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, December 18, 2015

Dec 18: Merry Christmas!

You got it!. There is always some well meaning soul, who thinks that decorating their smart car for the Christmas season is a great idea. And quite frankly, if that is your thing, go for it, but you and only you, have to take the blame for getting the car's beard dirty.

How do you celebrate? Send cards? Probably, since many folks do. Ever wonder what the racing organizations like NASCAR or F1 send? Sure, most of us, believe that Bernie Ecclestone sends out lumps of coal (well polished and expensively wrapped), but what about F1's Christmas cards? Now, you know that your loyal blogger will have looked into this and will share his findings with you.

 From F1, here are three.........


Note the chains on this snow bound racer. Knowing F1, they are probably titanium or some other semi precious metal and they took two years and 100 people to perfect.

And from NASCAR..........

 


Of course, the fortunate ones here are the folks, who get to have a little fun in creating these cards for whatever racing sanctioning body or one of their teams. I would love to have seen a Dale Earnhardt Sr card, showing him dressed as Santa, putting another car into the wall as he proclaims, "Merry Christmas!". That would have been a classic.

How about the sprint car guys?



Love the top one, as you can feel the speed. Since Santa gives gifts, would he let the other guy win? Hey, racin' is racin' and if SC is on the track, he's got to be in it for the win.

Loud, but tasteful? Would that describe the NHRA's offering at Christmas?

 


From the whimsical to the traditional. Missing only a nativity scene with the three wise man tuning a top fuel dragster. Maybe next year?

Even the MotoGP guys get into the Christmas spirit with their cards........



So what do my Christmas cards looks like? I wish I could tell you that, I create some fun, car type of Christmas card, but alas, that is not the case. But, you might wonder how I spend my Christmas holiday...........



.......that's right, lying on a beach in the Caribbean and at some time on Christmas day, a Santa look alike will arrive by motorboat to spread the holiday spirit. Now, I've got to tell you, this is always a bizarre sight, but the sun, the water and the warmth, you just can't beat it!

Thanks for following me over the last year. I hope you have a wonderful holiday  -  see you back here on Tuesday, January 5th.

Until the New Year........






Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dec 15: Electrifying!

The next Tesla, the Model X............

Boy was I surprised when chatting with my car guy brother on the weekend, he mentioned the price. No way, I said, as I'm usually a few steps ahead of him when it comes to new car info. I had it on good authority (my imagination?), that this upcoming model would be priced under the Model S, since Tesla needs a more mainstream volume model to anchor their place in the market. Well, apparently not so, or at least not yet. This new Model X is rumoured to be in the $130k US range. And for that kind of high priced coin, one gets those funky and maybe, problematic doors (if you can call them that). Time tells a lot of things, so we'll just have to wait on the price and the functionality of this new Tesla suv.

But speaking of lower priced electrics, there are a few, shall we say, less than mainstream models, easing their way quietly around the planet, doing one short trip after another. A Canadian company, ZENN Motor Car has produced a very small number of electric cars.........

 

........but the sales were small and its future unsure, so not so long ago it closed its doors. Probably a good little city car, but tough to make a case for its existence otherwise, in a country with vast distances between places, maybe even hard to justify as a commuter car in a big city like Toronto.

In Europe, there are many of these little two and even one person cars making jaunts around the cities, but there are a few more plugs in which to recharge. Here's one way in which they plan to save the planet.......

 

The problem, of course, is to have the money to make something that will pass the tough crash tests that the US requires for all new vehicles.

In the past, there has always been someone, who saw into the future and envisioned an electric car world, but had their dreams dashed through cost of manufacturing or mediocre sales. Something like the Enfield 8000.........


Great for a couple, but of course, the dog would have to stay home, no room. Would the modern version of this cute little vehicle be the new BMW i3? Don't think so, but interesting to see them side by side.


Of course, being a BMW, the word "economical" takes on a whole different meaning.

Going way back to just after the Second World War, there wasn't much gas, but there was electricity, so who else, but Nissan, developed a short lived electric car to at least generate some sales. Have you ever seen the Tama before?

 Didn't think so, as it even came as a surprise to me. As I said, short lived, from 1947 to '50. Even used as a taxi, until the gas vehicles became a better proposition.

All of these examples have tended to be "baby cars", small, maybe cute and extremely limited in their appeal. Pretty much all electric cars were like this before Tesla hit the mark. Well funded by a genius. Maybe if the fellow behind this one last example, had been more like Elon Musk and had more dollars behind him, this unusual car would have sold like the Tesla's have done.........


On the other hand, just hope and pray that, all those tires don't need replacing all at once!

Until next time........



Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dec 10: Wow, what a difference a few years make!

The good ol' Hyundai Pony. Hey, I can hear the laughter from here. I don't think any one who had any association with this car, had anything but negative things to say about it. Well, except maybe my dear departed mother-in-law. Her white, top of the line model broke down and had to be towed twice on the way to Florida and she still loved that car. Cried when its life ended after ten years of grief. Funny, but she never felt the same way about her next car, a Honda Civic.

Yes, those early Hyundai's were garbage, but the company persevered and raised the bar, as they moved into another market segment with the Stellar (which definitely wasn't)........


You hardly ever see a Pony and I was going to say that, you never see a Stellar, but parked beside me at the gym the other day was a red Stellar. The back end seemed to be sagging, like maybe the frame was rusted through and the car was going to split in half. But there it was, about a twenty five year old Stellar, in all its rusty glory. Do you realize that, it now qualifies to attend an old car show? Maybe we'll see a low mileage example at the upcoming collector car auctions? Yeah, right. Give your head a shake, BT.

But as we all know, times change, companies change and products improve. Unless you've been living in a cave with no mail service or access to the news, you must know that Hyundai has really stepped up, first improving their quality from poor to very, very good. Then came the styling revolution, which placed them at the forefront of their categories.

The next step? Raise their sights even higher. First it was the Genesis entry level luxury model, which was introduced in 2009, then the expensive Equus luxury liner. Well, now Hyundai has taken the Genesis nameplate and put it as the name of their entire luxury range, much like Acura is to Honda, Lexus is to Toyota and Infiniti is to Nissan. Separate showrooms? Most likely, but too early to tell.

But the new product is the big news..........


What was under this cover, would be Hyundai's first model in their real assault on the luxury market. Once the cover was removed earlier this week, this is the car that emerged.......


Replacing the Equus, this is the 2017 G90 for North America or the EQ900 for the home market. No, I don't think much of their names either, but they fall into line with what most of the other luxury brands call their cars. Apparently people remember letters and numbers easier than a real name (sure could have fooled me). You can see the new corporate front end, along with a pretty darn good copy of the Mercedes S Class back end, with maybe a hint of Bentley. Not bad company to mimic.

And that interior........


Not sure what version this is to be found in, but what a stunner. Could be anything from one of the uber luxury brands and I don't mean a taxi.

Hyundai didn't put their name on the first Genesis and I don't think the Equus has been much of a force in the market place, but with a probable separate dealership, Genesis should scrub clean of the Hyundai name and start to do some business (I think it's called "optics" or "perception").

What might be next in their line up? How about this lovely coupe, seen at Pebble Beach, that was making the rounds of special events and auto shows recently?


Looks awfully good to me. So, how will the Genesis luxury brand do? As usual time will tell, but I'd put my money on Hyundai's ability to succeed with yet another challenge. What do you think?

Until next time.......


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dec 8: From China with love

Sure, it's a cliche. Saying anything is from anywhere with love, goes back to the old James Bond movie, From Russia with Love (not too much comes from there with love these days). Still as a phrase, it works very well and also as the title and topic of today's blog.

Check out this old Buick ad from 1962........


No way anyone at that time, could have foreseen how this ad was foretelling the future of the brand. My guess is that this Buick was supposed to be in San Francisco and the type of restaurant was easy to figure out (Chinese, if you haven't yet had your wake up coffee). Nowadays, if Buick was to run a similar ad, it would be in front of this same type of restaurant, but instead of being on this side of the Pacific it would actually be for a Chinese audience and would, of course, be in China.

Going way back, the Buick brand has meant something special in China, as you can see in this old ad from 1940........


That something special was and is prestige. So important is this brand in China, that when General Motors restructured in '08, the Buick brand was retained, even though its North American sales were not particularly stellar. Where it sold very well was China. The marketers realized that discontinuing the brand over here, but keeping it in China, would probably be perceived as an affront. So the better selling brand, at least in North America, Pontiac, was dropped and the Buick line was beefed up in both markets.

Which brings us to today's topic.


The Enclave and Encore sport utilities have sold very well in both of these important markets, but as suv sales have rocketed, the gap between the two models was ripe for filling. So, one guess, where that gap was filled first. If you said Canada, well, you haven't been paying attention. And if you said the US, not bad, but still not correct. Of course, you know where this is headed. That draped model above, was named the Envision and it was introduced in China last year.

An attractive crossover (there is that word again) and the just the right size for them and for us, but it wasn't being sold in North America (yet). Note the licence plates from these promo pics from its Chinese introduction........

 

So the big news, is not that it was intro'd and sold over there first, it's that it will now be coming to our shores, but will be imported from China. A North American Buick being built in China and sent over to us. Will wonders ever cease? It sure goes to show us, how the world has changed. If Volvo can make cars in China and sell them worldwide, then why not Buick? No big deal, since the strong selling Encore is made in South Korea.

When I saw a Chinese car at the Detroit Auto Show about six or seven years ago, it was, to be kind, a mess of mismatched parts. Way behind the quality that, would ever gain a toe hold in our market. Couldn't understand why they would have done that and still don't, but I knew it was only time, before their cars would stand up to scrutiny anywhere in the world. And of course, that is now the case. Never read a bad comment about the Volvo quality and I don't expect to read anything negative about the Envision.

This car/truck/crossover, whatever, will arrive here beautifully finished, as you can see in this interior shot, and try to be the Lexus competitor that Buick so wants to be.


Times change and even behemoths like GM have to change with them. As for you and me, we have to erase those preconceived notions from our mind and embrace the changes (or not).

So as the sun rises in the east, so shall the Envision, as it arrives from China with love.


Until next time........



Friday, December 4, 2015

Dec 4: Time to go home

Last weekend's F1 race in Dubai signaled the end of the top tier racing for the year. NASCAR's season finished the weekend before that and the NHRA the prior weekend. Indy Car ended their abbreviated season way back in September, but the less said about that the better. Either way, it's time to load up those race cars and those big transporters and head off into the sunset to prepare for next year's races.

Way back when, this is what you would have seen as the cars left the race track........


Pretty low buck stuff, as these cars had little sponsorship. Basically, all that was needed was an extra set of tires (maybe) and a set of Craftsman's tools. High tech for their time? But as the sponsors came on board and the race cars required more equipment to maintain them, all this changed. Now, when they pack up those transporters, they pack up really big trailers and there is no question about whose team is leaving the track for the season.

A force in Indy Car and NASCAR is Penske Racing.........


Always covered in chrome, these big and shiny transporters head down the highway, telling everyone that Penske Racing is going home. Same goes for these other well known NASCAR racers........

 

These haulers sure have come a long way, from the race car sitting on an open trailer behind an old pick-up or station wagon. The cars are only a part of what gets packed up, as you can see from this diagram......


The cars (a primary and a back up), a tech center, a small lounge, extra parts and to top it off, an area on the top of the trailer to watch the race. A long way from the open trailer.

NHRA's drag racing stars started to get fancy when Tommy Ivo, brought this rig to the races.......


But, even so, this one didn't have all the support equipment that is needed in 2015. Want to see what a well funded team has at their disposal? I thought so........


This is the headquarters for John Force Racing and as you can see, there are several haulers to get their cars to the track, along with all the necessary paraphernalia. One trailer alone handles all the technological stuff needed to get these hot rods down the track in under four seconds and well over 300 MPH. 

Even the teams in a lesser series, like World of Outlaws, bring everything needed in a huge trailer.......


So when it is time to go home, these big race shops on wheels head on down the road, telling everyone on the way, just who has passed them or who they have just passed.

Formula One, also used to have a simple approach to getting their cars to the numerous European tracks, like what Ferrari used.......


My, oh my, how things have changed in the penultimate motor sport.........

Sure looks like a big truck and of course, it is, but if you think that this carries the race car, you would be mistaken. Of course, the car trailers are equally large, but the F1 teams, or at least the big guns, have several trailers that can be made into full blown two story building that, can support the team and their guests during the weekend. 

So we go from the business end of this rolling show..........


.........to the finished product.......


Hard to believe and I have no idea how these get to the foreign venues, but they always seem to be present.

So, the 2015 racing season has come finally come to its conclusion. The trophies have been awarded, the cheques given out, the cars packed away and these huge monuments to big buck racing are loaded up and sent down the road. Back to their home bases, to clean up, load up once again, test and then show up at their respective venues starting in February. And do it all over again.

But for now, it is time to go home.