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, April 29, 2016

April 29: From China with love?

As I said in last Tuesday's blog, the Beijing Auto Show is increasingly important, due to the growing size of people in that country, who can afford four wheels, a motor and a body to cover them. China is now also probably the biggest market for ultra luxury cars. But as I said, Beijing is an important show, so watch what is introduced there specifically for their market, or at least that is what we are being told.

Let's take a look at what was unveiled this past week........


This pic is of the Honda Avancier and no, I have no idea what the heck that means, but possibly it is "vehicle sold in the east that, will never see North America". But that is just a guess. No so sure with this one. Look at all the four door "coupe" crossovers that are being introduced in Europe and also in our market. Wouldn't this one be perfect for Honda showrooms or was the embarrassment of the ill conceived Crosstour too much to bare? Give it a good name or a combo of letters and watch it fly out the showroom doors.

Speaking of Honda, this brings me to Acura's new, for China only, CDX.......


Believe it? Neither do I. With the RDX and the MDX supporting their North American line up, wouldn't it be smart for Acura to add an even smaller suv or crossover (whatever you want to call them)? After all, look what the competition is doing, for example the Audi Q5, Q3, now Q1. Also Mercedes (GLA) and BMW (X1). To me, the CDX has success written all over it. Expect to see it over here in the next year or so.

The Infiniti QX70, formerly the FX35, has been with us for too many years without a major revamp, so time to shake it up. At Beijing, the QX Sport Concept was shown, supposedly indicating what a new QX might look like........


Translation? This is the new QX70 and not a single line will be changed form this concept. Don't think so? Ok, fair enough, but check out the concept that led to the new QX30. Identical. Infiniti designs are getting pretty wild these days, so count on this one coming here for 2018 and not a day too soon. So, now Infiniti, let's get that long in the tooth Q50 a brand new set of clothes.

Good ol' Mazda has had great success with their Mazda6 sedan. Just kidding, they are nailed to the showroom floor and more's the pity. No, I was going to say their new smaller suv's, the CX-5 and the 
CX-3. Both get very good reviews and are driving Mazda sales in Canada and the US. So, let's see what Mazda showed in China.......


This is another one that went from concept to production with hardly a line altered. And once again, there is that "coupe" roof line. Not planned for North America? Are these guys nuts? Is there something in their sake? Look at it. This would be a perfect edition to their line up over here and I'd be very surprised, if it didn't top their sales charts in short order. Will we see it? Hope so, but knowing Mazda, kinda hard to say. I'll go out on a limb and say there is a 60% chance (are you writing this down?).

Think that the Nissan Juke has run its course? Maybe, since niche vehicles like that, have a relatively short life span. Time to move on? If so, then the Nissan Kicks concept that was shown at Beijing, would be a good choice for the Juke's replacement. Up to date and full of the new Nissan design language.

 

Be in our Nissan dealerships by 2018? I'd bet on it.

Before I conclude, let's check out a new model that will definitely never grace our shores. Remember the Land Will? It was China's take on the Land Rover Evoque and shared a line or two with the vehicle it copied.......



Obviously a tongue in check comment, since as you can see, the only slight difference in in the last part of its name, "Will" as opposed to "Rover". This is what weak or nonexistent copyright laws will get you. Ok, this is old news, but let's check out China's latest home market suv.......


 Porsche Macan? One might think so, but this is the brand new Zoyte SR8 or T700. Direct copy? Absolutely. Anything Porsche can do? Nope! Price? Maybe about one third the price of their hot selling Macan. I think I'd like to be a car designer in China, since all I'd have to do, is change the name on some of my favorite cars and make them at one third the price. Maybe there is a Lambo in my future after all. I'm packing my bags as I write this!

Want to look into the future? Easy, check out what is happening at China's biggest car shows.

Until next time......






Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 26: China - a little bit longer, please!

I loved my Cadillac ATS. Sure, there was very little room in the back seat, but, hey, I was never back there and in the run of a year, it might have been used half a dozen times. No big deal, right? Except, when someone actually did want to sit back there, it was going to be very cramped, unless it was one of my vertically challenged friends. What I wouldn't have given for a few more inches. How many, you ask? Well, even a measly four inches, would have helped. How about it Cadillac, any chance of this happening?

Well, wouldn't you know it, my prayers have been answered.........


Note that front identification plate......ATS-L. No folks, this image has not been photo shopped, now there actually is an ATS-L. Of course, the caveat to this, is that our Chinese friends will be the only people to experience that extra back seat room (four inches to be exact). Back seat room is very important in China, since quite a few cars are chauffeur driven and if Cadillac wants to sell the ATS, then it has to be the ATS-L.
Will we ever get this car in North America? One should never say never, but I think in this case you can.

There must be other cars in this same situation. So, you've figured out the topic of today's blog. Recognize this one?


This is the latest BMW X1, but it's different than what we see in Toronto, since this is, you guessed it, the Xl-L. It's all about that extra back seat room.

And how about Audi's volume model, the A4? Notice anything different in this pic?


How about that extended wheelbase, which makes this (wait for it).........the A4-L. Gosh, will this ever stop?

The Beijing Auto Show is this week's big car event and if you don't think the market in China is ultra important, just check out all the new model intros and I'm not talking about those swanky and sultry looking females, who are draped over every new car.........


Yes, I agree, nothing says "Jeep", like a model dressed in just about enough leather to make a small pair of gloves.

Anyway, enough of the human eye candy, let's get back to the topic at hand. Who else might benefit from that large back seat? The VW Passat doesn't need a stretched model, since VW is huge in China and the recent Passats were initially designed with this market in mind. Check out their back seat, it is enormous.

Even the new Mercedes E Class, is relatively spacious, but not quite enough, since at Beijing, the brand new 2017 E Class was unveiled to the world, as was an ultra luxurious LWB (long wheelbase model)........


Did I say, ultra luxurious? I think I did. Get the idea, this model is going to be sold as a mini Maybach? I believe that the purple mood lighting is an option (seriously).


Who needs an S Class?

But if you prefer old British charm (you should probably look elsewhere) with your luxury, then the now Indian owned Jaguar, has added an L version to their newly revamped XF line.........


Of course, this was also introduced at the Beijing show. Now, do you understand the importance of that market?

Let's conclude today's look at what we can't buy in North America, but one that just might end up here, if you can pry loose one of their extremely exclusive (50) stretch models, before it is air freighted to China...... 


From Bentley's bespoke line (meaning, you pay for it, they'll make it for you), comes their new stretched sedan. Huge back seat, of course, with just enough room for that special companion. No hanky panky going on here unless, of course, you are dating a Cirque du Soleil performer. But what an impression you'll make on her (or him).

Back to reality. Want a huge back seat? Buy a Passat. Want your back seat in one of the cars shown here, then move to China. You could do worse and imagine the great dim sum you will feast on.

Until next time.....





Friday, April 22, 2016

April 22: Book 'em, Dano!


Police car business is big business for the car manufacturers in North America, accounting for tens of thousands of sales annually. So, based on those numbers, do you think the car companies take this business seriously? You bet they do. Yet, I don't recall seeing any ads for police vehicles these days. Maybe let the general public know how good your cars are, if they can stand up to police abuse? It's not like they are shy about them, since Ford actually labels their police cars with this designation on the left side of the trunk. By the way, when the car is past its prime and is sold at auction, these nameplates are taken off, so no pretenders can drive around acting like Johnny Law (well, they can, but there won't be this label).

Back to the old days again, when the companies actually ran ads in magazines, telling everyone about these special cars. Ads like this one from the early '50's........


......or moving up a few years........


Yes, sir, pull up to the doughnut shop in one of these and everyone takes notice. Might even get you a complimentary coffee (or is that a thing of the past?).

Ford has always been been big in this business and has grown more so over the years. I believe last year they held about 60% of the North American market, which means huge numbers. This market is important enough that, Chevrolet imports and sells their Caprice, only to police departments and government agencies. But no ads.

Not like the '70's.......



......which actually seemed to be the last decade, when one would run across these ads in everyday magazines or newspapers. The '50's and '60's seem to be the time when these ads were most common and Dodge and Plymouth were the stars of police departments across the country (those thumping big engines helped) ........

 




 And of course, back to the current king of police vehicles.........

Kind of a shame, since those ads were interesting, at least for me, who likes police vehicles and tracks the changes and differences between these cars and what us normal folk drive. It's not a matter of slapping on some graphics and a light bar. And speaking of light bars, did you notice that only one of these ads shows a car with them? Another way things have changed over the years. I think only the Michigan State Police use a single light on top these days. It's their tradition.

But those ads. Another change that time has wrought. Good or bad, I'm not sure, but interesting? Absolutely!

Milestone day, as this is my 500th post! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Until next time......


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 19: Art cars again

Art cars? Yeah, you know, those strange looking apparitions, which appear from time to time covered with their owners unusual assortments of various types of collectibles or garbage. I wrote something like that a couple of years back, when doing an art car blog and got a very offended response from someone, who happened to stumble across my  post. Lighten up, folks, this is all done in jest (unless, of course, it isn't). But this blog on art cars, is about "real" art cars. Those cars that, the manufacturer has had legitimate artists paint for the betterment of all mankind. Kind of like this dud(e) is doing to his (or hopefully his) Mercedes......

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but Bentley's eyes thought that this would be a good way to decorate a new cabrio.......


......and to do so, they invited famous British artist, Sir Peter Blake (seen above) to make this car stand out more than it normally does. Like pop art or not, this Bentley is gorgeous. The hood? Well, shall we just say everyone will have an opinion. But Sir Peter's work is subtler than most of the art cars we've seen done over the years. Just a quick hood and grille surround redo and once again this prestigious Bentley looks prestigious.

Want something with a little more complete coverage? Something outrageous like a new Vette?


Something like this one, which was done by art students for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. It probably broke their hearts to mess up this great looking car, but maybe not, since this is a dynamic looking paint job on a dynamic looking car.

Not sure if BMW was the originator of the art car concept, but I think they might have been with their famous artist cars of the 1970's. Cars like this M1 done by Andy Warhol........


.......or this 6 series coupe by Alexander Calder.........


Calder was famous for his unusual canvases, since he also did a number of planes for Braniff International Airlines around this same time. Did he actually wield the brush or just do the design? Ask a dumb question will you?


Everyone knows the name Roy Lichtenstein and his paintings of famous sporting events, so of course, BMW also had him work his magic on a 3 series........


Different? I'd say so.

Well, that was BMW back then. Over the years, they've kept their hand in, by keeping the tradition alive. Their latest effort is another 3 series, actually a 4 series, since their nomenclature changed a couple of years back. Compare this Jeff Koons original to the Bentley at the beginning of my blog.......


Sort of out does that tower in the background, doesn't it?

Art cars or artists' cars. Either way, it's probably an inexpensive way to get lots of free publicity, no matter what the artist was paid for this commission. Got my attention didn't it, so I'd do this blog. Point proven.

Until next time......


Friday, April 15, 2016

April 15: Remember the Skoda?

Remember the Skoda?

 

If you go back a ways, you'll remember a time when there were a few Iron Curtain country cars being sold in North America. Bad timing. Bad cars. When they were trying to make inroads, the Brits had the market cornered (where did they all go?) and smaller, bad quality cars were not really on people's "got to have it" lists. Remember the Skoda? If you don't, you are probably better for it. This Czechoslovakian car made its debut on our shores in the late '50's, outdated and out qualitied by most everything else on the road.

The pics above show the the poor quality cars that, made a short and unlasting impression on our car buying public. The pic below shows the follow up that was quite common on the roads of Europe. Price driven? That must have been the answer, since the Europeans had a plethora of quality vehicles to chose from.


Flash forward to glasnost and this old Czech company (1895) was facing competition from all those newly available and so much better cars, from the other side of that formerly hard to penetrate iron curtain. What to do? In Skoda's case, it was join up with Volkswagen, which means, be bought by VW. Keep the familiar name and add VW quality. Originally mean to be a "bargain" brand for Volkswagen to sell in the newly freed up Iron Curtain countries, Skoda morphed into something that was so much more.

Funny with Volkswagen. They have their own extensive range of VW branded cars, but competing against them, they have their other brands, the Spanish Seat and the Czech Skoda. Both with strong and interesting product lines. Some of Skoda's cars are similar to a model from VW. For example, the Skoda Citigo, which is pulled off the Up platform and is easily identifiable as such.......


Or the Fabia, which looks to be direct Golf competitor, but some unique design features to set it apart........
But others are their own model with no other VW product that looks remotely similar. Think of the Yeti, sort of a small suv...... 


You see lots of these in Europe and they are as good looking in real life as it is in this photo. Distinctive? Absolutely. 

Others in the line are the Octavia........


.......and the line topper, the newly redesigned Superb.........


Pricing? Actually a touch higher than comparable VWs. The Superb used to look like an old Passat, dowdy, but with this new design, it can stand on it own, when compared to any other European sedan.

What might the future hold for Skoda? Based on these couple of concepts, I'd say the line will continue to be a strong player in a very competitive market.......


The now common four door coupe style and the raised station wagon, almost an suv style that, VW has done with the Audi Allroad and the soon to be introduced Golf Alltrack......


So old Skoda could have died a quick death, overwhelmed by quality European brands, but Volkswagon, saw another way to go. Develop a known name. It's taken 25 years to get to this point, but as you can see it's in good hands. Will we ever see Skoda over here? Never say never, but I strongly doubt it. Just buy a ticket to Europe and indulge your car viewing passion.

Until next time......