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, June 20, 2017

June 20: A new/old VW

Ah, the good ol' days. Those days starting from the late 1930's and going thru to the early 2000's. That is a very long run for good ol' days, but the car on the right did just that. Remember the VW Beetle? Stupid question. That car hung out on every street corner, everywhere in the world and when it stopped doing that, it still found a home and a production line in Mexico. So popular was this people's car, that VW moved the motor to the front and brought it back as the New Beetle. Just a little bit of history to put this blog into perspective.

Remember this........


An old Microbus from the '50's, restored to the nines and run across the block at the famous Barrett-Jackson auction. That $10K figure was a starting bid, as this anomaly(?) ran up to about $115K USD before the hammer fell. Sure, folks seemed to remember them fondly, but this may have gotten a few marketing types to thinking, 'What if?".

Maybe this could be the new New Beetle? Maybe VW could take another run at nostalgia and do an updated version of these old hippie vans, that rusted away into the sunset?


Sure, they teased us with a couple of concepts. You know, the inexpensive way to test the waters before diving in. Seems they struck a cord with folks.

What to do, what to do?

Then VW did the unthinkable, they lied. They told us its diesels didn't polute. Shame on them, as it was found that they did. So, all that cheating and lying cost billions and kicked the diesel out the door and down the block, probably never to grace a VW engine bay again.

What to do, what to do?

Well, folks, VW didn't get to be the numero uno car company in the world by being fools (the diesel debacle not withstanding). Diesel's dead, let's go electric. Good thinking or at least timely thinking, as electric cars seem to be worshipped as the saviour of our crazy, mixed up world. And what better way to really get people's attention than by making an electric that would really stand out?

Yes, of course, bring back the Microbus.......


Only make it as an electric, like Toyota has only made the Prius as a hybrid. Brilliant? I don't know. I just sell cars and write a blog, but the thinking seems reasonable to me. Cute sells (Kia Soul, please take a bow). Nostalgia sells. Electric sells. Seems like a good receipe for success.

Viola', behold the 2020(?) VW electric van........



Whatever it will be called, VW has given this little gem the green light. Note all those old Microbus design cues, like the BIG VW logo at the front and that unique tutone paint scheme. In '50's colours, naturally. Yes folks, all it's lacking are those useless old bumpers, that back in the day may have protected the Microbus from flying insects and not much else. Could they be offered as an option, like running boards?

What's missing to complete the picture? A diesel engine, but we've just been thru that.

Rising from the ashes like the legendary Phoenix, the old Microbus is new again and ready to serve tree huggers everywhere.

Until next time.......


Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16: A different Pontiac

There she is, the famous in her own mind, Car Modeling Cat, the CMC. The dear little furball and I just finished making a model of one of my favorite old cars. A car that is generally disregarded by fans of the recently guillotined Pontiac brand. The year was 1960 and when the new models were introduced, surprise, surprise the 1960 Pontiac was a complete departure from the year before. Unusual in that designs typically had a two year life span and the 1959 model had been totally new. By the way, totally new in those days generally meant it, at least in terms of the body design.

Come September of 1959, this is what came out from under the wraps at Pontiac dealers across North America......


  If only those cars back then were as wide as they were depicted in the ads, we wouldn't need suvs with seating for seven. Just throw all-wheel drive under the car and load 'em up, Poncho.

Anyway, I always liked this car, although I'm probably in the minority. The year before the front grille was split, which unknowingly started a Pontiac tradition........

.........which was skipped for the '60 model year, before becoming Pontiac's signature front end until the brand's demise in 2008. Why the '60 wasn't split? Who knows, but the answer is no doubt hidden away on some site on the internet.

Back to the model the CMC and we just completed.......




Picture perfect right down to the gold Bonneville script on the front grille. I mentioned the width in the ads, but some other dimensions were also extreme and were for real......


......like that very long back end on the this top line version. There was the better proportioned and less expensive Catalina, which fit only a six pack of bodies in the trunk, unlike this Bonneville, in which one could load a full dozen.


Do you know how hard it is wandering around our apartment building looking for the appropriate place to photograph these finished models? Believe me, when I tell you, sometimes it is frustrating (tough life?).

For 1959 Pontiac introduced a wheel option that was also to become a Pontiac signature piece. That was the famous 8 lug wheel, which the CMC and I have on our model...........



 This wheel ran from 1959 until 1968 and is reasonably expensive, if you are looking for a replacement today. Anyway, it's all history. What is important (at least to us) is that we did a good job with a car that we both like and enjoyed making.

 So, there you have it, two months in the making and the CMC and I have something we both can enjoy, the 1960 Pontiac Bonneville.........


 Until next time......



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June 13: Hyundai Kona - another little guy

Is this where it all started? Good question for a couple of car folks to discuss over champagne and orange juice on the French Riviera. Or maybe at the local pub. Either way, this Chevy Trax and its twin, the Buick Encore will be front and centre in their discussion. As I've mentioned before, the suv, crossover or whatever is taking over the new vehicle market like the kudzu plant is taking over the US south. Gradually and maybe not so gradually, folks are dumping their cars for the suv. And while we've seen how some vehicles like the Honda Accord have grown over the years, the trend in suvs is to get smaller and smaller, in order to cover to cover every nook and cranny of the market. The good news? Most of them are really neat vehicles.

Sure, some like the Trax or Ford's, brand new to North America, EcoSport..........


.......are just smaller suvs, while some like the Mazda CX-3.......


.......add a little funk and style to the mix and if you are a Toyota fan, they have added a heck of a lot of funk to the new and small suv in the line..........


.......and also the the small Lexus suv.......


Could it possibly be something to do with the target market? Another topic for that champagne or beer discussion.

And others are simply classy looking, like Kia's new Niro........


And finally to what today's blog is about. Want timely? This morning in Europe, Hyunda has just unveiled the 2018 Kona, their smaller suv, which slots in below the Tucson, which itself slotted in below the Sante Fe Sport, which slotted in below the Sante Fe XL, which slotted in below the gone and probably forgotten Veracuz. Got that? I thought so, since I write for a smart crowd.

Funky or just plain great looking?


From any angle, I think the Kona looks great and follows in the Hyundai tradition of really good looking vehicles. Distinctive in a pleasing way and although I really like the Toyota/Lexus models, origami design is not for everyone. Sales of the Kona will start in Korea (naturally) and Europe, following shortly after on our shores.

I like sedans, but am I feeling the pressure to conform? Even my car guy older brother bit the suv bullet, but he also has a new Mustang in his garage, so maybe that made his switch easier. These suvs or crossovers or whatevers are practical, look good, can be economical or insane (Jeep Trackhawk) and fit almost every single budget. The better they look, the more I lean towards them. Car handling? Not a chance in the lower price ranges, so that's a deal breaker. But gee, they sure do look good...........

Until next time......


Friday, June 9, 2017

June 9: Lexus Racing: An oxymoron?

Some phrases just don't seem to go well together and Lexus Racing sure is one of them. But, a picture is worth a thousand words and as you know, the camera never lies, so check this out.........


On the other hand, just think about it.........here is a car brand, that has sold vehicles, which ride like magic carpets and magic carpets that encounter no turbulence at that. Put a Lexus on a race track? Wash your mouth out with soap and perish the thought. Ah, but those of you with any interest in cars, know that something has been a foot at Lexus for the last couple of years. Going from a polarizing new design language to a couple of vehicles, which it hopes are worthy BMW competitors.

Models like the new RC.......


And the flagship coupe, the LC500.........

 


Both showing up at the party with those outlandish Schick razor look-a-like grilles, which say Lexus, but not in a good way. I saw my first LC yesterday parked in a driveway a couple of blocks from home. It was white (Ultra White to be precise) and no matter how much I take Lexus to task about their designs, this car had presence and quite frankly looked amazing. The design is certainly out there, and apart from that front end, is quite striking. It had the look that even non car people would take notice of.

Now back to that oxymoron, Lexus Racing. The RC and the LC are the tools that Lexus will be using to carve its way thru traffic, enroute to the win on the track and credibility on the showroom floor. Take that BMW and Mercedes.



For the marketing types amongst you, brand direction changes are interesing to watch. Can a brand make the change from twenty five years of being considered a high quality mobile sofa to making edgy, track tested automobiles? Great question. Cadillac did it by successfully equipping the CTS-V for track wars and winning. Can Lexus?

Possibly, in the not too distant future, the oxymoron will be Lexus Not Racing. Who knows? Certainly the way Lexus is headed these days, the perception is changing bit by bit, so that in the future, when one thinks of Lexus, this may well be the image that comes to mind.......


Lexus certainly hopes so.

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



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 6: 2018 Honda Accord - you've come a long way baby!

 No one would argue that this disguised 2018 Honda Accord is not a big departure from the current model. Heck, it's a big departure from any past Accord and along with the recent Civic, it signals a giant leap forward in Honda's design language.

Can't see past that camo?


Yeah, I admit it's tough, but not surprising, as Honda has always been able to hide its new cars from prying eyes, until they intro the model to everyone's surprise. Wonder why the other manufacturers always seem to loose the initiative to those pesky auto spy photographers?

Honda Accord. Started out as a terrific smaller two door hatchback, a step up from the Civic, and then in 1979 Honda extended this popular model by adding another set of doors.........


And so the rest is history, as the Accord became the go to car for those who needed a little extra space in a car that handled better than a well worn sofa, i.e. the Toyota Camry. Yes sir, the good old Accord became the benchmark sedan, that all the other manufacturers tried to emulate or at least used as their target. As it is with most cars, the Accord grew, pushed from below by an enlarging Civic. Starting out at a mere 175" (4445 mm for us Canadians) in '79, the 2017 model stretches to 193" (4902 mm for us Canucks). The 2018? Be patient.

But back to that conservative Honda styling. It would never offend anyone and its conservatism was as dependable as its renown reliability. Then things changed. The market asked for (demanded?), some style character in their cars. Something more than rolling white bread. Heck, even Toyota/Lexus started to go wild with it's designs (you be the judge on that one) . Honda is not immune to market forces. The new Civic is an example of where the designers planned to take the brand. Well, if you liked the Civic (and I can sure understand if you don't), you will like the new for 2018 Accord.

But what about that camo, Barry? Yes, I know it's a problem, but let's look at a recent concept for the Chinese market and see if we can lift the veil........



You think this might be Honda's new flagship? It follows along with the Civic styling, although its lines are a little less crazy and that back end is much more tasteful.

How close is this concept to the real thing? Maybe this 1/43rd scale diecast, that has leaked out might be a better indicator.........


Why else would this manufacturer make a model and call it the 2018 Honda Accord? A very good question. If we can be patient, we'll know soon enough.

But, whether this is the car or not, begs the question, will this be the one that makes the buyer rethink their crossover or suv decision? Well, folks, we'll just have to wait and see.

Until next time.......



Friday, June 2, 2017

June 2: Happy Anniversary

Yes, it's that time of year again, the anniversary of a great union, that started way back in 1979. Gosh, that seems like a long time ago and I guess if one does the math it is. On the other hand, the pyramids were built thousands of years ago, as was the Acropolis in Athens, so thirty eight years is less than a drop in that proverbial bucket.

Remember your wedding or ones you've been to? Remember how the bride and groom were driven off to their future together and what they were driven in? My point? Well, this is a car blog, so as I wax poetic about my very happy marriage to a great lady, I need to have some sort of a tie in to cars. Yes? Yes!

Pick your vehicle and at some time, it has probably had the trappings of a wedding car attached to it. Vehicles from the traditional, at least for you high rollers.........


...... to the, shall we say, unusual, like this Russian Cinderellamobile converted PT Cruiser........


Pick your vehicle and at some time it has shown up adorned with wedding day paraphernalia and who has done it better than these folks.........


Wonder why that poor dude on the left is shedding a tear? Maybe the flowers came from his garden or maybe it is his car and he'll have to clean it up afterwards? Or maybe he has a simple case of hay fever? Worth getting married just for this experience.

Want something a little more personized? What says happily ever after more than each of you drivng away from your wedding in your own smart car?


Or possibly foreseeing the marital battles ahead of them, like this couple, who thought that this tank would send the proper message.........


I agree, it does show a touch of forethought and class, although I wonder if retaining its original camo paint might have been a bit more to the point?

But, if your wedding day taste strays to nostalgia and just a bit phoney nostalgia at that, then these "old" cars are right up your alley......



Coming soon? Going soon would be better. Ersatz nostalgia and ersatz luxury. Who could possibly forget your wedding day, when one of those rides whisks you away to your future? No sir, if nostalgia is your thing, then nothing beats the real deal, as you roll large in your Roller........


Personally, I like the thoughts of this couple who might be jumping the gun with the till death do us part line. Do they know something the others don't?


Give me tradition and tasteful tradition at that.........


Although looking back, our own wedding day ride was very distinctive and quite possibly stood out more than any of those shown above. What could possibly trump (there's that awful word again) any of these standout rides? How about a kind of recent dark blue Volvo two door?

I thought you would think that.

Until next time........


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 30: What price poor taste?

Just when you thought that money could buy you everything, Rolls-Royce comes along and proves that you were right.........


Introduced the other day at Italy's Corso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este (close your eyes and spell it), this is the Rolls Sweptail. Looking like a bigger Wraith, this car is so much more.......



So, just what is this unusually styled big Roller? Before you start to call your local dealer, trying to order one for yourself, you should know a few specifics. First and foremost, this car is a one off, two seater coachbuilt Rolls, based on the Phantom and designed for a very exacting buyer. This person wanted Rolls to create a car, that was a modern take on the elegant, custom bodied Rolls-Royce's of the '20's and '30's. I guess it has some of those elements, but it's hardly what I would call attractive like many of those old classics.

So, what price is poor taste? Good question, but if one goes back over a few special cars that Rolls has done for their best clients, you'll see that while money might be able to buy you everything, it sure as hell doesn't guarantee good taste. Want me to prove it? Say no more.........


Call it lumpy to be kind, but this old custom didn't look good in its day and other than as a curiousity, doesn't look good today. Costly? One can only imagine. And how about the famous Honeymoon Express.......




Back when this was designed, the Rolls cabriolets were lovely examples of what a classic beauty should look like and it sure wasn't like this unusually proportioned one off. Fins? Sure they were all the rage, but did this Rolls really need them? Beauty is in the eye etc and its price, of course, was in the money can buy you anything range.

Moving right along to a couple of other customs built for clients with discerning(?) taste and huge bank accounts.........


If I said these designs were breath taking, would that have the same meaning, as saying these designs took my breath away? I don't think so. What price is poor taste? One could bet it would be high in either of these cases.

But, not only did questionable taste and money collide with just two seater models.........


Whew! What designer signed their name to this hideous one off for a client, who had the money to stand out in a very unfortunate way? Not a good line anywhere on this monstrosity. If Rolls didn't sue them, they should have.

And now back to our signature piece, the Sweptail. What did I say about the price of poor taste? Want to put a dollar figure on this big Roller?


 Without being able to read minds, I can tell that you are way too low. Think again. No, still too low. Rolls-Royce reportedly created this questionable behemoth for a touch under $13M USD. Talk about breath taking. Even Drake would have to think twice before plunking down that much of his hard earned coin.

What price poor taste? Now you know.

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