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Production and design: EDAG´s research into additive manufacturing

Recently under the rubric of the Geneva Motor Show 2015, I mentioned the Light Cocoon concept car produced by the consultancy EDAG. This work highlighted the possibilities of additive manufacturing methods. Does it have a meaningful place in the future of car manufacture?

2014 EDAG Genesis

2014 EDAG Genesis

First, let´s find out a bit more about additive manufacturing. In contrast with standard mass production, additive methods build up material layer by layer using lasers to activate and bind the particles. The lasers follow a path defined by a mathematical model generated using CAD programmes. This contrasts with stamping where a flat sheet of metal is pressed into the required shape using a specially made one off tool. In moulding a liquid is introduced to an empty form and takes up the shape of the form. In both cases the CAD data is mediated by costly forms which need to be milled slowly from tough materials. These are usually finished (polished) by hand to Continue reading

Theme: Benchmarks – Personal Luxury Coupés

Benchmarks come and then they go. Personal  luxury coupes (PLC) occupied the hottest sector of the American car market in the late 70s and early 80s. What were they?

1976 Olds Cutlass Supreme: America´s best selling car that year. Isn´t it quite like the Ford Granada we looked at recently?

1976 Olds Cutlass Supreme: America´s best selling car that year. Isn´t it quite like the Mercury Monarch we looked at recently?

A personal luxury coupe is understood as a two door, four seat car with at least a V6 or ideally a V8. Whilst the advertising for these may have suggested sporting capability, the body-on-frame and bench seat reality spoke of cars whose main talent lay in getting quickly up to 65 mph and staying there from Baker, Ca. to Frederick, Md.

The image above is my idea of the archetype of this car. I don´t think European had equivalents of the PLC. Two-door Ford Granadas (such as the 1975 example owned by our stalwart contributor Myles Gorfe) don´t strike the same note. Whether with two doors or four they retain their Granada-ness (the Ghia fastback came a bit closer to the concept). The Opel Monza offered a sporty experience and isn´t Continue reading

On the outside looking in: French Cars In America

The roll of call of great French cars is almost the same as the roll call of French cars that have failed to generate anything but legends of unreliability and weirdness in North America: the DS, the SM, the 604, the Renault 5 (known as “Le Car”) and the Peugeot 405.  Yes, French cars have not been a great success in North America but a dedicated group of automobile enthusiasts still have a fascination for them.

Not on sale in the US, the facelifted Peugeot 208.

Not on sale in the US, the facelifted Peugeot 208.

The leading site for news of cars North Americans can´t buy if they live in North American is French Cars in America. The site carries articles about developments among the French marques plus pages on matters more historical. Ahead of PSA, FCIA gives the DS label its own site subdivision. The question about why French cars aren´t sold in N America is answered here. Citroen´s withdrawal from the market is put down to the effects of the oil crisis in the 70s and the enactment of laws that illegalised key elements of Citroen´s designs. Renault (entangled with  AMC) and Peugeot´s withdrawal in the 80s resulted from Continue reading

Geneva Motor Show Update – A follow up on Zenvo

On Feb 23rd we discussed the enigmatic Danish supercar maker, Zenvo. Automotive News has followed our lead though, to be fair, have produced a lot more copy than I managed. I like think that in a small way we had a little scoop nonetheless.

2015 Zenvo : image from Automotive News.com. I have to applaud the choice of colour.

2015 Zenvo : image from Automotive News.com. I have to applaud the choice of colour.

The article answers my question about what Zenvo will be showing at Geneva: “Zenvo will display two of its cars next week at the Geneva auto show, highlighting a new wheel design and gear-shift system, according to brand manager Lars Meller.” As in interesting side note (interesting to me mostly), I remember speaking to the designer of this car, Christian Brandt, in 2006 when he worked for a Danish tuning company.

2010 Living Lab – Danish fabrics meet a BMW interior

What is the link between a Swedish train, a BMW concept car and a fabric firm from Denmark?

2010 Dwelling Lab. Image from www.dailytonic.com

2010 Dwelling Lab. Image from http://www.dailytonic.com

A chance encounter via my day job led me to to discover the link between the Danish fabric firm Kvadrat and the Bavarian automobile manufacturer, BMW.  To my knowledge the two collaborations have not led to Kvadrat supplying fabrics for the production cars. It´s not that it´s not possible. The same firm has supplied material for a Swedish train and if a fabric and survive public transport it can Continue reading

Theme : Benchmarks – Introduction

Benchmarking – The Editor ask if it measures up?

FrankensteinBenchmarking has become a common practice in our world. Even estate agents ‘benchmark’ their performance but, of course, the original benchmarks were just what they suggested, marks on a bench for an artisan to use for fast measuring of standard lengths of material. As such, in an industry that has its basis in engineering, the term is used more reasonably in the automotive world than in politics or banking though, this month, we consider automotive Benchmarks in the broader, more modern sense.

In life we build on the achievements of others and, in time, others will build on our achievements. So it is in the motor industry. We might identify the first car to use a mass-produced four valve, four cylinder engine (the Triumph Dolomite Sprint) but it didn’t necessarily go on to set the standard for all subsequent such cars. In fact it is impossible to look at a single car and say that this is a template that all other cars should aspire to. Yet totems such as the VW Golf, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes S Class, all undeniably excellent in their own way, do become benchmarks against which other cars are judged and, invariably it seems, are seen to fall short. Is that healthy? Continue reading

Our cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Run by: Myles Gorfe. Total Mileage: 299,907. Miles since Feb 2015: 3. Latest costs: £287 for refitting torn CV boots and new CV joints, gear linkage adjustments, de-greased hinges, re-fitting missing left mirror, installing new washer-fluid tank, relocating oil leak.

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

It´s been a busy month for the Grannie. Gavin Chide at Dorris Motors de-greased the boot hinges which were over-lubricated. I had to buy three wiring harnesses from sellers in Estonia, Belgium and Austria before getting one that worked. Gavin Chide couldn´t fix the oil leak from the right side of the engine and overcharged for the harness work; I had the car transported to Custom Wheels Ltd for further work which seemed to be succesful. Having fitted the working wiring harness,  I decided to take the old girl for a spin to see if the performance had improved. The engine started beautifully and the Ford took to the road again. There was a rumbling from the front when the steering was on full lock: the CV joints were tiring. Then it cut out a few miles into the drive and refused to re-start. There was no smell of petrol and the starter was turning but failing to catch. A quick call to Len Gudgeon at the Granada Garage was all that was needed to get a flat-bed truck sent out to recover the car which only took a few hours. At the time of writing a replacement distributor and a new carb are in the post, traced to an Swiss seller via eBay. I have noticed an oil leak from transaxle and I will have this seen to while the car is being looked after by Len.

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 15


Phase Four: 1986-1994 – The dream unravels

Once the initial launch hysteria abated, the UK press’ hitherto repressed critical faculties conjoined with a growing sense that all was not well with Jaguar’s new star. Because Jaguar had been given the benefit of the doubt for some time, some elements of the press felt it was time to look at XJ40 with colder, more appraising eyes. Words like dated started to appear with increasing frequency in relation to the styling, along with criticism over the headlight and tail lamp treatments. Moreover, the press were of one mind regarding the instrument display and minor controls: they hated them. But more was to follow.  Continue reading

PSA’s Tale of Two Continents

2015 DS5 - image via car24news

2015 DS5 – image via car24news

Peugeot/Citroën’s European D-sector sales collapse is not the catastrophe it first appears.

As we know, the motor industry is riven with contradiction, but nevertheless, some things remain beyond debate. Take the fact that the European mid-sized saloon market has been in serious and (some say) terminal decline since 2007, with sales across the sector falling by half. Yet, with Europe-wide volumes of almost half a million cars last year, there still remains a good deal to play for in what’s left of the segment. This month, PSA Groupe have posted their first profits in three years on the back of vast and painful cost-cutting including the axing of unprofitable models. So today we ask where this hollowing out has left PSA’s mid-sized saloon offerings?  Continue reading

Marketing wisdom from Cadillac

Car and Driver carried an interview  with Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac´s marketing boss. He said a few surprising things.

2007 Cadillac DTSAs an industrial designer by training, I noted that Ellinghaus is tired of what are called “personas”.  These are stereotypical identities that embody the essential character of a vehicle´s target customer. For a Ford Fiesta the persona was probably a female, aged 25-35 with an urban lifestyle and perhaps one or two children.  The designers were told to imagine this person when creating the car´s look and feel. All car companies use these strategies.

Continue reading

Renault : Putting the Sole Back Into Design

Stop looking at your feet, Boy!

Kadjar 1After we discussed Renault’s desperate ‘Dare To Live’ bit of internet marketing a few weeks back, I’d entirely forgotten it related to an new crossover, the Kadjar. I’ve now just reminded myself of it and seen a picture. From front and rear it’s a forgettable enough lump, it only distinctive feature being the side view featuring a kick up from the sills.

I was a reactionary 30 something when I first started making snide remarks about people who wore the kind of upstart gym shoe that they call a ‘trainer’ in the UK. That was so long ago and I now regard those sort of comments as far past their Amuse By Date as the idea that wearing trainers is sort of edgy and anti-establishment. But, apparently, some people do still find such casual footwear cool. One is the notorious collector and wearer of sporting apparel, Laurens van den Acker, head of design at Renault. Continue reading

Danish car sales for January 2015

What are the Danes buying? In at number 20 in January is the Kia Rio. What else?

2015 Kia Rio: one of Denmark´s most popular car (20th most popular). It outsold the BMW 3-series anyway.

2015 Kia Rio: one of Denmark´s most popular car (20th most popular). It outsold the BMW 3-series anyway.

First, they are buying small cars. The VW Golf and Peugeot 308 are the largest cars in the top ten and the top spot goes to a sub-B car, as does position 6 and 7. Secondly, Danes are buying the latest thing. The Peugeot 108´s cousin the Aygo has been on sale for six months or so and buyers have switched from that car to the mechanically similar Peugeot. This means the VW Up has fallen markedly in the same time from its number one position a few months back. Opel are not faring well in the top 20: the Astra and Adam are absent and the Corsa is lingering at 12 though the figures for that car reflect the fact the outgoing model is still on sale. In counterpoint to my counterpoint, the Fiesta is no spring chicken either and it is the fourth most popular vehicle.   Continue reading

Geneva 2015 Motor Show update: a Danish supercar

The Danish designed and built Zenvo has a 6.8 litre, hand-built V-8, a 69 litre fuel tank and weighs 1688 kilos. They are exhibiting at stand 2040. 

2015 Zenvo ST1: at the Geneva Motor show this year.

2015 Zenvo ST1: at the Geneva Motor show this year.

Right at the end of the list is a Danish firm, Zenvo. I had read a little about this in the Danish press and it was a surprise to see a real car manufacturer among the less recognizably automotive names.

Zenvo built their first prototype in 2008 and production began in 2011. Nought to 60 is claimed to be 3 seconds, which I think is quite fast. If you want faster, get a Veyron. Top Clarkson, BilMagasinet and Maxim covered the Zenvo in 2010. The firm has a sales office in Zug, Switzerland and production is in Denmark. As with all small firms, I imagine that allocating resources to a show like this takes some considerable effort as, at this price level, every car represents a substantial amount of sunk capital.

I have tried to call Zenvo to ask what they are displaying and will follow this up in due course.  Continue reading

Theme: Passengers – The non-existence thereof

If we can ask what that sportscar is doing on that rough, narrow road or jammed in urban traffic can we also ask where are the passengers for all those lovely saloons?

This is for carrying passengers: 2004 Nissan Cube

This is for carrying passengers: 2004 Nissan Cube

With a sportscar or indeed any performance orientated car one is aware of a contrast between what the vehicle is capable of versus what it is asked to do. When I see a Lamborghini in Ireland, for example, you clearly see that the car´s capability is at odds with the environment it sits in, like seeing a speedboat on a mill pond. At a less extreme level, the saloon car suffers a similar problem, unless it´s a taxi. The missing passengers in the back make one wonder about the real purpose of the car. You can see this on any long drive on a motorway as you Continue reading

German Lessons With Claudia Schiffer – (brought to you by Opel)


Confusing isn’t it Claudia? You are, the Astra isn’t. Got it? Image via autoevolution

Opel blew the budget on Ms. Schiffer, because there’s certainly nothing left for anything else. You know, like production values, creativity, wit …

I feel for Claudia, I really do. Times must be tough in the Schiffer household, because she really must have needed the money for this. I see the ad frequently on television and each time, I fight the urge to hurl the nearest available blunt and weighty object TV-wards. Surely no advertising agency with a shred of dignity would willingly put their name to drivel of this magnitude, yet someone did. Did they start with the tagline; and work back from there? Continue reading

A Photo For Sunday – 1996 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti

1996 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti

1996 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti

 I like to imagine that if you were going to write a review or article about the Alfa Romeo 146 Ti (or any older Alfa) a suitably Italian background would be appropriate. Quite by chance it has worked out the other way and the car and background suggest the feature.

The Ti was the highest level in the 146’s engine and trim hierarchy. These models had colour-coordinated side skirts, a boot spoiler and 12-hole alloy wheels (the car above does not). Two-litre cars had stiffer suspension, uprated brakes, ABS, lower-profile tires and a different steering rack that had a small ratio as on the 159 but a worsened turning circle, something to do with an attempt to deploy pure Ackerman steering geometry.

The Ti designation was a bit of a cheat on Alfa Romeo´s part.  The original meaning of the term was turismo internazionale and was applied to some of Alfa´s more prestigious saloons of the 60s. That was a time when one could believe in the idea of international touring, as for example a fine drive from Dublin to Bordeaux or from Bologna to Brittany. To travel then was, I am convinced, actually very interesting and one felt like an alien when one was beyond one´s borders. Plastering Ti on a small family hatchback, however sporting it may have been, was trading on the name. Such is the power of the Ti badge in its florid italic script, that I have to work hard to try to forget the dull realities of the car as it is. It´s a nearly worthless two-decade old front-drive, two-litre, in-line four cylinder car, mechanically identical to any Escort, Golf or Astra. And now it´s parked in front of a pizza delivery place where the entire frontage is made of PVC decals, marring the street around it and cutting out light for those who work within.

More 2015 Geneva car show highlights: lemon scented Swiss washer fluid

DTW is pleased to present some more information of the exhibitors at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. What are Amstutz Produkte showing? Who are “Behind the Wheel”? And at what stand can Borgward be found? Christ Wash Systems seems fairly self-evident so I won´t spend too much time on them.  Read on to find out more.

2015 EDAG Light Cocoon conceot car.

2015 EDAG Light Cocoon concept car.

First on the list of any car engineering enthusiast is EDAG, who are at stand 2158. They have shown some intriguing concept cars in recent years. These designs showcase EDAG´s competence at providing engineering and design support for the automotive industry.  If you´ve been in an Audi or Bentley, for example, you´ve probably touched or indeed been moved by something EDAG have been involved with. This year the emphasis is on light weight construction, “a fully bionically optimised, additively manufactured vehicle structure combined with a weatherproof textile outer skin panel”. We ran a theme on concept cars and I must note then that the EDAG concept is Continue reading

1953 Ferrari 212 Inter road test

“A newcomer from Italy!” Archie Vicar takes a short look at a new motor car from Italy´s Ferrari concern and determines whether or not it cuts the mustard in what is an increasingly competitive market.

1953 Ferrari 212 Inter

1953 Ferrari 212 Inter: picture from http://www.Ferraristuff.com

From “Sports And Racing Motor Car Gazette” November  1953.

Photographs by Noel Rupert Beresford


For those who are “in the know”, Ferrari manufacture road cars that are closely related to their more famous racing cars. Two years ago a car not unlike the 212 Inter won the Carrera Panamericana with Chinette and Taruffi at the wheel and a second car came second, with two other Italians driving. Not many marques can claim such prestige on the race track. The road-going motor vehicles are produced in small numbers in a manner not dissimilar to the traditional hand-made methods used by the great British firms of Rolls-Royce, Bristol and Alvis. The prices are correspondingly high but the products of the Ferrari manufactory are somewhat different in character compared to the vehicles on sale in Britain which appeal to a well-heeled, often famous, class of buyers.   At the moment, Ferrari is offering the 212 series of cars for connoisseurs of high-speed motoring and it is this car we shall investigate in this abbreviated review. Continue reading

Geneva Motor Show 2015 : Lancia have a stand shock

2014 Lancia Ypsilon

2014 Lancia Ypsilon

The last press release for Lancia was December 2014. There is no news of what Lancia is showing at Geneva this year at stand 5139. But the fact they are listed among the exhibitors means that Lancia is still not quite dead. Qoros Automotive are also attending, by the way as are SKB Krattinger. They make equipment for garages.

DTW promises to keep you informed of the most important news from this year´s Geneva Motor show as it occurs.

Theme : Passengers – A Hire Education

Remembering who Hertz put in the passenger’s seat

Dole Queue

In the mid Seventies, living in London, fresh from college, unsure of myself and facing a stagnant economy, I took employment doing something I knew I’d be capable of. I became a Hertz delivery driver. Back then, Hertz were the envy of Avis. All car hire chains end up with too many, or the wrong type of cars in one place, and not enough in another. Avis solved this by loading cars onto a big transporter and dropping them off where needed, imagining that one guy driving 6 cars around would be cheaper than six drivers. Hertz knew differently.

The Hertz scheme was simple and old-fashioned. They employed drivers on a casual basis. You signed on with them, showing a clean licence. There were three shifts, and you could only attend one a day. You turned up at Hertz in Marble Arch and signed in. The dispatcher would start at the top of the list and call out as many names as he had drives for. If your name wasn’t called you could hang about on the off-chance, but you normally went home. If you had a drive, you would normally be part of a team of two or more. One person was appointed Lead Driver – he was the lucky one. If there were, say, four Cortinas to be brought down from Birmingham, Continue reading

How well is Nissan´s Pulsar doing?

Not as well as the Qashqai but the Qashqai has outsold the Ford Focus in January 2015.

2015 Nissan Pulsar

2015 Nissan Pulsar

According to Nissan UK, the Qashqai cross-over/softroader has achieved sales of 19,500 units. The Pulsar has shifted 3,322 units in January. By comparison the Focus, (Ford´s ever-green mid-size family hatchback), does much better. Ford claim 14,500 vehicles sold. However, if we do not compare like with like, the Qashqai shows people are willing to stray out of the obvious categories when shopping for a mid-price, mid-sized car. Some of those Qashqai buyers may very well have cross-shopped for a standard C-class car (Golf, Astra, Focus) as well as other soft-roader/crossovers. The Nissan costs £16,500 in the UK for a 1.6 litre model. A Focus begins at £16,445 (with a 1.0 litre Ecoboost) according to Car´s recent price list.  CarBuyer claims it´s £1500 less and Ford UK says so too:  £13,995. The Pulsar starts at £14,995.  With a generalising wave of the hand one can say these prices are not wildly dissimilar and once you´ve begun adding options and comparing non-quantitative elements, the distinction blurs to nearly nothing. Why did Car not list the lowest price Focus? (I looked in the January 2015 edition.)

Continue reading

Tinseltown in the Rain


Driventowrite’s resident Jaguariste remembers a more innocent time when life and advertising met, sniffed one another before rapidly going their separate ways.

In 2009, I became ludicrously excited about a car launch. Following a good 40-years of diminishing-return styling, to be presented with a 21st century interpretation of the Jaguar XJ saloon was exciting beyond all current comprehension.  Continue reading

Kimona over to my place, drive here in your Rolls

This year Rolls Royce is showcasing the things it is willing to do to its cars for its wealthier customers. A one-off car, the Serenity, will be shown at Geneva this year to this end.

2015 Rolls Royce Serenity interior concept drawing. Thanks to RRMC for the image.

2015 Rolls Royce Serenity interior concept drawing. Thanks to RRMC for the image.

The aqua leather and wooden accents work very well indeed. It might even be that the silk used extensively is fetching. I remain unconvinced by the Kimona-esque detailing in the roof that looks like a strange blood spatter rather than a delicate tree in blossom.

You can read Rolls Royce´s more generous description here:

Continue reading

Ride Engineered – the 1980 Mercury Monarch

The Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch pair are not known to be among Ford´s finest cars. Given that reputation, it may come as a surprise to some (it surprised me) that Ford marketed it as a rival to Mercedes’ W-123 in its 280E guise. Ah, that car again. Recently I had a closer look at a 1980 Mercury Monarch to see what it was really like. 1980 Mercury Monarch

The car shown here is a 2-door Monarch with the “Windsor” 4.9 V8. Ford also made 3.3 and 4.1 straight sixes available along with a 5.8 V8. The Ford version was almost the same barring cosmetic details at the front and back. Production ran from 1975 to 1980. The intention with the Granada/Monarch was to keep the comfort features of traditional large saloons but put them on a smaller wheelbase.  This was in response to increasing fuel prices and the general economic  downturn prevalent in the mid to late 70s. Just under 600,000 Monarchs were produced, which is a fair number in a five-year period. Continue reading

An American View of Bristol

Via the Bristol Owner´s website I found this nice American take on Bristol cars. The photo is from the Curbside Classics website which I can´t recommend highly enough.

This is a Bristol 411 from the time when Bristol cars were beautiful.

This is a Bristol 411 from the time when Bristol cars were beautiful: thanks to Curbside Classics for the image. 

The 411 looks like a combination of the proportions of a Jaguar XJ-6 and the surface treatment of a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. We have had some debate about the British ability to style cars. This one shows that a British car need not be heavily ornate to look good.

[Hello visitors from BODA.]

Recharging your electric car the Danish way

One of the questions hanging over electric cars is about how inner city residents can recharge them if they don´t have off-street car parking.

2010 Nissan Leaf recharging in Trojborg, Denmark.

2010 Nissan Leaf recharging in Trojborg, Denmark.

This photo shows the Danish approach: put the recharging stations on the street. I don´t know how this works but will endeavour to find out. At the moment there are no signs to say these parking places are exclusive to electric cars (though this might be implied). There are several dotted around where I live and I have seen them in the middle of Dublin too. I have also read that the US government is thinking that the best way to get e-cars going is to dispense with the strategy of fiddling the tax code and to simply build these stations where needed. If you look what´s involved it seems quite simple: a box with a brain in it and a cable.  The ninety two dollar question is whether such an arrangement work in countries where there is less social capital than there is in N Europe. How does a wire cable Continue reading

Good To Go?

Following our recent discussions on both Advertising and the Borgward revival, DTW have received an unsubstantiated transcript of a meeting between Borgward’s Head of Marketing and the Creative Director of their London-based Advertising Agency.

Storyboard B

Dieter, Dieter, Mein Herr Geezer. How goes it?

Good morning Miller. Very good to see you. Everything is fine at our end. We’re gearing up for Geneva – very confident, though a bit nervous at the same time, naturally. It is all a big step. But we must discuss the film. I showed your rough edit to the board yesterday.

So they loved it, right?

Not exactly Milller. They did not feel that it projected Borgward values.

And what are they Dieter?

As we told you before. As they always were, so will they be. Solid. Dependable. Discreet. Middle Class.

So what’s the problem? That describes the guy driving the car in the ad perfectly. It took ages to find him you know. What don’t they like? Continue reading

Ah, the romance of a picnic

The ongoing replacement of the entire American Buick line-up with Opel vehicles has taken a step onward. At the Chicago motor show, the Cascada has been unveiled wearing the Buick Tri-Shield.

Whatever you do, don´t drive quickly with that stuff in the back.

Whatever you do, don´t drive quickly with that stuff in the back.

Much as I like Opel´s current range, and much as I want Buick to succeed, I am beginning to get a little disturbed by how little effort GM is making to translate Opel into Buick. Further, it is important there is at least one car that is uniquely Buick in the way the Regal, Lacrosse and Verano aren´t. The Park Avenue is gone and perhaps the Avenir concept is a sign of there being a distincly N American car in the Buick range. That´s a help but it is not enough. It would be nice to have a Senator for Opel´s range. If this is the case with the Continue reading

Passengers: Testament of Faith

Opel Manta 400 - image via showerks

Opel Manta 400 – image via showerks

Sean’s fine piece on Denis Jenkinson earlier this week prompted this clip of rally legend, Ari Vatanen giving his co-driver an education in faith during stage 4 of the 1983 Manx Rally. Vatanen gets his Opel Manta 400’s tail wagging alarmingly on the narrow Isle of Man lanes prompting the now immortal exclamation from normally unflappable co-driver, Terry Harryman. (About 2 mins in, if you don’t want to watch the whole thing).

If this clip demonstrates anything it is that rally drivers and indeed their co-drivers are not cut from the same cloth as the rest of us…

1984 Opel Senator 2.5E road test

DTW has been taking a look at old, large saloons. Recently a 1984 Opel Senator was been subjected to a small test. Read on to find out what was found out.

1984 Opel Senator 2.5E

1984 Opel Senator 2.5E


Every time one has a reason to discuss the large cars from the 70s and 80s, the large cars that aren´t BMW, Mercedes or Audi, one seems obliged to talk about the status and success of these products in comparative terms. It seems incorrect to speak of the Granada, 604 or Senator without mentioning how they fared relative to the BMW 5 et al. I´ll avoid re-treading all that ground again. By now even I admit that you would need to be very determinedly prejudiced to deny that the W-123 Mercedes Benz is the clear winner of that long term battle.  The W-123 is the definition of a high quality passenger saloon, the saloon car to end all saloon cars. I´ve seen these machines up close – we all have – and every visible element is made of some class of entropy resistant material, from the dwarf star chrome on to the NASA-class door seals and then to the cloth with an infinite Martindale value. That´s why they are still on the road and that´s why they are still worth money.

So, yes, noted. The W-123 is great and that´s that. Is there any reason to look beyond Stuttgart?  Continue reading

Post For The Day

A Valentine’s Gift


As you know, Mr Editor Kearne keeps us under a tight rein. His reputation as the Elliott Ness of transport publishing means that the industry knows that he can’t be bought so, unfortunately, this preconception unfairly passes on to his team of writers.

As such, it was rare for this piece of blatant bribery from Vauxhall to pass through the net and, so desperately grateful am I, that it would be wrong of me not to draw your attention to the car it refers to.

It is the ‘Vauxhall’ Corsa. A car that shares a base with the Fiat Grande Punto. The two cars used to look pretty different to the casual viewer with, to my eyes, the Punto looking a lot better that the Corsa, possibly because it was designed by Giugiaro. This didn’t stop Fiat from putting its eternally inept facelift team onto the job. Now Opel has put its own team to work and, amazingly, they have made the front of their car look like a Punto that has been facelifted by a (mythically) competent team at Fiat. That’s a sort of compliment Opel, I mean Vauxhall.

Can I have another bag of sweets?

Another niche within a niche is filled: 2015 BMW Active Tourer 7-seater

The old shibboleths are invalid. Not only has BMW launched a five-seater, front drive hatchback, they now have revealed a 7-seater as well. Zafira watch out. BMW watch out too.

1983 bmw-733i-06 reworked

I think the doctored photo shows the 7-seater but I am not entirely sure. It probably doesn´t matter a whole lot. It´s very much just a car that was bound to happen. It isn´t hard to turn a five seater MPV into a 7 seater. This is the version of the car that has finally erased my core image of BMW which is a gleaming black 1986 528i (E12) with grey cloth and a manual transmission parked outside an ad agency on Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin. Now my core image of a BMW is

Continue reading

Opposing Polarities – Can the Anti-Bahar Rescue Lotus? – Part Two

evora tail

Driventowrite concludes its examination of Jean-Marc Gales’ plan to save Lotus.

Many of Lotus’ critics incline towards the view that Dany Bahar had the right basic idea, but was thwarthed by DRB-HICOM’s lack of imagination. Unsurprisingly then, their view on Jean-Marc Gales appointment is of a similarly reactionary hue. Gales made a mess of PSA they contend, and will do likewise at Hethel. Leaving aside the steaming lake of ordure their spiritual leader left behind at Lotus for a moment, the question is worth considering. Is Gales the right man?  Continue reading

Anniversary: the Peugeot 604 is 40 this year.

Large and lovely, the Peugeot 604 was launched amidst an economic crisis and a sharp upward turn in the price of oil. Today, PSA is largely ignoring a car noted for its outstanding ride, superb steering and odd seating position.

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Peugeot are not making a very big deal about the 604 which was launched in 1975. Peugeot´s museum throws the anniversary in with about nine others when they throw a party this summer. If you want to catch a bit of 604 magic, Peugeot might have one on display at Montlhery race track on May 2nd this year. French Cars in America are also silent on the topic. And that´s all a Google search threw up on the matter.

As a long standing admirer of this car, I find it just a bit of a pity that PSA have not decided to rehabilitate it now that so much time has passed and so much water has flowed under the bridge. Citroen has accepted the CX as part of its heritage. Yes, the CX was a long-lived and successful car while the 604´s career nose-dived after the first four years. However, the 604 did set a benchmark that other makers surely targeted when their entrants in the market were being developed. For that much Peugeot could be justifiably pleased.

Over the years I´ve written a fair amount about this car and so I am reluctant to add some more other than that the recent urge I had to test drive an 1984 Opel Senator was driven by my interest in the 604’s peers.  If I can´t have a 604 then maybe a Senator might do. Autocar viewed the Senator has having a suspension biased towards sporty handling and I found it to be very acceptable, if possibly slightly arthritic on account of tired bushes. If the 604 is better than that, and its accommodation even more comfortable than the very pleasing Senator, then I think by the time I do get around to testing a 604, it will be something of a revelation.

Opposing Polarities – Can the Anti-Bahar Rescue Lotus?


Don’t mention the Bahar – Jean-Marc Gales with the team behind the Lotus Elise-S Cup. Photo via automotivpress

Part 1: Driventowrite turns its gaze towards Jean-Marc Gales and asks if he has what it takes to transform Lotus’ fortunes in a post-Bahar era.

Four years ago at the Paris Motor show, Lotus attached a rocket to its back and aimed for the stars showing five audacious concepts. Rocketman, Dany Bahar, Lotus’ shamanic leader attained perihelion before learning a valuable, if rather messy lesson in physics. Bahar told The Telegraph recently he in fact never intended making all five concepts, his intention merely being “to make a lot of noise”. It clearly escaped his notice that it’s a lot easier and ultimately less time-consuming to just set fire to huge wads of cash in public. Just ask the KLF.  Continue reading

Ashtrays: 1984 Opel Senator 2.5E

DTW is known to be a champion of Opel´s magnificent Senator “A”. This post scrutinises the ashtray in the rear passenger door of an 1984 Opel Senator 2.5E. Read on to see if the Opel Senator´s ashtray design was class competitive.

1984 Opel Senator 2.5 E ashtray.

1984 Opel Senator 2.5 E ashtray.

Opel used a top hinged ashtray in this context, setting it in the armrest. This seems to me not to be a very good position.You can´t lean on the armrest while the ashtray is open. So, one can hold the cigar in the other hand and risk dropping it as you move your hand over your legs to the door. Alternatively, you keep the cigar in the hand near the door and lean on the centre armrest. In that case you need to make an uncomfortable movement to bring your hand near to where your elbow needs to be. You risk dropping ash on the seat just below. The ashtray is not illuminated and remember, the car may be in motion.

Continue reading

Death Has a Revolving Door: Here’s Borgward!


It was revealed earlier this week that Borgward, the long-dead German quality auto marque will announce their first new vehicle in over 50-years at this year’s Geneva Motor show. Borgward, who last produced cars in 1961, join Saab and Bristol amongst deceased marques making belated and in Saab’s case, serial comebacks from the grave. Although amazingly, neither have as yet produced anything tangible apart from a few blurry photographs and some vaguely muttered promises. The company’s website brightly claims ‘it’s time to begin writing thrilling new chapters in the Borgward story‘.
Frankly, I’m not so sure about thrilling, I suspect other adjectives may in the fullness of time, be shown to be more appropriate. I was thinking something more in the line of ‘utterly delusional’ myself. But perhaps I’m being unduly cynical – maybe Borgward will surprise us all at Geneva. But I suspect not…


See Borgward’s announcement here
Interesting piece about Borgward’s latterday history on Jalopnik here

Theme : Passengers – The Ultimate Passenger

Who was the greatest passenger of all time?

In My Dreams - Jim Clark showing how to drift.

In My Dreams – Jim Clark showing how to drift – source petewindsor.com

I don’t know about you, but I have shameful memories of my motoring youth. The worst was the time when a mother walking her two young children on a country road flung them into a ditch at the sight of me executing what I imagined was a most elegant four wheel drift through a long corner. Her action wasn’t necessary, I wasn’t actually intruding into their space, but she wasn’t to know that and I had a chastening lesson that day. Not that I’d pretend that quelled my driving style entirely, but I became more thoughtful of what other road, and pavement, users might think. I tried to keep a comfort area between them and me.

However, it took longer before I applied that qualified thoughtfulness to my passengers. In my late teens I’d happily practice my driving technique with a car full of passengers though, in mitigation, a few of them did the same to me. Continue reading

Ashtrays: the 1980 Mercury Monarch

DTW is in the middle of preparing a consideration of the 1980 Mercury Monarch which was all but identical to the 1980 Ford Granada (the US version). It is a legendarily mediocre car, even with a 5.0 litre Windsor V-8. More on that soon. In the meantime, I thought I would fillet some of my findings and present this amuse-gueule or Häppchen: the driver´s ashtray.

1980 Mercury Monarch driver´s ashtray cover.

1980 Mercury Monarch driver´s ashtray cover.

I wondered what the very large panel next to the glove compartment was and it turned out to be the aperture for a substantial ashtray and a cigar-lighter. Alas I was not able to gauge the dimensions of the ash receptacle: 100 ml would be an estimate based on my many years of valuable research on this neglected topic. Continue reading

2015 Fiat 500C review

DTW takes a Fiat 500C on a road trip. What did we learn? For one, don´t trust the fuel gauge and for another, it´s amazing people buy the Ford Ka. 

2015 Fiat 500C and some close relatives.

DTW is a bit late to the party in the case of the 500 as we aren´t yet on the invitation lists of the major car companies. By now the 500 is getting on a bit, launched as it was in 2007 when George Bush was still president. Nonetheless, we have got a hold of one now and if this isn´t a review of the car, at least it provides a check against the opinions of the motoring journals.

The model in question is the 500C semi-convertible version, on sale since 2009. I drove a 1.2 litre five speed manual without the stop-start technology and without the Twin Air engine. As the weather was dire, I didn´t open the roof except once to Continue reading

Unforgetting: Ford GT70

GT70 - photo via autowp.ru

GT70 – photo via autowp.ru

I vaguely remember seeing photos of this car in a magazine somewhere, but never quite knew its purpose or indeed much about it. Having watched this short film from 1970, I feel know more – if only a little…

During the late 60s, Ford was taking motorsport rather seriously. Ford’s 1970 rally weapon was the newly announced Escort – the sort of no-nonsense rugged warhorse that was perfect for forest stages and Safari’s. But on faster asphalt rallies, they were being humbled by more specialised machinery – notably the all-conquering Alpine A110’s.  Continue reading

A photo for Sunday – 1979-1992 VW Transporter (T2)

The vehicle here could be said to chime with our monthly theme, passengers. Further, the vehicle itself is a place to stay when you get to your destination. 

1979-1992 VW Transporter: air cooled and slow. Best left parked.

1979-1992 VW Transporter: air cooled and slow. Best left parked.

I notice that none of the Transporters that I ever see are well-cared for in a cosmetic sense. Rust is always there somewhere. The passenger saloon with its fold down tables and simple bench seats are almost always littered with debris. I don´t imagine that the owners´ home is similarly strewn with discarded items such as cables, cartons, items of clothes or old boots. Why the difference? While at one level these machines are vehicles they also seem to ask to be treated like an old rucksack or cycle pannier. Over time these pieces of baggage accumulate things at their bottoms which are ignored indefinitely. What makes this sort of treatment odd in this case is that Continue reading

Etceterini, Etceterini, Etceterini …

It Wasn’t Just Ferraris You Know?

Moretti 2

Last year, in Southern Germany, I came across an ‘Oldtimer Rally’ and I put a small gallery of photos up in December. There was a nice variety of cars, but what stood out for me was this little Moretti 750. Moretti was just one of a good number of small Italian manufacturers including Abarth, Stanguellini, Nardi and OSCA who produced small sports and racing cars in the post War period, and whose products are known, with affection and respect, as Etceterini.

There is no absolute definition of what makes an Etceterini, but it doesn’t mean any car not made by a major Italian manufacturer, so Fiat 500s rebodied as beach cars, fun as they are, are not Etceterini. Continue reading

Theme: Passengers – Mitfahrergelegentheit

Imagine being stuck for six hours in car with a total stranger. It´s terrific. 

It´s great to stand around a car and chat while taking a break on a long trip.

It´s great to stand around a car and chat while taking a break on a long trip.

For a while I was a long-distance taxi, ferrying strangers from the middle of Europe northwards and sometimes from the north of Europe downwards. I´d get a message via an in-box on a web-board that,say,  someone wanted to get from Cologne to Hamburg, or to Flensburg or to Aarhus. After some short discussions on price (the passengers dictated as supply exceeded demand) I´d arrange to meet the passengers at an agreed point and off we´d go on a six or seven hour trip together. “Hi, I´m Richard….you must be Continue reading

Lovely, lovely numbers

Opinions are fragile things, aren´t they? Left alone and sheltered from the cold gusts of fact, they thrive but a few small bits of data can destroy them in an instant, like hail shredding the most tender of blossoms.

This is the only image of thsi car I could find that was not black-ish or white-ish.

This is the only image of this car I could find that was not black-ish or white-ish.

The ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturer´s Association) released data for car sales in 2014 recently. Automotive News made a bit of a meal of the matter of who would take next-to-top spot  Would it be Renault, Opel or Ford who will take the number two position in the future? At the moment Ford holds this honour, with just under a million cars sold. GM, perhaps because one or two models are below par, sold a bit less again. But that part of the story, the cars-as-sports story, didn´t really interest me so much as Continue reading

More lost in translation: 2016 Nissan Maxima saloon

North American sports fans were treated to a look at the next Nissan Maxima during the Super Bowl intermission**. Many were impressed by the sentimental video and debate raged about the car´s overall style. Few disliked it. I noticed that a lot was lost in translation from the 2014 Nissan Sport Sedan concept to the 2016 car.

2015 Nissan Sport Sedan concept

2014 Nissan Sport Sedan concept

Reminiscent of the Citroen Cactus concept car, the 2015 Nissan sport sedan concept had rather flashy glass work. The A-pillar was blacked out to look as if the glass of the windscreen Continue reading

Something Rotten in Denmark: 1991 Volvo 960 Executive

Something Rotten in Denmark has turned up this curiosity: it´s labelled as a Volvo S90, but is being sold as a 1991 960. And it has the c-pillar treatment of the Volvo stretch limousine but appears to be at best, just a long-wheelbase version of the car. It´s the Volvo 960 Executive.

1991 Volvo 960 Executive

1991 Volvo 960 Executive

I found this car for sale at Vallensæk Bil Centre, somewhere south of Copenhagen. It´s for sale without an MOT for 9,900 kr. I wrote to ask if it could be purchased with an MOT and the answer was no. That means whatever is wrong with it is so severe, there´s no chance of getting the money back. Maybe to get a certificate it needs more than labour, some costly spare parts so a likely price is, say, 60,000 when its value is nearer 30,000. In comparison, a 1978 Mercedes 230E is for sale at the same dealer for 10,000 kr without an MOT and 20,000 with an MOT. That´s about £1,000 and £2,000 respectively. Continue reading