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, March 29, 2016

March 29: Acura - in search of an identity

Poor old Acura. Suffering thru the same problem that has beset Lincoln and that has perplexed many other car manufacturers over the years. The Problem? Coming up with a visual corporate identity. A design feature that will immediately identify your ride for what it is. We all know when a BMW drives by, since those twin kidney grilles do a great job of saying, "I'm a Bimmer (so step aside)!". The design features may include a variety of little touches, but it's the front end that sets the tone.

Way back when Acura started and introduced the Legend, maybe front ends weren't so important, because the designers really didn't do anything to make this model say, Acura. But, hey, the Japanese were very conservative and continued to be so for many years.


Heck, even the Rover Sterling 800, which was a rebodied Legend, didn't do a great job either........


Arguably better than its twin? Probably not. Sales wise, this model disappeared faster than a poor swimmer in shark infested waters. Due to its front end? Who knows?

But flash forward to 1999..........


Pleasant, but nothing special, Acura carried this front until 2008, when after a wild Vegas weekend, the Acura/Honda designers came up with this new corporate front end........


I never really minded this (I had one), but it got universally panned. A bit of overbite in the design. Not terrific and very controversial. This alone is not a bad thing (see today's Lexus line up). What's that line? There is no such thing as bad publicity? Yeah, maybe so, but this new front didn't set sales afire. Some dealers even took to modifying it slightly with paint to lessen its unusual impact.........


Pretty bad when your dealers don't even like what you are offering and without them, you are as dead as that poor swimmer. A couple of years later, Acura modified this snout slightly, so that it wasn't so polarizing (like toning down The Donald).

Now look at this concept that, appeared last year on the auto show circuit........


Said to be a look into the future of Acura's next design language. Finally, the designers seem to have got it right, as this front, which is sort of similar to the gorgeous Mazda6's, was their best effort so far. Now let's come up to today and the introduction last week at the New York Auto Show of the newly revised MDX......


There is that new front end. Very nice and probably one that Acura can live with. Finally, a corporate identity that is different without being strangely different. A front end that can be carried across the line, so that when someone drives up in their new Acura whatever, the innocent bystanders will say, "Hey look, (insert name here)'s got a new Acura. Sharp!". Personally, I can see Acura living with this one for a very long time.

Now what about Lincoln's new visage? I believe that the jury is still out on that one.

Until next time......



Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 24: Plymouth rocks!

 Here she is, the one and only, dear little Car Modeling Cat or as she is often referred to, the CMC. As you know, she is partial to the same type of cars that, I so like to build. Quite frankly, I have no idea what she likes or dislikes, but she's always ready to help out with anything that I am working on at the time. In this case, it is a "re-build". What is that? Simple. I look at my shelves of models, many going back to the '60's and there are a few that we have rebuilt using the skills, I so lacked back in the day. The criteria is that we have to like the car and want to have a really good model of it.

Today's model is is a 1963 Plymouth Fury, shown in this "before" pic........


......that started out as a plain model made out of coloured plastic  -  just add glue. So we dismantle it, give it a nice repaint (in this case, a slightly lighter shade of yellow than the original plastic) and then detail the heck out of it with chrome foil and paint. In other words, try to make it look as close to the real car as possible, as this "after" pic shows.........


Real or Memorex? Since this model is long out of production and has never been reproduced, it's fun to make this old Plymouth new again.

 

As a car guy, the best thing about model building, is that I can have any car that I want, although the scale may not be conducive to driving it on the street, unless maybe if you were the CMC (even that would be a stretch).

And now, if you've checked your calendar, you'll notice that tomorrow is Good Friday and so this is the Easter weekend. So, what better way to wrap up today's blog, than with a couple of appropriate Easter pics and ones with chocolate would be even better........



Have a great long weekend!

Until next time.......



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22: Spring!

Ah yes, Spring is finally here. To a car person (carguy, but I try to always be politically correct), this means the time to (hopefully) get a new car or at the very least, the time to shine up the current one with pride. All that winter dirt that, gets in the strangest places, can now be dug out and your beauty can be scrubbed clean. For me this Spring ritual used to mean washing every nook and cranny, then waxing my ride. These days, it means giving it to our detailer and having him do all that cleaning and giving it a wax job. The pride is still there, but the effort is someone else's.

What do the car manufacturers do to celebrate Spring? Not a lot these days, but at one time, Spring was a big deal. At one time, all the new cars came out in the Fall and then to juice up their sales, they would drop a new model into the Spring market or at least have some "special" event. Ford was one of the first to do 1/2 year models........


......back in 1963. The year before they did some special intros, but they weren't labelled specificially as 1/2 year cars. This was the beginning of the ubiquitous 1/2 year model introductions for almost all of the car companies. This lasted for years, until nowadays, when the new cars seem to get introduced as soon as they are ready.

But before this, Ford was also the one, who came up with Spring special deals. Not a new model, but a special colour or maybe a feature or two. For a while in the US, every Spring, Ford would hold a "white sale". Of course, that meant that the dealers were shipped a load of white cars, but they could also chose blue........


This ad says, "4th Annual", but I remember these sales back in the early '60's. Whatever, this was a good way to celebrate Spring with a new car, although maybe not the dark green you really wanted.

A little later in the decade, Dodge advertised their White Hat Specials.......













No mention about also getting one of those snazzy white Stetson hats, but that would have been a great idea. Probably sell tons more cars (Barry, you are always the dreamer and you wouldn't even look in one).

Back to Ford again.........


How about we re-invent those Spring Specials? "Charge up your Spring with a new Tesla! Free colour matching extension cord until April 1st on all in stock units." Don't tell me that, this wouldn't electrify their business. Create a bit more excitement in the marketplace.

So let's not let that Spring tradition rust away like this derelict old car.........


Buy a new ride, or shine up the old one and cruise down Cherry Blossom Lane, reveling in the warm weather and the sun glancing off of your freshly waxed beauty.........


We only live once and Spring is the time to do it.

Until next time........




Friday, March 18, 2016

March 18: eleMMent Palazzo - home on wheels


Do you remember the good old days? Those times when you could pick up a top of the line Prevost ultra luxury RV for around $1.5m, yes, that is $1.5 million dollars. When was that, last year? Ah, how things have changed. Now that Prevost is cheap by comparison, to what is coming out of Austria. See a need, or maybe not even a need, and someone will try to wedge something into that very small niche. Who? What? Where?

For the answer to those questions, we'll have to travel to Vienna, Austria and visit Marche' Mobile to see what they might have for the intrepid oil sheik or the upwardly mobile oligarch. Take a look........

 

Yes, sir, this is the sparkingly new and more than over the top luxurious eleMMent Palazzo. Just what one needs when doing a road trip and one wants to differentiate themselves from the low life, trailer trash in their mere Prevost's. Your Palazzo has set you back $3.1m US dollars and that's before you've selected those significant upgrades that, will make even your fellow filthy rich friends envious.

Here is the view, as you motor past those other mere mortals, from your God-like perch in the driver's seat......


Pedal to the metal and those hard working 600 HP are ready to do your bidding. Speeding tickets? How gauche to even consider them. Why do you think that thousand dollar bill is stuffed in behind your driver's licence? Oops, I forgot, not all of your over the road adventures will take place in Russia.

Versatile? You bet. Your new ride comes complete with a roof top lounge and dual fireplaces, one inside and as you can see, one outside. Throw on a few Kobe steaks, open a bottle of the finest wine and live the good life.


Sure, the front end looks, well, shall we say unusual, but like The Donald's hair, when you have this much coin, who cares? It's just something else to make you stand out.

Inner peace can be achieved in your new Palazzo, even as your oil revenues plummet........











When you have this much money, you can afford to have your domestic staff follow behind you in their low life Prevost. It's probably better than they are used to anyway.

But wait a minute! Did you just hear that, one of your other well off buddies has also bought a Palazzo? Curses! Time to pull out all the stops and make yours, once again, be the talk of the neighbourhood. Voila'......


A rich looking (and costing) coating of 24 carat gold will do the trick nicely. Sure, it costs $14.7m, but worth it to raise the ante in the high stakes game of one (or two) upmanship. Marche' Mobile can make all and any of your dreams come true. In case you were wondering, this one went to the middle east. Surprised?

So there you have it. The new way to make those retirement years a tad more comfy, as you cruise the highways and biways of the world, without having to leave the comforts, you've come to love in your palace or palatial dacha.


Thank you Marche' Mobile.

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



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15: Toyota - boring?


 Toyota boring? No way. I mean, who started that ugly rumour. Boring? That huge car manufacturer who brought us the riveting Corolla or the stimulating Camry or even your grandfather's Avalon. Boring? Yeah, I guess so. Not one of those cars would win any award for interesting styling or what would have been better, an engaging ride. Say what you will about Honda's cars, but they, at least, handled beautifully. All one could say about Toyota, was that their cars were rock solid and very reliable. Since their sales were really strong, hard to fault their modus operandi.

A few years back, Toyota introduced the Venza.........


.......and for a Toyota this one had great style. Hard to believe that this came from the same company that, gave us the pedestrian looking Corolla and Camry. After about seven years, I think the Venza still appears fresh, with its chopped top look.

But what is going on with Toyota these days? I recently wrote about the transformation that Lexus is undergoing. Origami styling and valiant efforts to make their cars true BMW competitors. So, what is now filtering down to their volume lines?

Prius. Anyone think outside the styling box, when it comes to this hybrid? Well someone did, as you can see by the rear end of the newly redesigned 2016 Prius. It is certainly an edgy design. A year ago, those taillights on a Toyota would have been a travesty. "Cool" might be a new word to be associated with Toyota (hey, Barry, let's not get too crazy).


And last year, Toyota showed the C-HR concept for a smaller sport ute. Edgy, origami styling all over the place, but hey, concepts are usually a long way from production. Maybe, maybe not.


A couple of weeks back, Toyota took the wraps off of the production version. How close is the street model to the concept?


Not a bad move from the auto show circuit to the production line in my (no so) humble opinion. Originally meant to help revive the gasping for breathe, but now dead Scion brand, the C-HR will be a new Toyota, coming in under the very popular Rav4 in price and size.

But about that name? Honda has a competing model called the HR-V, so how confusing is it for Toyota to be selling their C-HR? Aren't there more than enough letters to go around, without using almost the same ones for competing products? I mean, there are twenty two others they could have chosen. Oh well, greater minds....., etc.

So with Toyota's new style language, it follows that they will make their cars better handlers as well. So, now maybe, they will finally live up to the reputation, they have acquired on the racetracks of NASCAR.


Any bets?

Until next time.......



Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 11: Money and questionable taste

Won the lottery? Born into money? Own a dot com company? Either way, you have lots of coin and you want to spend it in a meaningful way that, will show the world just what you are made of, or at least what you ave in your bank account. Got any ideas? I know you have, since I've seen a few on the road and as this blog deals with all things automotive, that's what I'll focus on.

Let's start on the bottom rung of the "money to burn" ladder and work our way up. The new Mazda6 is a beautiful car, but some over(under?) achiever thought that, a bright purple paint job would set theirs off nicely. That added touch to make their ride a little more noticeable. And for better or for worse, it sure is.


Not ready to go all the way, but still desire that "look at me" factor?


Sure, a few pink accents (check out the interior) on a new Range Rover should do the trick. Nothing screams "money to waste", like some "in poor taste" add-ons.

But, let's go wild here and do it on a very wild ride.......













Feel the need to make that lovely Ferrari Italia or your Lambo Gallardo be more than just another exotic wondering the streets, lost amongst the drab Accord's, Camry's and Tesla's that, everyone else seems to drive. These colourful schemes should fit the bill beautifully and no one will ever say, "And how will I know it's you?". Get in a small accident? Well, friendo, don't even think about what it will cost to match these paint jobs.

Striving for a new level of tastelessness? Your gorgeous Wraith is a Roller that would stand out in any crowd, unless, of course, the crowd you hang out with drives those exotics in the pics above. Yes, you are a person of mucho substance, and as Mick Jagger sang ".....a man of wealth and taste........". Well, maybe not so much the taste bit, but if you can afford to do this to your Rolls, well, what can I say?


Not quite a Rolls Royce, but equally able to stand out in any crowd is the Bentley Flying Spur. Class? You bet, this one has it by the ton, or in this case, by about three tonnes........


No reason to spoil a good thing, is there? But hey, wait a minute, you've earned the right to make your lack of taste stand out, like this Flying Spur, shot (but not by me) on my street........


 See this one cruising thru the hood and it definitely makes a statement. What that statement is, well you decide or ask the lady who owns it. Based on her vanity plate, she is no shrinking violet.

What got me thinking about good taste or maybe, just not a lot of it, was this Flying Spur that, I was beside in traffic this morning. It was gray and rainy, I was surrounded by silver, white and grey cars. Gloomy, drab and depressing. And then..........


.....this prestigious Bentley (yet another Flying Spur) eases up beside me. Holy smokes, Batman, or should I say, Kermit, who thought that this was a good idea? Whether it was a wrap or a full tilt paint job, I did a double or triple take. Dare I mention that in my city of Toronto, the garbage trucks are a very similar colour.....


But, maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe, I'm the one, who is not thinking outside the box? Maybe, I need to stand out in one of these unusual ways? Or maybe not.

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





Monday, March 7, 2016

March 7: Mahindra: What money can buy

What can money buy? Obviously lots of things. The Italian design house, Pininfarina is usually associated with Ferrari and other expensive and beautiful automotive creations, but it doesn't always design wretchedly expensive ways to get people's attention. Over the years, Pininfarina has put their talented designers to work on cars covering all the price spectrums. And maybe that, is the reason behind the huge powerhouse, Indian company Mahindra buying them recently.

Mahindra? If you know them at all, it is thru their tractors, which are a relatively common sight around the farms of Canada and the US.



But if you dig a little deeper and you won't need this tractor, you'll find that Mahindra builds a cornucopia of vehicles, from the biggest to the smallest. Along with the tractors, one also finds some pretty heavy over the road tractors (big trucks, if you haven't already figured it out)......




Or what about something in a fashionable kahaki shade? 


No surprise that, they would find the acquisition of the fabled design house to be a wise move. Maybe those vehicles can be gorgeous as well as everything else? Probably not. 

But besides the trucky end of things, this Indian company builds and sells a wide variety of interesting, and some not so interesting, cars and suvs. 

Thinking of something electrifying? How about this cute little (really little) e20?


Or maybe the new gas motored KUV100.........


Or the XUV500 suv, with a bit of the Murano vibe happening around that back side window.......


The hits just keep on coming. Of course, it seems that all of these third world countries require a heavier, less attractive suv to conquer those cow paths, or should I say elephant paths, since we are talking India......


Note the creative description used to point out the best selling points of their Scorpio........"fiery eyes, fangs of.........." etc. Maybe if I lived in India, these descriptives would make me think twice about getting another manufacturer's vehicle.

And what could Pininfarina do to make this happy family, happier about their new Supro? Seems that they like it just the way it is, yet another example of what Mahindra is supplying in their home market.


Wha company wouldn't like to have a Jeep Wrangler in their stable? Well, in Mahindra's case, they do have one, but it is the Thar and it is not a Wrangler........



Try to spot the differences. I'm still trying and after quite a while, I can't find any. Maybe Pininfarina could add a few details to differentiate this vehicle from its American look alike.

So there you have it. The Indian automotive powerhouse Mahindra has bought Pininfarina. I'm guessing not so much for their design excellence, but for the profits it can generate. Of course, if it helps sell a few more Mahindra vehicles all the better.

Until next time.......