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, January 29, 2016

Jan 26: Big snow storm? Try the Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Big snow storm like what hit the eastern US last weekend? What are you going to drive? What would be your ideal ride? You should know that, those all wheel drive cars and crossovers won't really help, when you are faced with mountains of snow. Even a big 4x4 might not be up the challenge of three plus feet of snow and drifts that tower over you. You are probably longing for a Nissan Rogue Warrior, since nothing would stop those big tracks. Well, Nissan isn't planning to make more than this one, besides, it's not quite what I had in mind. No, I had something really gargantuan in my mind. I want something like what is lurking behind the intrepid adventurer in the pic below.........

Take a closer look. Big enough, whatever it is? Ok, so let's put it into perspective..........

Got a better idea of the sheer monstrous size of this beast? It has a name........this is the Antartic Snow Cruiser. What and where can you get one? You can't, but here's the story behind this big boy. It was built in 1939 for Admiral Byrd's expedition to the South Pole. Big enough to conquer the Antarctic and make easy work of all the mountains of snow you would find down there. Right? We'll see.

Amazing stats for the Snow Cruiser........37 tons (162,800 kilos), 9463 litres of fuel for 5000 miles or 8000 kms (what's a fill up cost?) and room for a crew of four (should be close friends). Can anyone foresee a problem? How about getting it from the factory in Ohio to the wharf in Boston? Seems it got side swiped by a truck in Ohio with this result.........

......it careened off the road into a ditch. Now, just think about that for a moment. Didn't the truck see it? And how could something this big careen anywhere? Well, it did and it took three days to extricate it from the mud in the ditch. Bodes well for its mission in the Antarctic, doesn't it?

Finally in Boston, another problem is just how to get and keep it on a ship? Great minds obviously came up with a solution (pic courtesy of the Boston Public Library)........

Note that the back end had to be removed, to be re-attached once they reached their final destination. I suppose they could have used a bigger boat. But I digress.

This brute was equipped for all eventualities........

.......and would even take a small plane along for the ride. Great idea. Note those huge tires. Hard to see in this pic, but you might notice an important omission.

A gold star to anyone who said, "The tires have no tread!". Good eye, Sherlock. That is exactly right. Those huge balloon tires didn't have any tread, so maybe in theory they would cruise over the Antarctic ice and snow, oblivious to their environment. In reality, it slipped and slid and generally floundered. So much for your $300,000 in 1939 dollars.

Admiral Byrd left the Antarctic and his Snow Cruiser. Located in snow and ice again in 1958, it has since disappeared under the snow and the shifting ice shelf. Feeling lucky? Just won the Powerball and thinking of ways to fritter away your fortune? How about a new Antarctic expedition to find this beast? I think you'd agree, it would be well preserved. What to drive? Play it safe and get Nissan to make you another Rogue Warrior. Costs less and it's guaranteed to actually work.

Until next time........

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Jan 26: This is a Honda?

This is a Honda? Well, no it isn't, it's a Murano.

But anyone who follows the new cars, knows that Nissan and Lexus have the latest "out there" designs. No more the boring box that everyone else seems to design. This Nissan Murano stands out, whether you like it or not. I like it.

The other day, me, your intrepid car guy was looking at the rear three quarter view of a new sport ute and you know what? I couldn't identify it. After several puzzling minutes, I came to the conclusion that it was the new Honda Pilot.........

Had I been closer, of course, I would have checked out the name or the emblem. The point being, so many of these things, cars or suvs look the same. But compare this new Pilot to the Murano above it. No question that the Murano is what it is and you'll never mistake it for anything else. The Pilot not so much.

Now, if you go back to my April 24th blog of 2015, I show a concept Honda from the Shanghai Auto Show. My prediction was that, soon you would see this vehicle being introduced as a production model and sold somewhere, probably China. Surprise! Honda announced the other day, that their Concept D would indeed be produced for the Chinese market. Get a load of this wild child.........

 From Honda? What a shock. Is one of the Nissan or Lexus designers moonlighting? This Concept D looks like nothing else from conservative Honda, but give them their due, they are going to make it. For China, at least.

Here's a tissue, wipe those teary eyes.

Why not send this suv thing to North America. The crossover, four door coupe market, seems to be blossoming, so wouldn't this fit into Honda's line up? Sure, it might make the other stuff in the showroom look old, but your designers can change that over time. Maybe Honda was so burned by the abominable Crosstour that, for our market at least, they'll take baby steps.

First baby step, might be this new Civic........

 It sure breaks the relatively boring Civic mold from years past. So maybe there is hope for Honda yet? My opinion (you were waiting for this, weren't you)? I believe that this Concept D, or whatever they will eventually call it, will end up on our shores, maybe as an Acura, a line which really needs help, or as the Honda that, it is everywhere else.


Until next time.......

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jan 21: A wild cat or a Wildcat?

A wild cat? Not really, although our beloved little Car Modeling Cat (CMC) can be quite frisky, when she runs amuk thru our new condo. Or, when she play fights with me or her bigger feline companion. But when it is time to settle down at the car modeling table, she becomes an entirely different animal. Concentrating at the task at hand, she is always ready to get involved in whatever way is necessary.

So today, the not so wild cat, is helping with a real Wildcat..........

Wildcat is/was a famous Buick name that, originated way back in the early '50's and was put on the Wildcat I dream car. This car toured the country in the famous GM Motorama, showing off the General's latest cars and greatest new dream cars (these days concept cars).

Another time, another place. Seeing the benefit of the Wildcat name, it was put on a personal luxury coupe in 1962, which eventually became a whole line of midpriced "sporty" Buicks (remember the times, folks). This brings us to the model the CMC and I have just finished.........


Our Wildcat is a 1970 two door hardtop. Sporty was a relative word, when one was talking about a big highway cruiser like this Buick. But for its time, it supposedly exuded sex appeal and said that the driver was a happening kind of person. Remember, no Japanese competition at this time and very little was coming from the Continent.

Whether it was a sportster or not, this Wildcat was quite attractive, again, in the context of its day. Looking at our model below, along with a real Buick, it brings to mind the old ad slogan, "Is it real or is it Memorex?".

Another good way for the dear little CMC and me to spend quality time together. A wild cat building a Wildcat.

Until next time........

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jan 19: What's in a name?

What's in a name? Obviously, if you are Fiat Chrysler (FCA), not a whole lot. Last week, to relatively great anticipation, FCA took the wraps off a redesign of one of their major bread winners, the brand new Pacifica. The what? Where did that name come from? If you have any sort of car memory, you'll recall the Pacifica of the early 2000's........

......an interesting lump of a vehicle, which might have been the first crossover. A bit underpowered for its size, it was a good mix of station wagon (there's that awful word again) and sport ute. Sold for about five years, then dropped as its novelty wore off. I don't think people look back with a tear in their eye, when they remember its passing.

So FCA's new Pacifica is unveiled..........

.......and it is a stunner, at least for a van. All new and very stylish. But about that name. This van is essentially the new Chrysler Town & Country, a mainstay of the US van market for many years. Want them cheap or want them expensive, the T & C had all the bases covered. And the Town & Country name had been around since almost before the beginning of time. How long?


From way back in 1941. Chrysler put the T&C name on a line of cars featuring a coupe, a convertible, a sedan and this sort of, station wagon. The hook was the real wood paneling along the side. From there the name headed to Chrysler station wagons, whether they were the big full sized ones, or the intermediates or eventually the K car derivative. And when Chrysler would get their own version of the Dodge Grand Caravan, that van would bear this famous moniker. All through this time, Chrysler never let us forget their heritage........

And why should they? This name was synonymous with Chrysler's history of fine automobiles (at least in their eyes). Nothing like heritage. Can you think of any other car name that has stood this test of time? If there is one, it escapes me for the moment.

So now, they drop the very familiar Town & Country designation for a new van name that, came from a very inauspicious crossover. I just don't get it. If it is all that new (and it is), then use a better name. Call it the Chrysler Ram and tell people that it is a truck. That'll sure light those sales fires. But Pacifica?

Automotive history is strewn with great vehicle names that were dropped, because someone had a better idea. Usually one that shriveled on the vine. Remember the Acura Legend? It was replaced by the RL, never again to achieve strong sales.

So what's in a name? Good question and one to which Chrysler thinks they have the answer. We'll see.

Until next time.......

Friday, January 15, 2016

Jan 15: The P5 - this was at Detroit?

This was at the North American International Auto Show?

Well, yes it was. The press conference, Elio Motors owner held to talk about this revolutionary new car(?), drew huge numbers of the press. Ok, this is an exaggeration, as I believe there were a couple of dozen, semi interested scribes listening to his spiel.  Almost embarrassing, when all the other new introductions had hundreds or thousands of journalists in attendance. What is this thing?

This is Elio Motors, "new" P5. New is a relative term here, since it was first shown a few years back, with 2016 being given as its in production date. So what exactly is the P5? Technically it's a motorcycle, but some hard lobbying has exempted any P5 owners from having to wear a helmet. That would have seemed just plain strange.

Compact and ready to race to its 160 KPH speed, or 100 MPH for my American readers, this little car or whatever, will reportedly get just over 80 miles per US gallon (sorry, but I can't do the kms/litre conversion) on the highway or about 50 in the city. Top speed is a "who cares" number here, since anyone one heading down the 401 in a P5 at full song, needs their head to be seriously examined.

The P5 seems like a happy little number, but like most new car companies (Tesla excepted), Elio Motors is seriously underfunded, so production in Louisiana this year, may be a dream not reality. But, as always, hope springs eternal. How hopeful? About forty eight thousand deposits to date.

Cheap? Well, not really expensive at a proposed $6800. Load up you, one of your close friends and hit the road for all the good times the P5 promises. Room for a couple of very small overnight bags or one set of golf clubs (providing you are travelling alone).

Just the right set of wheels for those lonely, but very thrifty folks. But maybe, if this lady's reaction is anything to go by, a P5 driver won't be lonely for long.

You'll no doubt hear more about the unusual P5. More than likely that, Elio couldn't get the capital needed to crank up that production line down south. Nothing wrong with dreamers, this world needs them, but how often does that dream turn out to be a nightmare?

Until next time......

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jan 12: Mine is bigger than yours!

Remember those days way back when? Those days when the toughest thing about a truck, was the cowboy standing next to it. Wasn't that long ago, when the truck manufacturers were trying to sell a few more trucks, by convincing people that their truck was more car-like than the other guy's, complete with whitewall tires. But things sure have changed these past few years. Based on what was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit yesterday, don't expect another change anytime soon.

Nissan showed a tough looking concept version of their recently introduced, brand new Titan truck........


..... called the Warrior Concept, this one is definitely in your face, baby. Maybe this model can serve as a halo for the rest of the line and finally get those Titan sales moving upward. I believe last year, the Titan sold in total, a little less than Ford sold of their F-150's in a week! Think about that stat for a minute. One tough truck? You bet.

But Ford has already been there with their off road capable, hot rodded, Raptor.........

Even in white, this 2017 Raptor exudes tough sex appeal. And it has enough room, so that you can impress your buds with the Raptor's prowess. Scare those soft neighbourhood Honda and Toyota drivers. This is a far cry from the old days, when the only off roading your truck might do, would be to pick up a few chickens.........

......like they show in this South American Chevrolet ad. Again, note the cowboy.

What is Chevy bringing to the table of tough trucks? How about their concept, the Special Ops?

And for our gun toting neighbours to the south, a few high calibre special options would be appreciated. Tough enough? Pick chickens up in this beast and they'd die of fright before they got to their final destination (final reward?).

Not to be left out, Ram (formerly Dodge), has their Black truck.......

All blacked out, of course, hence the name and riding those big meaty tires. Drive your kids to school in this Hemi powered rig and those bullies will never touch them again.

All of these are so far removed from this old Ford F-150 ad.........

This is a "nice" pick-up, not a tough "truck", like these others. No knobby tires, high lift suspension or in your face front ends on the trucks of yesteryear. No, today's tough trucks sing from a different song book. Hard rock instead of Frank Sinatra?

So, who will be next to show up with their version of the "tough" truck? Good question, but the answer of which might surprise you. Honda? 

Their new 2017 Ridgeline, now becomes a real pick-up (at least in looks, not in specs). So can we expect Honda to introduce a Kamikaze version in the near future? Probably not. But why not a jacked up version to appeal to the tougher folks in your 'hood? Could happen.

Tough trucks? Enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Until next time.......

Friday, January 8, 2016

Jan 8: Royale 600?

I've written about this car before, the beautiful and imposing Mercedes Benz 600 Pullman limousine. Every monarch, dictator, oligarch, superstar or pope had one of these cars at sometime in their career. Not at all unusual to still see them at official functions, usually in Africa. Pretty impressive for a car that, was introduced over fifty years ago,1963 to be exact. It came in two lengths, the short one above and a longer stretch model. There is a restored short version in my neighbourhood and it stands apart beautifully on any street. Mercedes has tried many times to add a new version to their line up, but none has had the kind of impact that the original made.

Recently a mystery 600 has surfaced, called the Royale 600. I say "mystery", since there seems to be no info on who built it or why. Surfacing in car crazy California just before Christmas, this coach built car is a stunner and if produced in volume, could achieve the same cache' of the original (in my somewhat humble opinion). And even though it has a few design cues from other Benz, it comes together beautifully.

What do you think?

Of course, although the front end harkens back to earlier days, Mercedes corporate would be unlikely to go this retro.

But really, the way it has been made more modern looking, with subtle changes in the design is quite impressive. Another feature, picked up from an unlikely source, are the headlights........

...........which appear to come from the recent SLS sportscar, although on the Royale 600 they are trimmed in chrome. And of course, the chrome rims duplicate the classic simplicity of the original 600's.

A third design cue, which is hard to see in the 600's pic, are the front fender side vents, which again come from another unlikely source, the SLR supercar..........

Usually this would create a mishmash of unusual and perhaps, unnecessary elements, but not in this case.

Taken as a whole, this is one gorgeous design. But why does it exist and who had it coach built for their riding pleasure? Some eastern potentate? A Russian oligarch? Donald Trump? Whoever had it built, obviously spent mega dollars on this car, but while sparing no expense, they also didn't spare good taste. Typically cars like this are over the top and the end result is not exactly harmonious, but not with this Royale 600.

So I'll have the leave the who and the why until further info comes to light, but for now, just enjoy this design and the mystery.

Until next time.....