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Underneath the arches

All those elaborate wheel-arch forms we see on automobiles are the result of decades of evolution and the work of hundreds of designers looking at each other´s creative output. Are they done out of habit now?

The simplest wheel cut out.

The simplest wheel cut out.

Perhaps some designers have forgot the wheel arch is first a hole in the body for a wheel arranged so as to allow the wheel´s movement and manage water spray. Like many features on a car they are often drawn as sculptural entities or purely graphical forms. I personally have sketched shapes from purely a formal viewpoint: two blobs for lights, a block in the middle some lines underneath…. And there´s a car´s front end,  divorced entirely from the relationship of each shape the thing it represents.

Continue reading

Theme : Romance – Taking A Back Seat

Once the back seat seemed a place of Romance. Now it isn’t.

Mercedes-Maybach S 600 (X 222) 2014

Most car journalists concentrate on the front seat. They might want a bit of comfort, but they’re more likely to seek side support so they can enjoy exploring the limits. Give them a set of contoured Recaros and they’re in petrolhead heaven. What they don’t give the same consideration to, as we’ve discussed on these pages so often, is the rear accommodation. Hence, an upmarket four door might get a glowing review based on performance, handling, looks and the view from the driver’s seat, with a small mention that the rear seat is a bit cramped, even uncomfortable, with a letterbox view of the outside country.

We’ve mourned the decline of the front bench seat elsewhere, but there are reasonably sound reasons why it is no more. However, the neglect of the back seat is more inexcusable. Of course there are sybaritic individual recliners available for hard working CEO’s to snooze in as they are rushed from meeting to meeting in a high spec S Class but, on a more mundane level, the back seat seems to have a low priority. Continue reading

1971 Renault 17 roadtest

In this article which resembles a period review by Archie Vicar we get some insight on the famed 1971 Renault 17 TS: “Renault´s Rosé”.

1971 Renault 15 TL: autoitalia.com

1971 Renault 15 TL: autoitalia.com

Renault put on a very pleasant shindig in Rennes so as to launch their two new cars, the Renault 15 and Renault 17. The press and I had a chance to choose from an interesting menu: roasted quail, cucumber mousse, caper puree, grilled fish (hake or salmon, I think) and boiled horse tongue with a horseradish jelly. They also fished out some of the best wines from the Regie cellar deep under Billancourt as part of their persuasive and unstinting hospitality. I particularly liked the Peyruchet dessert wine though some might judge it to be among the lesser Sauternes. I had to have a third glass to Continue reading

Late and Never – Jaguar and Alfa Romeo Face the Hard Road

With recent reports suggesting the sector is stagnating, have Alfa Romeo and Jaguar left it too late to prosper in a compact premium market now utterly dominated by the German big three?

The new kids and the big boys they have to beat. Image via fiatgroupworld

The new kids and the big boys they have to beat. Image via fiatgroupworld

The German big three’s stranglehold on the European compact premium segment is virtually complete, with car sales data for Jan-Sept revealing just how dominant the German trio of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have become. This is an exclusive club comprising eight models – seven if you combine Volvo’s saloon and estate offerings. The combined sector posted January-September sales of 397,134, of which a sobering 341,339 consisted of either Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. That’s 86% of the market, since you asked. Continue reading

Highlights for Sunday

 The building opposite produced these reflections on the front wing of this Opel Mokka. 

Notice the red band which forms an ellipse around the top of the wheel arch flare and then runs up to the a-pillar. It’s quite a complex area. It would be even clearer if the red stripe on the building emitted light instead of reflecting it. Continue reading

Usability, no thanks, I´m a motoring correspondent

Car & Driver, who are usually quite sensible, betrayed a distinct, glaring flash of silliness when they complained about the size of the gear lever in the new Buick Lacrosse.

2017 Buick Lacrosse interior: gmauthority.com

2017 Buick Lacrosse interior: gmauthority.com

This is what C&D wrote about the interior: “Outside is a handsome exterior; inside, the cabin is vastly improved over the old model’s. With a simple, flowing design and much nicer materials, the Buick’s innards are spoiled only by the oversize, BMW-style electronic shift lever. It is the only interior component seemingly still geared toward geriatric users (look at the size of an outgoing LaCrosse‘s dashboard buttons and you’ll know what we’re on about here). Otherwise, the Buick is lighter, sweeter, and we’re looking forward to driving it.” This kind of thing makes me want to Continue reading

2015 Infiniti Q60 gets a new C-pillar

Infiniti showed us this car in January. The c-pillar treatment is startling. I revised it.

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There are two things you can do when the side glass has a potentially pointy outline. One is to acknowledge that this is the result of the angles set up elsewhere and fill that triangular gap with a matching piece of glass (with all the cost that entails). Our good friend the Opel Astra F did this.

The other thing is to cut off the triangular tip and make the glass into a four-sided shape which means you could use less glass and perhaps articulate the junction of the c-pillar with the rear wing. Hofmeister Kinks are an example of this.

Infiniti have dodged these alternatives by introducing a second triangular edge. The Q60 has nice proportions and acceptably modern sculpting (if you like that kind of thing) and then over-eggs the omelette with a zig-zag on the side glass. Look at where the door shut comes close to a feature line starting in front of the rear wheel. Busy, isn´t it?

I´ve deleted this on my alternative sketches to see if it would help. You can read some comments from Forbes here.


2016 Opel Astra revised

Hot on the tracks of yesterday´s revised Lexus RX, I have decided to see what the 2016 Opel Astra would look like without its fussy C-pillar. This sketch is messier than the Lexus because of the number of panels involved and the number of alternatives. And I am no good at rendering.  

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I decided to go first for a version where the side-glass stopped at the door cut-out. I could have added a pane aft of the door but left it as the Ockham´s Razor approach to the problem. Then I tried to take the side glass further back to make a slimmer C-pilllar.

The area where the roof spoiler wraps ends at the top of the C-pillar is very problematic. In my two alternatives I have Continue reading

2016 Lexus RX is given a make-over

These wilfully contrived C-pillars are a particularly nasty feature. I spent a very few minutes trying to see what the 2016 Lexus RX would look like with a revised sideglass and C-pillar. 

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You can see why the designer do this but it still doesn´t make it right. On my revised version I scratched out the horrible bumper and sketched in some rectangles to suggest fog-lamps. Don´t look too close at the image. I don´t use Photoshop but a free programme called CrayonMoron.

The coloured Tri-Shield is back

This is the 2017 Buick Lacrosse. There´s more to it than a return of colour to its badge.

2017 Buick Lacross: thetruthaboutcars.com

2017 Buick Lacross: thetruthaboutcars.com

The Detroit Free Press and Kelley Blue Book have reported the unveiling of the 2017 Buick Lacrosse. As well as echoing aspects of the Buick Avenir concept last year, the 2017 car also allegedly harks back to the 1954 Buick Wildcat concept car. Personally I can´t see any obvious links.

Missing from the new car are 130 kilos. The chassis, seats and sound-proofing all felt the engineer´s scalper in the quest to Continue reading

Theme: Romance – 6.7 litre V8s, chrome and buttoned velour

One´s understanding of this depends very much on how one defines or understands Romance. Looked at one way, the US has produced some highly Romantic vehicles.

1965 Chrysler Imperial: classiccarcatalogue.com

1965 Chrysler Imperial: classiccarcatalogue.com

It gets rather complicated or at least ambiguous when you look closer. One can explain the expressive, expansive and generous adornment of American cars (of the old school) by referring to what might have been a bias towards emotion over reason.  That is why the tailfins of the Cadillacs emerged for a short but memorable spell. People were excited by the drama of jet fighters and the imagery associated with them. The car sublimated that excitement. The rest of the 60s and mid-70s saw remarkably expressive forms made manifest. Those long, long bonnets and stately (to some) grilles sought to Continue reading

Sign of the Cross

It’s been confirmed the next Opel Senator will be a crossover – as indeed it appears will everything else. Are we approaching a tipping point?

Inspiration for the forthcoming Opel CUV? Image via autoblog

The new face of Opel. Image via autoblog

When GM showed the Avenir concept earlier this year, many viewed it as a sign Buick was serious about re-entering the full-sized luxury saloon market with something along more traditional lines. For enthusiasts here in Europe it prompted speculation as to the potential for a similarly proportioned model – a latter day Opel Senator if you will. But while it’s possible such an idea was at least considered, it’s equally likely it wasn’t given a great deal of airtime. Especially given the recent announcement stating GM Europe is preparing three new crossover models over the next couple of years – one of which is set become Opel’s next Euro flagship. Continue reading

Theme : Romance – Veyron The Road To Nowhere

Ferdinand Piech’s Ultimate Car should have been the definitive offering in our romance with the automobile. Why wasn’t it?

Veyron Pedal Car 3

A fair amount of my not-so-uber income comes from working, directly or indirectly, for people with lots of money, so I’m vaguely qualified to comment on this. I have discovered something quite amazing. The very rich are much the same as the rest of us – but richer. Some are discerning, some are not. So the fact that people actually bought Bugatti Veyrons at an average rate of almost one a week over its 10 year life  doesn’t really give the vehicles more or less credibility in my eyes.

About a year before its long-delayed release, I was driving round Belgrave Square (an expensive part of London)  early one morning and came across a burgundy and black pre-production Veyron being photographed in what I assume was one of its intended habitats. But I remember thinking that it didn’t really look at home there though, at the same time, with its fussy retro paintwork, it wouldn’t have looked at home at the ‘Ring. I admit to not really having followed its gestation too thoroughly at the time, since my own preconception of a modern Bugatti would have been something far more light-of-touch in its concept. Seeing it, my immediate question was ‘what is it for?’, and that has never been answered to my satisfaction. Continue reading

What drives Jaguar?

Last year we had a monthly theme on engines. I would like to return to this topic with the aim of understanding Jaguar´s engine line-up. 

2015 Jaguar XJ frolicking in the snows of Warwickshire: jaguar.co.uk

2015 Jaguar XJ frolicking in the snows of Warwickshire: jaguar.co.uk

Jaguar has five basic models. Those are the XE, XF and XJ (saloons), F-Type and F-Pace. Is that a good naming system, I idly wonder. F-Pace seems not to fit in. It makes the F in F-Type somewhat meaningless as there was no E-Pace or D-Pace. I digress.

Starting with the XE, we read here that it has a petrol four, a diesel four and a petrol V6. The petrol four pot engines are available in two flavours, 200 and 240 PS. The diesels come as 163 and 180 PS. A 3.0 litre supercharged petrol V6 offers 340 PS and is only available as an automatic. So, that´s three engines for the XE.  Continue reading

That´s what Audi is missing

Autocar have published a list of the new cars expected in the near future.  Under “Audi” we find grounds to hope that Audi´s much-criticised, characterless design can be saved.

2015 Audi A6 - as unstylish as a car can be: nextcarreviews.com

2015 Audi A6 – as unstylish as a car can be: nextcarreviews.com

Well, I am being ironic of course.

This is what Autocar says about the 2017 Audi A6 “A more stylish look is promised for Audi’s next BMW 5-series competitor, designed under Marc Lichte”. You really have to wonder about the man who is heir to a long tradition of studiously composed designs from the Ingolstadt firm. What is he thinking? Remember Walter da Silva who was charged with adding faszination to VAG´s cars. He tentatively added a “storm line” to some Audi models which seemed as breathtakingly out of place as putting a clown nose on Heidi Klum´s face. One wonders what Mr Lichte is planning and what that will look like. Audi’s are stylish in the sense of having a clear, defined and consistent appearance. It’s eye-catchingly restrained.

What we have here, in addition to the usual dreary imperative of design spokespeople to talk up forthcoming cars, is an inherent tension in modernism with or without a capital M. You see, the idea with modernism (and Audi demonstrates some form of this mentality) is that by eschewing decorative flourishes one can Continue reading

Theme: Romance – Lancia

Curbsideclassic provided the inspiration for this short post. The article provides a nice run-down on these wonderful cars.

1967-1969 Lancia Flavia:curbsideclassic.com

1967-1969 Lancia Flavia:curbsideclassic.com

When I think of romance and cars I tend to think of certain marques: Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Rover (to some extent), and perhaps some Ferraris. And that´s really it. Is it perhaps not uncoincidental that these brands are not in the best of health or, these days, not very romantic in their expression?  There might be an underlying factor operating here. Whatever the engineers might have felt, these vehicles turned out as machines with a more passionate character than is normal. You can argue that Rover is anything but romantic, as romantic as a tweed jacket. I´d say there is a British version, a sentimentality if you like (and I don´t mean that in a negative way) that allows me to make parallels with the way Romance was expressed in the Italian vehicles. You could call it a form of idealism. I´m tempted to think of a Venn diagram here, with three circles overlapping. Some Lancias, Alfas and Rovers were far from romantic and were rather ordinary or aggressive. Enough of them are not, which is why I feel justified in presenting Lancia (among the three) as a Romantic car and this one, it simply commands one to think of a summerime time drive, a picnic and a quiet time in the countryside.

Buick´s path towards being an import brand

Who, just a decade ago, would imagine Buick would be sliding down the slope to being a Geo for our times?

Made in China, the Envision by Buick: Motor Trend.com

Made in China, the Envision by Buick: Motor Trend.com

According to Motor Trend and other sources, GM is close to finalising a plan to import the Chinese-made Buick Envision to the US. This would bring to three the number of crossovers the marque is offering in the US. From the side there´s nothing very distinctive about the vehicle and nothing very offensive either. The identity of the car resides with the waterfall grille and the badges.

If you were following our diligently curated Top 50 cars series you might recall the Geo Prizm as one of the candidates. It was an American-made clone of the Toyota Corolla. The rest of the Geo range consisted of re-badged offerings from parts of GM´s far east empire. The brand aimed at making some money from those customers who were probably never going to Continue reading

Volvo Museum, Part 2

Recently we had a look at the concept cars on display at the Volvo museum in Gothenburg, Sweden. Now it´s time to investigate some of the production vehicles.

1977 Volvo 262

1977 Volvo 262

The first few rooms of the museum feature the early years of Volvo which don´t interest me that much. Thus I didn´t take any photos. I wanted to get to the 70s from where my interest in Volvo takes off.

The first port of call was at the 262 stand. This one (above) is resplendent in a very late 70s gold metallic paint. That is was designed and built by Bertone is well-known. This one does

without the vinyl roof and is the better for it. The interior had more elaborate seats and some extra wood inlays and is pleasantly spacious, thanks to the 200-series´ square forms.  Continue reading

1999 Honda Prelude Design Analysis

To illustrate a discussion elsewhere here I have annotated a 1999 Honda Prelude, or the bits I am referring to.

1999 Honda Prelude: carwallpaper.com

1999 Honda Prelude

The very first thing one might notice about the Prelude is its wanton simplicity. There are no bump strips on the body side. The lamps are oblongs. There is no feature-line at the c-pillar to rear wing. The grille is a slat. And then you Continue reading

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Four

In this month’s instalment, we examine the Gamma’s technical specification and its initial press reception.

Image via lancianet

Image via lancianet

Technically speaking, the Gamma was classic Lancia in that it mated an unconventional powerplant to a largely orthodox chassis layout. However, the big Lancia’s mix of conventional components came with an added dash of élan. The engine was a development of the proven Flavia unit, bored out to 2.5 litres. Sergio Camuffo outlined why he chose to enlarge the engine capacity saying; Continue reading

Something rotten in […] Denmark: 1989 Audi 80

It´s not really rotten at all, it must be said. Why is it here today?

1989 Audi 80 1.8

1989 Audi 80 1.8: bilbasen.dk

Walter da Silva is retiring from his position as head of VAG design. This made me wonder a bit about his time there and then the time before his time. That made me think of Audi which led me to this. J Mays is credited with this car, I was surprised to learn. And to be frank, like the 100 of the same period, it doesn´t look like it´s a mid-80s design or it’s distinctly different. I suppose to anyone under 30 it looks ancient but to me it looks timeless and yet also rather aloof and glacially cool. Walter da Silva jumped ship from Alfa, recruited to VAG to Continue reading

Great idea, let´s not do it.

Autocar reported that Gordon Murray, Shell and Geo Technology have designed a three-seater city car capable of 100 mpg. And they have no intention to build it. 

Gordon Murray and the T25: thesun.co.uk

Gordon Murray and the T25: thesun.co.uk

After a fascinating lead in with a fistful of interesting insights on how to get an engine to eke out the petrol, this sentence appears: “‘There is no intention to bring T.25S to market. It is a ‘capability for analysis’ vehicle,’ said Shell Lubricant’s innovation technology manager.”

The T25S is a revision of Gordon Murray´s T25 concept which is also not in production.

The technical aspects of the engine are quite numerous, by the way:  a friction-busting diamond-like coating (DLC) which was applied to the camshaft, tappets and piston skirts; the design of the retainer and valve springs were changed and titanium valves were installed due to the lower engine speed; a new piston was designed, the piston skirt was shortened and the contact surface with the cylinder (which reduces engine friction); the engine has fewer…. but they aren´t going to Continue reading

George Barris – A Kustomary Farewell

George Barris, builder of modified cars, died last week after a full life. The creator of such novelties as the Batmobile and the Munster Koach, he was also a prolific customiser to the Stars when, on a (very) slightly less excessive scale, he produced vehicles for a plethora of celebrities.

The Hirota Merc

The Hirohata Merc : Image customcarchronicle.com

Back in the Sixties, my dad made occasional trips to the USA and brought back various insights into, what seemed then, a rather different culture. There was an LP by the novelty horror actor John Zacherle, including the song Dinner With Drac which had the lines

For dessert there was batwing confetti
And the veins of a mummy named Betty
I first frowned upon it
But with ketchup on it
It tasted very much like spaghetti! Continue reading

Micropost: Driven To Write´s top sundial for drivers

Hot on the heels of yesterday´s article on the top three clock-radios for drivers and petrolheads, we present the sundial of the day. “I am not expecting you to talk, Mr Bond…”

James Bond´s sundial.

James Bond´s sundial.

Ever since a sundial appeared in the film “Moonraker” this design has had an iconic place in the hearts of Bond fans and driving enthusiasts alike. Forget Tag Heuer and Breitling: this brass sundial with a concrete base says all you need to know about telling the time and driving excitement. The elaborate mechanism features a pointed triangular element that casts a shadow to indicate the approximate time. It is accurate to within a few hours for most of the year. But you had better save up: it costs £259 though it is certainly bound to be collectible due to its Bond associations.

Maserati: Flying High in April, Shot Down in May

It’s probable Frank Sinatra’s 1966 standard, ‘That’s Life’ currently plays on repeat at Trident Towers, given Maserati’s latest reversal of fortune. But how bad is it looking for Modena’s second son? DTW investigates.

Maserati and Alfa Romeo CEO, Harald J Wester. Image via autoapassionati

Maserati and Alfa Romeo CEO, Harald J Wester. Image via autoapassionati

A year ago, we reported on Maserati’s unexpected sales success with an element of scepticism, but for a brief time it appeared as though CEO, Harald Wester’s plans for the Trident were working. With plans for additional new models including the now ubiquitous SUV, volumes in the region of 75,000 per annum by 2017 looked entirely feasible; catapulting Maserati into the luxury car mainstream while creating a buffer for FCA’s loss of Ferrari revenues. But since spring, reports have hinted at slowing demand which a recent Automotive News piece appears to confirm. Continue reading

Micropost: DTW´s Three Best Clock Radios for Waking You Up Before You Go Driving

Another month, another three iconic clock radios to wake you up with. DTW has been to the 45th Geneva Clock Radio show to review the best in the new clock radios aimed at drivers or people who like cars generally.

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First, the Digitron Aqua Terra 150 M with a ten minute snooze function. It has anti-magnetic rating of 15,008 Gauss. The transparent back reveals a solid-state transistor wireboard. It has FM and AM functions. The Magnovoxx Seamaster Professional has a convincing wood-effect case and a striking retro-digital display. The base is subtly recessed to give the clock-radio a floating effect. The alarm can be preset for two different wake-up times. Finally the 300 LD-50 which is the actual clock radio that appeared in the backround of the movie The Bourne Inheritance . The display is set to appear at the time shown in film. Press a button on the back to display the real time. Prices are from £12.00 to £15. These clock radios are a must for any man interested in waking up to go driving at some point in the day. They will also certainly impress whoever gets to drive back home with you!


Theme : Romance – The King Is Dead. Long Live The King!

Ever iconoclastic, DTW fearlessly investigates Bromance …..or is it Necromance?

Enemo of the people 2

Life is full of those niggling prejudices. However open-minded and liberal one tries to be, there are always certain things that one can’t excuse. Here’s a very short personal list, by no means comprehensive : Comedians. Pernod. Farting on the Underground. The Bugatti Veyron. Of course only one of the above is noxiously anti-social – and you know which one that is don’t you Ferdi?

But, to that list, I must add the late actor Steve McQueen, and this month has already been particularly trying on this front. First, the usually highly readable MotorSport had both a bumper 30 page Precision Watch special (another thing I can’t get) and, even worse, a 10 page Steve McQueen Le Mans feature to mark the release of a documentary about the 1971 feature film. Of course, just as the dumb jingle has to follow any mention of Intel processors, so must the words ‘King Of Cool’ be appended to any mention of Mr McQueen. Continue reading

Micropost – Alfa Romeo 3-series?

Alfa Romeo´s design chief, Alessandro Maccolini, denies that the new Giulia was inspired by the BMW 3-series. Instead, he cites the 156 as the main reference. 

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I added the Jaguar XE for comparison.

My own view is that this is a matter of convergent evolution while also feeling that the resemblance to the 156 is, at best, passing and perhaps coincidental. Those strakes on the Alfa´s bodyside are not very original but the idea is quite generic anyway.

Not quite understanding Modernism

Renault unveiled this object (which honours the architect Le Corbusier) a few weeks ago but I have not had time to deal with it until now. As luck would have it, I have been reading a lot about Modernism in the meantime…

2015 Renault Corbusier concept: Renault.com

2015 Renault Corbusier concept: Renault.com

It´s the 50th anniversary of the death of Le Corbusier and Renault´s designers have decided to mark this by unveiling a car that shows no deep understanding of Le Corbusier  or Modernism’s tenets in any way at all.

Modernism had a variety of strands. In architecture one of them was social justice where the worthy intention was to Continue reading

Müllering VAG (Part 1): Walter de’ Silva retires

The troubles and subsequent changes at Volkswagen AG have led to an unforeseen departure. Walter de’ Silva, overall head of the entire group’s stylistic development and one of the most powerful men in this line of business, has chosen take early retirement, merely a few weeks after having become appointed president of Italdesign, Audi’s semi-independent design branch. 

Walter de' Silva, to whom the German media liked to refer to as 'Walter Maria de' Silva' in a case of ill-advised pedantry, Photo (c) http://carplace.uol.com.br

Walter de’ Silva, to whom the German media liked to refer to as ‘Walter Maria de’ Silva’ in a case of ill-advised pedantry, Photo (c) http://carplace.uol.com.br

Continue reading

Theme: Romance – Wedding cars

Romance leads to all sorts of things. Before the divorce comes the wedding. And that means a car to get the bride to the registry office. In the United Kingdom that probably means a Rolls-Royce in purest white.

1976 Rolls Royce silver shadow wedding cars
The white Rolls-Royce is desirable in the role of wedding car and uttely undesirable in any other role. Without looking up actual statistics, I´d guess a white Roller is worth less than any other colour apart from pink. It´s funny how people view the same thing in different contexts.

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows are for me the archetypal wedding car: grand, imposing, aristocratic and fairly impractical. Romance is about feelings not facts and this is a true for a wedding car as for a wedding. The feel of the wedding car is to Continue reading

Theme: Romance – The Four Seasons

Let´s accept there is not a lot of romance left in motoring today. That means we have to look back to when it was still romantic.

Photo by Andre Martin from Quatre Saisons, 1979. Copyright.

Photo by Andre Martin from Quatre Saisons, 1979. Copyright.

That´s around 1979 when Quatre Saisons was published. The book comprises a photo essay with the Citroen CX as the subject. Andre Martin´s images are themed around the four seasons, hence the title. The car speeds through snowy passes, through lavender fields and pauses in autumnal woodland: each shot evokes the mysterious potential of a motor car trip and also sings a hymn to the timeless modernism of the CX.

I say romantic but perhaps pornographic is a better word in that the Vaselined images are blurred in the manner of the finest 70s erotica. There are images of parts of the car, teasing us with what remains unseen and also focusing in a fetishistic way on the anatomical details of the vehicle. That´s the way maybe John Berger would view it.

But if you can leave aside the Marxist-Feminist reading, you have a collection where it is assumed one can Continue reading

Theme: Romance – something incomprehensible from India

I am very aware of the dangers of cultural tourism. Thus I present this item in as factual and neutral manner as I can. 

2015 Honda Amaze: youngisthan.in

The romantic 2015 Honda Amaze: youngisthan.in

Simon, our editor, has pressed me to produce something, anything on our theme of the month. I consulted Mr Google by using “romantic car” as a search term. I´d hoped to find some inspiration but not quite of this kind. The image is attached to an article (undated) which is entitled “These 7 cars will make your romantic rendezvous memorable and sweep your date off your feet.” It´s a listicle and it´s as random as our notorious Top Fifty Best Ever Cars Ever feature which has been running for a while now.

The introduction to the article informs us that some of the cars are designed for Indian roads. The others are pretty much what you´d expect any show-off to drive to Continue reading

Any colour so long as it´s red (except the bottom line)

Mazda brought in more cash than expected so far this year. That means three operating profits in a row. How will they spend all that money?

2015 Mazda MX-5, yours for €22,000: Mazda.de

2015 Mazda MX-5, yours for €22,000: Mazda.de

Three cars helped out Mazda´s bottom line: The Mazda2, the CX3 and the MX-5. The older cars in the Mazda showroom all continue to sell well too. Europe´s part in this to contribute a 21% increase in vehicle turnover. Japan – despite a two decade doldrum of historic dimensions – provided a 33% increase. China did well as well (but for how much longer. Will China be able to Continue reading

Vehicle Inspectre

Unless you live cut off from the outside world in a nuclear bunker, or spend your days with your eyes and ears screwed shut shouting “la-la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you”, you cannot have failed to notice a new James Bond film is in the offing: Spectre.

Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre: carconnection.com

Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre: carconnection.com

Wired have helped prime the PR pump with an article on Daniel Craig’s latest conveyance, the Aston Martin DB10. Continue reading

Gorfe´s Granadas: 1979 Granada Ghia Sapphire

This is a milestone in Granada history, says Myles Gorfe. For the second series of the square-rigged Granny, Ford imported the cars from Germany, writes the chief-assistant-editor (classics), Myles Gorfe.

Impeccable style, incredible grace - that´s the 1979 Ford Granada Ghia Sapphire 2.8 V6: historics.co.uk

Impeccable style, incredible grace – that´s the 1979 Ford Granada Ghia Sapphire 2.8 V6: historics.co.uk

This is a 1979 Granada Ghia Sapphire with a 2.6 litre Cologne V6 and the smartest leather interior money could buy at this price range. Even today it looks smart and modern with its box-pleats and trad wood. Yet it was the top-of-the-line executive cruiser, able to Continue reading

Right. Yes. Indeed. Those product plans…well…

Sometime back we expressed a degree of scepticism about Alfa Romeo´s product plans. What did the good people at Automotive News report on November 4th?

1992-1998 Alfa Romeo 155. Mediocre as this might have been, they were relatively happy times: motorstown.com

1992-1998 Alfa Romeo 155. Mediocre as this might have been, they were relatively happy times: motorstown.com

You can read the rest of the report at Automotive News which saves me a fair amount of cut and paste-work. However, I will find strength to paste this for your comfort and convenience: “FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Oct. 28 that the company is re-examining Alfa’s global expansion because of the slowdown in the Chinese market. He reaffirmed a planned 5 billion euro investment announced in May 2014 to boost Alfa’s annual global sales to 400,000 units with eight new models but said the investment will be completed in 2019 or 2020.” The Quadrifoglio version of the Giulia will be “delayed” as will the proposed SUV which will supposedly appear in 2017. I´m not sure what six and nine month delays really do for anyone. At this point most of the work has been done. Further hold-ups will only shorten the cars´ lifesspan in the market. Every half-year you lose at one end is a half-year less competitiveness at the other end of the product´s life-cycle.

Earlier today I expressed worries about the broader state of the world economy in the light of that harbinger of doom, the new upscale brand from a middle market manufacturer. And the construction machine industry is showing signs of contraction. Now we have FCA sweating about the state of the Chinese economy.

A little bit of history repeating again

With thanks to Eoin for the use of the song title. Hyundai are going to take this opportunity to turn the Genesis nameplate into a stand-alone brand.

2015 Hyundai Genesis: iihs.org

2015 Hyundai Genesis: iihs.org

This is worrying. The last time someone tried this, the bottom fell out of the market for prestige cars. I am thinking here of the time Mazda tried to catch up with Honda and Toyota and launch the Xedos brand in the wake of Acura and Lexus.  Continue reading

Driven To Write´s All Time Best Cars Ever: 19 to 10

Here is part four of the much-heralded and long-awaited top fifty most brilliant cars ever. There are pub arguments waiting to be decided in the light of this.

2000 Rover 45 2.0 V6

2000 Rover 45 2.0 V6

19: Rover threw everything they could at the 45 in a game attempt to impede the sales success of the perennial Golf and evergreen Focus: wood, leather and a 2.0 litre V6. This car then is the spirit of the Battle for Britain, manifest in the metal of a car. Hmmm. You´d never think there was any 1992 Honda Domani underneath the reserved, Saville Row exterior of this classy vehicle. Above all, it was a Rover.  Continue reading

Spotted – Honda Mobilio

Whilst enjoying a genteel weekend away on the Suffolk coast, I spotted one of these:

Having Richard's "grown-up" Daihatsu in mind made it register with me.

Having Richard’s “grown-up” Daihatsu in mind made it register with me.

I was very much interested and taken by it as an overtly practical piece of design.  Closer inspection revealed it to be a Mobilio, a name I recognised, but could not for the life of me place …. Continue reading

A Sense of Occasion

What you want from your car? Function, Frivolity or why not both?

McLaren Driving Gloves

McLaren Driving Gloves

Is driving an event for you? By which I don’t mean do you enjoy driving, but do you enjoy the whole ritual? Do you have driving gloves, or driving shoes, or a driving hat? Do you have a mental checklist of things that you do when you go to your car? If so, do you do them for safety’s sake (checking tyres, etc) or because it’s part of the game (adjusting a rear-view that’s already adjusted)? I’ve been driving so long that, often, I’m half way down the road before I’ve really registered I’m driving. Don’t worry, you’re safe. The part of me that matters is in control, I am totally involved and I am even enjoying it on one level. But the part of me that savours the specialness of what I’m doing is often somewhere else. This is a pity I think. It wasn’t always like that. I even once had a pair of driving gloves of my own and, although I’ve become in many ways a jaded old lag, parts of driving remain special for me. Continue reading

Suzuki´s 2015 Mighty Deck concept

….shows BMW how to do a modern interior with wood accents. Take a look at this interior, shown at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

2015 Suzuki Mighty Deck interior: topspeed.com

2015 Suzuki Mighty Deck interior: topspeed.com

There is not much that´s “concept” about this though that´s not to say it´s not both good and original. What I particularly like is the information strip around the base of the windscreen, the symmetry of the dashboard and the excellent wood deck on the top roll. I have in the past suggested Lancia could have had a future doing this kind of calm modernism. Although the Mighty Deck has a different audience (and the concept is absurd in itself), the execution is a singular example of what calm modernism looks like, and is diametrically opposite the fussy, busy “sportiness” of what Alfa Romeo, BMW and Mercedes offer. Isn´t it odd that it takes Suzuki to Continue reading

Car magazine agrees with us

DTW might be the world´s least influential car blog but sometimes our views have some resonance. 

Car Magazine, November 2015, p.124.

Car Magazine, November 2015, p.124.

Some time back we ran an article about the Opel Speedster. We hinted that the high prices and scarcity of supply might make this a contender for early classic status. Car magazine seems to agree and describe it as “affordable, nailed-on classic in waiting.” Car considered it a “sensational driver-centric revelation”, they say on page 124 of the current edition. The next thing is that the Renault Wind will be talked up as one to keep an eye on. But we got there first in 2014.


Poles Apart on Piccadilly

Two recent arrivals to the capital have helped underline the yawning chasm that exists between London’s Green Park and Piccadilly Circus. We take a sniff at both. 

An Image from the ARES Design website

Everywhere you go, the centre ground is crumbling, most notably on our high streets. As the mid-market vanishes, our thoroughfares are being transformed. Recently, I took a stroll down London’s Piccadilly; historically host to a number of car showrooms. Today it’s home to two, illustrating in its own way just how stratified the auto market has become. Continue reading

Car Design News agrees with us

Two weeks ago we ran a favourable commentary on the 2015 Toyota SF-R concept car. Car Design News (a  great source) has declared the SF-R the car of the show (Oct 29). We just liked its use of felt on the door-skins.

2015 Toyota FSR door skin. That really is a superb application of this material: cardesginnews.com

2015 Toyota S-FR door skin. That really is a superb application of this material: cardesginnews.com

I am not sure I could say definitively the S-FR is the best of the show (I wasn´t there) but I like almost all of it. The one part troubling me is the way the headlamps are treated. Here they are again. This is what the designer said:” “So yes it’s cute but being cute is not enough which is why we used the hood surface to cut off the corner of its eyes.” I think that such is the power of circular and elliptical shapes that one has a tendency to Continue reading

Lyons, Sayer, Lawson, Callum… And Then?

Few car manufacturers are as closely associated with their styling director as Jaguar is. Ian Callum, the current incumbent, is acting as both the premier brand ambassador, as well as in his main capacity of aesthetic pontiff. But even the prominent Scot will have to hand over reigns eventually. The question is: to whom?

Ian Callum himself, Photo (c) iancallum.com

Ian Callum himself, Photo (c) iancallum.com

Continue reading

The (Indoors) Volvo Museum, Part 1

Driventowrite took the opportunity when in Gothenburg to visit the Volvo Museum. It was the first stop directly after getting off the ferry from Frederikshavn, Denmark. I paid about €12 to get in. In this instalment I take a look at the concept cars.

Volvo Musuem, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Volvo Musuem, Gothenburg, Sweden.

I discovered in the following three days that most of the 70s cars and onwards were still driving around Sweden, making it the world´s largest open air museum for Volvos. There was one notable exception, and it´s not the Bertone 262. Continue reading