We ask whether aerodynamics’ post-war, post-aviation beginnings have anything in common with tomorrow’s hydrogen-powered wonders.
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 “Aerodynamics: The Shape We’re In”
Aerospace iconography permeated everywhere throughout the 1950s, particularly car styling. So when Alfa Romeo commissioned a series of concept cars, science fiction melded with aerodynamic theory, creating the extraordinary BAT cars. Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – Release The BATs”
Recently DTW reminded readers of the overlooked Honda Legend. And the resultant discussion brought up the fact that Car magazine ran both a C6 and a Legend on their long term fleet in 2007.
Car magazine asked at the end of their introductory comparison whether the two cars were “viable executive choices or pointless follies, vanity projects for their respective makers?” The general tone of the article was that even though they had chosen to run both these cars, Car itself didn’t really know why it was bothering. Continue reading “Honda Legend Versus the Citroen C6”
Phase four – 1986-1994: An Ecstatic Début. Jaguar’s management bask in the approbation of a valedictory UK press as XJ40 breaks cover at last.
It even made the TV news. On the 8th October 1986, Jaguar finally revealed their long-anticipated XJ6 and the UK media went nuts. There wasn’t this much excitement since the Austin Metro launch, six years previously. Car, devoted 28 editorial pages to the new Jag, describing it as a triumph of engineering against overwhelming odds, which to some extent it was. Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 14”
Run by: Myles Gorfe. Total Mileage: 299,904. Miles since Jan ’15: 2. Latest costs: £503 for steering linkage and rack renewal, crank adjustments, re-greased hinges, re-fitting missing chrome window trim, new battery, locating oil leak, fitting a solenoid.
It’s been a busy month for the Grannie. Gavin Chide at Dorris Motors re-greased the boot hinges which were sticking again. Having fitted the solenoid I got from eBay, I decided to take the old girl for a spin to see if the performance had improved. The engine started beautifully and the Ford took to the road again. Then it cut out about two minutes into the drive and refused to re-start. Continue reading “Our cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”
Most of the Lancers I see in Denmark are the estate version though I see few of those. This is the saloon which is much, much rarer indeed. Bentley rare, I’d say.
I walked around the car and decided it was a fair interpretation of the small saloon, something of a fetish for me, I think. The spoiler is a excessive though. Its presence there on the bootlid means it’s the warmest version short of the Evo model which has completely overshadowed Mitsubishi, a halo car that has turned into a blinding light. Continue reading “Unforgetting: 2006-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer”
Yesterday Renault began a campaign to use social media as a way to promote its crossover, the Kadjar.
A fair amount of ink has been spilled about the name. What caught my attention was the slogan: “Dare to live”. The image shows someone hang-gliding on a lovely morning. That would be Renault’s idea of daring to live. Ignoring the fact that you don’t need a Renault Kadjar to take up hang-gliding and that having a Renault Kadjar will not make people think you hang-glide, there is the problem of the implications of the slogan. They are terrible. Continue reading “Renault Invites You to Burst Out of Your Miserable Prisons”
What you’re looking at here is the last of the pure streamliners – the 1964 Panhard CD Le Mans. This Index of Efficiency contender for the 1964 Le Mans race boasted a drag co-efficient of a mere 0.12, reputedly the lowest of any racing car to date. This car is significant for two reasons: Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – Index of Efficiency”
Dany Bahar: Misunderstood visionary or public enemy number one?
It’s probably safe to assume that disgraced ex-Lotus boss, Dany Bahar believes in unicorns. It remains the only reasoned assumption following his abrupt career at the storied Sportscar brand. Appointed in 2009, Bahar took Lotus on a journey into the heart of darkness, edging them closer to the abyss than at any time in their chequered sixty three-year history. Continue reading “Dany Bahar’s Lotus Fantasia”
It could have been any other car here. As luck would have it, a 2002-2008 Opel Vectra had been parked on the spot in question.
You seldom see them in that colour now. And here’s an official photo from GM in a lovely gold. This comment is related, perhaps, to our recent discussion of colour. Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday”
Britain’s Aerodynamic Pioneers – Frank Costin and Malcolm Sayer profiled.
During the 1930s, rapid advancements in aviation were in no small way fuelled by a growing understanding of the science of aerodynamics. Following the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, with scientific interest supplanted by urgent necessity, the pioneering research into airflow management would now come with an added dimension. The increased application of wind tunnel testing allowed engineers to Continue reading “The Great Curve”
“Roverpowering!” Archie Vicar describes his impressions of the new Rover V8-S.
The text is what appears to be a transcript of an article from “Today’s Motoring Magazine”, July 1980 (pages 45-46). Original images by Nigel Rollister-Hyde. Due to a crossover accident at the processors, archive photos have been used.
That the Rover 3500 is a remarkable car goes without saying. Since its launch in 1976 it has won a firm following and has set a new benchmark in the large hatchback class. But the 1976 car was far from perfect, some say. It lacked a height-tilt adjustment for the driver’s seat cushion and a rear screen wiper, for example. Furthermore, the rear seats were set far too low and the passenger’s vent seldom functioned reliably. The steering wheel also obscured the minor instruments too and the lights’ master switch was hard to see.
Here is Peter Stevens on the concept car and here is his second article on the subject. I think we can say we covered the topic more thoroughly in October but it nice to see what a professional thinks.
It’s nice to see that Peter Stevens agrees with my analysis of the Ford Probe concept car: “Ford Motor Company’s European arm presented a concept vehicle, the Ford Probe III, at the Frankfurt show in 1981 for totally different reasons. Its new mid-size family car, the Sierra, was to be launched in 1982. It was a fairly avant-garde design that, within Ford, suddenly caused the senior management to Continue reading “Peter Stevens On Concept Cars”
Automotive News reports that Ford’s EcoSport soft-roader/crossover has not been a success in the European market. Is it an example of world cars only selling in parts of the world?
The Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and the Opel Mokka all sold remarkably better than the EcoSport. How well? For every eco-sporty vehicle Ford sold, Renault sold 13 and a bit Capturs. Additionally, Peugeot sold 11 of their chrome-laden machines and even more additionally, Opel shifted 10 Mokkas for every Ford that drove off the dealer’s yard.
That means for each little Ford softroader sold, 34 of the competitors’ cars found happy customers. How this happened is put down to the EcoSport being designed for the Indian and Brazilian markets where more chunky-looking vehicles are preferred. The biggest sign of this chunkiness is the huge, externally mounted spare wheel. Continue reading “World Cars: Ford EcoSport”
Recently I noticed a nice looking Audi saloon outside a super-market near where I live. That A4 looks pleasing, I thought. Except it was no A4 at all but the A3 saloon, on sale since early last year. In what way does the A3 differ from its bigger sibling? The A3 saloon’s price list begins at £23,295 and for that you get a neatly styled boot holding 425 litres of air along with a rather handsome exterior.
The above quote from Sir Hugh Casson, architect and Festival of Britain director, caused me some amusement in my youth. I’ve never been a decent curator of nice things. I was always bemused by magazine ads for companies such as The Franklin Mint, showing an attractive woman in an attractive home, with a rictus, Stepford Wife type of grin, admiring one of her limited number collection of miniature porcelain bells, all provided in a hand-carved, Genuine English Oak, wall-mounted presentation case. Possibly, of course, I was conforming to a sad stereotype and you might suggest that, though unable to understand girly enthusiasms, I’d still happily sit in a smug, testosterone-filled fug in my hypothetical motor house, master of a collection of finely-fettled classic motors and a bulk dispenser of Swissvax.
But I’m not sure that’s the case. At times I have bought objects that appealed to me then, years later found them still in the original box – as I write there is a nice scale model of an Alfa Giulia Berlina bought on Ebay in 2013, Continue reading “Concours Queen or Oily Rag”
“A new car from Rootes”. Mr Archibald Vicar motors north of the border in the Hillman “Imp.”.
“From The Practical Car Driver”, Dec 1963, we present what looks like a transcript of a road test of Rootes’ legendary rear-engined Mini-slayer, the Imp. Drawings by Miss Caroline Dallington. Owing to the poor quality of Caroline’s original drawings, stock photographs have been used.
One always relishes visiting North Britain. The North British, from Glasgow to Edinburgh and from Banff to Braeval, are far and away the most entertaining subjects in this Sceptered Isle. To their repertoire of skills which include brewing, distilling and the making of beer they have added another: building motor cars. Thus The Practical Car Driver has dispatched me to Linwood, to Continue reading “1963 Hillman Imp Road Test”
While pondering the content of this website, I realised I’ve said very little about Mazda. That means it’s time to say why I can’t write about them.
Having typed that, I remembered I devoted some space to the new Miata. Apart from that, I seem to not want to say much about the 3 or the 6 even if they would appear to be quite good cars. If I was in the market for a C-D class car, I ought to go and look at the Mazda 6 and not just go along to Opel and see how much Insignia I could get for my imaginary money. Continue reading “Cars I Can’t Write About: Mazda”
Britain’s Aerodynamic Pioneers – Frank Costin and Malcolm Sayer profiled.
During the 1930s, rapid advancements in aviation were in no small way fuelled by a growing understanding of the science of aerodynamics. Following the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, with scientific interest supplanted by urgent necessity, the pioneering research into airflow management would now come with an added dimension. The increased application of wind tunnel testing allowed engineers to properly assess the behaviour of aircraft in simulated flight and more accurately determine the most efficient shapes. Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin and Sayer Part One”
After revealing a rather challenging design for their new SUV, Bentley have found a name as unappealing: Bentayga.
There must be no poets among the senior staff at Bentley. The proposed name lacks any charm or musicality. How did they choose this name? Automotive News and others reported that the new SUV is to be named after a mountain on the Canary Islands. Continue reading “Bentley Bentayga: 4000 Customers Already”
Newspapers are interesting. You can pick up a sheaf of pulped wood and read articles about all sorts of fascinating topics. Just the other day I read a small piece about driverless cars. This made me wonder about two things.
The article I read (in the International New York Times) reported how last Monday at the International CES, a large trade show themed on technology, Dieter Zetsche showed off Mercedes Benz’s vision of a driverless car. Zetsche described the car as a sort of “luxury carriage” that could provide a peaceful and pleasant space for its passengers. Continue reading “Customerless Car Companies”
Is the Dynamic the run-out model that the Jaguar XK deserves?
I had the pleasure of a quick drive in my friend’s new XKR Dynamic. The Dynamic is one of two “run-out” special editions of the XK, and in this instance came in black, with black alloys, a black roof and boot-lid spoiler (you guessed it, also in black. I can see the attraction for many of the look of the car in this format, but it is not subtle and, to my eyes, ages what is a fundamentally alluring car – I suspect that that spoiler is the main spoiler here. Continue reading “Jaguar XKR Dynamic Convertible 2014 – Road Test”
Driven To Write attempts to decipher an aerodynamic staple but finds the going surprisingly turbulent.
In architectural terms, a buttress is defined as a structural member built against or projecting from a wall serving as a support or reinforcement. They were more prevalent at a period when structural engineering was more of a naive art, employed as a support against sideways forces. As architect’s skills developed, the need for buttressing decreased, latterly viewed as something of an admission of failure, much like an air dam or spoiler in automotive terms. There are several types of architectural buttresses, the most visually spectacular probably being the ‘flying buttress’, a structural device used in the design of many Gothic cathedrals.
That’s the tabloid-style scare headline for this topic. The sensible, broadsheet-style headline would be “Fleet buyers to dominate in car market”.
According to Automotive News (who posted this story on Saturday, Jan 10th – do they never rest?) Renault are to bank on fleet sales as the proportion of private customers decreases relative to corporate ones: “Renault hopes its new Espace will appeal to business customers as family buyers increasingly shun minivans”. Furthermore, AN reports that “Jamel Taganza, an analyst for Inovev, said fleet customers now represent the majority of potential buyers of midsize vehicles in Europe: ‘With the exception of Italy, the shift to fleet sales is a European-wide trend,’ he said”. Continue reading “The Private Buyer Is Dying Off [Exclamation Point]”
Today’s weekend morsel is an example from Maserati’s darker days of recent times. It’s a 1992 Biturbo, yours for about €20,000 (if bought in Denmark).
The first Biturbos date from 1981. Maserati hoped that the car would gain sales from that champion of small, sporty saloons, the BMW 3-series. To do this, Maserati equipped the two-door, four seat car with a 2.0 V6 engine, larded up with two turbos. Depending on which way you look at it, by 1993 Maserati had either ironed out all the problems or else got bored making the Biturbo. Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1993 Maserati Biturbo”
On my visits to the Republic of Ireland I notice what seems to be a local peculiarity, the neglected high-end car.
Here we have a Mercedes SLK accumulating algae and moss, seen in late December. Nearby I saw a six year old Audi A4 cabriolet where the paint was visibly worn along the bodysides and the ragtop scuffed. I can’t fathom what it would take to make paint wear down to the primer. Continue reading “An Irish Specialty”
Some things, as they say, do just what it says on the tin. To my mind, the rear boot excrescence is generally well named. There are some exceptions but, generally, if a car’s designed right, it shouldn’t need an add-on. And, if it does, what about those poor buggers in lesser variants who can still get within 20 kph of the bespoilered version. Are they safe?
In 1995 Oldsmobile presented their Aurora, a car that was originally intended as a two-door coupe to replace the Toronado.
The origins of the Aurora go back to a 1989 concept car known as the Tube Car, one of Oldsmobile’s numerous designs inspired by aerodynamics. Much of the feeling of the Tube car is retained though the very straight sills are far from an aerodynamic ideal. The role of the Aurora was to help alter customers’ perceptions of the brand as being staid and rather dull and to distinguish it from the upper middle class styling that Buick had made its own. Despite the aerodynamic appearance, the Aurora’s cD was only 0.32, by some margin worse than Audi’s less obviously rounded 100 of 1982 which had a cD of 0.30. Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora”
J Mays replaced Jack Telnack in 1997 and was responsible for Ford’s sprawling empire of brands. Sean showed us some of Mays’ retrofuturism. What else did he do while in office ? The worst vehicle – in design terms – that Mays can be held responsible for is the 2005 Ford 500 which married VW geometry with softer, more amorphous shapes from somewhere else entirely. Continue reading “J Mays’ Ford Legacy II”
Run by: Myles Gorfe. Total Mileage: 299,902. Miles since Dec ’14: 2. Latest costs: £392 for rear axle renewal, timing belt adjustments, greased hinges, fitting missing chrome window trim, new battery.
It’s been a busy month for the Grannie. Having rebuilt the bootlid mechanism and greased the locks on the doors, I decided to take the old girl for a spin to see if the performance had improved. The engine started beautifully and the Ford took to the road. Then it cut out about two minutes into the drive and refused to start. Continue reading “Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”
I start by admitting an unjustifiable antipathy towards J Mays, which I must put to rest, now. It is based purely on the fact that he once called a 1 Series BMW a ‘shitbox’. Although I have admired several Bangle era BMWs from first viewing, the 1 Series was never one of them, but there is something unseemly about one designer slagging off another designer’s work in public. Continue reading “J Mays’ Ford Legacy”
Not all aerodynamic cars have to draw on the same set of forms. The 2010 Kia Ray (or PHEW Ray) manages to look slippery without resembling a blend of Tatra and Citroen shapes.
The most distinctive element is the Kamm tail, a feature Alfa Romeo and Zagato used in the 60s. The very sharp rim that defines the cut-off tail is there to improve the airflow break-away. A rounded edge would cause more turbulence (that’s why the tail of the first Audi TT has a small lip attached on the bootlid). Continue reading “Theme: Aerodynamics – 2010 Kia Ray”
Honda has launched a new H-RV, but where’s the joy?
Honda will shortly launch its new compact crossover contender to rival the likes of the Nissan Juke and its all-conquering Renault Captur sibling. It is, as one can reasonably expect, spectacularly unadventurous in appearance and technical specification. In fact, there is a very good chance that the HR-V (as Honda has named it) will prove to be a virtually invisible piece of street furniture when it lands in a town near you later this year. Continue reading “Renewed Joy for Honda?”
A chance to look inside Audi’s A3 presented itself. I found what is referred to as a smoker’s pack.
These are to ashtrays what “cotton rich” is to shirts. For a costly motor car such as the A3, the quality of the plastic is far below the expectations of this writer. Audi must have saved a lot of money by deleting the standard ashtray and replacing it with a cupholder and a fireproof mug. At least a few extra euros could have been spent to design something more convincing than the Hasbro-level of moulding shown above. Does Audi really think their customers will overlook a lame effort such as this?
The slightly raised ride doesn’t conceal that this is what a 5 would look like if it was “just” a hatch. I think it’s rather attractive but the combination of raised height and rubber of a lowered profile is a contradiction, like dropping a cube of sugar into a diet cola
Honda came within touching distance of premium status only to let it slip through their fingers. What happened?
Honda Europe has made a profit just once since 2007, when sales in the region peaked at 313,400 cars. In 2013 sales collapsed to a mere 139,700 cars. What on earth is going on at Japan’s number three motor manufacturer?
During the latter years of the 1980’s Honda appeared poised to make a significant breakthrough in the European market. Perhaps the most engineering-led of mainstream Japanese manufacturers, Honda achieved what its better selling rivals had hitherto failed to manage – credibility. Continue reading “Dream On, Honda”
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.
Before we come to Aerodynamics, we must come to Streamlining. Streamlining is not the father of Aerodynamics, it is the somewhat camp uncle. Streamlining is to Aerodynamics as Gastronomy is to Nutrition. It is more fun. Although based on the concept that air should pass unhindered over the vehicle body, Streamlining was not usually scientific. It was sometimes based on theory and experimentation, Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – Introduction”