A Camel Drowns By The Oasis

The Frankfurt motor show is upon us again. Thoughts?

Severe disfigurement: source

The official IAA image is frightening, isn’t it?

It seems like only about six months since the last one closed and, dear, oh, dear, here is another one. I went to Autocropley to have a gander at their list of launches and unveilingments. I can’t say much of it tickled my fancy. The Audi A7 is top of the list for alphabetical reasons and, if it is anything like the new A8, it´ll be a bit much on a too small plate. The A7 is one of the nicest looking cars in production and the new A7 is not going down that path – as with all launches of replacement models and many new ones, the dial is being turned up to 11, especially in the grille department. The A8’s could be from an articulated truck apart from the quite astonishing amount of brightwork. The first A8 set a standard Audi have failed to Continue reading “A Camel Drowns By The Oasis”

Anger Is an Energy

The Concept Z4 has landed and it’s mad as hell.

“I’m Not Going to Take this Any More.” Image: BMW UK

BMW have released photos and a rather toe-curling video for their new concept Z4, said to provide broad clues as to how next year’s production Z4 will look. Good grief, it’s an angry looking thing, isn’t it?

Here are some words. They’re lifted from BMW’s website, (verbatim) so I take no responsibility. Apart from the annotated comments of course, which are mine. Continue reading “Anger Is an Energy”

George’s Pet Anachronism

This post is something of a ragbag and it’s missing one photo. 

Aston Martin Rapide

A Maserati Ghibli pulled up next to me at traffic lights yesterday. As ever, I checked out the brightwork around the sideglass. Much to my amazement, Maserati opted for two pieces, instead of one, around the rearmost pane. For the kind of money Maserati want, I’d expect one single part. Opel and Kia can do it.

What’s this got to do with the Rapide? Continue reading “George’s Pet Anachronism”

Finding Dino

We conclude our 50th anniversary ruminations on Ferrari’s Dino by tracing its stylistic forebears.

1965 Dino 166P. Image: Ferrari.com

In December 1964 the press convened at Modena’s Hotel Real-Fini, where Enzo Ferrari would conduct his annual sermon on the mount. As the gathered press corps waited breathlessly as the ‘Pope of the North’ held forth regarding the Scuderia’s programme for coming season, the commendatore dropped a surprise, telling journalists Ferrari’s race engineers were advanced on a new ‘168 Dino GT’ to be campaigned the following season.

The wily puppetmaster wouldn’t Continue reading “Finding Dino”

Holy Moley Cannoli

Today we have another chance to document the ordinary but now rare E80 Corolla.

The grille is similar to the contemporary Carina.

To be precise it’s the EE80 three door hatchback, 1985 to 1987.

We’ve documented the saloon here and I argued that it’s a collection of near-neutralities. The hatch has the same basic simplicity (the surfaces have the least possible curvature) yet there is a hint more expression noticeable. It’s in the rake of Continue reading “Holy Moley Cannoli”

In the Name of the Son – 1967 Dino 206 GT

The car with which Alfredo Ferrari’s name would become synonymous did not carry the famous Cavallino Rampante emblem, but is arguably the most significant (and beautiful) Ferrari of all.

Mastery from the house of Pininfarina. Image: jdclassics

Enzo Ferrari preferred to be addressed as ‘ingegnere’, which was something of an irony, given his somewhat reactionary views on the subject. A staunch traditionalist, his principles were firmly rooted in the pre-war era; pivoting around the notion of a powerful, high revving power unit combined with a driver of sufficient bravery and skill to overcome the inevitable chassis-related deficiencies. Continue reading “In the Name of the Son – 1967 Dino 206 GT”

Dino Denied

FCA’s Sergio Marchionne appears to be saying no to a new-generation Ferrari ‘Dino’. Well he was last week anyway…

About as much Dino as you’re likely to get. Image: pinstake

Much like the current resident of the American White House, FCA’s Chief Knitwear Officer appears to think nothing of holding entirely bipolar positions on policy, seemingly at will. Over the years, the Turin binman has led us a merry polka and yet here we are, akin to the beleaguered Washington press corps, Pavlovian to our slavering chops. Because one thing of which we can be certain is that whatever either the leader of the free World or the Italian-Canadian yarnmiester pronounces upon will be slavishly reported upon, disseminated and pored over, which is of course the point of the exercise. Continue reading “Dino Denied”

A Glass Cabinet at the Colombi Hotel

In picturesque Freiburg, there’s a luxury hotel that houses a small display case that has an awful lot to tell about the Bundesrepublik of yore – and a certain German car manufacturer. 

colombi-360
Photo (c) gourmet-residenzen.com

Continue reading “A Glass Cabinet at the Colombi Hotel”

17.5 Billion Hours a Year

I have done some desk-work and put together a few assumptions to see how self-driving transport adds up. What are the problems with self-driving cars or the idea behind them?

Self-driving car

Without leaving the kitchen table, I was able to identify some conceptual problems with self-driving cars and ways to improve the efficiency of car use.

If a car drives on average 12,000 miles per year and does an average of 60 miles per hour then that means 200 hours of driving per year. (Cars are spent after just 1400 to 2000 hours of use).

The occupancy rate in relation to hours per year is very low. There are 8760 hours in year. Cars are driven for 200 hours a year, typically. For 8560 hours a year a car is unused. Thus there are 43.8 times more hours of use available than are used each year. If you drove all year, you would still Continue reading “17.5 Billion Hours a Year”

Remake, Remodel, Remaster, Recharge?

Twin approaches to a modernised ur-Mini, but while one is shamelessly drenched in nostalgia, the other speaks of a possible future.

What would Alec think? David Brown Mini Remastered. Image: dailyherald

Nostalgia is big business. Take the music industry where bands reform to play their best-loved material, while record companies re-master and repackage classic albums. So if the running order gets messed with, original tracks deleted and a bunch of questionable out-takes (which didn’t make the original cut for good reason) are added, who cares? Completists, (mostly middle-aged men if we’re honest) will Continue reading “Remake, Remodel, Remaster, Recharge?”

A Question of Attribution

Mystery and intrigue on the banks of the Neckar.

It all began with a casual conversation at a motor show, which touched on the Ro80 and its stylist, Claus Luthe. An acquaintance, with an extraordinary nose for the rarely trodden byways of automotive history said “You do know that Luthe probably didn’t design the Ro80?” I confessed I didn’t, but I was keen to know more.

“It’s in an old copy of CAR”, I was told. I asked if there was a possibility of a scanned copy of the article. “I’ll do better than that”, I was told; “I’ll send you the magazine”. Continue reading “A Question of Attribution”

Under the Upside

Not a lot of information exists on this car. I think it’s a 2007.

It is a Microcar MC-2 and appears to be a peculiar blend of the Renault Avantime and Audi A2. It’s one of three microcars I’ve spotted recently. More can be read here. One sees a lot of them in Germany and none in Ireland or Denmark. Continue reading “Under the Upside”

Six Degrees of 116

Or, putting it another way, getting the most out of your platform architecture. We count the branches of the Alfa Romeo 116-Series’ family tree.

1972 Alfa Romeo Alfetta Berlina. Image: Autoevolution

Since its post-war reconstitution under semi-state ownership, Alfa Romeo was forced to cut its cloth in ever more inventive ways. Budgets were tight and new model programmes hard-won. Expensive unitary body architectures needed to be well and truly amortised, which led to production runs that in retrospect probably lasted too long. Continue reading “Six Degrees of 116”

Transalpine Hightail

Disappointingly uneven, despite occasional flashes of brilliance, the 1977 Giulietta personifies Alfa Romeo’s 1970’s wilderness years.

Image: wheelsage

The much-loved 105-Series Giulia was the model line that put Alfa Romeo back on a World stage. This compact sporting saloon was a concentrated blend of Portello engineering knowhow wrapped in a highly aerodynamic, if superficially four-square package. Belying it’s ‘boxy’ appearance however, the 105 drove beautifully becoming a firm favourite from its 1962 inception until its ultimate demise 15-years on.

Replacing a car of its stature was no job of a moment, so Alfa not only took their time, but elected to Continue reading “Transalpine Hightail”

A photo for Sunday: We Are the Ones, You Are the Ones Too.

To speak comparatively, this is funnier than a Steve Martin essay: the 1991-1996 Ford Escort. 

1991-1996 Ford Escort (US model).

The US Ford Escort here occupied showrooms from 1991 to 1996. The EU versions straddled this: 1986 to 1992 and 1990 to 1997 (there’s a year when Ford sold all three). In order to Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: We Are the Ones, You Are the Ones Too.”

DTW Summer Re-Issue: 1968 Saab 99 Review

“The new Saab 99 tested. Is it more than the anti-Volvo”?

Marking the Saab 99’s 50th anniversary, we revisit this transcript where the legendary motoring writer Archie Vicar samples what is now viewed as one of the top-ten great Saabs. First published Nov 7, 2014.

Library photo
Library photo

From “Mass Motorist” Dec. 1968. Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.

Introduction

When people think of Sweden and Swedish cars, they often think of Volvo who make sturdy machines capable of withstanding the horrors of the Scandinavian climate. But it’s worth remembering that Sweden has a second car maker, Saab, who also make fighter jets. Like our friends at Bristol, Saab use the experience they have gained in aerospace to Continue reading “DTW Summer Re-Issue: 1968 Saab 99 Review”

‘Harmony With Nature’ – 2006 Daihatsu D-Compact X-Over

Another day, another Daihatsu.

Image: favcars

Daihatsu’s concept cars have been many, varied and in a good many cases, quite bonkers. Which is not to denigrate either them or the company which inspired them. Ideas they had aplenty, the real shame was that owing as much to their straitened circumstances as a lack of corporate nerve (perhaps), much of the invention and wildly creative thinking never particularly manifested itself in production form. Continue reading “‘Harmony With Nature’ – 2006 Daihatsu D-Compact X-Over”

Micropost: Why Design Matters

German news magazine, Der Spiegel, didn’t have to look very hard to find the right image to accompany its cover story on the alleged German car manufacturers’ cartel

1200
Photo (c) Der Spiegel

Continue reading “Micropost: Why Design Matters”

Micropost: Over the Curling Sky

DTW has a thing about brightwork. We also have a thing about quality.

1994 Lexus LS400

The 1990 Lexus LS400 famously had nitrogen-filled tyres because mere air caused a resonance. Despite the car’s astonishingly careful conception, these aren’t much loved and few are they now in number. It’s successor (above) is a crouton in the same soup bowl. Yesterday I got a chance to

Continue reading “Micropost: Over the Curling Sky”

Consistent Cat

The XJ and F-Type represent the rearguard of traditional Jaguar formats, but while one continues its slide, the other appears to be holding firm.

Image: andoniscars

With Jaguar’s original E-Type latterly attaining the status of holy relic and given several prior attempts at reinvention, the onus on Jaguar to recreate it brooked no denial. So from its inception, F-type was intended both as an unabashed recasting, but moreover, the closest production approximation yet to Porsche’s all-conquering 911 in positioning and purpose. Continue reading “Consistent Cat”

The bottom half of the glass is empty

… it’s full from the middle up. We’re talking of the 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, naturally.

1986-1993 Cadillac Sedan De Ville

That’s what the photos show. However, more newsworthy is the announcement** that Joel P. is leaving his position as Ford’s European design chief to make way for Amko Leenarts, an RCA alumnus. Previously he oversaw Ford/Lincoln interiors at Dearborn. Joel P. goes back to Dearborn after a few short years to a newly created (read: not very powerful) position. That’s probably because he a) Continue reading “The bottom half of the glass is empty”

Car is a Four Letter Word

The fourth generation of the series proved to be the quintessence of Golf. Twenty years later, it still is.

1997 Volkswagen Golf Mark IV. Image: 3dtuning

In 1974, a teetering VW took a risky punt into the relative unknown by launching a car, which by no means avant garde, (even by the standards of the day), was nonetheless some way left of centre. While it would be facile to suggest it was anything but a commercial success, it wasn’t perhaps until its second permutation that it began to truly dominate the sector it would ultimately define. Continue reading “Car is a Four Letter Word”

Theme of Themes : Cute – Farewell, My Cutie

“My Velma. She’s cute as lace pants”.

Figaro 02

First published by Sean Patrick in April 2014.

Cute. I’d been hearing it a lot that day. Moose Molloy’s gaze shifted towards the window and his expression changed slowly. It was like watching a landscape erode but, after that eternity had passed, there was a big lake of a smile rippling across his face and, somehow, I knew I was going to hear that C word again.

“Hey Marlowe, is that cute pink Figaro outside yours?”

A guy like Moose was big enough not to need to humiliate you with your choice of wheels, but I thought it best to offer him some clarification.

Continue reading “Theme of Themes : Cute – Farewell, My Cutie”

Theme Of Themes : Aerodynamics – The Shape We’re In

We ask whether aerodynamics’ post-war, post-aviation beginnings have anything in common with tomorrow’s hydrogen-powered wonders.

First published by Eóin Doyle in January 2015.

The future? Volkswagen-xl1-photo via motortrend
The future? Volkswagen XL-1. Image: Motor Trend

Car manufacturers have historically enjoyed a somewhat patchy relationship with the concept of aerodynamic theory. During the post-war period only a handful of motor manufacturers paid more than lip service and of those, most had their origins in aircraft manufacture. Bristol and Saab, for example were both forced to diversify during post-war austerity when demand for their mainstay aircraft businesses collapsed in peacetime. Continue reading “Theme Of Themes : Aerodynamics – The Shape We’re In”

Micropost: 2007 Dodge Landrover

Excuse my deliberately wrong headline. Dodge sold this one as the Nitro, on the same platform as the Jeep Rendition*.

2007 Dodge Nitrolander: very simple surfaces.

It does look like they followed the same playbook as the 2002 Range Rover L322. It also looks like the pencil line thickness on the drawing guided the depth and breadth of the wheel arch lip grooves. It resembles a car to be seen from a good distance. Continue reading “Micropost: 2007 Dodge Landrover”

Ashtrays: 2013 BMW 760 Li

The fifth generation BMW 7 comes under scrutiny here.

2013 BMW 760 Li centre console.

Ah, the depths of my ignorance. Only a little bit of due diligence led me to discover that until the fifth generation 7er appeared in 2008, this line had McPherson struts at the front. BMW probably argued that if Lancia deemed Mackers good enough for the Trevi then they would suffice for their flagboat saloon.

Today I wish to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2013 BMW 760 Li”

We Apologise For the Delay to Your Journey

No, really – it isn’t what it looks like…

Is that sun rising or setting? It’s difficult to be sure. Image: driversmagazine

Welcome to the EMotion Express. Calling all stations via Unfeasible Promise, Inevitable Reversal, Fervent Denial, and Messy Lawsuit. We regret to inform customers that due to essential (re)engineering works a replacement bus service will be in place before passengers can complete their journey to Humiliating Climbdown. Please mind the doors. Continue reading “We Apologise For the Delay to Your Journey”

The Gentian Bitter and the Honey Sweet

Many concept cars go nowhere. The 1981 Opel Tech 1 laid the groundwork for the 1986 Opel Omega and the rest of Opel’s cars for the decade.

Opel Omega “A” Club estate headlamp

This Club version of the Opel Omega attracted my attention recently. Audi justifiably get recognition for their strict rationalism. The Omega, it seems to me, demonstrates much the same seriousness. Continue reading “The Gentian Bitter and the Honey Sweet”

Sprint to the Middle, Walk to the Start

This one is just a single photo. The car drove off before I could get more shots and plus also the driver sat inside and didn’t seem like the kind of person who would appreciate my interest.

1983 Toyota Corolla E80

I have blurred the driver’s face, just in case. Normally I don’t photograph people in cars or cars if there are people in them.

Now: In 1983 Toyota presented the E80, the fifth generation of their answer to the VW Golf and Ford Escort. That makes it mainstream in the extreme. A look back at the previous four generations of Corollas shows cars that are studiously nothing much to look at. Maybe the second generation (1970-1974) had a touch of the American about it, not unlike the Cortina. Even that faint whiff of personality faded away for version three which managed to Continue reading “Sprint to the Middle, Walk to the Start”

Rearview Revisited: 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback

Arguably the Hyundai i30 Fastback’s spiritual ancestor, the 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback is 30 years old this year.

First published by Eóin Doyle in July 2015.

1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback GLi - image via toyotaoldies.de
Is a posh Corolla an oxymoron? Not in Ireland during the 1980’s. 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback GLi – image: toyotaoldies.de

It might surprise you, but the (AE92-series for Toyota geeks) Corolla, in 1.6 GLi Liftback guise at least, was considered an upmarket car in Ireland during the latter part of the 1980’s, before we became brand snobs like everyone else. This era also coincided with two other quite appealing, slightly upmarket Japanese hatchbacks – Mazda’s 323F and Honda’s 5-door Integra. Continue reading “Rearview Revisited: 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback”

Bringing ‘Sexyback’

Well yes, that may be overstating matters, but Hyundai’s i30 Fastback is an attempt to offer something a bit less crossover and a little more louche. Stop giggling back there, it’s better than nothing.

Image: motorward

As mainstream car manufacturers increasingly rationalise (read cull) available body styles, it’s somewhat refreshing to see someone offer something (slightly) different. The recent announcement of the Hyundai i30 Fastback was not an event the motoring press dwelt upon overmuch I’d have to observe. Continue reading “Bringing ‘Sexyback’”

Utmost Serene and Scything Calm the Farmer Fells the Green

 I miss Daihatsu. They withdrew from the European market a few years ago after offering a suite of small and interesting cars which few really liked.

image

There are a few importers of Japanese-market cars in Dublin which is why one can find rarities like this vehicle and, sometimes, unrecognizable saloons slipping past in the distance. I planned to Continue reading “Utmost Serene and Scything Calm the Farmer Fells the Green”

DTW Summer Re-Issue: “Let’s Sort This Out, Shall We?”

Recently we have been discussing the origins of the Citroën XM.

[First posted Nov 28, 2016, but well worth a second read as it’s a first rate bit of research.]

1989 Citroen XM
1989 Citroen XM

Here are as many of the influences I can find, not counting the aspects of the car that draw on Citroen’s own general heritage. The roll call is long and not exclusive. However, it begins with the 1974 Lotus Eclat which has a similar dropped window line, one of the XM’s signature features. Deschamp’s drawing looks like a saloon Eclat, if you Continue reading “DTW Summer Re-Issue: “Let’s Sort This Out, Shall We?””

Theme Of Themes : Aerodynamics – An Introduction

The Editor Gets All Slippery

(First published by Simon A Kearne in January 2015)

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The first cars were not fast enough for anyone to be particularly concerned about the amount of air that stood in the way of their progress. Therefore, although drivers soon learnt to hunch themselves over the wheel to reduce the passing air’s effect on themselves, it took longer to realise how important it might be to reduce their effect on the passing air.

Continue reading “Theme Of Themes : Aerodynamics – An Introduction”

DS – Away With the Fairies

Where now for PSA’s flat-lining DS experiment?

Image: Car magazine

The omens haven’t been good for some time now – oddly enough, it all really started going wrong once PSA decided to separate brand-DS from its Citroën parent. Since then, the descent has been rapid, bruising and ignominious. Despite all three existing DS models receiving expensive facelifts incorporating a new corporate nose, sales have fallen off a cliff. Over the period from January to May of 2017 alone, sales of the entry level (and top-selling) DS3 fell 35.3% to 12,136. Those of the C-segment DS4 contracted 33.4% to 5675 cars, while those of the current range topping DS5 plummeted 42.8% to 2730 units. Continue reading “DS – Away With the Fairies”

A Stroll Through Zurich (and Other Places)

Visiting different places is always an opportunity to see different cars. This is obvious when going to other countries or even continents, but even a one-hour journey to the nearest bigger city can prove interesting.

Zurich, Urania Observatory

After having lived for twelve years in an Alpine setting, I know that the taste for cars here is rather conservative. You will find the most mainstream brands (which nowadays often are the ‘premium’ ones) and everything that offers cheap four wheel drive. Colour-wise, people will stick to greyscale, blue or red. When I recently had some time for a walk in Zurich, I wondered if I’d find more inspiring cars than I usually encounter on our streets. Continue reading “A Stroll Through Zurich (and Other Places)”

SEAT Again Giorgetto

I’m not sure they heard you the first time… or the second.

Porsche 932 design study by Ital Design. Image: car-revs-daily

So what have we here? Well it appears to be Ital Design’s 1991 proposal for Porsche’s abortive 989 four-door saloon project. As detailed previously on these pages, Porsche had been investigating a four-seater saloon ever since the 928’s inception, the 989 concept being the culmination of Zuffenhausen thinking at the time. But while the in-house proposal reflected Porsche’s enthusiasm for traditional silhouettes, there was clearly some hand-wringing as to whether this was the best way forward. Continue reading “SEAT Again Giorgetto”

The Unease Spirals Down

Recently I discussed how one detail can ruin a car.

Here we see the 1979 Ford Mustang which, overall, can’t claim to be a very strong or admirable bit of work. All the details accumulate to result in a deeply compromised design. Ford really struggled with this. The decision of production engineers to Continue reading “The Unease Spirals Down”

Idée Fixe [3]

In this final part, Steve Randle concludes his proposal for a latterday successor to the seminal Citroën DS. 

Image: citroenvie

Previously, we explored styling, power unit and drivetrain. Today, Steve Randle outlines his thoughts on body structure and vehicle dynamics.

Structure:  “Aluminium and magnesium would dominate the vehicle. The recycling problem with composites – particularly thermosets – are a concern. While both Aluminium and magnesium alloys are expensive in the first instance, they are easy to recycle.” Continue reading “Idée Fixe [3]”

Theme Of Themes : Advertising – Who The Fun Do They Think We Are?

Richard’s fine introduction on this topic began with two quotes, both holding a high degree of truth to advertising in general, yet both I’d suggest are not always relevant to that branch of advertising that deals with cars.

(First published by Sean Patrick in September 2014)

VW 2

Edwin Land, who brought us Polaroid, as well as other products of intelligent research, said “Marketing is what you do when your product is no good” but, although Edwin Land was a remarkable inventor, it was easy for him to say that since, for years, his instant film system was the best in a group of one. Continue reading “Theme Of Themes : Advertising – Who The Fun Do They Think We Are?”

Theme of Themes: Romance – The Four Seasons

With Citroën occupying our collective minds this month, we celebrate the romance of the double chevron in this piece from the DTW archives.

Originally published by Richard Herriott on 7 November 2015.

Photo by Andre Martin from Quatre Saisons, 1979. Copyright.
Photo by Andre Martin from Quatre Saisons, 1979. Copyright.

Let’s accept there is not a lot of romance left in motoring today. That means we have to look back to when it was still romantic.

That’s around 1979 when Quatre Saisons was published. The book comprises a photo essay with the Citroën CX as the subject. Andre Martin’s images are themed around the four seasons, hence the title. The car speeds through snowy passes, through lavender fields and pauses in autumnal woodland: each shot evokes the mysterious potential of a motor car trip and also sings a hymn to the timeless modernism of the CX. Continue reading “Theme of Themes: Romance – The Four Seasons”

Micropost: Vastness Rescinded

DTW has a lot of time for Suzuki. Here we see a Jimny in its natural habitat.

1998-to date Suzuki Jimny

The Austrian Tirol asks for a car like the Jimny. The roads can be narrow, steep and snowy. Like the long-lived Defender, the Jimny has evolved and readers can use a lot of mental disc-space on the details of these. You should know it has a ladder-frame chassis (can we Continue reading “Micropost: Vastness Rescinded”