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Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Seven

The Gamma Berlina’s appearance would divide opinion. In this part, we examine the concept upon which it was inspired .

1967 Pininfarina Berlina Aerodynamica. Image: banovsky

1967 Pininfarina Berlina Aerodynamica. Image: banovsky

The styling of both Gamma variants was the responsibility of Pininfarina, a design house with a lengthy and distinguished association with the Lancia marque. While the Gamma coupé would reference themes from Lancia’s stylistic past, the scheme for the Berlina would prove a complete departure; echoing, particularly in the canopy area, the carrozzeria’s 1967 Berlina Aerodynamica, possibly the most influential saloon concept since their Lancia Florida series a decade earlier. Continue reading

Theme: Special – 1999 Buick Regal Joseph Abboud edition

From 1999 to 2004 Buick sold a version of the Regal with a trim pack supposedly designed in co-operation with the designer Joseph Abboud.

2004 Buick Regal Abboud edition: hooniverse

2004 Buick Regal Abboud edition: hooniverse

I´d have thought that designer editions would use a designer people had heard of. I am not the only one who hasn´t heard of Mr Abboud until Buick put his name all over some of their Regals.  Abboud is “the first designer to win the Council of Fashion designers of America (CFDA) award as Best Menswear Designer two years in a row in 1989 and 1990” according to Hooniverse.  Continue reading

Austerity Motoring and the Market for Hairshirts

Today is Ash Wednesday, when devout Christians wear ashes as a prelude to six weeks of Lenten privation. So as the faithful mortify themselves, we ask is there still a place for austerity in a recovering European car market?

Image: Dacia UK

White and good. Image: Dacia UK

Austerity: the ​condition of ​living without ​unnecessary things and without comfort, with​limited ​money or ​goods, or a ​practice, ​habit, or ​experience that is ​typical of this.

So goes the definition. But surely there’s a difference between offering up your Ritter Sport chocolate habit for the holy souls and replacing your over-ambitiously financed automotive indulgence with a penitential Logan? Continue reading

Theme : Special – Polishing The Crown

We look at what people do to a DTW favourite in the name of individualism

Whenever the 1971 to 1974 Toyota Crown S60 is discussed in the pages of Driven To Write, it is notable that there is a fair deal of respect and affection for it, much more than there was in the UK and US at the time of its launch. But we are discussing the stock vehicle. What is our attitude to the various modifications, small or substantial, that have been visited onto this particular version of the ‘living legend’ (to quote Toyota)? Continue reading

Theme: Special – Ford Fiesta Finesse

The Fiesta Finesse holds a very specific place in my memories. It helped me to understand that I was of the middle class. It also taught me that minor details can matter inordinately in people’s perception of things, and, in particular, cars.

Fiesta Finesse

Fiesta Finesse. Image: fiesta-mk1.co.uk

The car itself was introduced in 1983 as part of Ford’s “special edition model programme”, according to a press announcement made at the time. Looking back, this programme featured models (also including the Cortina) that just happened to be at the end of their life and so were in need of a little marketing boost to support sales. The Finesse in question was based on a Mk1, although the label appeared again on subsequent iterations. The Mk2, which was in fact a major facelift, was just around the corner. Continue reading

Reflections on Chrome II

This could have been a Picture for Sunday. Instead it´s more about materials and form. 

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Background: the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee (which is what I think this is) appeared on the world stage as a derivative of the Mercedes W-166 platform which also made its way to showrooms in 2011. That’s news to me. Did Mercedes license this? The whole of the Grand Cherokee Wikipedia entry reads like it has been airbrushed by someone with corporate interests so I have my doubts. Continue reading

What ever happened to Pininfarina?

Mahindra and Mahindra bought Pininfarina who had been losing money for quite some time. Now plans are revealed as to their future activities.

2016 XUV Aero is built with help from Pininfarina: source

2016 XUV Aero is built with help from Pininfarina: source

The XUV Aero appeared at the New Delhi Motor show. At the same time Mahindra explained that they plan to enlist Pininfarina to design a “premium” car to offer more competition in that part of the market they specialise in, SUVs. Looking at the XUV Aero here one can hope that whatever they do has more felicitous forms. There is little “aero” about this vehicle which looks like a raised hatchback with very butch wheel arches and a style which is what one might call technicalesque. They call it a vehicle that ” “takes the spirit of the cheetah and gives it an urban manifestation.” Again, there´s not much about the lithe and agile large feline in this. Automotive news says the XUV was designed with “input” from Pininfarina. That´s quite a vague description which leads one to wonder how much input was involved.

Mahindra also owns Sang Yong and Peugeot´s scooter business, bringing to three their list of loss-making ventures.

Theme: Special – 1988 MG Maestro Turbo

“Special” might not be a term that many would use in its positive sense to describe a Maestro of any kind, but I think this one deserves a mention as part of this month’s thematic celebration of that word.

1989 MG Maestro: source

1989 MG Maestro: source

I like to think that this was a car marketed with a twinkle in the eye of those involved. It was as if they knew that the public and journalists in particular would scoff at the very notion of it, and so they just added a little wry smile to the way that it was presented to the market. Continue reading

Agus Anois an Aimsir – January’s Car Sales

We ran a piece earlier this week on VW’s sales in the Republic of Ireland which was such a resounding success we decided to run another today on some of the wider trends in the Irish market for 2016. No really, it’s the least we could do…

Image via the journal.ie

The outlook is for breezes: strong ones. Image via the journal.ie

January car sales for the Republic of Ireland have been announced and as predicted show significant gains with 39,812 registrations; up 33.6% over the same period last year. Firmly in the lead is Hyundai, followed closely by Toyota and Ford. Last year’s sales winner, VW has slipped back; an Irish Times report suggesting this may be a consequence of the ongoing emissions revelations, although given VW’s sales have also risen, that’s just conjecture. Continue reading

The Deville is in the details

As a result of poking around Curbside Classics I found a photo of a car that did not deserve its Cadillac nameplate. 

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There are lots of reasons why Cadillac got into the difficulty it did. Chief among them has to be the fact many looked appalling even if they were quite nice really. This is the worst offender, supposedly launched during the Art & Science phase (which is still running): 2000-2005 DeVille (or de Ville or De Ville) Continue reading

Theme: Special – Curbside Classics covers special editions

I just love Curbside Classics. They produce fascinating nuggets of US automotive history with a fond yet critical attitude. The comments are usually very good as well.

1976 Oldsombolile Delta 88 Royal Crown Landau: curbsideclassics.com

1976 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royal Crown Landau: curbsideclassics.com

Further, they seem to have access to the catalogues of GM, Chrysler and Ford if the detail on the technical specifications are anything to by.This article deals with ten obscure special models. I notice that their use of the term applies to what I´d call trim variants that had their own badging and equipment. In Europe “special” seems to imply a plastic sticker and some cloth upholstery of questionable taste. Continue reading

1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 roadtest

During the late 1970s the motoring correspondent Archie Vicar was in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. He would fly from Heathrow to New York on Concorde, do a test drive and fly back to his next assignment in the Midlands, six times a month. This brief  article, written for the short-lived “Sports Driver & Road Monthly”, is what looks like a transcription of his impression of the 1977-and-a-half Chevrolet Camaro Z-28.

1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28: source

1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28: wikipedia.org

Photos by Karl Olsensen

[Due the poor quality of the images stock photos have been used]

What is this then? A sporty Camaro? It sounds like a contradiction in terms but somehow Chevrolet have decided to have a go at making a Camaro that can negotiate bends in the road. It still looks brash and crudely assembled in the American style. There is nothing here to scare even the most careless assembly-line workers at British Leyland. The nose cone evidently comes from a different car and the rear bumper is made of a plastic as convincing as an amputee’s orthosis. Is it a kind of American XJ-S?

The Camaro´s main mission in life is to Continue reading

Theme: Special – Golf Mk3 special editions

What a year for cars. VW Golf Mk3 replaced the Mk2 in 1991. What made it special?

1994 VW Golf New Orleans: wikipedia.org

1994 VW Golf New Orleans: wikipedia.org

Car magazine in 1994 deemed the Mk3 (as a VR6) sufficiently poorly made to warrant the re-use of their “Lemon” cover, first used in 1973. It´s interesting that Car would make a long-term test the subject of a whole front cover when they also had the opportunity to put an Aston Martin Vantge and Ferrari 456GT up front. That was then.

Perhaps criticism of the Mk3´s quality lay behind VW´s decision to launch a raft of special editions. Part of the promotional push involved sponsoring three stadium-scaled tours. In 1994 Pink Floyd received a subsidy, money which eventually might have ended up preserving David Gilmour´s collection of Ferraris. The Rolling Stones´ subvention came in 1995. And for 1996, Bon Jovi enjoyed the monetary largesse of VW´s PR department. VW designed special vinyl stickers to Continue reading

Van Of The Centuries?

A quick look at VW’s ever popular van.

VW Transporter T6 - image honestjohn.co.uk

The Current VW Transporter T6 – image honestjohn.co.uk

The Volkswagen Golf of the van world is also a Volkswagen – The Transporter. For the UK, at least, the Ford Transit might have remained the archetypal white van but social orders have changed and user expectations increased, and there’s now less chance of presenting a driver with the miserly and basic working environment that the old-school van offered. The default layout of shiny, hard, non-height-adjustable seat, semi-horizontal steering wheel and a long, wobbly gearstick, all housed in a tinny, boomy cab, was pretty mean for anyone whose experience of vans stretched beyond the occasional weekend’s hire when moving flats. Bit by bit, those everyday car extravagances such as power steering, electric windows and air conditioning have become available on vans but, until recently, the upright seating position and closer to horizontal steering position have remained on many vehicles. Continue reading

More Hot Eire? Irish VW Sales Hold Firm

Ireland’s relationship with Volkswagen is long-standing and robust, but can it weather the emissions storm? Early signs suggest it can. 

CEO for the VW Group Ireland, Simon Elliot poses with an early Dublin-assembled Beetle. Image via independent.ie

CEO for VW Group Ireland, Simon Elliot poses with a Dublin-assembled Beetle. Image via independent.ie

The relationship between Ireland and Volkswagen dates back to 1950, when motor industry pioneer, Stephen O’ Flaherty, inaugurated assembly at the Shelbourne Road facility in Dublin, making it the first plant outside Germany to build the Beetle. The very first car assembled at Ballsbridge, an oval-screen Beetle registered ZL 2286 was subsequently acquired by VW and remains on permanent display today in Wolfsburg. Always a popular make here, Volkswagen dominated 2015 new car registrations. Taken as a single brand, Volkswagen obtained 12.3% of the market, but leaped to almost 25% once Audi, Seat and Skoda were factored in. Add to this 14.2% of the light commercial vehicle market and 35% of heavy commercials and the German auto giant’s grip on the Irish market appears virtually unassailable*.
Continue reading

Theme: Special – Citroen AX K.Way

  • DTW looks at a Special Edition that was remarkable for its ordinariness.

1988-1990 Citroen AX K-way: source

I feel duty bound to contribute something on the above theme, having agitated for it a couple of themes ago. I mentioned then a particular special edition that lodged itself in my mind, kind of like a piece of apple-peel between two molars: the AX K.Way. On scraping the back of my mind as to why this particular special had held a certain fascination for me, I think it was the very fact that, come to think of it, I could not detect what exactly was so special about this edition.

In the scholastic year ’90-’91, I was a very English student attending a very French university in Paris. A direct consequence of deciding to pursue this opportunity was that I gave up ownership of a beloved AX which I had purchased and owned from new. I recall a pining for said Alpine (?) White 11RE (4-speed – I have always regretted not paying the extra for 5, in spite of being a poor-ish student) and, hence, noticing these similarly attired cars that were quite prevalent on the streets of the City of Light. Continue reading

Our cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Run by assistant acting classics news editor-at-large, Myles Gorfe. Distance covered  since December 5th 2015: zero. 

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Costs: being revised upwards.

It´s been a busy month for the Granada. Len Gudgeon at Gudgeon´s Galaxies is still working on the non-starting problem reported in September. It looks like only an engine-out-full replacement job will sort this one out and so I have got onto eBay in search of a suitable replacement. This will be a chance to match the inlet manifolds and heads. I could also opt for a lightened fly-wheel and get the spigot bearings properly right this time. I was never satisfied with them on the current engine. I reckon that´ll be somewhere between nine hundred and fifteen hundred quid. That´s well worth it and cheaper than the other options.

Last month I mentioned some rot in the central area under the cabin. With the car up on the stand it was possible to Continue reading

Alfa´s product plans for 2018 or whenever

Autocar reported on the 27th of January that Alfa Romeo´s product plans have been set back by two years. All their eight cars arrive by 2020. 

1995 Alfa Romeo Spider: wikipedia.org

1995 Alfa Romeo Spider: wikipedia.org

You can read the full text at Autocar if you are interested. I think at this point the whole Alfa Romeo thing has become a kind of extended joke. In comedy there have been two examples of the joke involving something overly prolonged and the tension of the joke running on too long. In Dead Men Don´t Wear Plaid (1982) Steve Martin´s character pours the last grains of coffee out a bag and the grains never quite Continue reading

Theme : Special – Introduction

The Editor wonders what is so special about being special.

Acura Badge

After last month’s Theme, Glamour, which drew a rather timid response, my team has chosen a theme that throws a wider net, and that they consider will be a sure-fire success.

I shamelessly admit that I was cheered at the low interest of Driven To Write’s contributors in the theme of Glamour. There are many motoring organs whose staff feel at their most comfortable seated in the Louis Vuitton tent at a concour d’elegance, sipping Moet & Chandon as they exchange bon mots with Mr Brian Ferry, but Driven To Write’s members are not among them. For all our literary pretensions, we pride ourselves that our feet remain firmly planted in the gutter of mass production. Continue reading

What aren´t we writing about?

Driven To Write´s back catalogue is now enormous. There are more than 1000 articles, covering subjects as diverse as Fords, Granadas and Mondeos. But are we missing something?

1980 Lancia Trevi 4

Is there, to be brief, something we are not talking about that you think we should?  A while back I ran a series which aimed to look at what I wasn´t writing about and why. After I exhausted that, I left the matter rest for a while. Things I haven´t written about all that much include the VW diesel fiasco, sales figures and market share and I haven´t reviewed a car for a while. I only briefly discussed the colour palette at the Detroit motor show along with a brief discussion of Lincoln and Buick´s launches. Porsche? Ferrari? No. Audi? Nearly nothing. Infotainment? Little.  Many other websites might Continue reading

Toyota takes over Daihatsu

We all like Daihatsu for their original concept cars and useful small cars. Except the Europeans, of course. Toyota have decided now is the time to pounce

2015 Daihatsu Hinata: www.japanbullet.com

2015 Daihatsu Hinata: www.japanbullet.com

According to Autocar, DaihatsuReuters, Bloomberg, AutoExpress, Japan Times, and the Washington Post, Toyota have raised their stake in the firm by purchasing $3.2 billion of the remaining shares. The argument runs that Toyota needs Daihatsu´s talent at building small cars. Toyota feels it lacks this capacity while Daihatsu could benefit from being smothered inside a large firm. Reuter describes the deal as follows: “Toyota Motor Corp. will aim to transform Daihatsu Motor Co. from a maker of small cars that used to deter their owners from going out on dates into a brand as valued as BMW AG’s Mini.” The difference here is that Daihatu doesn´t Continue reading

Gorfe´s Granadas 1985 Ford Granada 2.8 GL estate

Among those in the know, a Mk2 Ford Granada is recognized for its space, speed and quality, writes Myles Gorfe, our senior acting classics sub-editorial assistant.

1985 Ford Granada 2.8 V6 estate interior: source

1985 Ford Granada 2.8 V6 estate interior: source

For sale for a modest £3,950  here´s a lovely 1985 Granny in white, with fog lamps, factory alloys and a factory windscreen. It just doesn´t get any better than this ever, really. Some people might be looking into an old W-123 Merc or maybe a Volvo 740 but those cars are over-rated, lumbering and over-priced. They don´t even look as smart as the Ford either. The Merc is dated and the Volvo too square-rigged and American.  So, what do you get with an ´85 Granny estate? You get to Continue reading

Ford posts a profit in Europe

What does this obscure headline mean?

2016 Ford Vignale - is it contributing to Ford´s bottom line? Image: autoexpress.co.uk

2016 Ford Vignale – is it contributing to Ford´s bottom line? Image: autoexpress.co.uk

It means that Ford posted a profit in Europe. The news emerged as part of a general wash of favourable financial results. ““We promised a breakthrough year in 2015, and we delivered. In 2016, we will continue to build on our strengths and accelerate our pace of progress even further, while transforming Ford into both an auto and a mobility company and creating value for all of our stakeholders,” said Mark Fields, Ford President and CEO. Among the eleven bullet points, the bit about Europe was mid-way down and came with no further elucidation. I went to Ford´s EU news portal and was introduced to Olivier Pla.  Then I had the bright idea to Continue reading

More Gestalt Revisionism

Yesterday we ran a small celebration of the Citroen ZX. Here´s a small gallery…

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…showing the car as it is, with some window-lines marked up and then some small revisions which I think are in keeping with the designs of the period. The third side glass is neither fully alligned with the lines from the main DLO nor is it markedly different. I chose to to make it more clearly different.  Continue reading

Gorfe´s Granadas: 1983 Ford Granada 2.8 GL estate

Among the very best of an already outstanding crop, this. An estate of the highest quality, writes Myles Gorfe who is now Driven To Write´s assistant classic cars editor-at-large

Top of the top drawer:  classic cars for sale.co.uk

Top of the top drawer: classic cars for sale.co.uk

If Merc, Volvo and Peugeot thought they had the estate market tied up, Ford was there to remind them that they were well wrong. Ford´s outstandingly roomy cruiser also showed Saab that offering a big hatchback was not going to cut it, and not when it was only front wheel drive. If you wanted more room in a car, you had to have a Transit and that was a Ford too.

This example is the pick of the bunch, a pure white car with only 170,554 miles on the clock. Did I mention the Granada´s famous  clock? Continue reading

A quarter century of the unexceptional Citroen ZX

Let´s look back at a quarter of a century of disappointment from Citroen. The ZX is 25 years old today.

1991 Citroen ZX: motorstown.com

1991 Citroen ZX: motorstown.com

Such was the let-down of seeing the first photos of the Citroen ZX that I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at that moment. You don´t normally remember this kind of thing. Continue reading

FLAgrant Assumptions

Porsche begets Pacer, begets Porsche. Nice theory, if it held water.

1975 AMC Pacer. Image via oppositelock

1975 AMC Pacer. Image via oppositelock

Before going any further, I have to point out my experience of the American auto industry is scant, apart perhaps from some surface level intelligence any motor enthusiast worth his automotive archive would be privy to. But assumptions can make fools of us all, especially when knowledge is spread thinly. Continue reading

Theme: Glamour – Motor Shows

I´ve been to just two motor shows and I found nothing glamorous about the aching feet and expanse of leased carpet. (It´s a coincidence that we posted an essay on this topic only yesterday. Simon Kearne, the editor, asked for more articles on this theme so I feel I must oblige even if it means a repeat. That said, Sean took a different tack and if you don´t like his dry, elegant style you can sample my self-consciously writerly gimmicks and see if you prefer that approach).

2011 Berton B99:d-talks.com

2011 Bertone B99:d-talks.com

As a regular paying customer to the pompously named Automobile Salons you don´t see a great deal of the same visual excitement as the press do on the opening days. The models have usually gone away and the folks stalking the stands only want to harden the sell. They don´t even want to give away brochures let alone allow you into the car (if it’s a fancy one). They can see your bulging plastic bag full of souvenirs and the welts on your hands. Real buyers might have one brochure tucked under their suited elbow.

A proper Automobile Salon would feature luminaries perched on dainty chairs encircling a new concept car. They would exchange catty witticisms and propound their theories in chapter length sentences. We, the proletariat, could Continue reading

Oh no, not again

Everyone else is doing it so why can´t we? That was the plaintive question asked by Irish folk-rock-pop balladeers the Cranberries in 1993.

2016 Cadillac CT6: caranddriver.com

2016 Cadillac CT6: caranddriver.com

The Cranberry question applies to Ford´s Lincoln division who must be squirming in their corporate seats. The Genesis G90 saloon will be sold with a V8 as we well know and it looks the part. The other day Car & Driver revealed more details of the V8 Cadillac will be fitting to their CT6 which also looks the part. Considering that Genesis is a newish entrant in the upscale V8 market and that Cadillac is selling fewer cars than they were a decade ago (and so short of cash), Ford´s unwillingness to Continue reading

Theme : Glamour – It’s Showtime!

Motor Shows – A Litany Of Broken Promises

Auto China 2010 - image Feng Li/Getty Images

Auto China 2010 – image Feng Li/Getty Images

I’ve not been to a Motor Show for ages. I went to a few many years ago, when they were at Earls Court each Autumn. All I got was a pain in my chest and a load of brochures. I don’t miss them. Cars just seem different at shows. The lights show up everything, so they are polished relentlessly. They look perfect, and that’s probably why I don’t want to see them under such circumstances.

Continue reading

Theme: Glamour – Car Designers

There´s nothing like spending weeks at meetings to discuss technical issues of draft angles, paint finishes and packaging requirements. Car design isn´t all glamour.

Malcolm Ward of Opel explains a design detail: opelpost.com

Malcolm Ward of Opel explains a design detail: opelpost.com

But it has that too. Car designers get to see and shape the future, travel to car shows in nice cities and Detroit and wear striking shirts as well. Like the performing arts, car design mixes episodes of gruelling tedium with bursts of flamboyant style . Creativity is really about doing something very boring for a very long time so that someone else gets a nice visual surprise. The shirts, car shows and interviews are a payoff for all the drudgery that is required up to the point the project is revealed.  Continue reading

The Ulm Design School and Mercedes

Is this the best car there will ever be?

1991 Mercedes S-class: austere, robust and big.

1991 Mercedes S-class: austere, robust and big: bestcarmag.com

Just before Christmas I took a train trip, the last direct rail service from Aarhus to Berlin, itself part of the discontinued direct Copenhagen to Berlin service. Determining the fate of this service was Deutsche Bahn´s decision to phase out diesel trains. The ICE train running the Aarhus-Berlin route remained the only diesel main line train in Germany. The diesel carriages have no future in Germany and, as far I know will either be sold or scrapped. We won´t the see trains like this again. Apart from being a rather heavy consumer of fuel, the train set seemed to me to be the rail equivalent of the 1991 S-Class. Do they have something in common besides size and a propensity to consume fuel while in motion? Continue reading

Bereft in Deathly Bloom? Not Bloody Likely

As Lancia posts another vaguely respectable sales performance, where’s an automotive van Helsing when you need one?

 Image via southernwinesblog

Image via southernwinesblog

I don’t know about you people but I’ve had just about enough of Lancia. I’m worn out from the serial indignities foisted upon this proud marque, sick to the eyeteeth of Sergio Marchionne’s platitudes and inaction. I just want the pain to end. But for those of us who’d prefer to see Lancia’s drooling remains smothered with its own pillow, the past two years have offered little by way of consolation. Continue reading

Theme: Glamour – A Very Irish Coupé

Tainted Love: There wasn’t a lot of glamour to be found in 1970’s Ireland. Not too many coupé’s either. (Originally published on 23 February 2014)

Image via autobild.de

The smiles are deceptive. Nuala and Rory mostly communicate through the medium of silence. Image via autobild.de

The coupé evokes a variety of adjectives in our automotive lexicon, most of which we broadly aspire to; words like glamour, sophistication, affluence. As an ideal it’s suffused with images of impossibly salubrious locations; languid cocktails on the shores of Lake Como, nibbling swan canapés on the Croisette, driving west on Sunset. So from the foregoing it’s fairly safe to assume that Ireland is not a place that readily springs to mind when the subject of the coupé is raised over the hors d’oeuvres. Continue reading

Sommer´s Automobile Museum, Part 2

In Part 1 I made it as far as the Lancia Flaminia and not much further. In this instalment I will kick and jostle myself so I can cover more ground in fewer words.

1956 Lancia Appia

1956 Lancia Appia

This is the 1965 Lancia Appia with its impressive door closures and very lovely form. And if we  Continue reading

A history!

Most of the effort in preparing this is in the image. It shows the number of times per year that exclamation points appeared on the front cover of Car magazine.

Editors of Car 1997 to 2015 set against the use of exclamation points on the front cover of the magazine.

1998 to 2015 (horizontal axis) set against the use of exclamation points (vertical axis) on the front cover of the magazine. Also marked are the changes in editor.

The reason I have chosen to analyse Car is that I have a continuous collection from 1998 to hand. I might later go and do a control and see how other magazines´use has changed over time.

I have added to additional thin lines to the main curve. One shows the approximated increase in the use of exclamation points prior to Bauer´s purchase of Car from Emap. The other shows the approximate general trend in the use of the exclamation point after that time. Much of this increase is down to the use of exclamation points in lists of the cars featured in the magazine on the cover. Instead of: BMW M3. Honda Jazz. Audi A4 – this kind of list is now presented as: “BMW M3! Honda Jazz! Audi A4!” (minus the quote marks).

Some months still had no exclamation points at all. In the period up to 2000 some years had no exclamation points at all.

What does this mean?

2016 Detroit Motor Show colour analysis

This is part of Driven To Write´s unique service. Normally colour analyses are expensive and hard-to-get proprietary information. We give it away for free. 

2016 Detroit Motor Show colour analysis

2016 Detroit Auto Show colour analysis

It´s probably not comprehensive. Gizmag kindly put together a slide show of the most important cars and I added to the list with some Google image searches of brands they didn´t cover in their slide show. Did Cadillac really not show anything of note?

Hyundai isn´t on my chart. If they were, it would have been another white car. Toyota showed a Continue reading

Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup

David and Goliath? This question springs to mind in this report of life with a RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup.

The modern SUV. Image: thisiswhyimbroke.com

I once shared a university house with a man who studied Physics. He was tremendously good at it. As a lazy English student, I envied the clarity of his thought processes, of his ability to harness complex mathematics to make sense of the forces that shape our world. Meanwhile, I struggled to marshal the energy to make a toasted cheese sandwich. (And this despite me keeping a Breville sandwich toaster on my bedside table. And my bedside table being a mini fridge liberated from a caravan, filled with cheese and booze.) Continue reading

2017 Lincoln Continental facelift

Further to our discussion of the visual attributes of the 2017 Lincoln Continental, here is a view of the current car and one where I generously added more length front and back.

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Put together like this you can see how wrong the Lincoln really is. There is no point in making Lincolns off Ford platforms. They should do it the other way around. It looks like the front wheel is about half a wheel´s diameter too far back on the existing design. It could be that my version would be too long in reality. It just shows you can´t design a car piecemeal. Proportions matter.

Two takes on the American large car

One is from a Korean company and one is by an American company. 

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I have to say the Lincoln does not come out well in this little competition. It is missing visual mass at the front. The Genesis might not be innovative in any particular way. On the other hand all the details are right and the proportions spot on. Ford´s accountants hamstring their designers who, I am very sure, don´t want to draw cars with side views like this Lincoln. I have a feeling the Genesis´brightwork at the C-pillar is done more pleasingly than usual. I hate seeing a join there. The metal should go around the corner without interuption. Often there is a break to accomodate a version with chrome on the window sill, or chrome over the top of the window or chrome all the way around the DLO.

[The Genesis image source. Lincoln image source.]

Sega to Saga: Ford’s Kompromised Ka

The forthcoming junior Ford represents the model’s biggest creative departure since the original version debuted twenty years ago. But is it really a Ka at all?

Nu-Ka - coming soon. Image: mostreliablecarbrands

Nu-Ka – coming soon. Image: mostreliablecarbrands

The original Ford Ka was a landmark small car. Intelligently designed, if poorly built; it sold strongly despite being saddled with an asthmatic nail of engine and a spectacularly rust-prone body. But in a sector up 10% over the first nine months of 2015, the current Ka held a less than mighty 13th position in the minicar sales table, with the Smart Forfour and Skoda Citigo nipping its heels. Continue reading

What could this be?

Yesterday we showed the Lincoln Continental interior. Now we have this. Some of you may know what this is, shown at the Detroit motor show this year. If you do know, wait a while for others to guess. What is it?

What´s this? (Source: gizmag.com)

What´s this? (Source: gizmag.com)

My point is that this interior does not look remotely like its a concept and it looks quite fabulous. They are getting the hang of what do with those touch screens. Rather than have a slab stuck in a conventional cliffscape of buttons everything is enclosed on a smooth surface. It looks as if it works. Whether it does is another matter. My inner ergonomist might end up loathing this car. For the moment I can say it has a great visual coherence to it.

When the dust clears

It´s only with a good bit of hindsight can you see what has really happened. 

1995 Buick LeSabre: cardomain.com

1995 Buick LeSabre: cardomain.com

When I started writing about Opel and Buick my view of the relationship rested on the idea that if Opel could provide some useful platforms to Buick then that would be a good thing. I recently noted that not only are Buicks not wholly designed in America but in future may not be made there. Continue reading

Sommer´s Automobile Museum Part 1

Recently I promised to write more about my visit to the Sommer´s Automobile Museum in Nærum, outside Copenhagen. Today I´ll introduce the museum and the first car that drew my fascinated gaze.

Ole Sommer´s Car Museum, Næerum, Denmark

Ole Sommer´s Automobile Museum, Nærum, Denmark

You can read more about the museum´s history here.  My brief overview is that the collection dates back to the 50s but was gathered together under one roof in 1980. Since then it has moved to a dedicated building near Ole Sommer´s former dealership. The Sommer collection is made up of a mix of Swedish, Italian and British cars, reflecting Sommer´s commercial activities as well as personal interests. The Italian section includes Lancias, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos. Continue reading

Be careful what you wish for II

In December 2014 we ran an item about the changing styles of luxury car interiors. 

2017 Lincoln Continental interior in its Rhapsody form.

2017 Lincoln Continental interior in its Rhapsody form: caranddriver.com

A year or so later we find someone answering our calls.

In an article about how Lincoln do not want to copy the Germans, there is also discussion of the Lincoln Continental´s blue interior option. Here is a chance then to see if blue interiors are something that appeal to anyone other than automotive design commentators. My impression is that this is a welcome bit of bravery on the part of Lincoln. The all-blue colourway creates a very pleasant atmosphere that manages to Continue reading

1972 Toyota Crown: what did the reviewers think?

As promised, here is a small fillet of Motor (July 1972) who took the time and trouble almost 44 years ago to prepare a review of the Toyota Crown estate.

1972 Toyota Crown Estate: flickriver

1972 Toyota Crown Estate: flickriver

Images of this car are rather hard to come by and few of the cars remain. If you are aesthetically sensitive be careful searching for photos because for some reason a worrying number of them feature inappropriate wheels and a lowered ride-height.

What did Motor have to say in 1972? Continue reading

20 years of the Rover 200

Happy 20th anniversary, Rover 200. Or is 21st anniversary?

1995 or 1996 Rover 200: Autocar

1995 or 1996 Rover 200: Autocar

Around about this time 20 years ago Rover enjoyed the beginnings of renaissance. We all know where that ended. It ended in a story that classic car journalists like because they can rake over and ask “what if” as they swirl madeira in their glasses.

This image is from the front cover of Autocar, January 17, 1996. It´s one of the first reviews, perhaps. Either way. Water. Bridge. Under. A lot of. The article pitted the Rover 214 against the new Fiat Bravo. I´d like to say which one won but in the end neither did. Fiat admit the Bravo was competitive for about the first two years before swiftly being relegated to also-ran status.

Was there anything wrong with the 200? A friend of mine had a Rover 200 and I noticed how cramped it was in the back compared to my recently departed (then) Peugeot 205 which happened to Continue reading

Whither Buick and Opel?

At the Detroit Auto show Buick showed off the rather handsome Avista concept car which is based on Chevrolet’s Camaro. 

2016 Buick Avista blue front

Buick Avista: automobilemag.com

And at Geneva ’16, Opel is planning to show off a GT inspired by the GT of the 1960s, a car many admired for its pretty styling.

I´ve lumped Buick and Opel together because these days they are interchangeable (for better and for worse). When the Avista was revealed I immediately saw that the Tristar badge could be replaced by an Opel propeller flash if something like the Avista was sold in Europe. This would be a good thing because the Avista would be a Buick first and an Opel second. For too long the traffic has been from Rüsselsheim to Detroit and at this stage Buick is a nameplate lacking its own identity, nice and all as some of those Buickised Opels are.  Continue reading

Horror vacui: more C-pillar madness

Evidently the C-pillar invites useless decoration. Here are four examples of the meaningless groove.

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The first one is the 2005 Mercedes ML-class which was the first one I noticed. The aim is evidently to lead the eye from one place to another, and to draw one´s attention to the felicitous alignment of shapes. We have discussed the 2004 Ssang Yong Rodius before: the aim is hard to fathom as it gets in the way of understanding that the rear graphics are supposed to recall the essence of luxury yacht. More recently (seen within days of each other) I present two more. One is on the current Kia Ceed and the other on the Renault Captur. The Captur’s groove is there for the same reason as the Mercedes: we are thought to be too slow-witted to see the way the edges of the side glass and rear black filler gadget are so beautifully in accord. Seen in the context of the others here, the Kia´s groove is the hardest to fathom. It connects nothing that seems to want to be joined up: a bend in the window frame and a pointy wedge of plastic.

Isn´t the conceptual similarity of the Mercedes and Ssang Yong quite remarkable?

[The text was amended Jan 17 2016 at 20.42 to correct rhe model of Renault; it was a Captur and not a Clio as stated.]

The Superb Skoda – a Mixed Blessing

It looks rather nice from afar but is it a car to ever really love, asks SV Robinson.

2015 Skoda Superb.jpeg

20105 Skoda Suberb: newdaypost

The other morning I had the pleasure of parking up at Milton Keynes Central Station car park early, and was struck by the profile and form of the two cars between which I had inserted my C6 (I still can’t drive a manual, which is no significant hardship really, but now I’m threatened once again with immobility as the Citroen’s power steering is definitely on the blink – there always seems to Continue reading