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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Feb 28: The car show

The Canadian International Auto Show, aka the Toronto auto show. The biggest car show in the world based on attendance of about 325k. Say what! That can't be right, since Chicago's show, which runs at the same time, tops 750k. Ah, but there is a caveat to this fact, that is that the Toronto show is a "dealer" show, run by the dealers' association, whereas Chicago, Detroit and others are put on by the manufacturers. So Toronto has the largest attendance for a dealers' show. This also explains why Chicago usually gets the Detroit concepts a month later, whereas Toronto usually gets them a year later. But, to me it is a car show and since I love cars, I'd crawl a mile over broken glass to see those cars no matter who put it on. Savvy?

So, what did I see? The newspapers have a done a good job of showing the new introductions, so what was shown, that yuo probably won't see elsewhere? How about this purple and black Rolls-Royce Wraith?


Unusual? I think that would be a very good description. Although purple is my favorite colour, would I slap it on a $400k plus Roller? And, if I were the dealer would I bring this combo in on spec? Questions to ponder while we go thru a few other standouts.

Tired of seeing another Lambo everytime you take yours out for a quick boot? Tired of having just another Italian exotic? Want something that nobody will miss?  Hey, who doesn't.


Yes, this very unusual splattered paint effect will stop even the most car oblivious passerby in their tracks. And, if they have a magic marker, just maybe they will add to the colour scheme you've chosen, while using bad drugs. Curb appeal? Depends on where that curb is, I guess.

If you've read my blog for a long time, then you've come across a pic of this GMC display a couple of times before (once a year, in fact). Sure, been there, done that, but this raised truck always gets my attention. Who will have the guts to walk under it? Those stands look strong, but..........


Undecided about what tire to get, when the cords start to show thru? Want something that will be effective and at the same time be very interesting? Something you and your best buds can have a brew, while sitting around them in deep discussion? Then this concept tire could be the next one to grace whatever ride you have. 


Although, if the concept below is your next dream machine, even better. Now, take a good look at that front end and tell me who thought up this wide ride.


But Barry, tires aren't my thing, so is there anything else that I can do? 'Nuff said.........


Switching gears completely, do you long for the good old days? Or at least, what you thought were the good old days? Wish that GM had actually produced their Motorama dream car, the Le Sabre, instead of teasing us with a wide ride, that their head designer used on a regular basis?


The neat thing about the Toronto show, is that it is multifaceted, in that along with the new cars, they also have dislays that could be called Memory Lane, since they show all sorts of old stuff. But really, would anyone look at this dash from the '50's and long for the simplicity of the old days? Yikes, where are my sunglasses?


Do your good old days contain memories of the races and racers, who brought you to the edge of your seat before the driver(s) came to their unfortunate and premature demise? If so, then were you one of those who stood around Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari F1 car and reminisced?


But this is the Canadian International Auto Show, meaning it focuses on new cars, while the the other stuff is added, but very interesting, fluff. So, what else might one have seen, as they wandered the many levels and nooks and crannies of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre?

How about this new and very beautiful Aston Martin.......


......or the gorgeous new Ford GT, which if you don't see at the auto show, you may never see on a city street, unless you live near the rich and famous, like Drake......


.......or this line up of the sublime to the ridiculous (check out that G wagen) Mercedes........


.......or, if your tastes tend towards the "strange but true" category, then this Land Rover Evoque cabrio, should be right up your alley.......


Ah yes, the auto show, Barry's kid in a candy store time. A time, when I can stroll the exhibits and try to engage the manufacturers' reps in meaningful (at least to me) conversations, about their latest mistakes, successes or whatever. A time to see the current and unusual (VW Dune, I'm talking to you)..........

.....or the recent concepts, like this fresh from Detroit Nissan.......


 Any and all are of interest to this car guy, but worth crawling over a mile of broken glass? You decide.

Until next time......





Friday, February 24, 2017

Feb 24: Whither Opel, whither Buick?

This a beautiful new Opel, which is soon to be a beautiful new Holden and eventually, a beautiful new Buick. If you follow cars at all, you'll know that General Motors' Opel division in Germany has been supplying many of the new Buick models. My question is what will happen if and when there is an ownership change at Opel. Currently talks are under way about Peugeot-Citroen (PSA Group) buying Opel from GM. The latter wants the money to invest in new electric technologies. If this sale happens, and we are not really talking about an "if" here, as it is definitely going to go thru, what agreement will Buick have to get new cars? Or will they revert to Chinese designed and manufactured models? Good question.

Over the years Opel has been interesting to watch (time for another history lesson). In the '50's their cars were absolute clones of their American brethren. Remember what the '58 Chevy looked like? I'm sure you do and I'm sure you'll notice the distinct similarity in this Opel model from the same year.......


Or this Buickesque two door complete with the signature Buick side chrome........


Even moving into the '60's and '70's, the Opels were designed along the lines of their American cousins, in some cases refining the lines, so they were even better looking.......





......and where have you seen that two door's roof line before (Google '63-'68 Grand Prix and Oldsmobile).

And who can forget the Opel that tried to become a mini Corvette? This is one of the Opels, that made the trip across the Atlantic to become a stable in the North American Buick showrooms.


Opel had their ups and downs, but eventually got on the right track and started designing and making European cars, that could stand up against their home grown competition. And we got a few of them as well, but under a variety of nameplates and with varying degrees of success. Most of us would like to forget the Cadillac Catera (and GM would like us to), but it fared much better in Europe as an Opel.......


Look at the top pic of the Opel and see that to make it a Caddy, all that was needed was a slight change in the front end, new rims, a few Cadillac badges and it was almost ready to compete against the German luxury brands, who were rapidly taking market share away from our traditional domestics.

And where would Saturn have been without Opel?


I rented an Astra hatchback, while in England a few years back and it was an attractive and quite good handling little car. The latest version has just won the 2016 European Car of the Year. A good car, but it lacked Saturn-ness, with its metal, not composite body. The Saturn Vue suv was designed for the Continent as the Opel Antara. Unfortunately the writing was on the wall for Saturn by the time these products landed stateside. Kind of like throwing a drowning victim a life preserver.

The Opel below has been on our road for the past few years as the Buick Regal.......


So, now that the PSA Group is close to closing this deal, what will become of the Opel Buicks or Holdens? I'm sure that in the short term they will continue to supply their former owners, but when those cars are being replaced, PSA won't be designing cars, that will also appeal to American and Australian tastes. Or maybe they will, in order to keep those factories humming. Not to mention the tens of thousands of Buicks, that they ship to Japan.

This is the era of consolidation in the car business. Unusual alliances will become commonplace and if you've read my blog before, you'll know about a few of them. So, in this case, will we even notice a change in the cars? 

Another one of those time will tell moments.

Until next time........




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Re thinking Mitsubishi

Wasn't too awfully long ago that I was ready to write Mitsubishi off or at least off of the North American market. It seems to have a life in other areas of the planet, but over here, it has been reduced to an afterthought with a very long warranty. With just a small sedan and a dismal micro car, along with a few only average sport utes, Mitsu is the forgotten player in our market.

Remember the good ol' days, when this company was a shining example of the latest technology in very interesting cars? I mean, who could forget the 3000 GT, which under a slightly modified wrapper was also the Dodge Stealth........


Or the boy racer Evo, everyone's dream of a hot compact sedan.........


The 3000 GT is long gone and we saw our last Evo only a very few years ago. Oh, those were the days for Mitsu. But a quick look around the world shows that they have keep up somewhat in many other markets, with vehicles like the new Pajero Sport.......


Probably fit right into our suv lovin' North American market. And maybe with the small trend towards smaller pick ups, their Triton L200 would probably lure some prospects into their lonely showrooms......

If Honda can sell the, almost a truck, Ridgeline, why couldn't Mitsu make a case for this attractive ride from points east?

If you fancy a family hauling van (and there are still quite a few of you who do), Mitsubishi also has the Delica D-5......


Van-like in the traditional sense, as opposed to trying to look or be something it isn't. We all know, that if this one made it here, it would have better sales success with a few timely mods.......


Who could resist the practicality of a van with a few tasteful(?) suv touches?

When Toyota started the Scion brand over here, they chose an unusual Japanese market mini minivan to lead the charge and for a while it worked. Maybe Mitsu might consider the going the same route and they have just the product in their eK Space whatever.......



Unique on our shores, this little charmer might find a following with those urban hipsters. If golf clubs would fit, I think my wife might say, sign me up. But let's get real here, we might as well start planning a few funerals, if people are holding their breath waiting for these products to appear on our shores.

But Mitsu is showing life, at least with their concepts, like the GT-PHEV (rolls of the tongue, doesn't it)......



And now they are teasing a totally new Eclipse. You remember that well liked (if not loved) little sports coupe from not so long ago? Sure you do. Well hang in there because Mitsubishi is planning to introduce a totally new Eclipse, but who cares about small sports coupes these days? Maybe not as many folks as before, so the new Eclipse will be a bit different.......


.........and true be told, a crossover makes more sense all around. Wonder about using that name though? It's like Ford dropping the Mustang, only to bring back the name on a sport ute. Sure, that would work. Either way, this new model looks up to date, so as long as the innards are also cutting edge, I'd give it a good shot at limited success.

Now, I say "limited" success, because it is still a Mitsubishi and they are gasping for air in our market. But, just as things couldn't get much worse for them, along comes a knight in shining armour, riding a white stallion, to help get Mitsu off of its North American life support. Thank you Nissan/Renault. This is the reason, I'm now backing this company and expecting a complete North American revival with a full line of quality pieces, based on the architecture found in the mother company's worldwide products. How could it go wrong?

Give it time and there will be another strong player from the east.

Until next time.......



Friday, February 17, 2017

Feb 17: Family Day weekend reads

Here we are in Toronto looking forward to the first holiday weekend of the year, Family Day long weekend. A Monday off in February, granted to folks in Ontario, to help us thru the winter and (obviously) to garner a few extra votes (it worked). So one could plan something with their family or do something much more fun, like read. Being a voracious reader, mostly non-fiction, entering the world of a new book is a treat for me. Occasionally though, good fiction presents itself, so I acquiesce to its charms. Today, I thought I'd share some classic car guy/gal reads, which open up a world most of us are probably unfamiliar with.

Let's start with something from my youth......


A nice little read about a young guy who buys a beat up old MG TC and fixes it up to become the envy of his friends. When I was about twelve or thirteen, this was a riveting read, so take my comments in the context of a young kid. Not available thru your local library? Amazon has a hardcover for $653 or a used paperback for $237. The latter might be a good bet and might be in good condition, as this was not the type of book for a young kid to read in the bathroom, if you get my drift.

Want something a bit more meaty? Something, although not worthy of a literary prize, still stands the test of time? Look no further than.......


A classic Henry Gregor Felsen book (Google him), dealing in depth with the issues of its time....... "Speed....Danger....Death!" Does it get any better than that? Almost like a Donald Trump press conference. Trying to broaden its appeal to a more upscale reader, this book was also published with a more sedate cover, but it didn't take away from the gripping story between the eye catching binding.

Hooked on the classics? Then you'll want to latch onto this read, another one by that illustrious commentator of his times, Henry Gregor Felsen.......


"They don't want to die - they just don't believe they can get killed!" Wow! I really believe that line on the cover says it all and if that doesn't doesn't make you want to grab this book, run home and start reading, well, I just don't know what will.

To my mind, anything with the word hot rod, in its title has got to be good. Although sometimes it's easy to get these masterpieces mixed up, when recommending them to others in your book club or even some casual acquaintence you met on the subway. They're all good reads, so you'll impress others with your literary knowledge and good taste, no matter which one they pick up.



Looking for something with a touch more depth? Something delving into the more compelling issues of the day? Then I heartily recommend, that you add these titles to your personal library........
























Not sure which ones have garnered those sought after literary awards, but back in the day, all the best actors and actresses wanted to be considered for starring roles, should any of these make it to the big screen. Imagine Tom Hanks or Jennifer Lawrence in Hot Rod Gang Rumble? Oscar nominations for sure.

I know many of you don't have the time or attention span for a good book, so why not pick up one of those comics devoted to our beloved car culture. The Clint Curtis series will provide moments, if not complete minutes, of top notch entertainment.


After a few of these raw stories of life in the fast lane, I believe you'll want to puruse something a little more relaxing. Something that involves stories about a normal family's road trips. With dad in his stylishly, shady chapeau and his apple pie baking, cigarette smoking wife in the back seat, these tales of life on the road are more than just fun reading.......


Follow this family's adventures, as dad takes their perfect kids out for ice cream, while mom, back at the motel, engages in, shall we say, more adult pastimes with the local truckers. This is a fun read for the entire family.

Family Day long weekend, a great time to kick back and catch up on top notch literature. Enjoy!

Until next time......



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Feb 14: Maybach again


Maybach. A name most of us car folks would associate with those gorgeous classics from the years before WW II. Cars that were like rolling sculptures. A name worth remembering, but to corporate giant Mercedes-Benz, it was also a name worth resurrecting. A name brought back to compete with rival BMW's rejuvenated Rolls Royce line. Corporate jealousy? Probably. Corporate rivalry? Definitely. So in the early 2000's, they trotted out the easily lost in a crowd and easily forgotten, ultra expensive Maybach 52/62 line. Against the prestigious Rollers, the Maybach had all the class of a sardine boat and not a new one, at that. Nothing to make it stand out, except as the ride of the spoiled offspring of  the " too much money, too fast" crowd.

After being sent to an early demise, the Maybach name plate was once again dusted off, but this time M-B did it right and simply put it on a nicely modified S Class with an interior just oozing luxury and at a much more realistic price......


Understated elegance and at about $250k Canadian, definitely more affordable than the over priced 52/62. Of course, "more affordable" is relative, but something a one hit wonder rapper could afford or even the dictator of a non oil rich African country.

But one car does not a product line make (or something like that). So once again Mercedes looked at their huge line of vehicles and pondered, what other model could benefit from the Maybach treatment and would be a good companion to the big sedan?

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?


Sure thing and a great(?) idea. Mercedes thought, let's take the G wagen, that military mainstay, that has been adopted in its jewel encrusted form by those wealthy folks looking for a unique, but clunky vehicle, that screams money. Something that says, I have so much coin, that I don't care how stupid my ride looks.

So M-B looked no further than the G wagen and decided to make this unique ride even more unique. Those aspiring rappers and African dictators can now start putting down their deposits. Ensure that they are the first ones in their hood or continent to get the Maybachized G wagen.

Behold the G650 Landaulet........


Yep, add a little length, rip off the back of the roof, spice up the interior and viola', the G650 Landaulet is born. Soon to be a mainstay of your town's richest neighbourhoods. Yes sir, now Maybach gets a sport ute to live or die for (if you are a dictator).



And who wouldn't be proud to pull up to your moneyed friends' mansions in this rolling example of how to use fine leather? Of course, those back seats beg the question, who is going to drive this thing? With those butter soft, luxurious loungers, oh so cushy throw cushions and open back end, this is an suv that absolutely screams, "Hire a chauffeur!".


The old adage, know your customer, probably applies to this new Maybach. Someone like me would never have thought up this variation of this hideous vehicle. Heck, someone like me, would never have had the G wagen leave the military. But someone deep in the heart of Mercedes saw that there was money to be made with this vehicle. Let's just hope it isn't the same person who came up with idea for the Maybach 52/62.

Until next time........