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, May 31, 2016

May 31: Where are the now - the Lada edition

Remember the Lada? Of course you do, everyone does and most folks have some sort of good or bad Lada memory (usually bad). The Lada, that was sold in North America, was the older Fiat 124 based model that, the Russians were able to build and sell after its run as a Fiat in Europe. Solid, if not the most exciting car in the world. Cheap? You bet and that was its appeal over here and in Europe. So after the Iron Curtain came down, what happened to this relic of the communist era?

Most of their product line was old, cheap to repair and simple to work on, so they ended up as taxis and police cars throughout the old communist countries, as well as Africa and the Caribbean. But you can only sell older design vehicles for so long, especially in the new capitalistic Russia. Some of the Iron Curtain companies teamed up (read, were bought) by a western manufacturer and their product lines were updated and subsequently became strong competitors in Europe. AvtoVAZ, Lada's parent company, was the exception, as they kept making old cars for years without any outside help. It was only in 2008 that Renault/Nissan bought into this company to the tune of 25%. Good old Renault, they seem to have bought into everything lately.

So where is Lada now?


Sure, they still sell the older models that have been in production with a few upgrades for many years, like the Priora above, but it's the new models that have pushed AvtoVAZ to 20% of the Russian car market in 2015.

Remember the old Niva?


It quietly rusted away in North America, but in other markets this tough little sport ute has been plodding along for over forty years with few changes, although its name has changed several times for those markets, now it is called the Lada 4x4 (why not, as that's what it is?). As suv's grew in popularity, it has even spawned a four door version, the Urban........


If it wasn't for the current economic issues in Russia, this old relic would have been replaced by the 2016 Chevrolet Riva. Why not a Nissan, I have no idea, but these days auto alliances are all over the map.

All these models are the old Lada, as their latest products are what will sustain this company in the home market and beyond. Like the X-Ray, a cute little suv that, sports Lada's interesting new signature design language on its side.........


 Or the new sedan, the Vesta.......


......which also shows off those new design markings. How proud would the average Russian be to have a new Vesta of their very own parked outside of their dacha? Well, look at this happy fellow (let's call him Vlad), all pumped up as he leaves his new ride for all the world to see and to let them know that, he, Vlad, has finally made it........


Lucky guy.

Recently shown as a concept is this Vesta wagon........
......a good looking crossover(?) that would fit in anywhere in the world. Might be a reason to tackle the North American market again, unless some fool calls it a station wagon by mistake. In which case, they would need to ship them all back to the motherland.

Obviously Lada is putting is putting a lot of their eggs into the Vesta's basket, as they just showed a version meant to appeal to junior oligarchs everywhere........


This very special stretched version is called the Vesta Signature. Production bound? Not for now, as apparently only ten will be built for company use. Hey, think about it. What if Vlad makes it extra big and although a Maybach is way out of his range, how about a Vesta Signature? Check out the luxury within that relatively humble, lengthened bodywork.......


Yes sir, put Vlad in the back of this beaut and all those neighbours, driving their new Skoda's, will turn green with envy.

Lada has come a long way and now it has the updated product to build on that 20% market share. So now you know, where Lada is now and will continue to be in the future........a major player in their home market and most likely around the world. 

Until next time......




Friday, May 27, 2016

May 27: Those lucky cops!

We've all seen this dreaded view in our rearview at sometime over the years. Hard to do anything but pull over and give the officer a, "What me?" look. But what if you decided to give him a "go"? What if you decided that, the high powered motor under your hood and that race tuned suspension, you are so proud of, would have no competition from that cruiser? You could easily make a clean get away. Right? Maybe, just maybe. But take a look at what some police departments around the world have in store for you.........

Sure, you knew I'd show the Dubai police cars, since I've shown them before. Just think of any exotic supercar, even the electric BMW i8, and you'll find it in green and white livery, being driven by this desert kingdom's police. But what happens when their oil money runs out?

Other police agencies have decided that, they need something a little special, but don't have the big bucks of Dubai. Cities like Tokyo.........



..........which has recently added three Nissan 370Z's to their fleet. Sure, they say that they are PR cars, but who are they kidding? You don't think that, these speedsters won't find their way to the nearest expressway to haul over the local speed jockeys' rides? Think again, friendo.

Or how about the Aussies? They must have bedlam on their highways, based on the rolling stock that they are using to overhaul their scofflaws. Something about their Mad Max future? Lucky is the copper to be behind the wheel of what the New South Wales police recently took delivery of........


A nice practical wagon from Audi. Smart move, except this one is the RS4, which any car person knows is
the ne plus ultra of the A4 line. Pretty slick and very fast. You'd think that this RS would be enough, but that's obviously not the case, when you see what else has joined their fleet.......



At the top is a Lexus, but you know that it's not just any old Lexus, this is the kinda powerful RC-F. Terrorize those Aussie roads and you'll see it in your rearview. Now, you think that your ride is possibly a bit quicker than that RC-F? Ok, point taken, so the NSW police can haul out their new Falcon XR8 Sprint. With just a titch under 500 hp, this one will hunt you down like a starving cat after a fat mouse.

Europe has always been the home of the fast exotics and the autobahn in Germany gives those lucky citizens a chance to really exercise their powerful rides. But, not everyone who drives the autobahn is 100% responsible, so the local police might need to pull them over for a brief educational chat..........


......but, you have to catch them first. What's better than this Audi? With the power under that rear spoiler, even those wickedly fast 911's, would give trying to make a run for it, a second or third thought.

Now in North America these days, having anything but the standard bread and butter sedans is unusual. The reason? Even those plain Jane police sedans are packing big power, making the days of the manufacturers offering police package Camaros and Mustangs, but a memory. Yet, as always there are exceptions to the rule, like this Challenger being used by a sheriff's department in south Florida........


.........or in Texas, where the highway patrol has this killer SRT version.........


But, in this case, this super hot Challenger was donated by NFL star, Mario Williams. Nice gesture, eh?Maybe Sidney Crosby might want to consider buying something interesting for his local police in Nova Scotia?

No police package on the Camaro, but the New Jersey state police felt they needed one, at least for evaluation.......


Mustang? Couldn't find anything over here, but of course, our friends in Dubai have that covered as well......


......with this Shelby to go along with their hotted up Camaro. Hey, based on what they are paying for the big iron in their fleet, these cars cost chump change. Cheap and quick.

Lucky cops? You bet, if you are the one with the keys to one of these wild rides. Thinking of speeding? Ok, so be ready to suffer the consequences, but in the cases above, don't even think for a moment of making a run for it. But maybe you should, just to make the copper's day.

Until next time.......



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 24: Those strange ads

Print ads for cars and accessories. Getting folks limited attention and getting it quickly is the name of the game, or at least it used to be, so that is why all the ads I'm featuring today are not quite current (not by a longshot).

Some poor shmo named "Tiny" has his Porsche for sale and wants to get your attention.........

Think about it. Is he trying to sell this to someone who is considering penis enhancement therapy, or otherwise, or is he just stating the obvious for someone looking to get into a lightly used German sportscar? Either way, he gets our attention in a kind of unusual way (I wonder if he sold his Porsche?)

Honesty in advertising? Daihatsu sure nailed it in this ad for their minivan, you know the kind that sells well in most countries, not including Canada or the USA. Great ad, but honestly, does this poor guy think that this van would pick up anything, other than a bunch of kids going to soccer practice and possibly their moms?


Delusional? Of course, but feel his pain, since even Tiny or Joe's Porsche is going to be too expensive for this guy. A fella can dream!

And talking about dreaming.........


......this ad for an early '50's Henry J is just plain laughable. Don't know this car? Not surprised. This was a plain Jane, cheap (in every way) car introduced to a car crazy American public at a time, when they weren't looking for a smaller car, or at least a cheap smaller car. The first ones didn't even have an opening trunk. Sears tried selling an almost identical version, called the Allstate. But a sports car? Not a chance and everyone knew it. So this ad is a complete joke. Get people's attention and then let them down.

And this ad is almost as laughable, although we didn't know it at the time.........


Ford shows all those costly collector cars and hints that their upcoming Pinto might be in the same category. Well, as you know, it wasn't. Better to have said, "Have a blast in your new Pinto!", if you get my meaning. And unfortunately, it would have been the honest to goodness truth.

Another Ford ad, meant to test the bond of a good marriage? Not necessarily, but it got your attention, right?


Maybe, she should swap places with the poor under achiever in the Daihatsu van?

Now let's go way, way back..........


Who wouldn't want a car that could take you to church on Sunday and then plow the fields on Monday? Just add the handy Pullford and sell your pesky hay eaters. Now, considering that the car in this add, was only a few hundred dollars, the Pullford was very costly. Maybe, it would have been better to keep your old horse after all?

And saving the best (at least in my opinion) for next to last.........


What a clever accessory(?). Use your car's exhaust to clean the upholstery and at the same time, leave the lasting smell of exhaust fumes in your car's interior. Wrong in so many ways. But what the heck did they know back in the '20's and '30's? They probably knew that, there was a sucker born every minute.

Remember this one?


A classic. Simple, to the point, humorous. Almost as funny as the underestimating of their diesel's emissions, but it got readers's attention immediately and in this case, probably held it, as this is something they would talk about around the water cooler.

Try to find ads these days that, strain credibility or are at the very least funny. Tough to do, but when and if you do, please let me know.

Until next time........


Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 19: Ford's pride and joy is Canadian!


Beautiful car. Fast (200+ mph), gorgeous (just look at it), expensive ($400K) and Canadian. This is Ford's new pride and joy, the GT. Built to raise Ford's sporting cred on the street and also on the track. A place where the original GT40 of the mid '60's distinguished itself by winning at LeMans and making it an all GT40 podium in 1966. Not bad for an upstart.


Now just called the "GT", this one will be out shortly and will be available to a select few. How select? You have to submit your resume to Ford. Well, not quite, but you have to prove to Ford that, you will be a worthy owner, so a little begging would be a nice touch. Buying it to drive it, not to store it, until the price goes even higher. Shame on you for even thinking about doing such a thing.

But what is really cool is this.........


Just a building, you say? Absolutely correct, but behind these walls in a suburb of Toronto, lies the sole assembly line for the impressive GT. Ever hear of Multimatic? Probably not, unless you are a car person, then you'll know that they have been racing Fords for years, as well as supplying production parts to many of the big car manufacturers. Multimatic has plants in the US, Europe and Asia. And most people have never heard of them.

Did you know that they were the brains behind the very exclusive Aston Martin One 77?


The entire One 77 production was exactly seventy seven (77). Exclusive, but all one needed was over $1m and a friend at Aston Martin. Multimatic also raced an Aston for a while throughout North America.






























And the Canadian driver, who drove the Multimatic Aston Martin, also did much of the on track testing for the new GT. That driver is a LeMans winner, as well as a series champion, where he and his co-driver race a Mustang GT350 (of which he also did developmental work for Ford). Who is this lucky guy?


The one on the right in this pic, taken at Daytona, USA, is Scott Maxwell. Obviously very talented and equally obvious, very well respected. My brush with greatness? He works out at the same university gym in Toronto that I do. Before you ask, no I can't get you a new GT thru Scott. I know him well enough to congratulate him on his latest win or to ask him how the testing is going (he's now sorting out the GT's street version).



So, back to Multimatic. A company not really well know among the general public, and one in Canada to boot, will be tasked with building Ford's long anticipated supercar. This says a lot about the company. Kind of funny, though that an iconic American car, will be built in the Toronto area. So this......... 


......will become this.........


......practically in my backyard. And, it also will have been set up to race and drive by one of my workout buddies. 

We, as Canadians, are always looking for things that say, "Hey, look at us! Look at what we've done or at what we can do." Must be something about living in the shadow of the big, ol' United States of America (kind of like I feel about my older brother and me).

Congratulations, Multimatic and to Scott. Way to go, Canucks!

Until next time......





Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17: Cuba, here they come!

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you should stay away from Cuba, now that the Americans can visit. Nope, I'm just saying that before those huge crowds of US tourists start landing in the fall, you should try to visit this very interesting island. Nothing wrong with those folks who live south of our Canadian border (well, maybe those crazy gun laws, but that's another story), but curiosity about this formerly forbidden destination has peaked interest to a very high level. And this fall, it is predicted that, there will be over one hundred flights per day landing from the US.


The draw? Maybe the aspect of it being a time capsule right next door. Although many people understand, there are still thousands upon thousands, who think that the Cuban roads are filled with pristine American rolling stock from 1960 and back. Boy, are they in for a surprise.

This old Olds and the Buick below it, are much more typical of what they will find, rather than a hero car typical of their local cruise night........

Not to say there aren't a few cars that, somehow have survived the ravages of the past fifty plus years of no access to a local NAPA Auto Parts store, but they are rarer than American tourists over the past years........



Cuban ingenuity and Russian car/truck parts have kept these old hulks of American iron in passable running condition. Cars that, in the US would have been consigned to the wreckers long ago. No surprise to find a Lada motor in an old Chevy........


Or a good set of truck rims and tires to carry your baby to its destination, a few cautious feet at a time..........


Or maybe just a mishmash of parts from a variety of cars, put together to resemble something, but not quite what it started out as........


Oh yes, I believe there will be more than a few disappointed car aficionados, landing in Cuba for the very first time. Those with dreams of finding a great old classic and having it shipped home to the envy of their neighbours or other car buddies. Think again, muchachos, as this is the reality check..........


  ........locals using their self taught abilities to give the family's early '50's Cadillac another few years (days? weeks? months?) of service. Or taking the motor out of an old Lada to put in one of these even older heaps......


And speaking of convertibles, there are probably more now than when Kennedy pulled the plug on car shipments to this tropical isle. Tourist dollars beckoned, so off came the tops of more than a few Cuban Chevies, Fords or whatever. Add a few strategic metal braces and rake in the bucks from driving those Canadians and Europeans around in your old piece of nostalgia. Gives new meaning to shake, rattle and roll.

I remember seeing an old English Ford (late '50's Consul) and knowing what it was, but still the body was just a little off. Closer examination revealed that every square inch had been redone with body filler. The lines were basically the same, but not quite. Hey, at least it still ran.

So by all means visit Cuba, but try to get there before the island becomes packed with Americanos. Enjoy the people, the history, the scenery and those old cars, but be quick about it.........

 

.......since your time is very quickly running out.

Until next time.......