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, September 30, 2016

Sept 30: A tradition of NASCAR

Here they come and everyone is on their feet, waiting for those modern day gladiators to cross the start finish line. The excitement is palatable, as sixty thousand plus avid race fans anticipate the action, that they will be seeing over the next three hundred laps of door handle to door handle, no holds barred, NASCAR racing. 

Great lead up to today's blog. Lines worthy of a promo ad for the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Sunday, the 25th. The occasion? This was the twentieth year that my buddy Steve and I have headed to a big NASCAR race. Usually we go south to Virginia or North Carolina, but this time, we went back to the race, that we had started with back in the 1990's (has it been that long?). A great tradition.


NASCAR has had its up and downs, going from a time when the races sold out months in advance, with over a hundred thousand race fans showing up every Sunday, for the various races throughout the US. To these days, when walk up tickets for excellent seats are readily available and maybe "only" sixty to seventy thousand fans fill the stands. Still an impressive number, but paling in comparison to the halcyon days of the past, only a few brief years ago.

No matter, these shows are an event, with lots of displays for the various sponsors and competing companies........


.....like the suspended race car, that has been a focal point of Toyota's exhibit for the past few years. Easy way for the fans to locate their display in the midway that is the fan midway. Toyota always has a great display, as this pic shows......


 Want to see how a street Camry compares to the track car? Look no further than this half and half display, with the production car lined up beside the race car. Can you spot the difference? Of course, you can, as basically the only similarity is the name and the grille decal on the track car. Product identification is really all that is important here. Reality can take a holiday.

Or this Ford Fusion, that lets you see what is under the skin of this race car........


"Yes, son, this is exactly what our family's Fusion looks like."

Yes sir, when NASCAR comes to town, it is a very big deal. Much like a travelling circus, minus the clowns and the elephants, but with the myriad trailers and the performers........


Every team has at least one huge eighteen wheeler that transports their car, as well as all the paraphernalia and electronics, that are associated with a big time race team. All painted up in the team colours, so they present a professional look and act as a rolling billboard for their sponsor, as they traverse the United States, like the Caterpillar team hauler below........


Fans buy souvenirs, so the Fanzone caters to their every whim and when you see what is being sold, one sure does wonder about those whims. Each driver's merchandise area is identified by their picture, so as to ensure that you don't wander into an unwanted adversary's souvenir area by mistake.........




Nothing like spending a few bucks to help pay your favorite team's $10,000,000-$25,000,000 budget. Sure, those three t-shirts will keep them on the track for another couple of weeks at least.

Looking for an interesting weekend? Looking to spend some quality time with a good buddy? Looking to see New England in late September? If yes, to any of these questions, then join the throngs of race fans and visit the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. You might even have a good time.


For me, as I said, this has been a very enjoyable tradition. Part road trip, part race weekend. A chance to spend time with a good friend, while our wives got together in Toronto for golf in our absence. Who had the better deal? I wonder.

Until next time.......



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sept 27: Cobble Beach, part 2

 Back to the Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance for my second report. If you had enough with my first report last Tuesday, you should tune out now before you get sucked into another super interesting(?) blog.

Apart from the old classics, that I dealt with last time, when one thinks of a concours, they usually think of high dollar Italian iron - Ferrari's, Maserati's, etc. In this case, Cobble didn't disappoint.

Not the most popular Ferrari, but this 330 America has always been one of my favorites. Remember my pic of one that I saw in Portugal this past July. Conservative beauty.

Another of my all time favs, is this Maserati Mistral from 1967. Oh, those lines........


But a true concours envelops all types of cars, the very old and also, the somewhat newer. The somewhat newer in this pic shows cars that are at least sixty years old................


It's all in your perspective, folks. I like cars that are not seen that often, cars like this 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk.......


A rare car back in the day with just over four thousand produced, it is even rarer today. Compare that number to the hundreds of thousands of Chevies and Ford that came off the production line. Cars like this '59 Meteor........


Kind of rare, since the Meteor was a Canada only car, but in my favorite body style, the four door hardtop (no "B" pillar). My parents had a couple of cars in this style and with the windows down, you felt you were open to the whole world (great to have an imagination).

A last grasp at past glory, this 1955 Packard Caribbean stood proudly for what this brand was in the distant past (and what I showed in my last blog)........


A real highlight for me was this car.........


......a 1960 Ford Starliner NASCAR racer. A real treat was chatting with its owner, Jim Bray, who had also raced it back in the day. This car ran Charlotte's World 600 and also Atlanta. Real history. Since I've followed this series for years, it was a thrill to spend fifteen minutes chatting about the old days with Mr. Bray.

Let's step even further back for a moment and this mid 1930's Chrysler Airflow......


Ultra modern compared to any other car of its day, this model proved that being ahead of your time is not always a good thing, as customers avoided it in droves. This caused Chrysler to to try a rush redesign, which brought it back in line with the more traditional styling of the day.

And of course, there were pick-ups and all the memories they brought back......



 Hey, it's a concours and just about any beautifully restored vehicle can find a class to fit into. So as I bid adieu to my first visit to Cobble Beach, let's take a look at a more traditional concours type vehicle.......


I remember as a kid, my Dad took me to the Austin dealership in our small eastern city and the ownership rolled back some old wooden doors to reveal a new Healey. Big deal? Yes, sir, since in our town, there were plenty of plain Jane cars, but few with pizzazz. A rare sighting for Saint John, New Brunswick and little Barry got to see it first.

Cobble Beach. Even my wife, who likes cars, but is car show averse, really enjoyed the show. as it is a real event (she wasn't just humouring me).


What are you doing next September?

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


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sept 20: Cobble Beach Concours - part 1

Pebble Beach
Amelia Island
Meadowbrook
St. John's

All names of famous Concours d'Elegance. Now you can add.......
Cobble Beach. Cobble Beach? What the heck is that and where the heck is that?

Glad you asked and about time. Cobble Beach is the home of North America's newest Concours d'Elegance. You know, those invitation only displays of the very best cars, usually held in some prestigious location, where the cars compete with the scenery for your attention. Cobble Beach is held on a golf course, overlooking Georgian Bay. Very similar to Pebble Beach, but sunnier and warmer. Relatively new (fourth year), but climbing rapidly in prestige. Since Cadillac is one of the main sponsors, I thought I should start off with two of the cars from their display. Guess which one is the Cyclone, a "dream car" from the '50's? The other pic is the Elmiraj, which was originally unveiled at Pebble Beach in 2013. An interesting point about the Cyclone - the original Motorama car had huge fins, which were later cut down, as this car was shown into the more conservative '60's (stump your friends with that one).


Cadillac's display was a great entrance to the fairway of the golf course, where these gems held court, overlooking Mother nature's gorgeous views. And what better way to start off this mini tour, than with this 1932 Packard Dual Cowl Phaeton (impressed with my knowledge or that I can read from the thick and glossy program?)........


Apart from being a great car, this pic shows off the venue and the beautiful surroundings. Note the golf carts in the background. Relax, no one was playing thru, they were for security and the officials. I would have loved to yell, "Fore!" and seen the reaction (as I was being escorted off the grounds).

One always expects the classics, including this Best of Show and Peoples' Choice winning, 1932 Auburn Speedster......


.....or this 1922 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost..........


Interesting feature.......you can just see a small red light atop the roof over the front windshield. This is an opera light, which was used to identify the car, when its owners were being picked up after the opera (you thought they drove themselves?).

This 1938 Cadillac roadster was special, in that it had a coach builder designed body by Brunn, which featured those interesting cut down doors, also a golf club door and a rumble seat. You want history? This car was originally built for Ralph Pulitzer of the Pulitzer prize fame........

Other worthies........




......and my wife's favorite, this 1937 Studebaker Dictator Coupe........


Considering the times, Dictator, seems like a rather unusual name for a car. Art Deco styling in a lovely soft green - Niagara Mist Metallic, if you must know.


The beauty of an event like this, is the space around each car, so they stand out and can be admired. There were a plethora of categories, for which the cars were judged and then there was an overall winner, as well as Peoples' Choice for the uninformed, who simply liked a car. Note the fire extinguisher by the rear wheel of all these cars, actually by every single car. Reason? In case there is any kind of a fire when they are started. Smart.

Interesting to see the specialist judges pouring over each car, looking for any little (minute?) deviation from the way the car was originally.......


Note the mandatory, dark blue sports coat and straw hat. Must be a concours dress code thing, as this attire is seen at them all. Nerve racking? Now, I'm not an expert, but I can see right away that the licence plate is not original. Wonder if they noticed?

There's that fire extinguisher, I mentioned. Apparently if you are lacking one, your car is not judged.........



What I found interesting about this 1939 Rolls Royce Wraith is the comprehensive tool kit built into the trunk. Were the owners (chauffeurs?) more mechanically minded back in those days or was it simply a nice touch, because you had spent a huge amount of coin on this car?

Great show and I have our friends, John and Pam, to thank for the invitation and the accommodation (even if we did have to buy them breakfast).

I'll be away this Friday, so tune in later next Tuesday for other great cars from the Cobble Beach Concours (humour me, ok?).

Until next time......



Friday, September 16, 2016

Sept 16: Road or track?

This old Mercedes from the '30's is so stunningly beautiful, that it almost hurts the eyes to look at it. This car came from the time when Mercedes was establishing their sporting tradition, which has lasted until the present day and based on leaked plans, is not going to go away soon, if ever.

Mercedes Benz. When one thinks of this brand the big luxo cruisers come immediately to mind, but not far behind are their elegant grand tourers and sportscars.

I think that the spiritual successor to those big old Benz of the 1930's and later the SL's of the 1950's is the current SL. Spiritual maybe, but today's car is more of a grand tourer. The original SL was actually a sportscar as opposed to the grand tourer of the '30's ("Monte Carlo for the weekend, darling?").........


But in 2016 calling a car with, in some cases, about 600 hp, not a sportscar seems strange, but this car is suited more to city posing or jaunts thru the countryside, driving by the nearest race track, but not necessarily on to it..........


Beautiful, but for a day at the track, another tool would be more suited and that one is the AMG GT, a real sportscar in every definition of the term. Developed to go after the Porsche 911 money. And now the good news for those able to spend the coin, is that in the very near future, it will be available in as a convertible, cabrio or spyder (pick your term). This new version will be introduced at the upcoming Paris auto show.......


In the opinion of a piece I read online yesterday, they thought this car should actually be the SL. Maybe then they would want the current SL to wear the 500K badge. Actually not a bad idea, but let's stay on topic, ok?

My brother doesn't like the new grille and I can't say I find it particularly attractive, on an otherwise great looking car........


......but it is aggressive, as suits this AMG GT, but there is another reason for it to be like this. It mimics the original, like it or not........


Ah, there is that word again, tradition. 

Whether one likes them or not, Mercedes is great with tradition and we can all be thankful for it, as they have progressed from those beautiful cars of the early days.......


.......to their beautiful cars of today.........


A very compelling reason to sell your cat and start going through the neighbour's garbage for any bottles, that might yield a few valuable coins. Do this for a few years and that Mercedes mirage might become a reality.

Until next time......


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sept 13: Coming colours?

Anything come to mind when looking at this Buick brochure from way back in 1961? Ok, so while you are thinking about that, consider this.......

5 blacks
2 silvers
2 greys
2 whites

Now do you get my line of thought? Give up? The Buick brochure is full of colour. Matter of fact, you could order your plush new ride in one of over twenty(!) colours. All different, many bright. The list above is the colour palette of a 2017 Mercedes S Class. Before you get too down on Benz, they also offer two blues and one green (go wild, will ya fellas). Sure, I know that things change over the years, but folks, we may be seeing a slight shift back to those colour palettes of the easy, breezy 1960's (at least until the Vietnam war got into full swing). Listen up......
.

Here's another colour chart from later in that decade. Name your colour and and more than likely you could get your new ride painted in that becoming shade (even if it wasn't). Note, only one black, one silver and one grey. Now you're talking. They sure knew how to pick 'em. So, why do I think things may be changing?

Everything filters down from above. In the case of cars, what is first available on the expensive vehicles, eventually becomes common place on the lowest models in the line. A few examples........air conditioning, power windows, back up camera and GPS. Remember when only the hottest supercars came in flat or satin black or lime green or whatever. That trend is now filtering down to less expensive models, but thank goodness it hasn't yet become common place. Ever try to wax a flat finish? Well, don't.

Check out this current Bentley colour palette..........


.....or this one from Ferrari......


You'd have to be blind not to notice the brighter shades appearing on these top end models. The next step is usually, that the more fashionable models in a less costly car line get the bright colour treatment. Case in point, this line up of recent Camaro colours.......
See, there are a few more bright shades, certainly a lot more than what would be showing up on an Impala. I know, I know, you are saying that the bright "in your face" colours suit the sportier models, but remember, there was a time when even the plain vanilla family sedan could be ordered in those bright shades. So why not have this trend filter down to the mainstream sedans or, nowadays, suvs? Think they wouldn't suit an suv? Think again, when you look at the 2017 Ford F-150 colour chart below.......


Good enough for a real truck, then why not good enough for an Edge or an Explorer? Truth of the matter is that, we are seeing more of these brighter shades on those vehicles. Kind of like putting your toe in the water to see how cold it is before committing your whole body.

Another sign that the bright colours are on the rise again, is this colour palette that Dodge has just unveiled for their 2017 Charger. A flash back to the '60's for sure. Even with those catchy names......Go MangoTorred, Green Go, or Maximum Steel (ok, not a bright one, but a great name)


Am I dreaming? Maybe just wishful thinking or is there a real trend starting here and in a couple of years your bud will drive up in a bright yellow Honda Accord or a Pilot? Or, will it still be just the guy with the Porsche next door, that will get to experience the delight (or scorn) of having a brighter than bright, robin's egg blue cabrio?


Will we all be able to break out and live this colourful dream?

Until next time......