new trend?

You're the one. You're the one that started this "trend". Well, maybe calling it a trend, might be overstating it a whole lot, especially since the Murano Cross Cabriolet was such a design abomination and a sales disaster. I mean, nothing worked about this Murano with its top chopped off. An idea whose time hadn't yet come?

Well, maybe, since Land Rover is about to unveil its new Evoque cabrio. You know the Evoque? It's their small, but great looking sport ute, available in two or four doors. Unlike the Murano version, where the designers had to delete a couple of doors, the Evoque already had a "coupe" version. So what did they do with it........

 

Of course, seeing what happened with the Murano, they made it good looking, not an ungainly mess. But what about the idea of a cabrio suv? Who needs it or more importantly, who asked for it? You telling me, focus groups told Nissan and Land Rover that, what their product lines were missing was a good top down version of their popular suv? I wonder.

But saying that, a Califonia company has been dropping the top of suv's for the last few years. Selling them to a select few.........

 

So, you were wondering how to make your Range Rover or Cayenne stand out? Or maybe, you wanted a convertible and a sport ute, but couldn't afford both? That's actually a dumb question, since for the price of one of these unusual creations, you could probably get a cab and an suv. In case, I've wetted your appetite, look up Newport Convertible Engineering, they'll drop the top of just about anything for anyone. Bring money. Were they ahead of this trend or did they think that, the Murano Cross Cab was a terrific idea.

Let's not blame anyone just yet for coming up with this dumb idea, since Dubai's G Force Performance unveiled their version at last week's Dubai International Motor Show. So what did they take the top off of? Put up your hands, those who immediately said a Yukon XL Denali.











How many hands did I count? Only one? So they must follow the internet car news like I do.

Obviously, I'm not a forward thinker like Nissan was and like these others appear to be. I like to ride bell curve trends at the top of the "bell". No early adopter am I. Speaking of Nissan, I wonder if they are kicking themselves for being a little too early and a lot too ugly?

Now you know about this trend, try to guess who's next to bat?

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






Friday, November 13, 2015

Nov 13: Friday @ Port Dover

Friday, the 13th! Didn't even realize it, until I sat down at my desk this morning. Didn't hear anything on the radio either, so I guess most folks have finally realized that, it is just another day. Most folks, but not those citizens of Port Dover, Ontario, a little resort town/fishing port about an hour or so south west of Toronto.........


Years ago some bikers (and don't take that description the wrong way) decided that, it would be good idea to ride on down to PD on Friday the 13th. That was in 1981 and the tradition grew, so that now on a very nice Summer's day, one can count well over a hundred thousand spectators and thousands of motorcycles taking in the "action". 

 

That's on a nice Summer's day, but this tradition is not just seasonal, as bikes and their riders show up on every Friday the 13th, regardless of the time of year or the weather. Not in big numbers, mind you, but they are there just the same. Don't believe me?

 

Ok, so I don't know about the authenticity of the top photo, but I hope you get my point. Which is the better place to be, on the bike or in the sidecar? Probably on a day like that, neither. But on a November day like today, which is overcast with light rain and about 7 degrees Celsius, you can still count on several dozen riders showing up. It's a tradition after all!

But in the Summer, all types of bikes and bikers show up for the show, which has been called, the "biggest single day motorcycle event in the world". Single day, is the key here, as Daytona Bike Week and Sturgis go on for several days. Even Ontario's finest trot out their finest rides......


The real show though, is in the variety of machines and their riders. Let your imagination go wild.......



And please don't think that I'm picking on blondes, it's just that these fine ladies had a great combo of bike and attire. Shrinking violets? I don't think so.

Picture a bike and it will show up........


Even some creation with a thumping V8 powerplant between the riders legs.......


Now, that would be some wild ride!

So, if you are into motorcycles and haven't yet been to Port Dover on Friday, the 13th, for Pete's sake, put it on your bucket list. And don't worry, if your time runs out before you can get on down there, as there is a way to make one last trip, before the earth covers you over.........


Friday, the 13th - good luck!

Until next time.......