Ashtrays: 1978-1981 Triumph TR8

In the Triumph naming system, the TR numbers indicated a new body. Not the TR8.

Triumph TR8 ashtray
Triumph TR8 ashtray

The ’65-67  TR4a had a four-cylinder 2.1 litre unit.  The ’67-68 TR5 had a straight six 2.5 litre unit as did the TR6 which ran to 1976. Then Triumph reverted to a 2.0 litre four with the TR7. Oddly then the TR8 name served to indicate a new engine, the Rover V8 and not a new body. But it’s the disappointing ashtray that we’re here to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1978-1981 Triumph TR8”

A photo for Sunday: 2001-2007 Fiat Stilo

Three or four themes entwine here. We´ve had a Fiat Tempra “on sale” and here is its semi-successor. We´ve been doing colour and this car is white. This car lacks chamfers on the lamps.  And finally, we´ve discussed in a tangential way the demise of the three door car. This is a three door Fiat Stilo.

svvsvc
2001-2007 Fiat Stilo

The first one of these I saw in the metal lurked in a corner of Cambridge in 2001. Isn´t odd that I still remember that with such burning intensity? At the time I thought the detailing less than refined. I still hold that opinion today. The scallop under the side rub-strip lacks finesse. For a class of students who were designing an electric trike I held a car-park seminar on wheel arches and bodysides. I get the feeling the designers of this car could have done with the same preparation. The rear wheel arch does not finish off in a very satisfactory way: there´s a surface between the wheel arch rim and the bumper that flares in a way you´d never draw. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 2001-2007 Fiat Stilo”

Theme : Colour – Beige New World

Fashion’s a funny thing. It’s understandable that haircuts and trouser bottoms and patterns date, and what seemed really smart to you once, now sits embarrassingly at the back of a cupboard because you’re too ashamed even to take it to the charity shop.

Love at first sight - the colour, not the car - image : buysellcortina.co.uk
Love at first sight – the colour, not the car – image : buysellcortina.co.uk

But it’s odder that something as basic as a colour can date. There aren’t that many colours, or there are infinite colours depending on how you look at it, but either way how can something that seemed so agreeable to you once, suddenly (and it often is sudden) become so jarringly dated? One explanation is association – maybe you fell in love with the purple colour of Eric Clapton’s loon pants when he was in Cream (no, I didn’t since you ask) so painted your bedroom walls that colour. Your parents have kept it like that ever since you left home 40 odd years ago and they wonder why you stopped visiting them. Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Beige New World”

Class of ’86 – Cadillac Allanté

Detroit’s SL fighter wasn’t a winner, but was that the point of the exercise?

Image: scorpiosgarage
Image: scorpiosgarage

The Cadillac Allanté was not a brilliant commercial success. In fact its best year was its last, with just over 4,500 cars sold. It’s unlikely the Allanté was a profitable car, even at the (really quite optimistic) prices Cadillac were charging. Its convoluted production process most likely saw to that, even if the warranty claims already hadn’t. Nevertheless, the Cadillac two-seater was perhaps a more significant car than appearances might first suggest. Continue reading “Class of ’86 – Cadillac Allanté”

Mystery car

Our Leinster correspondent has spotted a mystery car on his travels around Ireland´s capital city.

What is that?
What is that?

There are no prizes for identifying it but we do welcome some interesting insights. I suspect the paint colour is enough to trigger recollections. That paint colours are so undistinguished now means such gut-responses will be harder to make when we see the mystery cars of 2016 in 2030. Hmmm; metallic grey. It must be a VW, or Audi or Ford or Renault or Opel or  Kia or maybe a Benz…they did that colour in the period 1995 onward? By the way the mystery car is the one in the centre of the photo and not the Laguna parked to the left of it. Those paved front yards are dismal.

Three to five

The DTW difference is that we don´t just repost the news but provide incisive analyses that compound mere data into something altogether more meaningful. This article represents an instance of our remarkable service.

2017 Kia Rio theme drawing: source
2017 Kia Rio theme drawing: source

Autocar and Automotive News both reported on the upcoming Kia Rio by kindly showing some renderings of the planned car. Autocar also reported on the Polo showing it driving around in disguise  (“camo”). Regarding the Rio, AN felt it important to tell us that the car will look sportier and that it will have a longer bonnet. In comparison to the quite fine outgoing vehicle, Kia said the new design would have a “longer wheelbase, and upright C-pillar [to] give the car a more confident and balanced appearance”. So the current car is not that confident and not balanced enough apparently. Owners must be happy to be told that. About the VW Polo, Autocar reports it’ll be a longer and lighter car. For a change, no mention is made of increased sportiness. So far so good, that’s our data: now the synthesis part. Continue reading “Three to five”

2016 Cadillac Escala concept car interior

Last week I mentioned a bit of news from Cadillac and promised I would return to that when the car had been revealed. That happened. Here is my response.

2016 Cadillaci Escala interior: source
2016 Cadillaci Escala interior: source

As you might recall the teaser photo drew our attention to the spangly OLED technology which is going to grace Cadillacs in future. I expected the follow-up news to deal with a new exterior form-language for Cadillac. Much of the commentary dealt with that, wirh less on the interior. Previous Cadillac show cars at Pebble Beach included the well-received Ciel of 2011 and the Elmiraj coupe from 2013 and people expected something more production-ready. They discussed that too.  Continue reading “2016 Cadillac Escala concept car interior”

Entering the plastic age

Jaguar’s current stream of new models is testament to the enormous sums being spent on reinvigorating the brand – unfortunately, the new car’s interiors make every effort to appear as though they were lowest on the list of priorities. 

2016-jaguar-xe-dashboard-and-cockpit
Not bad – for a Nissan. Photo (c)gtautoperformance.com

A new family of combustion engines doesn’t come cheap. Neither does an all-new aluminium platform. But is that enough to explain quite why the cabins of Jaguar’s new-from-scratch XE, XF and F-pace models are so blatantly disappointing? Continue reading “Entering the plastic age”

How articulate

Expression distinguishes designed objects from engineered ones. Expression relates to meaning: it draws attention to an aspect which is more than geometry or function.

2004 Fiat Croma
2004 Fiat Croma

In this little photo essay I’d like to show how this idea emerges from looking at chamfers on tail-lamps Continue reading “How articulate”

Theme : Colour – Don’t watch that…Watch this!

We look at 2-Tone, refuge of the indecisive.

Wolseley 15-60 chales01 wikipedia
Starting on a pedantic note, I use the term ‘two-tone’, knowing full well that, like the term ‘colour coding’, its use in regard to car painting is usually incorrect. A tone is technically a greyer, less colourful, version of a single colour. Frequently, cars described as ‘two-tone’ are, more correctly, ‘two-hue’. Nevertheless, let’s stick to the generally accepted vocabulary.

I became aware of two-tone, as a child of maybe four. My Dad had a dark green Mark VII Jaguar which, one day, returned from the garage with light green flashes down either side – I’ve recaptured this crudely on the attached photo. A few months later, they disappeared and the overall dark green was reinstated. I never knew why he did this, or why he undid it – it was one of the lesser questions that remained unasked and unanswered between us during his lifetime – but to a young child, just becoming interested in cars, it was hugely confusing. Cars could be white or black or dark blue or light blue or, even, red, but I never realised until then that they could be more than one colour. Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Don’t watch that…Watch this!”

Theme: colour – collect them all

Hyundai’s colour palette for the i10 has been enthusiastically received in my corner of Europe. Here are as many as I can find. The boring silver is not a default for i10 customers.

2014 Hyundai i10
2014 Hyundai i10

This one is n0n-metallic grey, not seen since the first Audi TT.

Here are more….

Continue reading “Theme: colour – collect them all”

Up-selling Henry

With news that Ford’s upmarket Vignale line is falling below expectations, are the wheels already coming off the Blue Oval’s last chance saloon?

Mondeo Vignale. Image: premierford
Mondeo Vignale. Image: premierford

The key to viability in the European car market is finding ways to encourage customers to pay more. Easier said than done. According to a report last week in Automotive News, a JATO Dynamics analysis states the average UK customer pays £25, 400 for a mainstream brand D-segment car. By contrast, the average spend on a premium branded car of similar size was 36% higher.  Continue reading “Up-selling Henry”

Something rotten in Denmark: 1983 Ford Granada 2.3 L

After Simon S’s fine collection of Japanese treasures I’d like to present a car only Myles Gorfe, our absentee contributing classics assistant sub-editor-at-large, would like.

1983 Ford Granada 2.3 LX
1983 Ford Granada 2.3 “LX”

The sills are badly perforated. Goodness knows what’s under the car. This rot’s not shown in my photos taken in a pretty part of southern Denmark (not the area right around the car). The bumpers are faded. Note the driver’s door toproll is safely secured with two screws that most likely weren’t there when the car rolled of the line at Ford’s Koeln plant in 1983. The rug comes with the car, justifying the 9100 kr asking (I think the rug costs 100kr). The 2.3 litre V6 would otherwise be a nice version (114 ps) but not this example. The colour is sad. I looked for a 2.3 in 2004 and failed to Continue reading “Something rotten in Denmark: 1983 Ford Granada 2.3 L”

For Sale in Switzerland – Japanese Rarities

Japanese cars from the eighties and even before have more or less disappeared from our streets. Nobody seems to care for giving them collectors’ item status, except for some exotic sports cars maybe. All the bigger was my excitement when I discovered even two Japanese everyday cars on dealers’ lots recently.

A 1979 Datsun Sunny for sale
A 1979 Datsun Sunny for sale

The first example is a 1979 Datsun Sunny estate in a very nice pale metallic green, typical for this time. The car seems to Continue reading “For Sale in Switzerland – Japanese Rarities”

DTW Summer Reissue: Midlife Krisis KA

If you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, at least get a decent set of wheels. [We round out driventowrite’s Kanniversary with this piece first published in November 2014]

Image: autobild-de
Image: autobild-de

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in his forties has a higher than average propensity to some form of mid-life introspection. As we know, the clichéd route to self-actualisation ranges from an inadvisable tattoo, to an inappropriate affair with a younger member of whichever gender he’s attracted to. Some choose to experiment with various derivations of the above. The more conventional opt for a sportscar or convertible. After all, just because you’re in the throes of a life event doesn’t mean you have to be original about it. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Midlife Krisis KA”

Design and assembly

Recently we returned to the theme of A-pillars. I went hunting for the ones where the door panel and A-pillar share a surface. It means a shutline runs down the “visual” A-pillar which is itself continuous with the cant rail. It didn’t stop there…

Peugeot 1007
Peugeot 107

I found these three interesting ways to divide the bodyside. Above: note the door’s top edge cuts into the visual A-pillar. The actual A-pillar is partially exposed and part covered. Neatly, there is no need for a pressing to Continue reading “Design and assembly”

Far from the Mainstream: Brilliance

After a bit of break it´s now time to hit the small ads again and see what else you can buy for the price of a quite good second hand car without buying a quite good second hand car. Today, Brilliance. One of the two models had Italdesign style and the other had the loving hand of Pininfarina to give it form.

China Brilliance vehicle range
China Brilliance vehicle range

Both of these cars are new to me so I have to digest a fair amount of information on your behalf. Who are Brilliance? Founded in 1991 in China, their first major endeavour involved building ultimate driving machines locally for a Bavarian manufacturer. They sell a lot of those. Then Brilliance made a brief attempt to market their own cars in Europe in the period 2008 to 2010. That explains the narrow age range among the used examples I saw on-line. Reports indicated that by 2010 about 75,000 Brilliances would find happy homes in this beautiful continent of ours.
Continue reading “Far from the Mainstream: Brilliance”

And news from 2015

Whatever happened to Steve Mattin? After a spell at Mercedes and then producing some unhappy-looking Volvos he went to work for Autovaz in Russia.

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Lada showed this car two years ago and launched it last year. Despite a downturn in the Russian economy, the car is selling well. The wheel arch treatment is there to disguise the height of the bodyside. The car is 4.4 metres long, has a 1.6 litre petrol 4 (and that´s it) and is based on Renault-Nissan bits (that firm now controls Autovaz). Renault are making a name for themselves as the new Fiat: providers of cheap and cheery transport in developing countries. Continue reading “And news from 2015”

News from a few days ago

By the time this is published you may very well know what the concept design in question looks like. I think it’s an interior concept but may involve a new exterior form language. I didn´t want to nudge any of our other articles to one side for a teaser so the first available place to discuss it is here, after your breakfast.

1999 Cadillac Evoq: source
1999 Cadillac Evoq: source

In 2014 I took a look back at Simon Cox´s work, particularly the Vehicross and his 2001 Imaj concept car. The latter is the stem design for Cadillac today, a look called Art & Science by those interested in such things. It developed a theme from the 1999 Evoq, credited to Kim Wasenko at Cadillac´s own advanced styling studio. It is a style that has had a very long if not really successful run, to judge by Cadillac´s long-term stalling in the car market. Time for change? Continue reading “News from a few days ago”

A photo for Thursday: SEAT Toledo VR5

Mentioned previously in dispatches, a particularly nice, if fading example of my favourite variant of VAG’s fecund PQ34 platform. 

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I’ve found some pictures taken last year, but it seems to have disappeared from my neighbourhood.  The DVLA Vehicle Check information suggests it is set fair for its sixteenth year. Pale beige leather complements the gold exterior.  It was registered in Edinburgh, traditionally a place where wealth showed a discreet face.  This fits nicely with a well-optioned car from a less than top-tier manufacturer. Continue reading “A photo for Thursday: SEAT Toledo VR5”

The New Routemaster Bus – Part 2 : ‘Old On Tight, Guv’nor!

In Part 1, we charted the genesis of the New Routemaster. Now, after intense anxiety counselling, DTW’s intrepid correspondent braves the world of public transport in order to see what it’s actually like.

My own view of the New Routemaster’s aesthetics is that they deserve full credit for avoiding any direct references to the original.  The lines of the windows are not all mere graphics, they follow the stairs as they drop from the top deck, which would be more pleasing, rather like a piece of old-school modernist architecture, if they didn’t they sit at odds with the curved roof and the pinching as the line drops from the rear right hand corner is clumsy.  Rival manufacturer Alexander Dennis was certainly impressed since their recent Enviro 400H copies the glazed staircase. At the front, the asymmetry of the original is hinted at by the diagonal windscreen line dropping right down to the bottom of the door. Little items such as the rear view mirrors seem a crude afterthought, but I like the fact that the exterior avoids some of the fussy detailing favoured by many in the bus and coach industry in the false belief that they make their vehicles look less ‘municipal’. Continue reading “The New Routemaster Bus – Part 2 : ‘Old On Tight, Guv’nor!”

Supersize KA

Did Ford originally have bigger plans for Ka? Evidence suggests they did.

Ford Touring Ka by Ghia. Image: carstyling.ru
Ford Turing Ka by Ghia. Image: carstyling.ru

Following ur-Ka’s launch in 1996, there was speculation that Ford had plans to expand Ka as a stand-alone sub-marque, perhaps along similar lines to General Motors in the US when they created the Saturn brand in 1990. Certainly, the manner in which Ka was introduced to the public suggested this was a Ford for people who wouldn’t normally buy Fords. Continue reading “Supersize KA”

Theme: Colour micropost

I mentioned mid-range colours earlier. Here’s what I meant. Sorry, it’s another Ford. Down the road there parked one in goldy browny grey too. 

image

Is this colour available in the UK? A similar colour appeared on Ghia Mondeo Mk2s and on a special edition Ka Mk1.

As an aside, the new Astra and newish Corsa are only appearing with lease-me colours: black, metallic grey and red. That confounds my launch colour theory.

Thought two: in a run-out period could zany colours be a cheap selling point? Is a cheerful paint colour the Fiat 500s main selling point now?

More Ka thoughts

John Topley penned this rumination on the Ford Ka when it went out of production. I thought you might like to take a look. Click on the link to read his article. 

A golden wonder from 1996
A golden wonder from 1996

About the only point where I am not in agreement with John is what he refers to as the Ka’s discordant lines. What makes the shape work for me is that absolutely everything adds up to a strong unity. Amazingly, the alternative design was as wrong as the actual one is right.  Continue reading “More Ka thoughts”

Class of ’96 – Getting Into the KA

To mark the 20th anniversary of Ur-Ka’s debut, we don’t write about it. 

Image: mobile.de
Image: mobile.de

We’ve spilled a good deal of ink over the Ka on driventowrite over the past couple of years – too much ink, some might say. But with the car’s 20th anniversary now looming, one has to be seen to do something. So rather than retread old ground, the opinions of the foremost UK auto journalists of the time will have to suffice. Failing that of course, there’s always the narcotic Laurie Anderson soundtracked launch commercial – which is notable for showing no footage of the Ka at all.  Continue reading “Class of ’96 – Getting Into the KA”

Micropost: 1999-2005 Toyota Yaris

This is about colour. Toyota also offered the Yaris in a metallic mint green.  Later years seldom saw such personal colours. 

1999 Toyota Yaris
1999 Toyota Yaris

The Yaris is a car that I feel has been around for longer than it has. Why is that? The first one had a zany Europroduct appearance which has gone direct from fresh to “period” with no intervening awkward phase. The dusky pink looks pinkier when you Continue reading “Micropost: 1999-2005 Toyota Yaris”

1975 Peugeot 604 road test

The only way to really know a car is take a test drive. Having long admired the 1975 Peugeot 604, I finally tracked one down and fired it up. What did I find?

1975 Peugeot 604: on sale here.
1975 Peugeot 604: on sale here.

(Republished with kind permission of Curbside Classic]

Before I get to my discoveries, let´s take a quick look at the background to the 604´s development. [A longer discussion can be found here]. The French know the period from 1945 to 1975 as “les trentes glorieuses” or “the glorious thirty”. The rising economic tide seemed to lift all boats: the average French worker´s salary rose 170% during that time. Customers could afford more. At precisely the end of this period, the beginning a protracted malaise, Peugeot launched their interpretation of the large, luxury car: the V6-powered, rear-drive 604. Many know the car as “the French Mercedes”, being as it is a clear response to Benz´s W-114 of 1968. Peugeot wanted to offer increasingly affluent customers a domestic product other than the beautiful but unorthodox Citroen DS which, in 1975, had reached two decades in production. Things didn´t work out for Peugeot and today most know the 604 only for being a bit of a glorious failure, despite the car receiving glowing reviews for its ability to Continue reading “1975 Peugeot 604 road test”

A photoseries for Sunday: 1986-1994 Lancia Thema SW

It’s been ages since I crossed one of these: Pininfarina’s version of the Lancia Thema.

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Pininfarina assembled the SW in their Borgo San Paolo factory (which is not Fiat´s Mirafiori plant, an important difference). Unique among the T4 cars, it came as an estate though it doesn’t look all that unlike how the Fiat Croma might have done had it been offered in the same format. Continue reading “A photoseries for Sunday: 1986-1994 Lancia Thema SW”

Theme: Colour – white

In Japan it´s the colour of death. In the west it suggests purity and simplicity. In a building it invokes introversion and despair. White. What´s it like on a car?

Pearly white
Pearly white

White is the new black. In recent years white has changed its social status in cars and gone from being a poverty-spec colour or the choice of Meditterraneans to being, well, just another colour actually.

Continue reading “Theme: Colour – white”

DTW Summer Reissue : Len & Now

Recent talk of 5 cylinders causes our Editor to conflate two of his pieces from DTW’s very early days

Len Brik Cover

Many thanks to Eoin for his kind mention below of my recent little volume on Sir Basil Milford-Vestibule.  I’ve been putting away the research material of late and was leafing through the long out-of-print autobiography of Len Brik, who will be remembered by many of us longer serving types as the charismatic Chief Engineer at Victory Cars.  Following the merger of Victory Cars with Empire, he came into close rivalry with Sir Basil. Len was entirely self taught and there was mutual loathing between the two men.  Sir Basil is usually reported as referring to Brik as ‘The Blacksmith’, though more exactly he used the phrase ‘The Blacksmith’s Dull Apprentice’, whilst Brik returned the compliment with ‘Sir Beryl’.

Brik took designing on the back of an envelope to new levels, never doing drawing board work himself which he considered ‘poofy’.  On one occasion he handed a sketch to an underling to draw up ‘just as is Sonny Jim’. Maliciously, the underling incorporated the envelope folds as exposed seams and, as there was no time to correct it before a board presentation, Brik had to leave it as was, intending to drop all the blame on the hapless draughtsman’s shoulders. When the design was enthusiastically received, going on to become the classic Victory Diva, he naturally accepted all credit himself.  On another occasion, when doodling a design on a flip top packet of Peter Stuyvesant, he unintentionally put Victory at the vanguard of the hatchback revolution.

Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue : Len & Now”

Throwbacks: examples and non-examples

What do the Triumph Toledo, the Ford Taunus and the Rover 75 have in common?

1972 Triumph 1500: source
1972 Triumph 1500: source

For a very long time the general trend in automotive drivetrain layouts has been to move from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. It started in earnest in the 60s with smaller cars from mainstream manufacturers though of course the pioneers were specialists, Citroen and Lancia. Thus a trickle of front-wheel drive superminis exploited the packaging efficiency of front-wheel drive and showed the way forward. Then the Golf/Kadett/Escort class yielded as follows: 1974 for the Golf, 1979 for the Kadett and 1980 for the Escort. Things took a little longer to Continue reading “Throwbacks: examples and non-examples”

Theme : colour – the lost competitive advantage

We´ve moaned about the dull uniformity of the world´s car parks. TTAC has some insight on the fact that opting for the boring colours is not helping you resell that car.

The Lancia Kappa: source
The Lancia Kappa: source

This is the link. “Silver and beige, the go-to colors of the 1990s and 2000s, have higher depreciation rates, but nothing is worse than gold. With an average depreciation of 33.9 percent, gold vehicles are dead last. Oddly, it’s the third-fastest-selling color in the study, behind gray and black,” says the article. As it reports American data it does not say so much about black or mid-grey metallic. I imagine that a similar study would show that these colours aren´t helping protect value at this stage. There can´t be a competitive advantage to having a silver-grey or black Audi or Ford at this point. We must at this point be at peak monochrome.  Continue reading “Theme : colour – the lost competitive advantage”

Class of ’76 – Bristol 603

Bristol launched the 603 in 1976. They were still making a derivation of it right up to their demise in 2009. We chart its languid progress.

1976 Bristol 603. Image: only-carz
1976 Bristol 603. Image: only-carz

Considering the fact that Bristol used a variation of the same chassis for half a century, it might seem a little pointless discussing the 603 as a stand-alone model. Especially so when one considers how much the end-of-days Blenheim 4S owed to its 1976 forebear. However, it did mark one of those rare evolutionary shifts in Bristol style – one which saw them through the next thirty-odd years, although in retrospect that may have been unwise. Continue reading “Class of ’76 – Bristol 603”

Class of 2006 – Lotus Europa S

A more expansive Elise or a Hethel-sourced Cayman? Lotus themselves seemed a little unclear.

2006 Lotus Europa S. Image: RAC
2006 Lotus Europa S. Image: RAC

Lotus hasn’t a great track record when it comes to recycling storied nameplates. Elite, Elan, Esprit – the originals have tended to be more memorable. This no-exceptions policy seems to have extended to 2006’s Europa S too, cynics deriding it as a re-bodied Opel Speedster. Similarities between the cars are undeniable of course, sharing as they did the same Elise-based extruded aluminium chassis and GM sourced 2.0 litre Ecotec turbocharged engine. Others have suggested it was a still-born Lotus consultancy project re-purposed and shoehorned in to broaden the model range. Continue reading “Class of 2006 – Lotus Europa S”

The New Routemaster Bus – Part 1 : Room For One More, Love!

There are two names connected with the New Routemaster London bus, Boris Johnson and Thomas Heatherwick. The latter is a controversial designer, feted and sometimes scorned. He is maybe, in stature if not style, the UK’s Philippe Starck. Someone who is obviously clever and ambitious, and doesn’t want to be hemmed in by specialising in a particular field. The same, of course, can be said of Mr Johnson which, one might assume, is why they gelled.

telegraph-co-uk
Two New Routemasters meet – almost – image : telegraph.co.uk

The original Routemaster, let’s call it RM, a vehicle never a bus stop away from having the ill-used adjective ‘iconic’ added to its name, was a product of a very different era. It was never designed to attract tourists to Brand London but its longevity on the roads meant that it became an ingrained part of the city, viewed with affection by all those who didn’t get stuck on the rear platform on a freezing Winter’s day. Continue reading “The New Routemaster Bus – Part 1 : Room For One More, Love!”

Ashtrays: 1975 Peugeot 604

It is with profound pleasure that DTW presents the ashtrays of the legendary 1975 Peugeot 604. A lot has been written about the car but nothing has been said about its ashtrays.

1975 Peugeot 604 dashboard
1975 Peugeot 604 dashboard: where is the ashtray?

What we find is that the car lives up to its reputation of all-around excellence coupled with a few idiosyncracies. We´ll be presenting a full review of the car later on this month. In the meantime let´s not focus on the ride, handling or strange driving position. What if you want to  Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1975 Peugeot 604”

DTW Summer Reissue: The Luxury Gap

Ford’s retro misadventure at Jaguar met its maker with the advent of the 2003 X350-series XJ. 

2003 Jaguar X350 XJ. Image: Favcars
2003 Jaguar X350-series XJ. Image: Favcars

Had Sir William Lyons been working in the current era, it’s very likely he’d have continued to plough his own stylistic furrow. Many have speculated on how Jaguar’s founder would have evolved the ‘Lyons line’, but in his wake, all we have is a subsequent body of work that amounts to studied guesswork on the part of the old master’s successors. The quality of Jaguar’s stylistic output in recent decades can best be described as patchy; certainly few would argue that anything produced in recent decades matches that of Lyons at his apex.

Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: The Luxury Gap”

Something rotten for Sunday

Remember the Chrysler K-car? It helped save Chrysler until the next crisis. The Fiat Tipo played a similar role, at least in underpinning a lot of models. Here’s one of them.

1991-1996 Fiat Tempra
1991-1996 Fiat Tempra

Another Fiat, a 125 behind glass, made me stop at the location. When I stopped looking at that I wandered further.  In the otherwise empty lot nearby this Tempra crouched. Looks good from afar, but it’s far from good. Although the body had galvanising, rust is biting the doors and the handles are seized. It’s not for sale anymore and evidently wasn’t worth taking to the dealer’s new location 10 km away. Continue reading “Something rotten for Sunday”

DTW Summer Reissue : Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile Torino

I visited here in 2011, just after it had re-opened following a complete restoration. I posted a small gallery and the accompanying text 20 months ago. Here it is again, with added images. In addition to what’s displayed, plus temporary exhibits, they have an impressive collection in storage, so I imagine that, 5 years later, some exhibits will have changed. Anyway, if you’re near Turin, it’s well worth a visit.

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It is a large and impressive museum, mixing the informative (exposed engines and bare chassis) with the glib (new Fiat 500s bursting through kitchen walls). But you need to get them in and presentation is important, especially if you are accompanied, as I was, by someone who does not find cars at all exciting. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue : Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile Torino”

Morphologie du Monospace

The genepool of the Monovolume is littered with evolutionary cul-de-sacs. Today, we present two examples from a highly likely source.

Citroen C 10 'Coccinelle'. Image: caradisiac
Citroen C 10 ‘Coccinelle’. Image: caradisiac

It should surprise nobody to discover that Citroën were at the forefront of monospace research. Indeed, studies into such a vehicle began under the supervision of André Lefèbvre as far back as the early 1950’s. A series of mono-volume prototypes were built under the Prototype-C nomenclature, culminating in the 1956 C 10 seen above. Continue reading “Morphologie du Monospace”

DTW Trifecta: 1982 Nissan Laurel, Givenchy edition

At Curbside Classics I found an article about this remarkable rarity. It combines three themes that we have been considering in recent months: engines, Japanese design and special editions.

1982 Nissan Laurel Givenchy edition: source
1982 Nissan Laurel Givenchy edition: source

Precious little visual information exists regarding this car so please excuse the slightly rough images. What is fascinating is that it reminds me of Patrick Kavanagh´s line that “through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder”. The photo suggests enough to let your imagination to just Continue reading “DTW Trifecta: 1982 Nissan Laurel, Givenchy edition”

Fifth Nicest*

My predilection for two and three door cars is already a matter of public record. Four years ago however a growing family (and the ridiculous amount of paraphernalia that accompanies two kids) meant short of a roof box or a trailer a new car was needed.

The scalloped headlamps and reduced indicators were very small facelift tweaks. To my eyes though they made a big difference.
The scalloped headlamps and reduced indicators were very small facelift tweaks. To my eyes though they made a big difference.

The thought of either an MPV or SUV was never entertained. That pretty much meant I was looking for a saloon. Not just any saloon though, but the 5th best looking* 4 door of all time. When this car was launched in 1994 (and especially in base spec) it had a discreet and maybe even slightly underwhelming presence. By the time it came to it’s run out in 2001, dollied up with MSport skirts and almost totally dechromed (the only silver to be found is on the twin kidney grilles) it truly was a sleek slice of motoring heaven.
Continue reading “Fifth Nicest*”

Cars that should have been Citroëns – Ital Design M8

Ital Design’s M8 styling concept was all about the CX – in just about every sense of the word.

All images: Ital Design
All images: Ital Design

The same year Giugiaro showed the radical Megagamma, the carrozzeria he founded also displayed this styling proposal – about as diametrically opposed to his landmark Lancia-based mono-volume as it was possible to imagine. Difficult to envisage both designs emerging from the same studio at the same time isn’t it? To be honest, the M8 is more of what one would have expected from the magic marker of Giugiaro in 1978, even if its uncanny resemblance to the contemporary Citroën CX was perhaps the most outstanding aspect of its form. Continue reading “Cars that should have been Citroëns – Ital Design M8”

What Anders did next

Last month’s news of head of MINI design Anders Warming’s precipitate and unexplained departure from BMW as was a shock to the industry comparable to Chris Bangle’s exit in 2009.

BORGWARD Group AG - Anders Warming
Image: Borgward AG

That may be as nothing compared with the news of his new appointment as Borgward AG’s Board of Management member responsible for Design, to begin on 1 January 2017.  He is belatedly reversing the trend begun by Wilhelm Heinrich Gieschen, Karl Monz, and numerous others who took the one-way journey south from Bremen in the early 1960s to create the new BMW in Borgward’s image. Except of course, neue Borgward is headquartered in Stuttgart, and answers to Beijing. Continue reading “What Anders did next”

Not for Sale Around Here: BMW 1-Series Sedan

Source: Motor Authority
Source: Motor Authority

…or saloon if you must.

We could easily be excused for missing the first official pictures of the BMW 1 Series four-door.  It’s reported to be strictly China-only, and a built in the BMW-Brilliance Auto joint venture factory in Shenyang. The design isn’t wholly unfamiliar, having broken cover as the ‘Concept Compact Sedan’ at the Auto Guangzhou salon last November. Continue reading “Not for Sale Around Here: BMW 1-Series Sedan”

DTW Summer Reissue – Engines: The road less travelled

You can make 4-cylinder engines bigger but what about making a smaller 6?

[First published August 22, 2014]

1990 Alfa Romeo 2.0 V6. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
1990 Alfa Romeo 2.0 V6. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

We have considered two approaches to bridging the 2.0 to 2.5 litre capacity gap, the enlarged 4-cylinder engines, and the 5-cylinder concept. And while the first is relatively common and the second shall we say not unusual, there is one other method of adding power and prestige to a smaller engine. That route is the road less travelled, 2-litre V6s.

The first small capacity V6 I could think of turned out to be a 1.8 litre V6 used in the Mazda MX-3, a car whose appearance I never got to grips with. In this small feature “two” is the magic number, so the 1.5 litre V6s used in racing will also be overlooked – also because I am not at all interested in motor sport. I am allergic to nylon padded jackets. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue – Engines: The road less travelled”

Gamma Bytes: When Gamma went Mega

Of all the concepts based upon Lancia’s unfortunate ’70s flagship, this was the most significant. Enter the Megagamma.

1978 Megagamma. Image: Italdesign
1978 Megagamma. Image: Italdesign

In 1978, the motoring world gathered at the Turin motor show to gawp at the new metal and absorb the latest trends from the cream of Italy’s styling studios. Particularly those of Ital Design, already Italy’s most important automotive carrozzeria. However the reaction to this 1978 offering was initially one of bemusement, bordering on derision. Neither estate, van nor saloon – what on earth was Giugiaro thinking? Continue reading “Gamma Bytes: When Gamma went Mega”

Theme : Colour – Another Introduction

Our Editor craves your indulgence.Gerbil

“May you live in interesting times” is the, apparently bogus, ancient Chinese curse which was, at one point, mentioned in our site introduction. It seems that 2016 is certainly shaping up as an ‘interesting’ year and, in Europe at least, many journalists are missing out on lazing on a beach, whilst their remaining colleagues have little chance to sit with their feet up embellishing stories of skateboarding gerbils in order to fill the gaps in what was, in quieter times, known as the ‘Silly Season’. Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Another Introduction”