Every once in a while you find a place in your neighbourhood, operating for years, that you just never knew existed.
Hidden in an industrial area by Pearson Airport, TFX International operates almost silently transporting some of the most expensive cars on the planet all over North America.
And they aren’t just good at what they do. They are the best.
A fact that founder and Toronto native Wally Horodnyk takes seriously, as evidenced by how cutting edge his operation has become over the years.
Recently Wally invited me out to his company to check out the place and take a tour into the world of exotic car transport.
From the moment we sit down, Wally is full of information. Even better, he loves cars as much as I do.
“Let me test your knowledge,” says Wally as he rummages through the pictures on his phone. “This is one that we did recently… here it is,” showing me the phone. I look at the picture and I know it right away—a Ferrari FXX-K. A car so exclusive that even after Ferrari invites you to give them $3 million, for one of the 40 copies, it’s not road legal and remains at the factory. That’s right—you don’t get to keep it. Ferrari will however bring the car to a track day for you.
Wally’s parents came to Canada from the Ukraine with nothing, the classic immigrant story, and he’s been a hard worker his entire life. TFX International now has the largest fleet of enclosed auto transporters in the country and is one of the leading companies that do this in North America. This is a company run by a family of proud Torontonians, which makes their story of success tangible, achievable with a dream and a plan to make it a reality.
This business of transporting exotic cars came from much humbler roots. Back in 1981 Wally was equal partner in a freight brokerage service. In 1986 during times of good growth a sales rep asked him if he could pick up a car from Flint, Michigan and deliver it to Toronto. Paying $1500, significantly more than the typical $300 Wally was used to, he willingly accepted.
But to move a car you need a trailer, and he didn’t have one.
It’s a good thing for Wally, though, that his friend did and better still that he let him borrow it. Hitching it to his F-250 he picked up the car and made his way to Toronto. He made sure to take care and carefully wrap this car in blankets, to avoid scratching the paintwork during transport. His clients comically responding upon delivery that his efforts, while appreciated, were of little use.
That car was scheduled to be crash tested. It’s a funny story, true, but what actually happened here was the birth of TFX International as it is today. Wally just went to the same lengths most car enthusiasts would go to, to protect a car, even if its fate was sealed.
There was no looking back from this point. Deciding eventually, that he wanted to move cars exclusively, Wally dedicated his business to becoming amazing at doing just that.
His approach to moving cars is what sets him apart. Quite often these prized possessions can get damaged during transport, and most of the time this happens during the loading/unloading phase. Exotics are known for their curb kissing front splitters, and most are also impossibly low and wide, and it makes getting them on and off a truck quite a nerve-racking endeavour.
That’s why TFX employs only ramp loading tailgates on their giant 53 ft trailers. Basically the car gets driven up on a platform, which then gets lifted onto the trailer, minimizing any chances of damaging expensive carbon bodywork.
By the way his 30+ trucks are fit to be on a poster. Their bright cobalt blue paintwork and black trailers with the company graphics are super clean and almost exotic in their own right.
His company is one of the only ones out there that employs such precautionary methods and painstaking attention to detail. This is probably why he is the factory transporter for Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Maserati, Aston Martin, pretty much all the big names. Actually most manufacturers go to him, he’s also the official carrier for the Barrett Jackson Auctions and he moves exotics to and from the Toronto Auto Show.
Some weeks ago he emailed me, “You missed an absolutely perfect Miura pm Monday. Orange.” That’s a car that can fetch upward of a million today.
He also helps out our snowbird friends and moves their cars to the warmer southern U.S. states for the winter. A brand spanking new 911 Turbo S sat waiting in the back ready to be whisked of to meet its very lucky, likely mature, owner.
While his operation and fleet are top-notch. TFX is also very innovative. Wally showed me his drop boxes, a smaller version of his giant transporters. These remote drop to the ground in a sort of mechanical ballet allowing them to load a car without the use of ramps. This is an industry first. Wally had these designed and made in house. He’s the only one who has them, and it is one of the things that keeps him at the top.
But apart from all this, I was promised cool cars. According to Wally there is always something to see.
As we enter the warehouse one of the first cars in sight is the, quite rare, but ultra cool AMC Scrambler. Actually it’s the first one that I’ve seen in person. But right next to it sat a Ferrari BB, almost unassumingly. This flat 12 monster was one of just a couple thousand made and has risen in value exponentially in recent times.
The Ferrari F430 up ahead almost fades into the background, and looks a bit plain especially when there’s an Ariel Atom next to it, complete with a K20 Honda motor and enough power to do this to your face.
A gorgeous Nova gasser that looks like it has never been run sits next to a perfect Buick Roadmaster I watched sell recently at the Toronto Fall Classic Auction. There’s a brand new Bentley in the corner, covered completely, in shipping wrap.
Ok, I’m impressed. This is just a normal day. Apparently.
Through his years of doing this Wally has crossed paths with the who’s who of our country, moved cars for famous Hollywood celebrities and has made some of the most influential friends in the automobile industry.
Not bad for a mom and pop business, literally. Wally introduced me to his wife, the “mom” side of the equation, Christine, working away in their office.
Apparently she is the true brains of the operation and also has very good taste in cars as demonstrated by her ’66 Corvette convertible Wally pointed out in the warehouse.
If that phrase “hard work pays off” sounds like something you’ve heard, probably loudly, a million times. TFX International is real world proof that it is completely true.
Photos by Kunal D’souza