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2013 Chevrolet SparkGM

More than 10 years after American new-car dealer invoice prices appeared online for free, a new Canadian website is uncovering the price dealers pay manufacturers for the vehicles they then resell to car buyers.

And many consumers will be surprised how little difference there is between the two prices, especially at the lower end of the market.

New dealer auction site is making the invoice prices available for free, instead of selling them as sites such as do, because it hopes the information will spur consumers to use its paid dealer auction service.

With the $99 paid service, the vehicle you spec out is sent out to the closest dealers around your postal code. The dealerships then bid their best price for that vehicle, or with options/colours close to it, over the next three days. At that point, you look over the offers, choose your quote and confirm it online with the site and the dealership with a $250 deposit online. This allows the dealership to start processing the paperwork without you having to be there, while the buyer can walk in with the quote and walk out with the car, with no haggling necessary.

There is also a provision to test-drive the car beforehand, which is always a good idea.

A quick test drive of both the free service and the paid one provided some interesting observations. With the free invoice price, you basically get what you pay for: a minimal listing of the MSRP and invoice cost of the car at your chosen trim level, plus the list prices and invoice costs for any further options selected.

The site also makes it clear that you may receive an e-mail or phone call from local dealers with offers on your chosen car. But still, it told me that a 2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS with the automatic has a dealer invoice cost of $19,772, compared to an MSRP of $20,999.

The paid service added the even more useful info that a dealer in my area agreed to sell this car to a buyer recently for $19,999, before freight and taxes. Three other bids were all in the mid-$20,000 range, obviously reflecting the popularity of the Elantra in the market right now. So it does seem a handy way to quickly establish who has the best price on the car you want.

Not all dealerships participate in quoting offers, and the service doesn't work well in areas with only one dealership within several hundred kilometres, site co-founder Andrew Tai admits. But Tai said it has dealer networks in major urban centres across the country, with the majority of customers in the greater Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa areas.

* Clarification: The story above was changed on November 13, 2013 to reflect the current price of's services.


Ford debuts 650-hp Shelby GT500

Ford debuted a shockingly powerful 650 hp Shelby GT500 Mustang this week, and the pony car wars may never be the same again.

Done in response to the upcoming 580 hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the 2013 Shelby GT500 Mustang doesn't just trump the Camaro ZL1's already mighty power figures, it takes the Mustang up into the realm of the priciest exotic supercars from Ferrari and Lamborghini. It also surpasses the figures of Chevy's priciest and most powerful performance car, the $130,000 Corvette ZR1, which makes 638 hp.

Ford boasts that the 2013 GT500 features the most powerful V-8 in the world, its supercharged 650 hp 5.8-litre engine cranking out 600 lb-ft of torque as well. For comparison's sake, the only current Lamborghini that is more powerful is the $430,000 (Canadian) Aventador, and it boasts a 6.5-litre V-12 engine – with much less torque than the new GT500.

Ford insists it has tuned the rest of the car to handle the extra 100 horses over the current Shelby GT500, with available Bilstein electronic dampers, up-rated Brembo brakes and a beefed-up six-speed manual transmission that includes a launch control system. Top speed is more than 200 mph (322 km/h), says Ford, with the car slated to go on sale next year.

Camaro ZL1 convertible unveiled

GM unveiled the convertible version of its 580-hp Camaro ZL1 this week, confirming that Chevrolet's about a year away from delivering one of the world's most powerful production drop-tops.

Both Ford and GM debuted their most powerful muscle cars at the Los Angeles auto show this week, which ironically presents itself as the "greenest" of the major international auto shows.

Chevrolet had already released photos and info on the tire-shredding Camaro ZL1 convertible, complete with a rundown of exotic four-seat drop-tops that it now trumps in power, including the Aston Martin DB9 Volante and the Porsche 911 Turbo S. It had also placed the 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 on that list.

But with the announcement of the new Ford GT500 coupe, it seems a safe bet that Ford will drop the 650-hp monster engine into a drop-top Shelby GT500, perhaps by the time the Camaro ZL1 convertible launches in late 2012.

All Camaro ZL1 models will be produced at the Oshawa, Ont., assembly plant that also produces the base V-6 and non-supercharged Camaro V-8 models.

The ZL1 coupe is slated to hit dealers in the spring, with both coupe and convertible to receive advanced third-generation Magnetic Ride Control, which electronically modifies the shocks up to 1,000 times per second towards the driver's chosen ride-performance ratio. The ZL1 will also offer the same Performance Traction Management system as the Corvette ZR1, Chevy's high-speed halo vehicle, which integrates this magnetic ride control with launch control, traction control and electronic stability control that offer track-friendly settings.

Chevy shows off sub-subcompact Spark

How small can you go in North America? That's the question Chevrolet will attempt to answer with its Spark, a smaller five-door city car than the recently released subcompact Aveo hatchback.

Unveiled at the L.A. auto show on Wednesday, Nov. 16, GM looks to have the Scion iQ and Fiat 500 in its sights with the Spark, aiming it at young urban types without a lot of cash or room to park. It will offer 10 air bags, a 1.2-litre four making 85 hp, and either a manual five-speed or four-speed automatic.

The brashly styled Spark has huge headlights that stretch from its bumper to its windshield, and will be available in colours that include Lemonade and Techno Pink. Already on sale in much of the rest of the world, the tweaked North American version is set to hit the market in mid-2012.

*The first story was changed on November 13, 2013 to reflect the current price of's services.