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Will this theme not tire us all? This BMW i3 caught my eye because of the novel arrangment of the bumper and bodysides.
Another element is the way the tailgate covers the lights. Audi have deployed this on some of their Q-series SUVs and good old Opel have managed it on their delightful Insignia estate. I have some history with this feature: as a newbie-designer (in 2002) I proposed this concept for a saloon and was told it was “not feasible”. Note to other designers, unless the laws of physics are challenged, everything is feasible given time and money. Always dispute the power of “no.”
This month your correspondent gets himself into a lather over the XF’s styling.
I’ve always considered the XF to be a handsome car, even if I had assumed it was something of a stopgap design; a stepping stone from the failed nostalgia of the S-Type to something more aesthetically robust. But confronted with the knowledge it now embodies the true north of Jaguar saloon style has led me to re-engage with the car’s appearance in a way I might otherwise have sidestepped. Continue reading
Want a car as solid and durable as the Mercedes W-123 but nicer to drive? Look no further than this car and look past the lack of chrome.
Forty years ago Peugeot presented the 604 and attempted to gain entrance to the prestigious large car market. That didn´t work out, despite review after review praising the car´s ride quality, steering comfort and commendably huge boot. In 1995 the 406, a class down from the 604 but similarly dimensioned, replaced the well-respected and successful 405. As in the cases of the 604 and 405 journalists wrote highly of the Pininfarina-designed 406 which carried on the best aspects of the 405 and improved on it in many areas. It was well-built, reliable and did very well in many comparisons and single-car tests. Even the V6 version garnered compliments, with Car magazine´s John Simister judging the engine and chassis to be a very good combination and declaring it the best version Peugeot sold. In a long-term test, Car asked how long manufacturers such as BMW could Continue reading
This is refreshing. The image below is not the new Renault Megane to be launched on September the 15th. It´s a picture made up by someone good at Photoshop.
The news today is that after the launch of the new Giulia, Alfa Romeo promises, no really promises – and they mean it this time – to launch a new model every six months.
The table above holds a lot of question marks as soon as it reaches the dim future time known as 2018. The following year´s plan is hard to read because there is a car pasted into the image. Fiat´s plans are rather flimsy. In 2016 and 2017 Fiat dealers will have “refreshed” versions of the 500 and 500L. Did you know that by 2016 the 500 will have been on sale since the death of William Gladstone. It is older than the hills.
You can take a look at an old product plan here to see that since 2014 the new Spider and new D-class SUV were supposed to have been on sale. What value this new product plan?
The Editor Looks At Wheels
The Wheel has been around for at least five-and-a-half millennia yet, even in my very distant youth, its end seemed to be in sight. The Car Of The Future would surely fly, suspended possibly by air, jet motors or magnets. But here we are, well into the 21st Century, and The Wheel still reigns. Just as on Daimler’s first petrol-powered, converted carriage of 1886, four wheels remain the norm, five if you count a spare, three if you own various Reliant or Morgan models.
The wheel is your sole contact with the road and is, in many ways, the most critical part of your car. It is a major contributor to the safety and character of a vehicle, yet many drivers give it little thought. True, some enthusiasts are wheel fetishists but, from the majority, it gets cursory attention except when the time comes to re-clad it in the cheapest tyres available.
This month we aim to give The Wheel the respect and attention it deserves.
The Chrysler 300M front end needed serious revision. As it stood it was crudely executed. This diagram shows an alternative schematic break up of the front wing, headlamp and bumper.
In essence, the graphics asked questions the engineering department could not deal with and the actual solution defeated the graphics. It is tempting to say the graphics were not really feasible. Continue reading
We really went at this topic with gusto. Did we learn anything?
Our esteemed editor Simon introduced the topic and noted that panel gaps or shutlines at their best become a positive part of the design and not are merely an interruption. And we spent the best part of the month demonstrating all the ways to get it wrong. Sean noted the problem of getting the wheel arch and door shutlines to relate properly Should they follow the arch or should they Continue reading
Those were the days! 2002 and people still smoked in the back of their cars. This is how Mercedes catered to the self-medicating nicotine user.
There is a lot of work involved in designing and engineering one of these. Even by 2002 this was here not because anyone expected them to be used much but because it was expected, a nicety, a sign someone cared. I must report that the action of this example was not very finely damped. It sprang out with undue haste. The Lancia Thesis has a much nicer ashtray based on a similar concept of the horizontal hinge. I don´t think this ashtray is illuminated but if anyone knows, please contact me. I think it could be bigger as well. Just saying.
The story of the Lancia Gamma is etched in automotive folklore, but received wisdom only skims the surface. In this series, we delve into the Gamma’s difficult birth and inglorious career.
Death by a thousand Fiats: Fiat’s stewardship of Lancia has been shameful, so it’s difficult now to imagine the road to perdition being paved with good intentions. Because if nothing else, the Gamma stands as a prime example of how mergers and acquisitions never quite work out. Continue reading
Some manufacturers today use a large plastic moulding as a front mask that includes bumper as well as radiator grille. A solution I appreciate for its simplicity and which can be pleasing to look at – but beware the pitfalls!
Not long ago, we discussed an odd triangle, trapped between shutlines, panel folds and functional elements. The object in question was the 2014 Lexus IS’s rear door. I was reminded of this discussion when I saw a short article in my local newspaper about the new Jaguar XF. There it was again – between headlight, bonnet shutline and radiator bulge. Continue reading
Once upon a time, whilst Mercedes and BMW were attracting critical scorn for their new styling directions (some deserved, some not) over at Audi they couldn’t put a foot wrong. See how they treated the rear side shutlines on the A2. The front wheelarch blister is defined by an inset crease. The rear blister appears the same but, so as not to spoil the balance, the rear door shutline is continued all the way round the arch – the blister is a separate panel. See also how the A pillar flows all the way round to the rear without any door cutouts in it. All the side glasses have the same size border trims. Continue reading
This is what I think the 2006 Lexus IS ought to have looked like:
The seller placed this ad in January and the car is still for sale despite the promise of a complete lack of rust.
According to the spiel, the car came from Switzerland three years ago. The car has had a new timing belt fitted, its wheels renovated and the ashtray emptied. It even has a full Danish motor certificate which is a guarantee the underbody is sound. Alas, one of the engine´s valves has blown and the owner has not had the strength of character to get around to wanting to Continue reading
Five million cars have a keyless ignition system. 13 deaths are attributed to the technology. Lawyers are on the case, reports the Guardian.
Some years ago I rented a Renault Megane. Much to my surprise I was able to get out of the car clutching the key card and walk away. The vehicle was still running. That confirmed for me the essential riskiness of the key-less ignition system and since then nobody´s been able to offer a good justification for them. Continue reading
Does Ford really think that this is acceptable?
Caution : Viewer Discretion Required.
Throughout the month I have been accumulating images with a view to presenting a rogue’s gallery of bad shutlines. Never one to run from the crude and obvious, I had intended giving the post the title of ‘Shitelines’.
However, when I look at my collection, one stands out in my view so much that it deserves its own post. That a major manufacturer who employs some of the best trained designers could have produced something as ugly and inept as the rear light treatment of the current Focus doesn’t just surprise me – it offends me. The left lamp treatment is bad enough, particularly where the rather wide shutline of the hatchback meets it. But the right hand lamp, with the half-arsed attempt to merge the shape of the fuel flap into the shape of the lens is ….. beyond any excuse. The ubiquity of this car means that I have to see it every day, and time has not endeared it, quite the opposite.
I can’t really say any more.
Why do they do this? Yes, everyone has duly reported the story and shown a photo of the new Sportage. But not us.
That´s the current Sportage you see there, courtesy of Kia´s UK website. Continue reading
We were discussing the merits of various car interiors recently. Here’s an example of putting the passengers’ interests high on the priority list.
In a way Volvo is or was Europe’s Buick, appealing to a certain type of middle-class buyer. The cars aren’t dynamic but are dependable and aim or aimed for comfort over style. Interestingly, Volvos as used cars never seem to end up as pimped wheels or to attract the same clientele as 15 year old BMWs and 20 year old mass-market saloons. They always remain firmly in the bosom of the bourgeoisie. Continue reading
Oshkosh Corporation, an American defence supplier, has won a substantial contract to build the replacement for the Hummer.
This isn’t the usual DTW fair, but I thought I would draw your attention to one of the more extreme ends of the wheeled-vehicle spectrum.
Defense News reported that Oshkosh Corporation have won a $30bn dollar contract to design and build a vehicle capable of replacing the Hummer. Lockheed Martin and AM General also bid for the contract and presumably their lawyers are working around all available clocks to find a way to Continue reading
Bristol Is A Foreign Country …
… They Do Things Differently There.
Here at DTW, we have always held Bristol in great respect. If we haven’t written about them that much over the past couple of years, that’s because neither have they. What, if anything, will come from this silence, who knows, but if and when they re-emerge, will they maintain any of their idiosyncratic past?
Bristol, of course, made much of their aviation heritage. I’ve always felt that should be put into perspective. The Bristol Car Company was always a separate entity from the plane business and, although there might have been some synergy, it doesn’t follow. In truth the aeronautical heritage was more of a marketing tool but, to consider Bristol’s post war aeronautical output, let’s look at two planes. Continue reading
Further to recent discussions I thought I would post a small image of the interior of the 1984 Buick Century. This is pretty much the car that cemented my impressions of Buick.
There´s a rather good article here if you want to read more.
Here is the C-pillar of the Volvo. I imagine all that welding and pressing made it unimaginably strong at the very least. There is a sharp groove at the base of the C-pillar and furthermore another join up at the top of the C-pillar. This triangular patch is held on with a screw. Note the window has four rounded corners and is not bonded into place.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at shutlines this past month…
… and one thing inevitably leads to another, so today we’re taking a (not particularly comprehensive) look at how manufacturers used to deal with another, often tricky junction. The one at the base of the C-pillar.
The Mild One Writes – Why do I ride motorcycles?
I was never a biker as a youth, which is good and bad. Good because that is the time you’re most likely to kill yourself, bad because that is the time you best hone the athleticism necessary to really ride a bike naturally. I’ve owned bikes since I was 30, except for a period when I sold a cherished bike in a fit of self-punishment and held off replacing it for several years. I still don’t really think of myself as a ‘biker’. That term involves a bit more commitment I guess – and also a desire to wear luridly striped leathers and a crash helmet that offers free advertising to Dietrich Mateschitz. I’m just a motorcycle rider. Continue reading
Renault have not one but two design studios in India. What is the result?
One of way of looking at it is that you get a competitive and competent looking vehicle. As a raise-height hatchback it is what Indian customers want: ” This is because the project was both Indian as well as French. Most of the data collection, however, was done from here, on the ground. It had to be. Renault was keen on an immersive experience for its design team. It wanted the design staff to be drowning in the local culture and local tastes, and there was a special emphasis on what Indian customers disliked too. This is how they discovered what Indian customers really meant when they said they wanted more car for their money.” Continue reading
The mirror sail panel is abutting the door-shut slightly and the A-pillar ends with an irregular looking outline. The doorshutline ought to have enclosed the mirror panel, perhaps. The rest of the car is equally unruly.
Reuters have reported that in future most Buicks sold in the US may be imported.
Buick sell nearly a million cars a year in China but only about 230,000 vehicles in the US. The basis of Buick´s credibility in China is that the car represents upper-middle class quality and American values. In the US, Buick appeals or has appealed for similar reasons. Sources close to GM are quoted as saying that in future only the LaCrosse replacement and the Enclave SUV will Continue reading
Isn’t it interesting how a design feature sometimes pops up in unexpected places, or in cars that are totally unrelated? I lately crossed the way of a 2006 Lexus IS, and especially its rear door shutline (basically, that’s what I looked at on all cars this month). It has an interesting treatment with its horizontal top part joining the curve of the rear window.
Haven’t I seen that before? Continue reading
Ford’s 2015 Transit is a magnificently honed piece of kit, but what’s with the creases?
One of my most memorable journeys of recent memory was a trip from Leatherhead in Surrey to Gateshead in a fully laden rented Ford Transit. Memorable for the staggering competence of the vehicle and the relative ease in which the 300 mile journey was dispatched. I handed back that van with an almost audible sob. It was that impressive. Continue reading
Not long after losing Luc Donckerwolke from Bentley, SEAT has lost Stefan Lamm who had only been there for seven months.
CDN reports that Stefan Lamm has left for Mercedes’ advanced design studio in Carlsbad, California. That will be some bill for MB´s HR department when Lamm packs up from SEAT and I imagine SEAT have only just finished processing the expenses.
Lamm has had a remarkable career at Opel and Ford, with his characteristic manner of treating light and shadow as a design element on cars. Presumably he will be bringing this approach to Mercedes Benz production cars in due course. Quite possibly he will also take Ford´s and GM´s more disciplined approach to shutlines and exterior detailing to his new employer where it is most needed. The other question is why VAG has lost two distinguished designers in a short space of time. While I admire the strength of VAG´s attention to detail, there is a corporate look to their cars which suggests that it might be difficult to impose a more individial design character on their cars. What one notices about the work of Lamm and Donckerwolke is that none of the cars associated with them have a “Lamm” or “Donckerwolke” look but also they were quite clearly different from the cars done by others. Did VAG´s uniformity discourage them?
The Alfa 166 had a nine year run. The unfortunate front had a redesign in 2003 but the rear stayed much the same for almost a decade.
I can´t visualise how Alfa Romeo got around to signing-off on the rear bumper of this car. The rest of it has some very eccentric detailing too. But I will concentrate on the bootlid and rear bumper. As the photos show, the bumper seems to mate with the body-in-white in an rather odd way. At the sides the upper and lower edges meet along a horizontal plane. But in the middle of the car, the bumper is tucked behind the bodywork. I don’t know how the two different approaches are resolved in between. I imagine it twists between the centre and corner of the car. The line of the bumper-to-body join is not itself aligned on a simple plane. It is slightly –just slightly higher – in the middle under the bootlid. It is hard to Continue reading
Yesterday, driventowrite gave you an overview of the A-pillar. Today however, we’re going a little deeper.
Since we started this month’s theme I’ve spent more time looking at shutlines and panel gaps than is either healthy or rational. Nevertheless, it’s been an absorbing study, giving rise to a number of observations about the manner in which manufacturers have managed these transitions over recent years. From a purely scientific perspective of course, we should really be limiting ourselves to those junctions where at least one of the abutting panels opens,
In this third instalment, I thought I’d provide my views on some of the more practical aspects of the Mazda3.
I’ve previously alluded to the fact that the 3 is not as popular with my family members as it is with me. In fact, the mood during the test drive we all went on together chilled the atmosphere in the car more than the air-con will ever manage. This resulted in pressure to consider various larger (new Mondeo), more expensive (A3 Saloon) and mainstream (Passat) alternatives from those in the rear in particular. My 15 year old son was particularly vociferous, although I suspected that the fact that he really wanted me to buy an S3 Saloon was a fair proportion of the motivation behind his whinge. More convincing were the complaints of on 12 year old daughter, who quite evidently had trouble seeing out of the rear side windows. I resisted, ultimately, by reminding everyone of the purpose of the purchase (i.e. reliable, economical, comfortable and enjoyable transport for my daily 130 mile round-trip commute) and that the car would rarely be taken into service for all-family trips. In a weird reversal of what one might have expected in response, I had the added bonus of being “allowed” to go ahead with the purchase only on the basis that I also kept the C6! Nevertheless, I admit that, even today, their views espoused on that trip put a dampener on my enthusiasm for the car overall.
There are a number of ways to skin this particular cat. Do many people notice this? BMW thought so and ran and ad just showing the A-pillar of their 1988 5-series, or it might have been the 1995 version.
The little photo gallery shows a wide variety of ways to deal with the base of the A-pillar. It´s very complex since the glasshouse has to blend to the lower body; the doors need to close with a proper seal (are the doors inset, flush or to they cover the A-pillar?); the windscreen needs to Continue reading
So far this one has eluded me.
Perhaps it has eluded others too. I think it’s because there are so many factors in question. It is unlikely they all are in alignment.
The perfect picnic is a phenomenon quite well suited to motor travel. The car can hold a lot of things necessary for “dejeuner sur l´herbe”. You can peruse a lot of places at your leisure too whereas cyclists tend to Continue reading
… Now You Don’t. We look at the GINA, BMW’s attempt to produce a literal shutline
However much he might have railed, an engineer of Dr Piech’s standing knew that, even by calling it a shut line, it would always be, in reality, a shut gap. Expansion, engineering tolerances, sag and the possibility of damage means that the shutlines of a solid bodied car will always be measured in millimetres, not microns. Even those uniformly narrow gaps on modern VAG products must have been an irritation to him until the end.
But the BMW GINA Light Visionary Model sought to address this. Produced under Chris Bangle, the GINA’s shape is apparently attributed to Anders Warming about whom, despite having being handed the poisoned chalice that is MINI, we at DTW still have high hopes. Continue reading
Audi evidently didn’t want to give anything to the Mercedes E-class in the shutline and craftsmanship battle.
The W-126 had a visible weld crease under its rear lamp. So Audi spent a bit extra to avoid it. 20 years later the B4 Audi A6 is still an object lesson in the pursuit of orderly detailing. The only line visible is one related to the boot aperture.
It´s taken me two decades to find the one worthwhile detail on the W210: the rear wing is assembled properly.
Recently I was regurgitating some of my thoughts on plastic bumpers. I showed some examples of how manufacturers typically had a visible weld on the extra bit of metal under the rear lamp. Continue reading
Renault’s designers had the idea to endow the new Espace with an electrically actuated glove box.
At the back there are three separate seats and therefore no central armrest. The centre seat folds down – is a picnic table what his excellency expects? I really hoped the Espace would be more lounge-like. I feel like the Cadillac fans yearning for a 1990 Coupe de Ville to brought back in a new form.
This photo is really a part of our monthly theme. Can you tell why?
Run by: Executive Classic Cars Editor Myles Gorfe. Total Mileage: 299,918. Miles since June 29 2015: 0. Costs: £902 labour, £1200 spares including rear axle mounts, exhaust piping brackets, paint, filler, sandpaper, plastic bucket, heater matrix, oil filler cover, petrol tank neck (cracked).
It´s been a busy month for the Grannie. Len Gudgeon at the Granada Garage has been unable to resolve the non-starting problem reported last month. Continue reading
We don´t really think much about sills. On some cars they were not even visible, as in the 1978-1993 Saab 900. It´s a case of the missing shutline.
Admittedly this example is rather dented. Looking past that, notice that the door comes all the way down to where the sill or rocker panel is normally visible. There is a sill there, but it is about ten centimetres in-board, with a thick rubber seal to Continue reading
…includes the Stream and the Legend. And it has space for a few more cars too.
What was supposed to be a bit of sleuthing in search of news that didn´t come courtesy of secondary sources led me to Honda UK´s hall of fame, “Previous Models”. I will come to the news part eventually.
The image above is Honda UK´s own suggestion of its favourite cars. There is no commentary: I checked that twice to be sure (to be sure).
Some of the entrants make sense. Every Honda fan worships the S2000 and goes to bed placing voodoo curses on the ignorant public who didn´t Continue reading
Some collected, if slightly disconnected thoughts on this month’s theme. And an opportunity for a little gratuitous Mercedes-bashing.
So much is known and quantified, be it politics, cuisine, architecture or indeed recognising a decent pasodoble when we see one. It’s all out there to be discovered, downloaded and co-opted into our lives and dinner party conversations: we’re all experts now. Continue reading
At the moment I am researching a 1995 car, a model still around in considerable numbers today. It doesn´t seem all that antique to me. But does it seem ancient to others?
Here is another 1995 car, the Nissan Primera (above). This object still looks fresh and not especially antediluvian. Yet it´s 20 years old now which is a fair amount of time by anyone´s standards. In 1995, in contrast, a 1975 car (below), the few still around, looked extremely old and, moreover, tired. I am curious to Continue reading
Various sources today report that Cadillac will continue to seek more autonomy within GM. And of course, will seek to attract younger buyers. I thought Cadillac didn´t care who bought the cars….
All the sources point back to Automotive News which refers to a press conference with Cadillac´s brand chief Johan de Nysschen. That conferences is not reported at Cadillac´s press page which does Continue reading
This illustration is done entirely by hand. It´s by the legendary commercial artists Fitz and Van in 1968.
Our good friends at Automotive News Europe have interviewed Citroen´s CEO, Linda Jackson: expect more Cactussy Citroens.
Here is the article´s intro: “The C4 Cactus has been a sales winner. Citroen has sold 90,000 C4 Cactus models since its debut last year and the car was awarded the World Car Design of the Year at the New York auto show in April. Citroen CEO Linda Jackson wants to channel the quirky compact hatchback’s success into the rest of the brand’s lineup. Jackson explained how in an interview with Automotive News EuropeCorrespondent Nick Gibbs.” I recommend you Continue reading
The Citroen AX has come up in our recent discussions. It has a sagging line at the base of the side glass.
One of the great pleasures related to driving on holiday is stopping driving for a delicious hot cup of coffee. Or so you might think.
For the last month or so I have been taking a vacation. This means more than the usual amount of driving – none of it routine. What I dream of most is the chance to Continue reading