Act of Contrition – Citroen C6 (part two)

We drive a C6 and discover there’s nothing penitential about Citroën’s swansong big saloon.

Image: Car
Image: Car

On my return to Randle Engineering in November 2016, I re-introduced the subject of the C6, but this time with a more contrite tone. I ask Steve to tell me more about his example. By UK standards at least, Randle’s C6 has a virtually unique specification. It’s a 2007 C6 2.2 litre model with a six-speed manual transmission, one of 38 in the country. Continue reading “Act of Contrition – Citroen C6 (part two)”

Theme: Brochures – Pushing Tin

A decade apart, two brochures illustrate how Citroën’s marketers viewed the evergreen Tin Snail.

Image: Driven to Write
Image: Driven to Write

1975: Two years after the oil embargo and deep into a period of political instability and economic austerity. Frugality was back, as was a yearning for a more authentic mode of living. In keeping with the mood music of the time, BBC sitcom, The Good Life portrayed a professional couple turning their backs on the rat-race, embarking on a ‘back to the land’ subsistence in their Surbiton semi. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Pushing Tin”

Theme: Brochures – When the Kitty Was Purring

Jaguar’s XJ6 saloon was a landmark car. Its marketing did it justice.

dsc_0011

Collecting brochures is, in the grander scheme of things, a rather sad pastime. One goes to great lengths to get one’s hands onto something that was supposed to have, at best, a short-term effect and be forgotten immediately afterwards.

Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – When the Kitty Was Purring”

Theme: Brochures – 1971 Wartburg Knight

 A 46 year old brochure prompts some thoughts on – arguably – the most idiosyncratic Comecon car to cross the Iron Curtain.

wartburg-353-brochure-1970-1

It is neither big, nor French, nor Italian, and had an embarrassingly prolific production of over 1.2 million, but the Wartburg 353 is deservedly a DTW favourite.

The price list accompanying the brochure is from April 1971. The £749 asked for the Knight (the name was only used for the British market) deluxe saloon was £26 more than a Mini 1000. A four door Viva deluxe was £883, the equivalent Avenger was £20 dearer.  More off-beat choices were the Morris Minor 1000 4 door at £775, the Skoda S110L at £775 (The Octavia wagon was still available at £710), and the new 1500cc overhead camshaft  Moskvich 412 matching the Knight exactly for price. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – 1971 Wartburg Knight”

Vanity Of Vanities : Work In Progress

Following the post from a couple of weeks ago, expressing my desire for an enjoyable, yet slow, car I’ve been trying to flesh out what was, when I first suggested it, a rather nebulous idea.

slow-sports-top

At the same time, I’ve been getting my own low-level insight into the mindset of Ferdinand Piëch.  From what I know of him we have little in common, save a desire – realised in his case, unrealisable in mine – to see a rather silly car produced; one that no-one else in the world needs.  I started my doodlings thinking of simple things that could, perhaps, be built on top of a scrap 2CV platform. But Dr Piëch has inspired me that, like the Bugatti Veyron, second-best just won’t do. Continue reading “Vanity Of Vanities : Work In Progress”

Making History – Jeff Coope Interview (part one)

Driven to Write speaks to the man helping ensure the British Motor Museum in Gaydon is future-proofed for future generations – Director of Operations, Jeff Coope.

British Motor Museum Collections Centre. Image: BMIHT
British Motor Museum Collections Centre. Image: BMIHT

Ensuring the past continues to address the future is a challenge all museums face. To stay relevant they must evolve – or die. Jeff Coope is the man at the sharp end. Having overseen the transformation of what was known as the ‘Heritage Motor Centre’ into today’s British Motor Museum, his ambitions for the facility go much further. The current purpose built Gaydon museum was formally opened in 1993, but despite being supported by industry donations and from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust itself, it struggled to sustain itself financially. Continue reading “Making History – Jeff Coope Interview (part one)”

Notes and Curiosities: GM in Britain in the early 80s.

In 1981 GM went to all the trouble required to get type approval for a range of their US-market cars, on the expectation that customers might want to buy them.

1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo: source
1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo: source

GM picked a small range of cars to lure customers: two Cadillacs, one Buick and three Chevrolets. At the top of the list sat the 6 litre V8 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. The Sedan de Ville d’Elegance cost a little less for a little less length. From Buick´s list of cars, GM chose the Century Limited with a 3.8 litre V6, for just under £10,000.  Upsetting the hierarchy, the Chevrolet Caprice came (as saloon and estate) with a 5.0 V8 and cost more than the Buick, a few hundred pounds. Finally, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo with the same engine as the Buick but had two fewer doors and cost a shade more. All quite baffling.

Of course, the price is not really the thing here. The Buick offered another level of quality than the Chevrolet Caprice saloon and another character. That said, it still inverted the actual ranking of the cars for no real gain.  One wonders why GM bothered to Continue reading “Notes and Curiosities: GM in Britain in the early 80s.”

1984 World Cars (4) Innocenti Tre and Austin Metro

In the fourth of a short series, I will remind readers of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.

1984 Innocenti Tre: source
1984 Innocenti Tre: source

 What do the De Tomaso Deauville and the Mini have in common? The answer is a relationship to the Innocenti Tre rooted in the fact De Tomaso developed the car from the Italian Mini. Bertone designed the hatchback body for the Tre (three doors), giving it a little extra over the two-door Mini.  Further adding to the Tre’s mongrel status is that the engine is a Continue reading “1984 World Cars (4) Innocenti Tre and Austin Metro”

Act of Contrition – Citroën C6 (part one)

Making amends for past indiscretions, Driven to Write takes a long look at the last true Citroën.

Image: Autotitre
Image: Autotitre via Net Car Show

Despite its premier position in Citroën’s iconography, the incomparable Déese never really represented the double chevron’s stylistic North Star. That position is occupied by its less well loved successor, the 1974 CX. Despite being viewed by some ardent Citroënists as the lesser vehicle to its definitive forebear, the CX’s silhouette remains not only the one best associated with the marque, but also one which most aficionados would welcome a return to. Continue reading “Act of Contrition – Citroën C6 (part one)”

World Cars 1984 (3): Chrysler Executive and Cadillac Cimarron

In the third of a short series, I will remind readers  of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.

1984 Chrysler Executive: source
1984 Chrysler Executive: source

In this little delve into the World Car Guide I´ll take to attempts to dress mutton up as something finer. The Chrysler Executive and Cadillac Cimarron saw two companies desperately or cynically trying to pass off low-end platforms as much finer vehicles. The Cimarron is famously awful and there might still be a retired executive alive who looks into the mirror every day and sees the face of the man who signed off Cadillac´s least good car. I´ll start though with the Executive, which was very much a poor replacement for what were once quite fine cars. Here´s what the Guide said: “ An impressive looking business car based on a stretched Le Baron. Although there has been a revival of demand for the traditional big

Continue reading “World Cars 1984 (3): Chrysler Executive and Cadillac Cimarron”

Weighed in the Balance – ECOTY prospects

Sadly, there can only be one winner…

tannistest
Lined up at Tannis Bay, Denmark. Source: ECOTY

In three weeks’ time (6 March) the cream of the world’s automotive media, and some rather anxious captains of the motor industry will crowd into a stuffy hall in Geneva to hear the results of European Car of the Year 2017. It’s much like the Eurovision Song Contest, but far more camp and partisan. Continue reading “Weighed in the Balance – ECOTY prospects”

World Cars 1984 (2) : Bertone Ritmo Cabriolet

In the second of a short series, I will remind readers  of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.

1984 Bertone Ritmo cabriolet: wikipedia.org
1984 Bertone Ritmo cabriolet: wikipedia.org

In 1984 Bertone offered a cabriolet version of the Ritmo, with its own badge on the grille. By 1984 Fiat had restyled the Ritmo slightly: the air intake on the bonnet vanished in a tidying frenzy. The car had a roll-hoop to add rigidity, probably a necessity for a vehicle as fundamentally light as the Ritmo. Another Ritmo cabrio option existed: the Pink Panther, also put together by Bertone. Continue reading “World Cars 1984 (2) : Bertone Ritmo Cabriolet”

Driven To Write : Three Years Old and Still Proudly Uninfluential

The Editor is amazed at quite how quickly time flies. Is it really three years?

Image: carwallpapers-ru
Possibly the most DTW car of all. Image: carwallpapers-ru

One most inclement evening in February 2014 two of my principals convened in the snug of a South London hostelry. The webpages of Driven to Write went ‘live’ that day, meaning the public were free to peruse its content. Sean and Eóin had already stocked the site with pieces written over several previous weeks. Now it could be seen. Think of it like opening a new restaurant. Would customers come? Would they want what was on offer? Had the toilets been cleaned? Continue reading “Driven To Write : Three Years Old and Still Proudly Uninfluential”

We Need to Talk About XE

As Jaguar 2016 sales hit unprecedented heights, we take an unflinching look at XE’s school report. History appears to be a particularly weak subject.

Image: Motor Trend
Image: Motor Trend

On the face of things, JLR’s once troubled Jaguar brand appears to be be on the rise at last. Following massive investments in new product lines, underpinned by an all-new aluminium intensive modular platform and new diesel engines, the marque has posted global sales of 148,730 vehicles last year, up 77% on 2015 figures. And while brand Jaguar accounts for only 25.4% of JLR’s total volume, it represents the bulk of the overall percentage gain for the business as a whole for 2016. This growth has been driven by new offerings in sectors of the market previously unrepresented by the brand and offer an encouraging picture not only for a nameplate that has consistently underperformed but also for JLR management’s policies. But once you begin to drill below the headline figures, some troubling questions arise. Continue reading “We Need to Talk About XE”

World Cars 1984 (1): Anadol 16

In the first of a short series, I will remind readers  of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.

1981 Anadol 16 brochure: source
1981 Anadol 16 brochure: source

The Anadol 16 was produced in Turkey and its appearance raises intriguing questions of authorship. The roofline suggests the generation of Triumph 2500 that never arrived in 1977. The lamps and grille suggest a less-adept bit if in-house creativity. According to the guide the car is based on Reliant designs. According to whichever enthusiast (I sense a native British

Continue reading “World Cars 1984 (1): Anadol 16”

Theme: Brochures – “Of the Same Noble Breed as the Fabulous Cheetah”

From the Parazitas collection, a journey into a gentler time.

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It is quite possible that I have never seen a Simca 1200S, nor its tamer 1962 predecessor the 1000 Coupe, in real life, but this English language brochure from around 1970 is testament to its existence. Checking a November 1970 issue of Motor confirms that it was indeed offered in the UK at a hefty £1595. Just £1398 would have bought you a Capri 3000GT. The Simca’s more natural rivals, the Alfa  Romeo Guilia 1300GT, and Lancia Fulvia Coupé Rallye S are listed at £1848 and £1871 respectively. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – “Of the Same Noble Breed as the Fabulous Cheetah””

Base Metal

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

Welcome to entry level. Image: Motorpoint
Welcome to entry level. Image: Motorpoint

The general consensus amongst the great and good of the Driven to Write community appears to be that Mercedes’ current crop of rear wheel drive saloons, if not exactly a triumphant return to form, are at least broadly acceptable. But never mind us and our vain masthead slogan, the sheer ubiquity of the current W205 C-Class model eloquently testifies to the broader market’s giddy endorsement. However, on this matter I continue to stand unmoved; arms metaphorically folded in petulant refusal. Continue reading “Base Metal”

Theme: Brochures – Volvo 740

Most of the brochure is just like all Volvo brochures from the late 80s. It’s horizontal, mostly white and assembled with extreme restraint.

1998-volvo-740-cover
circa 1990 Volvo 740 brochure

The best part of the story of the Volvo 740 (1982-1992) is that the car it should have replaced only went and outlasted it: the 240 (to 1993). Yet the 740 did a lot of things much better and was probably a bit more pleasant to drive (Car even rated it as being better than a Granada and 604 in 1983). It had more room, used less fuel and offered decent reliability. All this is well-known. What makes this brochure more interesting is the location for the photography: the wilds of Ireland, just a few short years before

Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Volvo 740”

Slow? Slow? Quick? Quick? Slow!

Where is the real car for today’s roads?

Too much entirely? Image : evo.co.uk

My recent speeding endorsement re-awoke my idea that what the world (meaning Sean Patrick) needs is a slow sports car. The problem is that modern cars’ abilities have become so high that driving them at legal limits is pretty stultifying. Basically engines are too powerful and tyres are too wide. Their competence is such that any sensation is insulated until you get up to speeds that risk doing your licence, not to mention yourself and others, irreparable harm. The above photo shows EVO’s Jethro Bovingdon, demonstrating an admirable determination to minimise tyre wear. Doubtless he’s having fun but, if I had a Nissan GT-R for daily use, how often would I? Continue reading “Slow? Slow? Quick? Quick? Slow!”

Theme: Brochures – 1995 Buick Riviera

There might even be one of these cars in the United Kingdom. A GM concessionaire in Manchester provided this brochure by post one day in 1998.

1995 Buick Riviera brochure front cover
1995 Buick Riviera brochure front cover

After this iteration, Buick gave up on the personal two-door coupe in 1999, ending a line that had existed since 1963. It began with Bill Mitchell´s hallowed car that supposedly blended the power of a Ferrari with the presence of a Bentley.

After the first version only the 1971 “Boat-tail” which lasted a mere three years, had any further claim to fame. My entrée to the car is the re-styled seventh series which Bill Porter transformed from a car resembling a Buick Somerset Regal but costing much more, into something deserving of the name. I saw these in the early 90s and really liked the full-width lamps, the elegant C-pillar the pleasing lamp and grille arrangement.

Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – 1995 Buick Riviera”

More badge engineering

Not so very long ago I presented half of a study on what GMC actually sold. Today I have decided to present my Chevrolet vs. GMC comparison as an infographic. 

2017 Cheverolet and GMC ranges: Driver to Write studios.
2017 Cheverolet and GMC ranges: (c) Amalgamated Driventowrite Studios Office C.

Not all of GMC´s range is on the infographic. I left out the Denali versions. Denali means adding about circa roughly $10,oooo to the cost of each base vehicle. Every GMC has a Denali line. As it stands, the price differences of the base Chevrolet and base GMCs are small. What might happen is that all the base GMC trucks get deleted and the “Denali line” becomes standard but with more options, to keep the price range the same. Or maybe all the Denali cars get their own sheet metal and the Denali brand is born. GMC could be shuttered or left to

Continue reading “More badge engineering”

AD0 16, K-car, J-car, Jags from Mondeos…

And now this. The FCA boss Marchionne is going to wring some profits from the investment in the Giulia platform known as Giorgio. Future  Maseratis, Jeeps and Dodges will use the Giorgio platform. Did they design it to be so flexible?

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This was reported in Automotive News“Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will offset the high costs of relaunching Alfa Romeo by sharing the brand’s Giorgio platform with Maserati, Dodge and Jeep, CEO Sergio Marchionne said.”

It´s not going to be quite badge engineering yet it does point towards the Alfaness of Alfas and the fussiness of Maseratis being constrained by the need to make the platform compatible with cheaper cars sold as Dodges and Jeeps.  This is how they explain it: Maserati would use an upgraded version of the platform on all its models, including the next Quattroporte and Ghibli sedans, GranTurismo and Alfieri sports cars and possibly for a midsize SUV to sit below the Levante, the source said.”

Continue reading “AD0 16, K-car, J-car, Jags from Mondeos…”

Theme: Brochures – 1964 Skoda 1000MB

What came after the Octavia? In 1964 the Skoda 1000MB went on sale, replacing the first Octavia of 1959 (which stayed in production anyway). It had a 1.0 litre  four-cylinder engine.

1964 Skoda 1000MB brochure front covers.
1964 Skoda 1000MB brochure front covers.

And it started a long series of rear-engined Skodas. It´s not a car I know a lot about. The Wikipedia web-page reeks of fandom: “Apart from the use of cooling vents in the rear wings and rear panel, everything else about the 1000 MB’s styling was normal, which was undoubtedly in an attempt to appeal to all the conservative-minded buyers in export countries like the UK. This car was highly successful both for Škoda and the Czech economy”.

Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – 1964 Skoda 1000MB”

Fiat Multipla: time to belt up

Richard’s recent examination of a brochure for a 1998 Fiat Multipla inevitably drew diverging opinions in the comments about the vehicle’s styling.

The contentious belt line.
The Multipla’s contentious belt line.

My own position has always been that, with their first attempt, Fiat’s chefs mixed together too many challenging ingredients to make the resultant dish palatable. The facelift, on the other hand, skewed too far the other way, removing much of the flavour by imposing a bland face on an otherwise interesting body. Continue reading “Fiat Multipla: time to belt up”

Theme: Brochures – 1998 Fiat Multipla

I picked this brochure up at the Birmingham Motorshow in 1997 or 1998. 

1998 Fiat Multipla brochure
1998 Fiat Multipla brochure

The graphic design goes with the fun theme of the car´s design. You could even call it populist and it is soaked in the carefree feeling of that period.

Even today the exterior and interior aesthetics are fresh and novel. What must not be forgotten is the ingenuity of its flexible framework architecture which was usefully cheep, meaning Fiat broke even at 40,000 units a year. While the public had mixed feelings, most of the press disdained the eye-catching style. And yes, it is not conventionally beautiful; in contrast it had formal originality underwritten by engineering innovation that we don´t see today. The brochure shows off the remarkable cloth-covered dash, the various colourways (redolent of the Citroen palette in the 1970s) and the flexibility of the interior space.  Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – 1998 Fiat Multipla”

Trevi Musings

Recently we’ve been drinking deeply from the Trevi fountain, which has prompted a further bout of rumination upon Lancia’s idiosyncratic saloon.

Image: Ran When Parked
Image: Ran When Parked

The Trevi is an unusual car, not only in itself – although, you’ll have to admit, it’s an intriguing one to behold. For one thing it’s the only car I can recall that began life as a fastback saloon – (with a separate boot compartment) and ended it as a three volume saloon. Yes, there has been saloon from hatchback conversions and vice-versa, but a saloon from a saloon? Continue reading “Trevi Musings”

Compromise Redux – The Generous Generalissimo

And finally, another tale of compromise, recounted by M. Seidler.

kolnische-rundschau-ford-taunus-xl-tc-jpg
A German registered Taunus, quite some time ago. Source: Kölnische Rundschau

Once work on the Almusafes plant was underway, Ford negotiated with the Spanish tax authorities to import some cars for use by their staff and management.  Presumably the notion of using Chrysler 180’s or Seat 132’s would be too much to countenance. The sticking point was a rigidly enforced annual limit of 250 imported cars for the entire country. Continue reading “Compromise Redux – The Generous Generalissimo”

Aesthetics A – Visibly Reduces the Appearance of Lines

Mercedes-Benz’s recent Aesthetics A concept appears to signal a new dimension in Sensual Purity®. Is this the end of the Line? We hold our noses and investigate.

Aesthetic A. Image Source: Autocar
Aesthetics A. Image Source: Autocar

For some time now we’ve been pretty unequivocal as regards our impressions of Mercedes-Benz’s latter-day form language. Because, at the risk of labouring the point, it’s been pretty dismal. But for those of us who bewail the three pointed star’s descent from its automotive Mount Olympus, is salvation at hand? Continue reading “Aesthetics A – Visibly Reduces the Appearance of Lines”

Theme : Brochures – Introduction

The Editor considers this Month’s theme.

Image : Citroënët
Image : Citroënët

Once upon a time the juvenile car lover in the UK looked towards Autumn as a period of plenty. For that was Motor Show time, when a glut of exciting new cars was guaranteed to surprise and delight. And if that car lover was fortunate, they travelled to Earls Court or, later, the NEC to attend the British International Motor Show. For many, great as the opportunity was to be able to see these new models in the metal, just as fine was the fact that they could struggle back home laden with a selection of lush brochures. Continue reading “Theme : Brochures – Introduction”

Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Blood on the Boardroom Floor

So you thought there was only one Fiesta Mk.1? In fact there nearly were two, and the one we never saw almost tore Ford apart.

wolf004

From its inception in 1969, Ford’s small car project had always had inter-continental ambitions. An early project structure saw engines manufactured in Brazil being used in cars made first in Europe, with a production base in Brazil following on, which would not only serve the home market, but would also export to the USA. US and Asia-Pacific production sites would follow. Other visions included a simplified low-powered variant adapted for production in developing countries, a third world car maximum speed of 55-60mph, a 0-50 time of 25-30 seconds, capable of being sold at 50-60% of the price of the cheapest Ford Escort.
Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Blood on the Boardroom Floor”

Theme : Compromise – Setting a Limit

The more I have considered this month’s theme, the more I have realised that it is far too wide ranging. Compromise is everywhere in our lives, or at least in mine. I could write about any topic and, in very little time, the subject of compromise will come up.

Impossible to miss. On the other hand .... image : Bristol Post
Impossible to miss. On the other hand …. image : Bristol Post

Last week I sent off my driving licence for my first ever speeding endorsement. After 48 years. Damn, it could almost have been a full half-century. Still that’s impressive, no? Actually, no it isn’t. The circumstances of the fine are irritating, but I can’t complain. To have lasted this long says a fair amount about my vigilance, a bit more about our policing, and a lot about my good luck. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – Setting a Limit”

Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Almost Revolutionary

Let us consider the conventional wisdom about the first generation Fiesta.

autocar-2-october-1976-koln-dom
Source: Autocar

It arrived some time after the revolutions in small car design which raged through Europe in the fifties and sixties, and continued to bear fruit into the early seventies.  It was thus a rationalised ‘best practice’ car, standing on the narrow but solid shoulders of at least four influential and successful rivals which arrived early enough in the 1970s to influence and inform Ford’s designers. Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Almost Revolutionary”

Theme: Compromise – One Born Every Minute

Necessity might be the mother of Invention, but her second child is named Compromise. 

nissan-qashqai-being-built-on-nmuk-line-1-with-an-operator
The maker of your own demise. (Image: Auto Express)

For anyone with an ounce of petrol in their veins, few experiences necessitate compromise more than parenthood. Children may be small, but their interminable things are not. The gravitational pull of a gurgling baby Katamari attracts hitherto unimaginable mountains of clutter.

Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – One Born Every Minute”

Two items about designers

Two of our authors run their own blogs, which we have mentioned before. Coincidentally, their latest posts deal with two designers with long careers and provide an insight worth taking a look at.

Alfa Romeo 156: autoevolution.com
Alfa Romeo 156: autoevolution.com

Mick has taken a look back at the work of Walter da Silva and finds much to praise but also there’s a sore point which is worthy of attention: da Silva’s penchant for absent rear door handles. I will admit to having been swept along on the unthinking currents of received wisdom. Now the point has been made I realise I had not been critical enough. And a ever-present thought that I had ignored now seems as plain as day: that 156 would be perfect were it not for the silly faux-coupé trope.

Kris, in this post, has focused on the Opel Rekord coupe, the work of  Erhard Schnell under Chuck Jordan; Schnell is a designer whose name I ought to have known but didn’t. The photography is lush and if you read German the text is delightfully lucid.

Three Volumes in Three Parts: 3

In the previous two instalments we have looked at the car’s general background and the driving experience. In this instalment I’d like to gather together some of my reflections.

1981 Lancia Trevi 1600: source
1981 Lancia Trevi 1600: source

Firstly, the way I view the Trevi now versus how it seemed to me twenty-seven years ago is markedly different. In 1990 I was studying geology which necessarily includes a bit of evolutionary history. At that time I had regular car conversations with one of the other students on the course. The way I described the Trevi then was to refer to it as “a hopeful monster”. That’s not to be understood pejoratively though I did think the Trevi looked peculiar, somehow reminiscent of a stream iron and very unlike my evolving conception of what was normal in car design. The term referred to the way nature produced a wide variety of organisms, some of which would Continue reading “Three Volumes in Three Parts: 3”

Theme: Compromise – Ford’s Valencia engine. A Curious Orange?

A missed opportunity or a masterpiece of compromise?  We look at the unassuming little engine that drove the Fiesta’s success.

car-march-1974
The cack-handed rendering is inexcusable given that that the magazine includes a close-to-production photo mischievously taken by an attendee at a customer clinic in Düsseldorf earlier in 1974.  Security was tightened considerably thereafter.

CAR March 1974 was confident in its prediction about the Fiesta’s engine; “it is a completely new water-cooled, in-line four with single overhead cam and Heron head. It will come in two sizes – a little over 900cc and 1090cc for the top of the range model.” As we now know, the “scoop report” could scarcely have been more wrong, but it is easy to understand the reasons for their conjecture. Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – Ford’s Valencia engine. A Curious Orange?”

Well isn’t it Grand for Some?

Renault’s latest Megane Saloon is grand all right, but a coupé? We investigate.

Excessive eye makeup. Image: carwitter
Excessive eye makeup. Image: carwitter

The automotive landscape in the Republic of Ireland is broadly similar to that of the UK but there are, as one might expect, some exceptions. One of the notable ones, is a long-standing, if diminishing (according to my sources) preference for three volume saloons over hatchbacks. Of course, as Irish motorists increasingly follow their UK and European neighbours into crossover CUV’s, they’re discovering they’re being sold hatchbacks by stealth. Continue reading “Well isn’t it Grand for Some?”

Theme: Compromise – Second Best

Wish fulfilment takes many forms…

Image: Kris Kubrick
Image: Kris Kubrick

Life isn’t fair. By rights we’d have our needs and wants fulfilled but circumstances, finances and events conspire to deny us our true heart’s desire. Take the owner of this perfectly innocuous Audi TT. A first generation model; the nicest looking of the series, if not the most dynamically adept. ‘A Golf in a party dress’, sniffed the more snobbish automotive commentators, but nevertheless a perfectly nice and still quite stylish way to get around on a moderate budget. Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – Second Best”

Understanding GMC – is it possible?

A little while back I mentioned I´d take a look at the GMC brand to see what it was all about.

2017 GMC Canyon: GMC.com
2017 GMC Canyon: GMC.com

So, I threw some coal into the furnace and got my computer (an Osborne portable) up and running.

The GMC range is divided into two groups: trucks in one groups and cross-overs and SUVs in the other. The truck range has two basic models dressed up to appear like eight. The Canyon and the Sierra form the core truck range, starting at $21,000 for the Canyon, and $28,000 for the Sierra. Three sub-models form the Sierra range: 1500, 2500 and 3500 at $28,000 to $34,000 for the base models. To

Continue reading “Understanding GMC – is it possible?”

Theme: Compromise – the paradox of failure

As David Pye observed, every design is a failure.

Failure.
Failure.

His argument rested on the idea that no design can optimise every aspect. The more complex the object the more likely this is to be the case. If we take a simple example of a knife, it´s a compromise because unavoidably the designer had to work within constraints of time and materials. The knife has to function but be affordable and attractive to enough people to make it an economically feasible proposition.  The best knife can´t appeal to everyone. For some consumers the design is unacceptable  – it remains unsold for reason of price or appearance. Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – the paradox of failure”

Theme : Compromise – Driving The Modern Car

Man and Machine in Perfect Harmony?

peugeot_3008_galerie-27-1

The above quote dates from the days when Ford felt that they could snub a sizeable sector of their customer base in their advertising but, disregarding the now quaint-looking gender bias, it does speak of that need to sit well at the controls of your chosen motor car. I was looking at the interior of a new Peugeot 3008 the other day and was offended by the steering wheel. The now almost mandatory flat bottom has been joined by a flat top which, I assume, is a compromise that allows a larger field of view of the high-mounted instrument panel. Combined with the centre boss and mounted controls, there seems little room left to put your hands. But then I thought the usual – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Because I’m offended by a lot of steering wheels nowadays. And gearsticks. They seem more and more prescriptive in their ergonomics. Good ergonomics is, surely, adapting a system to the human body. Bad ergonomics is demanding the body adapts to the system. In fact that isn’t even ergonomics. The Peugeot’s steering wheel seems to have been designed to be gripped and used in one way only. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – Driving The Modern Car”

C what I did

Further to Sean Patrick´s excellent idea about decals to give your boring car a more contemporary, fun and sporting look, I have shown three products in the upcoming range.

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The decals make the car more premium, add a touch of dynamic flair and increase the perceived quality by accentuating the maturity of the style. Graphics and sculpting together produce a greater sense of athleticism while underlining the greater modernity of the cars.

I know it´s gonna happen someday

So sang Morrisey who was copying Bowie* who returned the compliment by covering the song.  

2017 Suzuki Swift: source
2017 Suzuki Swift: source

What´s gonna happen? For one thing that a good car design will be replaced by a less good one sooner or later.  It would appear that the fashion for blacked out C-pillars knows no limits. The 2017 Suzuki Swift now sports one.  Continue reading “I know it´s gonna happen someday”

Compromise: On the road to Fiesta – Part 1

Driven to Write throws a party, of sorts.

fiesta-1

Lest it should pass un-noticed, January 2017 is the fortieth anniversary of the Ford Fiesta’s launch in the UK. Production at Ford Germany’s Saarlouis factory began in July 1976, with the core Almusafes plant coming on stream in October 1976, so the lucky continentals were introduced to the car a few months earlier. Continue reading “Compromise: On the road to Fiesta – Part 1”

Brave and Interesting – Steve Randle Interview Part Two

Panhard to i-Series BMW’s, Steve Randle talks cars. 

Steve Randle with his 1972 Citroen SM. Image: Steve Randle
Steve Randle with his 1972 Citroen SM. Image: Steve Randle

For a motor engineer constantly in pursuit of the next innovation, Steve Randle’s interest in older machinery proves a little disarming. These include a frankly enormous collection of road cycles.  “Bicycles are about as close to perfect as it gets, they’re such delightful, elegant things. You can get help for drugs and alcohol but for cycling, nothing can be done.”  Continue reading “Brave and Interesting – Steve Randle Interview Part Two”

A Jaguar for Sunday

V12. I had to check that. Really. V12. 

Any care to date this car? 1983?
Any care to date this car? 1983?

Some astonishing things get taken for granted. Mere existence justifies some wild ideas, which a priori, you’d not expect. Maybe it’s because Jaguars aren’t my core area of expertise I felt like I needed to be certain. Surely, I thought, I must be making a mistake. V12s are too complex and huge. V8 it must be… but that seems wrong, too American.  Continue reading “A Jaguar for Sunday”

A photo for Sunday: strange-looking Mondeo

That’s what I thought when it caught my eye. 

2010 Aston Martin
2010 Aston Martin

It’s not a Mondeo, I realised after 0.45 seconds. That someone sat in it may explain why I didn’t get any closer.

Aston Martin must choke when they see the Astony Mondeos that still ply the roads in moderate numbers. Aston Martin owners may feel there is no comparison – only an idiot of the first order would mistake a house-priced car for a nice-kitchen priced car. They delude themselves.

Aston planned to make the Rapide at Steyr in Graz, Austria but sales never met expectations. Ford knows why.

 

Three Volumes in Three Parts: 2

In the first part I discussed the static qualities of the Lancia Trevi. In this part I will present my driving impressions.

1981 Lancia Trevi
1981 Lancia Trevi

Finally, it´s time to drive in the car.

First off, we set off along some minor country roads, ones I have just driven in a modern car. Initially I am the passenger and from that position I realise that I can see nothing of the instruments from the passenger side. They are set in Bellini´s cylindrical recesses which are angled to the driver. This makes me look elsewhere – out, for example.

I can´t judge the seats as they come from another car (a Punto) but the originals will be re-instated pending re-upholstering. There´s plenty of room up front and a nice clear view out, courtesy of the slim pillars. As with other cars of the period, you hear more engine noise. I can´t say it´s disagreeable. Doubtless the engineers would have liked less – as it is and in contrast to today´s overly insulated cars, one can appreciate the acoustic feedback. It is not loud, but there at a volume you can tune out if you wish. Continue reading “Three Volumes in Three Parts: 2”