Can’t, and will anyway

After sighting a few dark and tatty examples I saw this conveniently clean and pale W-201 yesterday. Where’s quality hiding?

Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.6 and boring Danish architecture

I asked this of a BMW 3-series (E-30) recently. Both came out the same year, 1982 (as did the Ford Sierra). So, presumably the cars gestated at the same time and without a large likelihood of designers and clay modellers migrating between studios. First let’s take a close look to find Ms. Quality… Continue reading “Can’t, and will anyway”

Fringe Player – BMW 6-Series GT

BMW’s new hatchback is upon us. It isn’t better than the last one. In fact it’s worse.

Image: carscoops

When the mighty Vierzylinder announced the 5-Series GT in 2009, it was met with almost universal ridicule. So much so, its passing last year was at best unmourned and in some quarters, openly celebrated. There was little wrong with the 5-GT, a large, practical hatchback with a cavernous interior and all the versatility this layout entails. No, the big problem appears to have rested upon the fact that BMW produced a vehicle which placed practicality and convenience above style. A conceit which didn’t play all that well with the marque faithful, or indeed the press.

Its successor, now badged 6-Series is aimed further upmarket. Word from Munich is that it will Continue reading “Fringe Player – BMW 6-Series GT”

Gorfe’s Granadas: 1983 Granada Ghia 2.8

“Mouthwatering is the only way to sum up a description of this rolling mansion of Ford quality”, writes our acting assistant motor classics corresponding editor, Myles Gorfe. 

Brilliant. 1983 Ford Granada interior: source.

By the early 80s Ford was at the top of its game with the Granada. The cars had been honed to a sharp pitch, with superb interiors, tonnes of kit and strong, reliable engines. No wonder they sold themselves. Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: 1983 Granada Ghia 2.8”

Holding Station – Jaguar XF Sportbrake

The new XF Sportbrake has landed, and it’s a Triumph. Or maybe a Rover. It’s difficult to tell nowadays, but it probably doesn’t matter.

Who in the name of Lyons signed these off? Image: Super Street

People often accuse me of being horrid about the current range of Jaguars and it’s true that I have on occasion been vocally critical of them. ‘Why?’ they plead, as they pin me by the shirtfront against the most convenient stout object, before regaling me with tales of aluminium intensive body structures, handling-biased chassis dynamics and, well that’s about as much as they can muster generally. I’ve said rather a lot on this subject in the past – (‘yes we know’, they chorus) – but just for the purposes of clarity, and to reiterate, my issues with the current crop of JLR’s Jaguar-branded vehicles are as follows: Continue reading “Holding Station – Jaguar XF Sportbrake”

Charbo Sbarro Renault

Philippe Charbonneaux is known for this work on the Renault 8, the Renault 21 and the Renault 16. In 1984 he teamed up with Franco Sbarro to produce a proposal for a Renault 25-based limousine.

1984 Charbonneaux R25 limousine: source

Charbonneaux showed the car at the 1984 Paris automobile salon. Sbarro fabricated the showcar while Charbo (hereafter) conceived the theme – an antimodern limousine. If the actual Renault 25 is a study in French design rationalism, the limousine version seems to be a study in undoing most of that concept.

In revising the R25, Charbo sought to make a car that would Continue reading “Charbo Sbarro Renault”

Pitch Perfect

Three new models from three distinct manufacturers. Each playing the same notes – but in a different order.

Fun anyone? Image: automobilemag

Last week saw several new car announcements, three of which we’re specifically interested in today. We open with the official release of what has felt like one of the least titillating stripteases in recent history – the Hyundai Kona crossover. This vehicle, the Korean car giant’s entry to the Captur/Juke sector has been seen in various forms of reveal for weeks now, so its advent has at least stemmed the vexing but unavoidable PR-drip-feed throughout the automotive tabloids that appears de rigueur these days. Others better qualified than I might Continue reading “Pitch Perfect”

A Photo for Sunday (Micropost): 2001 Opel Combo

Other sites may concern themselves with exotica and luxury brands.

2001 Opel Combo

Well, we do too but we also have space for bread-and-margarine cars like this 2001-2011 Opel Combo (C). Was this the car that prompted a jealous Mercedes Benz to launch the VaneoContinue reading “A Photo for Sunday (Micropost): 2001 Opel Combo”

A Ewe Assays Askance the Closing Crook

Which colours will be catching our eyes soon?  This one is about coatings, a topic we have touched upon at DTW a few times before. Here and here and here (but not here. )

2017 BASF automotive colour predictions: source

BASF have revealed their predictions for the colours of 2018 – something of a self-fulfilling prophecy or else whistling down the wind. By that I mean that the “prediction” could shape preferences, in which case it’s not a prediction but an influence on the market. Alternatively, people will choose their colours regardless and BASF´s prediction will be disproved.

What do they say? Continue reading “A Ewe Assays Askance the Closing Crook”

Far From the Mainstream: Landwind

Landwind is a company with a sketchy history. This car is being sold as a Landwind SC2. But Wikipedia denies its existence. There are three** Landwinds on sale at Mobile.de at the moment. 

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“Landwind is an automobile marque owned by the Chinese automaker Jiangling Motor Holding, a joint venture between Changan Auto and Jiangling Motors Corporation” is what Wikipedia says, in case you Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Landwind”

Not Now, Mr Loos

We’ve already had a little look at the Suzuki Ignis now let us look at a little bit of it. 

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Overall, the Ignis is a neat little car with a robust appearance that belies its size. I am a little unsure if I am as enamoured of its reference to earlier Suzukis as I was originally; the previous Ignis was delightfully, eccentrically its own. See below.  Continue reading “Not Now, Mr Loos”

Theme: Porsche – Cheaper by the Million

Zuffenhausen recently celebrated production of the millionth 911. How the heck did that happen?

Image: autobahnhound

Let’s allow this one sink in for a moment. A million 911s. It’s a staggering achievement for a car that should never have lived as long, much less become the default ‘usable performance car’, given an inherently unbalanced mechanical layout considered retrograde even by mid-Sixties standards. Thought: could it have been a reaction to the original 911’s propensity to Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Cheaper by the Million”

Oops, I Did It Again

Yes folks, Henrik’s back in business, having learned from past mistakes. Learned how to replicate them exactly, that is.

Haven’t I see you someplace before? Fisker Emotion. Image: ecoblog.it

Name: Fisker Emotion.

Age: It’s brand flipping new. Are you blind?

But it looks like the last one, the what was it called again? Karma thingy. That’s probably because you have dead eyes. The Fisker Emotion looks nothing like the Fisker Karma – or a Karma Revero for that matter. You’re simply imagining it, because, as I’ve already pointed out, your eyes are dead. Continue reading “Oops, I Did It Again”

Theme: Porsche – Should We Talk, Should We Pray?

So goes the old saying anyway. In the year 2000 when we were supposed to be floating on hover-drones and wearing alufoil skinsuits, Porsche still had the engine in the back even if air cooling was out.

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And BMW offered the 1950s-inspired Z8 while Aston pursued girth and heft with the Aston Martin Vantage Volante, a V12 topless GT. Where did the future actually go to?

It is hard to be sure of if the three convertibles are comparable even if period reviews seemed to think so.

Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Should We Talk, Should We Pray?”

Torinese Marina – 1977 Fiat 132

Dud big Fiat or misunderstood mongrel? Lets get our feet wet, shall we?

All images taken from original Fiat sales material.

We should get a couple of provisos out of the way before I commence. Firstly, the 132 began its lengthy career in 1972, so by 1977, it had already entered its third iteration. Secondly, while I admit it’s probably a little unfair to directly compare Fiat’s big saloon with British Leyland’s cynically conceived Cortina-baiter, some compelling parallels do suggest themselves. Continue reading “Torinese Marina – 1977 Fiat 132”

A Photo For Sunday: 1988 Audi Coupe

1988. Let’s read that back: nineteen eighty eight. Which is half a year short of three decades.

1988 Audi Coupe

There really is something about the form language of industrial design that is verging on the timeless. Credit for this car goes to one J Mays who penned the Audi 80 in 1983. This one is known as the B3 (35i). While there are a few oddities on the car, they are far below the detection limit of normal humans.

The Audi coupe has a very subtle detail which is worth looking closer at. I will come to that later. Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1988 Audi Coupe”

Micropost: NEVer Mind the Botox

It’s been a while since we reported on NEVS. How goes it in the netherworld?

Image: NEVS via Saabsunited

Recently, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS) released official images of the ‘forthcoming’ 9-3 and 9-3X EV’s based on the decade-old former Saab bodyshell. These images, shown on SAABSunited.com appear to show both models in production specification, demonstrating if little else, that hope really does spring eternal.

My intention was to Continue reading “Micropost: NEVer Mind the Botox”

Micropost: 1995 Ford Fiesta Ashtray

From 1995 t0 2002 this was the Ford Fiesta, an evergreen staple of the supermini sector. 

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The same dashboard ended up in the Ford Puma too as well as the Mazda 121. It’s the ashtray we are interested in here, a pull-out drawer, designed to accommodate the presence or absence of the centre cubby which was not fitted in some markets. The cigar lighter is positioned in the drawer. The position is not quite optimum as the gear lever gets in the way when in 1st, 3rd and 5th gear.  Continue reading “Micropost: 1995 Ford Fiesta Ashtray”

Micropost: W-201 Mercedes 190E Driver’s Ashtray

How come the 1982 Mercedes-Benz 190E was W-201 and the 1984 200E cars were coded W-124?

Mercedes-Benz 190E

We see in this quite small car the effect of the well-evolved centre console. The ashtray is situated in an undercut of the fascia and it’s a decent sized ashtray too. The ashtray is a chromed metal item, with a cigarette lighter built into the drawer. Under that is a cubby for bit and bobs. Continue reading “Micropost: W-201 Mercedes 190E Driver’s Ashtray”

Micropost: Mercedes-Benz W-140 Rear Ashtray

This is something of a marvel, a relic from the Ulm Design School ethos at Untertuerkheim.

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This article is one of three items today which pay special regard to ashtrays.

For the 1991 W-140 rear ashtray the designers located the tray and adjusted it to the surrounding forms and materials. That meant it got a matching carpeted panel when, purely functionally, a one-piece cover in plastic might have sufficed. The Ulm attitude involved taking great care to Continue reading “Micropost: Mercedes-Benz W-140 Rear Ashtray”

Theme: Porsche – If Only Tomorrow Could Pass Us By

Not all of the products wearing the Porsche label have received good press. Burns hot, too expensive, can’t breathe. Which Porsche merited these criticisms?

Porsche Design Pipe: source

Well, as a clue, this Porsche is not made in Stuttgart but Holland. Even new it cost in the region of a few hundred euros and it weighed under a 75 grams. The Porsche in question was a pipe, designed by the Porsche Design studio rather than the automotive design studio.

Not unlike Pininifarina and Zagato, Porsche has separate divisions for industrial design and licencing. Rather unusually, I think, for a design consultancy, they tend to stamp all their projects with a distinct look and, indeed, with an actual label saying “Porsche Design”. At Copenhagen Airport one can Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – If Only Tomorrow Could Pass Us By”

By Dawn’s Early Light

As China’s Geely acquires a controlling stake in Lotus, we ask whether this could mark the end of the sportscar maker’s struggles?

Lotus’ Jean-Marc Gales with the current Evora 400 model. Image: automotiveworld

Last year, we reported on Jean Marc Gales’ progress at arresting Lotus’ decline following the Bahar debacle. At the time, the auguries were positive, if somewhat finely balanced. If not entirely profitable, losses had been stemmed and Lotus’ order book was looking a bit less bare, but real financial health still looked some way off. Continue reading “By Dawn’s Early Light”

Theme: Porsche – And For the Lady, an Umbrella?

Porsche makes a good business out of selling endless variants of the 911. This one seems to have been a bit forgotten. Why?

Forgotten? 2001 Porsche 911 GT2: topcar rating

The 911 GT2 did what buyers expected of Porsche: supply lots of power with a forceful gob of acceleration and a butch price to match. For this version, the 2001 GT2, Porsche’s engineers eschewed all-wheel drive, sending 461 bhp to the rear wheels only. The top speed got close enough to 200 mph too. Was it a bit too much though? Why did … they?

Actually Porsche wanted less weight for this hence the raw result. It was the only weigh to go. Deleting all-wheel drive meant the car weighed a whole Clarkson less than the four-wheel drive variant. However, they didn’t Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – And For the Lady, an Umbrella?”

Tom Tjaarda

Car designer Tom Tjaarda has died. He was 82. DTW takes a look back at his career.

1959 Ghia Selene, Tjaarda´s first car: 95octane.com

Two things stand out about Tom Tjaarda. One was the prolific and varied body of work: the 1976 Ford Fiesta, the de Tomaso Deauville, the 1964 Ferrari 330 GT2+2 and Fiat 2300 coupe. The other thing is that he wasn’t as well known as Giugiario, Gandini or even quite a few younger designers with only a few cars from the same brand to their name.

As well as having talent, Tjaarda arrived in the world of car design at a time when there was considerably more room to flourish, not unlike Danish architect Arne Jacobsen – both had space into which their abilities could be projected.  Tjaarda designed a wide range of cars and Jacobsen could do everything from door handles to buildings. Continue reading “Tom Tjaarda”

Theme: Porsche – Turismo Twins

Two of the most distinctive cars of their time; bitter rivals, yet with much in common. Driven to Write counts the ways.

Image: auto-motor-und-sport.de

They couldn’t have looked more different, yet the fates of the Porsche 928 and Jaguar XJ-S were intrinsically bound. One seemed more like a car from the Cinzano era, the other from the future, yet both shared a purpose, appealed to the same customer base and lived out similar career paths – misunderstood and derided by those who didn’t expect their preconceived notions to be so roundly challenged.

It’s easy and perhaps comforting to Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Turismo Twins”

Theme: Porsche – 928 – Less and More

Over the 928’s production life, various attempts were made at producing additional variants. Few were successful and fewer still went beyond the prototype stage. We look a few notable examples.

B+B 928 Targa. Image: wheelsage

When the 928 was being schemed during the early 1970s it appeared as though several US states would outlaw convertibles. This led many European marques to abandon the format entirely, lest they wind up saddled with an expensively developed product they couldn’t sell. This explains the lack of a convertible 928 at launch, if not the fact that Porsche never quite got around to Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – 928 – Less and More”

Long

The most interesting part of this car is on the inside

1993-1999 Cadillac Fleetwood stretch limousine.

But my phone ran out of power. Drat.

I paid close attention to the dashboard and trim and didn’t find very much to criticise. Specifically, I looked at the dashboard which is a terrific slab of shiny wood and convincing plastic with an immense dual ashtray (hanging open – unphotographed). The two things which let it down were the coarse steering column cover which had rather crude detailing and the ashtray liners which were zinc-coated stamped items that were far smaller than you’d expect given the 15 cm width of the drawer they sat in.  Continue reading “Long”

Theme: Porsche – ‘Flow Motion’ – 1977 Porsche 928

A brave and modernist masterpiece from Porsche – of all people.

Image: Autowp.ru

During the early 1970s, contemporary music’s centre of gravity saw a shift away from the UK and America, Eastwards to Germany, where so-called ‘Kosmiche’ bands like Can, Cluster, Faust, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Neu! forged an alternative soundscape, laying down a sonic basis for the post-punk, new wave and electronic music that followed. Dismissed at the time as ‘Krautrock’, without its influence, music would most likely have evolved in a very different direction.

Porsche’s 928 is one of perhaps six outstanding car designs from the 1970s, a half-dozen vehicles that in their own disparate manner, eloquently Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – ‘Flow Motion’ – 1977 Porsche 928”

Nice Old Datsun With Italian Flavour

This little number is up for sale in Jutland. It’s too good to fall under the rubric of Something Rotten In Denmark.

1966 Datsun Bluebird: source.

The photo is a screenshot (a deliberate choice). Bilbasen should adjust their web-page so as to show the complete photo; evidently the entire photo is uploaded but it is cropped to fit the box. A thumbnail in the screen shot shows the entire car. What about the design story? Continue reading “Nice Old Datsun With Italian Flavour”

Theme : Porsche – Introduction

Driven to Write will this month devote itself to drawing to your collective attention the works of Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG. Where to begin?

A Holy Relic – Porsche Type 64 – Image : autoblog.com

Normally it is appropriate to start with the facts. It is a fact that Driven To Write has not devoted so very much space to the cars of Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG. What we have written has even been about how difficult it can be to write about their output since 1931. It is a fact that Archie Vicar, the renowned motoring correspondent, wrote only one known review which you can read here. It also a fact that, on the face of it, Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG’s reputation is either one that needs no burnishing or one that is decaying as rapidly as it can betray its reputation for treacherously mannered, rear-engined coupés. Continue reading “Theme : Porsche – Introduction”

Pomegranate Luncheon and the Landgrave

Rolls-Royce revealed a custom-made car, the Sweptail, at Villa d’Este. What does DTW think?

2017 Rolls Royce Sweptail: source

The Sweptail draws inspiration from a 1925 car called the Phantom Round Door and takes a little from the Phantom II and has some Park Ward features (say, the 20/25 Limousine Coupé). I see a little 1971 Buick Riviera in the shape of the glasshouse but perhaps that car was also drawing on Rolls-Royce influences. Continue reading “Pomegranate Luncheon and the Landgrave”

Number 8 Dream – BMW Reaches For The Star

BMW makes lavish claims for its forthcoming 8-Series, saying it will herald an upward shift in product strategy. But will it be enough?

BMW Concept 8-Series. Autocar.co.uk

Last week, BMW displayed a concept previewing a forthcoming 8-Series model line which went on display at the sumptuous annual Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Italy’s Lake Como. BMW’s Ian Robertson used the occasion to outline the company’s ambitions, telling Autocar magazine, “We want to bring more cars into the upper luxury segment. We are working on other products as we feel there is a lot of opportunity there. The new 8 series is part of this. In the next couple of years we will see the most comprehensive change in the history of BMW.” Continue reading “Number 8 Dream – BMW Reaches For The Star”

Theme: Aftermarket-Pared Back

“Through a chink too wide there comes no wonder” said renowned Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh.

Surely this is a nice way to change gears?

I’m guessing Halfords might not thank me for this post. I tend not to be a big fan of what people do to their cars in the name of personalisation or improvement. Anything more than the most discreet of spoilers brings me out in a rash and let’s not even talk about garish graphics or faux carbon fibre bonnets. Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket-Pared Back”

A Photo for Sunday: Jam and Marmalade

Reader Shant F. kindly sent this photo which summed up some of the week’s subjects.

1993 Fiat Punto and 1995 Lancia Y in Milan

This week we discussed the Fiat Punto, quondam class-leader among superminis. The Lancia Kappa came up for more scrutiny (I have to test drive one). Driven to Write also applied its bifocals to rear bumpers – these cars have those. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: Jam and Marmalade”

Theme: Aftermarket – The Months of the Year and What We Did With Them

As Simon Kearne so eloquently pointed out in his introduction to this month’s theme, the world of aftermarket is one richly populated with products.

The list of the top-ten most popular aftermarket products probably includes alloy wheels, car-seat covers, satellite-navigator armatures, chrome strips for the edges of doors, fog-lamps and spoilers.

Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – The Months of the Year and What We Did With Them”

Theme: Aftermarket – The ‘Evil Stare’

Few aftermarket items have been as influential as those lids that make any car look angry. 

twingo-09263235943-sn
‘I’m funny how? I mean, funny like I’m a clown?’, photo (c) twingotuningforum.de

Aftermarket adornments are usually about a quaint kind of ill-advised deception. Opel/Vauxhall Corsas with the kind of diffusor – made of fibreglass, rather than carbonfibre, of course – that’s supposed to keep a Pagani’s aerodynamics in check at 300 kph. Peugeot 206s with quad-exhausts usually reserved to American V8-powered muscle cars. Aftermarket is about imitation, pretensions, delusions. But there are a few exceptions to this rule, and none more poignant than the curious case of the ‘Evil Stare’.
Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – The ‘Evil Stare’”

Micropost: Alfa Romeo Giulia Has No Rear Centre Armrest Shock

Even the top-of-the-range AR Giulia has no rear centre armrest.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

This is the Quadrifoglio version with a 6-cylinder engine and Brembos all around. An absent rear centre arm-rest is a characteristic of cars from two classss down costing a quarter of the Alfa’s asking price.

Theme: Aftermarket – Let’s All Think About This, Shall We?

I will try to focus this one on the aftermarket wheels and not the car they happen to adorn.

1991 Opel Omega B2

It’s a 1999-2003 Opel Omega (B2 to those in the know). As I said before, in the aftermarket we find tricky ground. Who am I to say these wheels are not the ones for this car? My argument is that the wheels have really low-profile rubber and they do not help the rest of the suspension do its job which in this car’s case was high-speed stability and comfort rather than maximum grip at intermediate speeds. Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – Let’s All Think About This, Shall We?”

Spirito di Punto

Rumours of the Punto’s demise might well be exaggerated, but a successor could finally be in sight.

The 2017 Fiat Punto. “Dynamic, attractive and timeless”, say Fiat. I think they simply mean old. Image: autotoday.it

It’s somewhat mortifying when you realise that someone you innocently assumed was deceased remains defiantly above ground. Take the Fiat Punto for example. I had blithely assumed it was already pushing up daisies, but quite the contrary. In its current iteration, with us now since 2005, the Punto’s age is underlined by the realisation that its genesis dates back to Fiat’s post-millennial dalliance with General Motors, sharing an Opel-developed understructure from the contemporary Corsa model. I say contemporary, but it seems the current Corsa and Adam still use a variant of this platform, and they remain, if not exactly class-leading, at least broadly competitive. Continue reading “Spirito di Punto”

Concrete, Damsons, Obsidian: These You Shall Only Half-Recall

Yet again we return to the  Lancia Kappa. The excuse this time is that I managed to nab some photos of the interior.

1994-2000 Lancia Kappa interior (I  like the wood effect)

Not a very few of these still rattle around Denmark, not many either. Up the road from me a chap has a Kappa estate, would you believe. Let’s take a close look at the car…
Continue reading “Concrete, Damsons, Obsidian: These You Shall Only Half-Recall”

Theme: Aftermarket – Stroking the Cat

Emboldeners of Jaguars are relatively few. Driven to Write profiles its foremost and longest-lived exponent – Arden Autombil.

Arden’s take on the Jaguar X308 saloon – the AJ13. Image: Arden.de

In the German town of Kleve, close to the Dutch border, Jochen Arden founded his eponymous automotive business in 1976, trading in the usual Teutonic fare of VWs and MBs until 1982, when he took on a Jaguar franchise, prompting his initial forays into the arena of the aftermarket. By the early ’80s, Jaguar was painfully re-establishing themselves in the German market following years of stagnation under British Leyland when their cars came to be regarded by German motorists as being nice to look at, but really not fit for the purpose. Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – Stroking the Cat”

Stoop They Too, The Blue Men Of The Minch?

If memory serves, Piet Mondrian had a huge row with Paul Klee or Wassily Kandinsky about whether diagonal lines should be allowed in art.  Has there been such an argument in car design?

2015 Peugeot 508 rear bumper

It’s to do with bumper to body shutlines which leads to what might be the only semi-scholarly study of the evolution of the rear car bumper on the whole of continental Europe.

Continue reading “Stoop They Too, The Blue Men Of The Minch?”

And They Remembered the Garrison’s Granary and the Strawberry Trees

After quite a hiatus, it is time to have another focus on ashtrays. Today we admire the dainty ashtray of the 1976 Citroen CX. 

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This fine pair of photos has been sent to us by our Hamburg correspondent, Kris, who appears to have been inside one of the cars recently. Lucky him.

This ashtray is quite well positioned: on the top of the rear door. The chrome frame is a generous touch. I have my doubts about the crackle-finish of the flap. Why not neutral chrome too? It is a rear-hinged flip-over design and, in terms of affordance, a little unhelpful. Does one press the front or back edge to open it?  This could be quite a good place for the tray but it must be a small bowl. Citroen could have made the door a bit deeper here to allow for a more substantial ashtray.

A Photoseries For Sunday: The Panther Of Bavaria

The hunt for quality: where does the perception of goodness reside in this car? 

1992 BMW 3-series E30.

Recently the opportunity afforded itself for me to take a lot of photos of a car Clarkson called an over-priced Escort, a chance to hunt for quality. What did I find? Continue reading “A Photoseries For Sunday: The Panther Of Bavaria”

Commercial Break – 2001 Mercedes-Benz Vaneo

If the W168 A-Class was a poorly executed answer to a question few had posed (and nobody at all had asked Mercedes), how do we even begin to assess the Vaneo?

Mercedes-Benz Vaneo. Image: cars-data

Lets get two things out the way here. First: The Vaneo not only was frightful, it was an inferior product that did Mercedes more reputational harm than any additional revenue or scale it garnered. Second: It clearly began life as a commercial vehicle. Let’s imagine for a moment the product planning meeting that took place when the Vaneo was greenlighted. Continue reading “Commercial Break – 2001 Mercedes-Benz Vaneo”

The Gallants, Gammers, Damsels and Dandiprats

Whilom a two-door coupe often featured in a manufacturer’s line-up, they are now something of a rarity as we have already discussed.

Honda beforetime sold quite a few different versions of their Civic and Accord cars. This vehicle is from the tail end of the last part of the final bit of the glory days of sub-model variation Golden Age.

As a global car, the Accord has a complex life-history. My search for information started badly because I thought the car looked like a Civic so I went after them. It looks rather small, you see. Further research led me to Continue reading “The Gallants, Gammers, Damsels and Dandiprats”

Maxximum Attakk! – Mercedes A160 Formula Hakkinen Edition

Having a special edition named after you is normally something of a compliment. But there’s an exception to every rule.

1999 žMercedes A160 Formula Hakkinen Edition. Image: mercedesclass.net

The world of Formula One is brutal and uncompromising. Few make it to its pinnacle, fewer still achieve greatness. Double World champion, Mika Häkkinen appears to have been one of Grand Prix’s more pleasant individuals – famously taciturn when fixed in the camera’s glare, but said to have been considerably better company once they were turned off. Quick too – perhaps the only driver of his era who gave seven-time champion, Michael Schumacher a genuine run for his money. Continue reading “Maxximum Attakk! – Mercedes A160 Formula Hakkinen Edition”

The Allusion That Does Not Allude: A Silent Smile

This is very likely the most striking car on sale today, the Toyota C-HR.

Inside and out, the car uses extremely expressive forms, taking the deconstructed appearance seen on some front-ends and bringing them around the sides. The exterior is conceived of in a rather different way compared to what, up until now, we have considered standard. It is available as normal petrol-engined car or as a hybrid but that’s not where the interest lies. No, madam.

Continue reading “The Allusion That Does Not Allude: A Silent Smile”

Fallen Star – 1997 Mercedes A-Class

With total sales of over a million, the W168 Mercedes A-Class is possibly the best selling commercial flop ever. We chart its fall.

Green wheelie bin. Image: mercedesclass.net

The 2012 announcement of Mercedes’ current-generation A-Class and its re-alignment in ethos and market position was viewed by most observers as an expedient business decision based upon 15 torrid years in the compact car game. While Daimler’s U-turn elicited little by way of overt criticism, it could equally be regarded as a potent symbol that the Stuttgart-Untertürkheim car giant had conclusively lost the argument. Continue reading “Fallen Star – 1997 Mercedes A-Class”

Loss of Vision – 1994 Mercedes-Benz Studie A

The 1993 Vision A and ’94 Studie A were everything the ensuing A-Class failed to be. A genuine Mercedes in miniature.

1993/4 Mercedes Vision/Studie A. Image: mercedes-benz-passion

One doesn’t get to the size and scope of Mercedes-Benz by being incautious, even if at times, an element of risk is sometimes both prudent and necessary. For example, the W201 programme saw the German car giant risk a move downmarket, albeit one taken only after a great deal of consideration and iterative trial. That programme, instigated during the dark days of the post oil-shock 1970’s, wouldn’t see series production as the 190-series until 1982. Continue reading “Loss of Vision – 1994 Mercedes-Benz Studie A”

Theme: Aftermarket – Plato’s Garments Cloak the Sunrise

Fun fact: for Ireland only this car came with a 1.4 L petrol engine.

That had something to do with Ireland’s punitive car taxation system. Still, it’s a puzzle. The Celtic Tiger roared loudest around then: was Rover (Irl.) Ltd so desperate to sell cars that they had to
Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – Plato’s Garments Cloak the Sunrise”