Theme: Film – National Lampoon´s Vacation

Usually cars in films are a background detail. Occasionally they have a more important role. For the 1983 cinematographic production “National Lampoon´s Vacation”, a Ford LTD Country Squire was transformed into a Wagon Queen Family Truckster.

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The production designers could almost have taken a stock car as it was, so grotesque had some American vehicles become by the time the film was in production. Continue reading “Theme: Film – National Lampoon´s Vacation”

The Big Ask 4: the Carisma´s stablemates

In our final instalment we look at the Carisma´s showroom companions in Mitsubishi´s dealerships.  What were they?

Face-lifted Mitsubishi Carisma: source
Face-lifted Mitsubishi Carisma: source

According to Car magazine´s GBU, all of them belonged in the Chump section. The Colt cost least, at just under £10,000. Another three thousand bought you a Lancer with one engine available. You´d need to offer roughly another one and a half thou more to drive off in the Galant 1.8 Si which had a 1.8 litre four, a 2.0 litre four, a 2.0 litre V6 and a 2.5 litre V6. The Sigma came as a saloon and an estate and the price of entry was nearly double that of the Galant: 30K in old money. For families Mitsubishi had a Space Star MPV for £14,000. The Space Wagon cost £15,799. Most succesful might have been the Shogun SUV at £21,219. For some reason Mitsubishi also had a 155 mph sports car called the 3000 GT for £42,000. Car described this vehicle as a “waste of effort.” Continue reading “The Big Ask 4: the Carisma´s stablemates”

The Big Ask -Third Attempt

The fourth of five special items today looking closely at a rather remarkable car.

Image: RAC
Go Carisma! Image: RAC

Remarkably unremarkable. It’s not much of an epitaph but it’s probably better than ‘Born in Sittard-Geleen’*

There’s something irritating about an object which fails to live up to the promise of its name, which is one of the reasons the Mitsubishi Carisma annoys me – if I think about it at all – which on the face of things, isn’t that often. To be honest, I’d have preferred to have maintained a Carisma-free silence, but since we’re doing this exercise as some mad thought experiment, I’ve had little choice. Continue reading “The Big Ask -Third Attempt”

The Big Ask – A Second Try

This is the third of five items today which look more closely at a rather special car, the …. um, whatsitsname. 

It's no goog, I still can't see it - image ;
It’s no good, I still can’t see it – image :

Imagine yourself stranded on that hypothetical desert island. With nothing else, you start playing intellectual games. Game 56 is carving in the bark of a large tree the name of every car that you can remember. Will you ever, even if you live for 1,000 years, come to the Mitsubishi Carisma? Continue reading “The Big Ask – A Second Try”

Micropost: 1995-2004 Mitsubishi Carisma paint options

In its nine year career, the Carisma had a range of colour options.

Mitsubishi Carisma colour options
Mitsubishi Carisma colour options

The launch colours of 1995 were bright and included a popular metallic bronze. As the century drew to a close monochrome predominated. The 1995 dark metallic green is hard to show in a colour chip so I presented a larger image. In general dark green is an unflattering colour which is why it is not often seen. The green tends to read as black in many lighting conditions. Not shown is the vibrant IKB colour of the middle years. Continue reading “Micropost: 1995-2004 Mitsubishi Carisma paint options”

The Big Ask

This item begins a  special one-day series devoted to a single car: the Mitsubishi Carisma of 1995. During the series we will look at the car from a variety of angles. First, the overview…

1995 Mitsubishi Carisma: source
1995 Mitsubishi Carisma: source

The story of the 1995 Mitsubishi Carisma serves as a sterling example of why timing, as much as the product, influences a car’s chances at the showrooms. A lot of the criticism fired at the Carisma takes aim at the car´s lack of visual drama. While it is true the Carisma didn´t break new ground so much as smooth it over, to think that the car´s carefully conservative appearance is the reason for the lacklustre performance is to miss the sharper point.

Read on to find out several rather surprising things about this cherishably overlooked car… Continue reading “The Big Ask”

Because They Could : The Oldsmobile Toronado.

Still celebrating birthdays, DTW comes to the Half Century for the Oldsmobile Toronado, a 1966 example of which was supposed to be the 100 millionth GM vehicle. Did they really keep count that carefully? What about Johnny Cash’s Cadillac?

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado - image :
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado – image :

Personal Car? That would be my Nissan Cube. However there is also a ‘Personal Luxury Car’, a US category comprising gargantuan, two door cars, such as the Sixties Ford Thunderbirds, which I suppose was shorthand for the head of the nuclear family’s gross personal indulgence. I admit to a liking for most of the personal luxury cars from that era and, looking at GM’s offerings, I would be hard pushed to choose between a ‘67 Cadillac Eldorado, the outrageous, ‘71 boat-tailed Riviera or an original Oldsmobile Toronado. Continue reading “Because They Could : The Oldsmobile Toronado.”

“A tangible experience of modern beauty”

Mercedes presented the X-class yesterday. It´s a pick-up. Launched in Stockholm, no-one knows why. Anyone?

2017 Mercedes X-class: source
2017 Mercedes X-class: source

The relevant facts are these: the Nissan NP300/Navara and Renault Alaskan will be pinned under using the same underpinnings. The X-class is not a concept though they talk about it as if it is and as if it´s not. It might not be sold in N. America. Apart from South Africa it won’t be sold in Africa. And not Japan either. Or. Continue reading ““A tangible experience of modern beauty””


Tomorrow, Driventowrite is pushing aside all other issues to deal with a single car. It´s the Big Ask: our writing team will offer their deep wisdom and cogent analysis of the times and fate of one of Europe´s most discussed saloons from the recent past.

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Above is a small indication of what will be presented in the course of this unique day. As a sample, the car had a 1.9 litre common rail diesel engine among those offered during its nine-year run. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow to find out just how the Big Ask was answered…

Class of ’76 – Rover SD1

We attempt to remain aloof to the SD1’s visual appeal, but like the car itself, we fall at the final hurdle.

1977 Rover SD1. Image: Drivemy
1977 Rover SD1. Image: Drivemy

When it comes to legacies and reputations, has sufficient time elapsed to talk about the Rover SD1 without falling into the usual narrative tramlines? It’s a tricky one isn’t it? After all, the big Rover remains a deeply likeable car with much to commend it. Yet at the same time, although it didn’t quite attain Lancia Gamma levels of customer toxicity, it became the living embodiment of British Leyland’s genius for snatching defeat from the very cusp of victory. Continue reading “Class of ’76 – Rover SD1”

Theme : Film – Cop-Out

DTW fearlessly exposes the possibility of widespread corruption in the TV Police Force.

It's been going on for ages : 1960s Los Angeles Homicide Police Captain Amos Burke and his unmarked car.
It’s been going on for ages : 1960s Los Angeles Homicide Police Captain Amos Burke and his unmarked car.

Film-makers are sometimes depressingly conservative, sometimes audaciously ambitious. One particular bit of audaciousness is the conceit that you can take a book that took 2 years to write, that would take 2 weeks to read and boil it all down to a 2 hour movie, maybe less. Without that juicy rights cheque, how many authors would let that happen? But despite this, there are screenwriters who make a reasonable fist of the job, creating at least a shell of the original, or maybe a pared-down alternative. One of the difficulties in doing this is the representation of a character. A novelist can spend several pages, using the protagonist’s inner thoughts, in order to give the reader a pretty good idea of who they are. In a movie you can’t do this and, even on a more leisurely TV series where you might have 12 hours to play with, you still need to catch your audience in the first episode. So you use shortcuts, character signifiers. What they wear, what they eat, where they live, who they know and, all too often, what they drive. Most of these rely on the audience’s preconceptions or prejudices and, for many of us on this site, there is no preconception as subtly strong as who drives what and, actually, the majority of audiences are pretty car aware, in terms of status, if not exact model. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Cop-Out”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jonathan Partridge Interview – Part Two

In this second part of our interview with Jonathan Partridge, XJ40’s foibles come under the spotlight.

Image: Jonathan Partridge/Jaguar Heritage
Image: Jonathan Partridge/Jaguar Heritage

If Partridge views XJ40 with a degree of ambivalence today, part of the reason is that his team dealt with the bulk of the customer feedback firsthand, and on early cars, it didn’t always make for edifying reading:  “A lot of it [XJ40 features] was good – you know, corrosion protection, anti-lock braking yaw control, the rear suspension, then the whole electrical thing with low current earth line switching and all the micro-computers were ambitious and I guess at the end of the day they over-stretched themselves and caused a lot of problems as a result. Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jonathan Partridge Interview – Part Two”

A Picture for Sunday: an American in Sweden

A recent tour in the country between Gothenburg and Trollhättan, Sweden, reminded me how much Sweden there is the NE of the US but also how easily American cars sit in the Swedish landscape.

1962 Buick Electra 225 hardtop coupe
1962 Buick Electra 225 hardtop coupe

The photo shows a Buick Electra 225 two door, four-window hardtop coupe (the 1961-1964 body). It also shows a 2005-2014 Saab 9-3 estate.  The image captures two enthusiasms of the Swedes: their own cars and the cars of the US. Continue reading “A Picture for Sunday: an American in Sweden”


An A-traktor can only go at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour. They are used by Swedish drivers between the age of 16 and 18, before a full driver´s license is permitted. These two are based on Volvo 700-series cars.

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On the black car note the very small load-bay, another requirement of the class.

Winter in Sweden is harsh. Biking to school for a 16-18 year old is not an option for a good part of the year, even if they wanted to do so. For some teenagers an A-traktor is a means to free their parents from a school run or a trip to the local railway station where these cars were parked.

The red car seems to have American-market headlamps which I always felt ruined the look of the 740 along with all the other European cars sold in N American in the 70s and 80s. Volvo 700s seem to be the most common A-traktors, followed by 200-series cars and some Saab 90s. I found evidence of a Mercedes W-126 and Porsche 928 A-traktor as well.



A picture and some questions

A while back I alleged that, if nothing else, the mainstream saloon had more visual variety than that found among C-class family hatches.

Top selling saloons and others
Top selling saloons and others

A recent bit of news concerning Volkswagen´s Phideon saloon led me to put that in with seven other medium sized cars. See how many you can identify. How different are they? And which one stands out?  Doesn´t the Phideon look a lot like a BMW 5-series proposal? Can you tell which one is the Phideon?

[Photo sources: Autocar, caranddriver, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Renault]

Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Three

In part three, Jim Randle speaks candidly about what was possibly the XJ40’s most controversial aspect – its advanced electrical system.


It’s been suggested in the past that Jaguar were over-ambitious in attempting to introduce electronic controls into XJ40 when this technology was still in its infancy, but Jim Randle points out a key precedent. Preparing XJ-S prototypes in the early 1970’s, he produced a carburetor and an electronically controlled version for comparison purposes, making the following discovery: Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Three”

Class of ’86: Rover CCV Concept

Intended to signpost the crucial 800 saloon, Rover’s CCV concept could be said to have eclipsed it entirely.

1986 Rover CCV concept. Image:
1986 Rover CCV concept. Image:

Why Austin Rover chose to display CCV at the Turin motor show a matter of weeks before the launch of their highly anticipated Rover 800 saloon seems a curious one in retrospect. For although it gained them a good deal of column inches and the approbation of the design community, it also ramped up anticipation for the new saloon model – which was dashed slightly when the 800 was revealed later that year. Continue reading “Class of ’86: Rover CCV Concept”

Theme : Film – DTW Recommends

DTW recommends some of its favourite films.


BORDERLESS LIMITS : When feisty Australian ex-lifeguard Lindi Jackson (Nicole Kidman), on holiday in Europe after her marriage break-up, gets mistaken for a British businesswoman and offered the top job at French car maker Citroën, it looks like a recipe for mayhem. However Lindi vows that she will make a success of the ailing firm by introducing the element most missing from today’s cars …. FUN! But it’s never going to be plain sailing. As if the stuffed shirts in the boardroom and the constant harassment from a weird bunch calling themselves Citroënistes isn’t enough, Lindi is visited by the ghost of André Citroën (a tour de force characterisation by Johnny Depp). After a hilarious bunch of wacky misunderstandings, Lindi and André form an uneasy alliance, but will they be able to put the joie back into the chevrons? DTW VIEW : Absolutely Chucklesome! Great Fun! Continue reading “Theme : Film – DTW Recommends”

Ashtrays: 1984-1998 Saab 9000

DTW is almost nauseously thrilled to be able to present this ashtray, successor to the legendary Saab 900 ashtray.

1984-1998 Saab 9000 ashtray
1984-1998 Saab 9000 ashtray

A lot is revealed about the Saab 9000 merely by inspecting its ashtrays. The driver and front passenger can use a smoothly-actuating drawer-type unit with a capacity of nearly 200 mls.   It’s very well situated and easy to open and close. In the back we find that Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1984-1998 Saab 9000”

Theme: Film – What Happened To The Most Important Car In Movie History?

There may be more famous examples of car casting – yet no other automobile has ever played as poignant a role, in the real world as in the movie realm, as a black Mercedes 450SL. 

Photo (c)

The name of the man we actually need to thank/blame for the 1980s as we know them isn’t Ronald Reagan, but Ferdinando Scarfiotti.

Even without grotesquely overstating the cultural importance of the movies, few would argue about the value placed on style and glamour during the decade that gave us the power breakfast, braces and big hair/shoulder pads/mobile phones.

Continue reading “Theme: Film – What Happened To The Most Important Car In Movie History?”

Far from the mainstream: Donkervoort

Today we peer again into the world of marginal car makers. In this installment we deal gently with Donkervoort.

1981 Donkervoort S8: source
1981 Donkervoort S8: source

There are 15 Donkervoort cars advertised at and above, a 1981 S8 is the cheapest at €19950 with a mere 52,000 km up. Next is a similar roadster from 1988 for €24.000. A 1998 2.0 Zetec-powered D8 costs €36,000. From 2001 an Audi 1.-powered D8 costs nearly €50,000. So, who are Donkervoort? Continue reading “Far from the mainstream: Donkervoort”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jonathan Partridge Interview – Part One

As we continue our XJ40-shaped theme within a theme, we examine the car through the prism of sales and marketing.

Image: Jaguar Heritage
Image: Jonathan Partridge/Jaguar Heritage

There’s more than one dimension to the backstory of any car. Up to now, we’ve concentrated primarily on the ’40 from an engineering perspective, but today, we examine the car’s legacy with Jonathan Partridge, former Product Strategy Manager who over a lengthy career at Jaguar, oversaw the marketing strategy for a host of saloon programmes, culminating with the XF. He is currently Vehicle Collection & Communication Manager with Jaguar Heritage at its Gaydon nervecentre. Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jonathan Partridge Interview – Part One”

A photo for Sunday: 2000 Honda S2000

Look at that. It has simple, distinct forms and great proportions.

2001 Honda S2000
2000 Honda S2000 in Silkeborg, Denmark.

Honda revealed to the world the S2000 as a present to itself, celebrating the firm´s 50th birthday. It belongs in a class of cars that motoring journalists ask for, receive with mixed feelings and then fade away with little fanfare. On paper, the car is one for serious drivers: it had a technically interesting engine (four cylinders, VTEC, 2.0 litres), rear-wheel drive, a rifle bolt gearchange, fine balance, excellent steering and outstanding looks. There´s no fat on the car visually or actually. One would have thought that on looks alone it could have done for Honda what the MX-5 did and still does for Mazda. Yet it didn´t do much at all apart from Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 2000 Honda S2000”

More pressure on the middle market

Sources such as this,  this, and this and this are painting a sketchy picture of a new midprice brand to sit, lie or crouch between Geely and Volvo.

2016 Geely Emgrand
2016 Geely Emgrand

Good luck to them, we at DTW cynically murmur. The story is not brand new but the launch date of October 20 th is.

Recent additions to the brandscape include Qoros, Borgward and DS and for two of them things don´t look so rosy. In the last decade China Brilliance had a go selling cars in Europe and that did not end so well. Existing middle market brands are not all thriving: Honda, Mitsubishi and Mazda struggle to support a full range. Rover and Saab have departed this turbulent world. Lancia teeters. Ford and Opel have difficulty with their more expensive vehicles.

So, what sort of price bracket are Volvo and Geely going to be aiming for? Continue reading “More pressure on the middle market”

Theme: Film – Grime

Not the 1978 film directed by Werner von Fassbender, but the stuff that accumulates on the car.


Even if you leave a car in a nice dry underground carpark, dust eventually settles on a car´s bodywork. In urban areas the dust is a mixture of exhaust particulates, pollen and vegetable matter such as pollen and leaf fragments. We breathe this stuff in all the time.

During summer when the humidity is on the low side, this dust usually remains mobile. As winter settles in and air temperatures drop, the air moisture tends to Continue reading “Theme: Film – Grime”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Two

Today, Jim Randle talks about the challenges facing Jaguar’s styling team, and skewers a few more holy orders along the way.


Possibly the toughest hurdle Randle and his team faced with XJ40 was finding an acceptable style for the car. The twin imperatives of reducing complexity and drag inducing features while retaining a recognisable Jaguar silhouette led to years of indecision and delay, but who was actually responsible for the eventual car’s style? Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part Two”

Class of 2006 – Volvo C30

Different is good – right? Try telling that to Volvo.

Image: sundaytimes
Image: sundaytimes

In the push for growth and profitability, conformity rules. The market isn’t habitually keen on niche cars and tends to reward bravery by studiously ignoring it in favour of something more conventional. Volvo played it safe with the C30, but not in terms of positioning, concept or indeed style. Continue reading “Class of 2006 – Volvo C30”

Micropost: when will global electric car sales exceed those of the Golf?

Automotive News reports on the future of the electric car here. And the Guardian explains how it is here.

An electric car: automotive news
An electric car: automotive news

In 2016 there will be 2 million electric cars on the roads, says the Guardian. And in 2030 electric cars will predominate in the world´s major cities. If it´s hard finding a petrol station in London now, it will be nigh on impossible in 2030. I wonder will they have special parking places for petrol cars with their own little recharging posts?

Another milestone for electric cars is when their sales exceed the production of the VW Golf.  Annual sales of the Golf are 930,000 units. In 2015 annual sales of electric cars was 740,000 units. Those 740,000 units are divided among many manufacturers. Someone is taking a bath on this at the moment.

Art of the Estate

The Estate Car seems to have lost favour though, in many ways, it never was in favour.

Peugeot 404 Break – image :

The Estate Car was the car you bought when you had so many obligations and so much responsibility that you couldn’t afford to indulge yourself with the car you really wanted. Its name, of course, like its US equivalent the Station Wagon derives from the upper echelons, but even there it was just a tool to carry around steamer trunks, whilst the important people were often carried in the back of something grander. After that, if you couldn’t afford servants to do the lugging around for you, you bought an estate for your own use instead – a lumpy, unloved workhorse. Continue reading “Art of the Estate”

Something Working in Denmark: Citroen CX 25 Prestige Automatic

Something rather wonderful in Copenhagen


The recent announcement of the CXPERIENCE (Auto Express wrote it thus in capitals, who am I to argue?) and the various speculative articles about the future or otherwise of a car like it to fill the gap being left by the C5 (assuming it is still being produced?), reminded me that I had ‘snapped’ this recently. Continue reading “Something Working in Denmark: Citroen CX 25 Prestige Automatic”

Cross Town Traffic

Guess what’s driving new car sales across Europe?

Now 331.8% more popular. Image:

Recently we looked at the sales performance for the European premium midsize segment for the year to June, which threw up little by way of surprise to say anything of delight. So today in hope of better fare we’re focusing on the broader European sales figures for the year to August, courtesy of Despite recent political turmoil across the region, the underlying trend continues to be upwards (for now at least) and unsurprisingly, the usual suspects remain locked in the top spots – notwithstanding some gratuitous rearranging of deckchairs. Continue reading “Cross Town Traffic”

Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car

OK, so this relates to a TV series translated from a collection of detective books, but I’m hoping readers will allow me a little latitude from the core of our theme.

If that were my car, I would not be happy with even John Thaw placing his foot on the number plate.

For a moment there, this opening was like a game of charades for the ‘visually impaired’ …

I think most people know that (Chief) Inspector Morse was originally the owner and driver of a Lancia, not a Jaguar Mk2 (or was that really a Daimler?). Having read most of the books by Colin Dexter many years ago on the back of viewing a few of the TV episodes (pre-kids, one had time to waste like that), a few thoughts were stimulated by the changes wrought by the TV production company in its adaptations from the books. Continue reading “Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car”

2016 white convertible thing, not sure what it was…

… because I couldn´t see the badge.

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The badge is placed on the upper surface of the boot. It probably really ought to on a vertical surface so people can read it with less trouble. You can get all the glorious details on the car here. I notice it´s a fairly light car (just over 1000 kg) so I suppose the 1.4 litre engine is able to haul it about. The other thing I noticed is what looks like misallignment of the outline of the bodywork around the rear lamps. The car is made in Japan alongside the Mazda MX-5. How did that happen then?

As for the rest of the showroom, there are 500s, 500Ls and Pandas and no Puntos and no Qubos. They do sell some nice paint colours though. To be fair, the 500 is probably covering the work of what was once known as a Regatta or even the Tempra, even if it´s not a saloon. The absence of the Punto in the region´s biggest showroom shows they have pretty much given up on this one though it is shown at their website. And there´s are no Tipos around.  Like Honda, the Fiat range is rather unbalanced.


Micropost: 1997-2003 Mercedes CLK Cabriolet

Today I am throwing stones at the CLK cabriolet.

1997 Mercedes Benz CLK
1997 Mercedes Benz CLK

The part I want you to notice is not the front-end treatment which is intended to make one think of the E-class saloon (W210, for anoraks) which was on sale from 1995 to 2003, about eight years too long. Look at the A-post´s brutal truncation. A nicer but perhaps more costly way would have been to run the A-pillar into the header rail as per, for example, the Mazda MX-5, shown below. I sometimes think that Mercedes do things which aren´t so pleasing and imagine it´s okay because nobody will be looking so critically at their output. Continue reading “Micropost: 1997-2003 Mercedes CLK Cabriolet”

Honda´s odd policy

For reasons unrelated to cars, I had reason to visit a Honda showroom.

A Honda showroom, yesterday in Denmark.
A Honda showroom, yesterday in Denmark.

While I waited to talk to the salesman who busily spoke to a real customer, I had had a short look at the interiors of all the cars on display. I discovered that Honda don´t fit rear central armrests to any of their cars: the Jazz, the Civic, the HRV or CRV. Those cars that might have had them, the Accord and Civic saloon are not on sale in Denmark. Their range is still unbalanced: the Civics, two CUVs, a city car and a billion euro supercar. That last one sits very uneasily in a range devoid of a cheaper roadster, a saloon and an MPV.

Continue reading “Honda´s odd policy”

Exquisite Corpses

Ever wondered why so few XJ40s remain on the roads? One word: scrappage.

Image: The author
Image: The author

I stumbled across this place on the outskirts of Romney Marsh in 2014; the largest and most depressing collection of Jaguars I’ve ever witnessed. And while hundreds of decrepit Jags of every stripe were littered about the place, there were entire compounds full of condemned XJ40’s – part (it appears) of the 2009 government stimulus package aimed at propping up the motor trade. Continue reading “Exquisite Corpses”

A Photo for Sunday – Uwe Bahnsen

Today, we present a photo of a stylist – in at least two senses of the word.

Director of styling, Uwe Bahnsen. Image:
Ford’s Uwe Bahnsen. Image:

You may wonder why Ford’s Köln-Merkenich stylistic output throughout the 1970’s and early ’80s was so assured? Look no further my friends. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday – Uwe Bahnsen”

Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part One

To mark the 30th anniversary of XJ40’s launch, we speak exclusively to former Jaguar Engineering Director, Jim Randle.


If the XJ40-series’ legacy represents a series of lasts, then chief amongst them is that it remains arguably the final mainstream British series production car to embody the single-minded vision of one man. Because if a car could embody the personality and mentality of its creator, then XJ40 is Jim Randle, whose stamp is all over its conceptual and engineering design. Recently we spoke exclusively with the father of the ’40 to re-evaluate the last purebred Jaguar saloon.  Continue reading “Thirty Times ’40 – Jim Randle Interview Part One”

Ford Cortina Mark IV at Forty. Time for a comeback?

The BMC Mini and the Ford Cortina represented two contradictory strands of the British character.

image :
Ford Cortina 1.6L – image :

Soon after its release, Ford, notoriously, took apart a Mini and realised what BMC hadn’t worked out, that each car sold would lose the company money. It wasn’t going to make the same mistake. Ford Germany inherited the abandoned front-drive ‘Cardinal’ project from the USA to become the Taunus 12M, but Ford Britain were having none of this fancy stuff and its ‘Archbishop’ (ho, ho) project was very, very conventional. But what the first (Consul) Cortina did offer was a lot of up-to-date looking car for the money. Less well recorded is that BMC, returning the favour, bought a new Cortina, took it apart and were appalled at the bodyshell’s lack of torsional stiffness. But even had this fact been publicised, it’s unlikely that it would have affected the Ford’s success. Continue reading “Ford Cortina Mark IV at Forty. Time for a comeback?”

Class of ’86 – Alfa Romeo 75 Sportwagon

Missing Links and lost causes – in search of Alfa Romeo’s elusive estate.

1986 Alfa 75 Sportwagon. Image:
1986 Alfa 75 Sportwagon. Image:

The recent announcement by Alfa Romeo’s Harald Wester that the Italian manufacturer has no plans to introduce an estate version of its latest Giulia saloon was hardly a shock, given that the forthcoming Stelvio crossover will henceforth fulfil that role, being to all intents and purposes a jacked up Giulia hatch. As we know, the European market for upmarket estate cars is shrinking to the crossover contagion and what is left of it is dominated by the German hegemonic trio and Volvo, so it probably makes little sense now for FCA to throw good money after bad. Continue reading “Class of ’86 – Alfa Romeo 75 Sportwagon”

Theme: Film – Incognito

I am sure that this has been the title of some film at some point, but I have a broader point to make.

Benedict Cumberbatch in 70’s cool, upstaged (again?) by his co-star

My one-time step father used to work for the Met Police and frequently came home in squad cars of an incredibly nondescript nature – a brown Hillman Avenger, a yellowy beige Morris Marina, etc.  You may be getting my drift (incidentally, having been Hendon trained, he was quite adept at creating his own drifts, but that is another story). Continue reading “Theme: Film – Incognito”

The Not Land Rover

As I said yesterday, we spent a lot of effort jawing about the 2016 long-wheel-base Land Rover Discovery Sport when perhaps the Mitsubishi Ground Tourer deserved more of our attention. 

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The Ground Tourer is a PHEV, with a four-cylinder petrol engine and three electric motors. Two of those are placed at the back. The Ground Tourer points towards Mitsubishi´s plans for a medium-large SUV and one which is intended to offer more agile behaviour than you´d expect. One way the PHEV power train delivers this is by the selective use of the power delivery from the rear electric motors. What agility means in a car is its willingness to turn around its own central axis. This behaviour can be encouraged by directing power asymmetrically to the rear wheels so the yaw velocity can be increased. It´s like giving the car a sideways nudge during a turn.

Continue reading “The Not Land Rover”

Long Term Test – Mazda 3 Fastback 2.2 diesel SportNav

Pre-facelift Mazda 3 and Post-facelift Mazda 3: spot the difference!

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The Mazda 3 has been featuring in UK-based car magazines recently, partly as one of the weeklies has been running one as a LTT car (a Fastback 1.5L Diesel SportNav) and also because the 3 has just been given an very mild facelift and tech update. I thought I’d use this as an excuse to impart the news on the facelifted car and also throw in an update on how my own car has been running. Continue reading “Long Term Test – Mazda 3 Fastback 2.2 diesel SportNav”

2016 Paris Motor Show colour palette

Driventowrite is pleased to present an exclusive examination of the colours used on concept cars at the 2016 Paris Motor show.

2016 Paris Motor show colours for concept cars.
2016 Paris Motor show colours for concept cars.

You´ll notice green is still missing from the palette. Renault´s yellow was really a pearlescent gold. Honda´s Civic had a stainless-steel character to it. Renault´s Trezor´s surface appeared to be textured with a honey-comb effect. Mitsubishi went for white on the Ground Tourer but a vibrant yellow on the (very similar) EX. Mercedes used black paint for the EQ bonnet which disrupted the graphic effect of the fancy grille decoration.
Continue reading “2016 Paris Motor Show colour palette”

Theme : Film – Between The Gaps

We look at what once went on in the supposedly dark hours of broadcasting.


Around my middle teens, I was in dire need of displacement activity. Anything to put off revising for exams in those early Summer months. What better than the television. Naturally, back then, there wasn’t 24 hour broadcasting, and there were no afternoon movies, soaps or reality encounter shows. But there were Trade Test Transmissions. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Between The Gaps”