Run by: Myles Gorfe. Total Mileage: 299,911. Miles since February 2015: 4. Latest costs: £169 for refitting boot hinges, £7401 for harness work (under review) – see last month. £23 for replacing C-pillar vents again, £12 for tightening driver’s seat runners, £19 for re-fitting mirror, £100 for repairing a transaxle leak, £50 for flat bed truck, £30 for fixing a leak in the washer fluid tubes.
It’s been a busy month for the Grannie. Len Gudgeon at the Granada Garage replaced the boot hinges again. Over-lubrication with the wrong grade of oil meant the old ones failed to align and they became distorted during a closure test. A distributor cap and new carb showed up from a dealer in Antwerp but it was the wrong type, a three hole when I needed a four.
I then ordered a generic part from a remanufacturer in Estonia and Len had a lot of trouble fitting that before eventually cannibalising parts from the old one and fitting them to the new one. He tightened the driver’s seat runners which had worked free during the last trip plus he attended to sundry other jobs which Gavin Chide never got around to or said he “forgot”. Continue reading “Our Cars – 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”
The F-Type is not the quintessential modern Jaguar. This is.
Upon release, Jaguar made lavish claims about the significance of the F-Type. How it would become the fulcrum of the entire Jaguar range. How successive models would reference its styling. This has proved wildly inaccurate because on the basis of the two most recent model launches, Jaguar’s pivot point is not in fact the F-Type. It’s the XF. Continue reading “Jaguar’s North Star Saloon”
Look at all my lovely buttons – so much choice, so little time!
From The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut : “The only controls available to those on board were two push-buttons on the centre post of the cabin – one labelled ‘ON’ and one labelled ‘OFF’. The ON button simply started a flight from Mars. The OFF button connected to nothing. It was installed at the insistence of the Martian mental health experts, who said that human beings were always happier with machinery they thought they could turn off.”
In a companion piece, I’ll shortly sing the delights of a car that entertains, but there’s another side to this. Cars have become complex, with lots of switches and touch-screen options. If you drive a modern car, do you use every option that is available to you? Do you even know every option?
This car falls into the same category as the Mercury Monarch I wrote about a few weeks ago.
It’s a dented working car. It’s a pretty ordinary car too, possibly even more ordinary than the Monarch. It’s a small, front wheel-drive monocoque vehicle from the lower end of the price range. The engine is mounted transversely and the front suspension uses McPherson struts. In concept terms, it’s the same a VW Golf. Or, in image terms, think of it as a Rover 45 saloon with sporting accents. Continue reading “A photo Series for Sunday: 1982 Buick Skylark Sport”
During the last decade of the 20th century a wave of retro cars were shown as concept cars or sold as production cars.
These vehicles re-used details and characteristics of designs from the 1950s and 1960s or perhaps ideas of these times. I will not discuss the reasons for this trend but rather retro design itself, and the two alternatives, modernism and classicism. I take the view that the best industrial design is impersonal. Continue reading “Retro: Yes or No?”
Or Calibre, if you are writing using British English.
I only remembered this one because I saw an example other day. I didn’t know what it was so I thought it must be one of those Chrysler things. Or Dodge things. Or maybe a Plymouth. Whatever. There was a time when American car interiors were cherishably bad. They might have been a bit careless but they had a humour and brio to them. The Calibre’s is simply bad and dispiriting but is a great example of when simple (good) becomes banal (not good). All the great simple designs have a twist or an inflection or a grace note. This set of straight lines (above) is Continue reading “Unforgetting: 2007 Dodge Caliber”
Obviously I haven’t forgotten it. But nearly everyone else has.
Around the late 80s the Japanese car industry had a thing about technology. An arms race between Honda, Toyota and Nissan had the firms vying to outdo one another in the levels of fiendish ingenuity they could tempt customers with. An economic boom drove this boom in engineering silliness. Whereas in Europe and the US the late 80s economic expansion meant more cubic capacity, the Japanese tended to focus on all the other areas of the car. It led to some wonderful creations, hopeful monsters like this all-wheel drive Mitsubishi saloon. Continue reading “Unforgetting: 1989 Mitsubishi Galant 4wd 4ws”
Automotive News has reported that the 2016 Cadillac CT6 will be equipped with a twin turbo V-6 (below). We wonder if this device will also power Opel’s possible future range topper, the revived Senator.
This is what Automotive News said: “[a] spirit of innovation will extend to the sedan’s powertrain, with General Motors announcing that an all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 will be available under the CT6’s hood. The direct-injected V-6 is estimated to generate 400 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque. At 133 hp per liter, Cadillac claims, the new engine is one of the most power-dense engines of its type. Continue reading “Here’s the Engine for the Next Opel Senator”
Phase Four: 1986-1994 – Keeping up appearances. Jaguar revises XJ40 as the tide turns against it.
With the British motoring press sharpening their quills, Car’s concluding long-term report on an early 3.6 Sovereign sounded a somewhat conciliatory note. “Because it did some things remarkably well, the contrast with the things it did badly was sharper. Mostly it was the detail design that gripped us with despair… It rings of the bells of time running out and shortcut solutions running freely.”
I started this a bit of a joke. Having looked at a very great many of Pininfarina’s cars, I had to work hard to find this selection of duds.
Actually, I was reminded of a lot of very good concept cars which look great today and should have been made. Also, while the 1971 Pininfarina Ro80 concept has an odd decorative feature on the side, I am convinced this car served as eventual inspiration for a decade of Cadillacs and other GM cars in the 80s. Continue reading “Pininfarina – An Appreciation”
Automotive News reports that Renault are going to replace the Laguna and Latitude with a single model. Fine. But they said something we have heard so many times before.
“Renault says the Laguna/Latitude replacement will have a more emotional styling.” The bulk of AN’s report details the statistics of the C-D segment. In brief: fewer sold than ever, Renault selling fewer again, losses. What the article doesn’t address is that the last Laguna lost customers due to its reliability problems and the current car did not get those customers back because it simply wasn’t special enough. Special doesn’t mean emotional.
The A2 wasn’t simply the most intelligently wrought Audi ever. It was also their most expensive sales flop. We tell its story.
History marks the Audi A2 as a failure, and with vast commercial losses incurred during a six year lifespan, it’s a simple and convenient dismissal. Since its 2005 demise, the party line has been that Audi took a brave, risky and ultimately doomed gamble into the unknown, one which was studiously ignored by the buying public. But is it as simple as that?
It had been an open secret since the late-1980s that Daimler-Benz had a compact hatchback in development. Such an incursion into the VW Group’s orbit was viewed by Chairman, Dr. Ferdinand Piëch as a gross betrayal, precipitating amongst other things, this overt cost-no-object rival.
Schemed on the basis of an ultra-economical VW concept, Piëch tasked Audi engineers to create a technological statement with the avowed intention of putting his detested rivals in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim firmly in their place.
Ingolstadt’s engineers had one pronounced ace in their pocket – material technology, in the form of aluminium spaceframe construction pioneered in the range-topping A8. However when Audi displayed the Al2 concept as a spoiler to the Mercedes A-Class’ 1997 debut, few saw it as anything more than simply another fit of Piëch. Two years later, both press and public realised just how serious he was.
An engineer’s car from its rounded nose to the tip of its aerodynamically shaped tail-lights, the A2 appeared to have been milled from a solid billet of aluminium. Luc Donckerwolke’s styling scheme was a masterpiece of form and structural function. Its design detail was a delight and with a exquisitely streamlined teardrop shape the A2 was a pared-back study in visual and material purity.
Beautifully finished and assembled to similar standards of care as larger Audi models, the A2 became an object of desire for design aficionados from Dingolfing to Dungeness. Ingolstadt would never be this clever again.
But this level of integrity costs. Priced above a well-specified Golf, prospective customers really had to make a case for the Audi. Combine this with small-capacity carry-over VAG engines (with a commensurate lack of performance – a function of its efficiency brief), and the A2’s fate was sealed.
Because while the market was perplexed by Mercedes’ A-Class, it was utterly confounded by the A2. Was it a compact luxury saloon or an economy trailblazer – could it be both? The motoring public are notoriously both fickle and inherently conservative and therefore by nature abhor a smart-Alec.
As a result, buyers cleaved to the safety of convention, so A2 never troubled the sales charts. After six slow years Audi pulled the plug, replacing it with the screamingly conventional, and considerably more market-friendly Polo-based A1.
VW ultimately lost €1.3bn on the A2 programme, although one suspects its costs were written off before the first production car rolled down the lines. The A2 did its job for Dr. Piëch, proving Audi could out-engineer their bitter Stuttgart rivals.
Yet the A2 proved a more durable design amidst enlightened autophiles – held in genuine affection by owners and those (like this author) who still quietly covet one. While sales success eluded the A2 during its life, it has become a sought after secondhand buy, holding significantly more residual value than its considerably less well wrought A-Class rival.
Today, an A2 arguably makes even more sense – its alloy body impervious to rust, and with commendably low running costs – especially in three-cylinder TDi form. While Audi have abandoned the A2 concept, recently stating they have no intention of producing a similar monospace vehicle, the concept has taken on new life at Munich’s Petuelring, with BMW’s i3 vividly illustrating the A2’s prescience.
Land Rover very modestly offer a single, dark green called Aintree Green. They have eleven colours in all.
If you read the accompanying text, LR describe the design as “kinetic design”. I thought Ford owned that term. Unfortunately, the colour range is shown as a sliding bar so you can’t see all the colours at once. Here is the interior with its almond/espresso trim. The total cost of the car as optioned is £32,000. I chose a mid-range diesel and trim pack. Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car: Land Rover”
In 1993 the Rover 620i faced the BMW 318i, the Citroen Xantia 2.0 and Ford Mondeo 2.0.
All of these cars had something going for them. Car magazine judged all four to be “formidable”. Car estimated the BMW to cost €17,000 with a few options thrown in to make it habitable; ditto the Rover though it came with more features as standard. The Mondeo cost only £14,000 in GLX trim (I miss trim designations like that). Citroen wanted £17,500 for their car. So what are these cars worth now?
As it happens, Jaguar unveiled its new XF today, hailing it as the best looking car in its class.
I misread the headline at Automotive News and thought they had done some more unveiling of the XE. You know how these unveilings run and run. Maybe this was the official unveiling of the car for actual sale as opposed to the unveiling for the automotive press or some car show or other. Cars seem to spend a third of their lives being gradually unveiled. Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car: Jaguar”
Nothing turned up at Renault though their Clio has 13 colours**. Fiat made it impossible to find out what they had in under five minutes though their website looks nice. I could not be bothered….
Mazda have six colours for their new 2 but not a green. The red costs a remarkable €750 while the other colours are running at €450. White is the only colour that comes at €0. Citroen is another green-free zone. The DS5 which is a car for individualists comes in a range of colours limited to six, nearly all of which are some form of grey or black. I really believe that if they offered this car in banana, lime, strawberry and mustard it would Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car, Continued”
This car is available with a green called “Smaragd Green”. Smaragd is a green mineral of which I have never heard and I have a degree in Earth Science. Opel want €530 for this colour. I think it’s worth it.
The horse before the cart – or was it the other way round?
It hardly seems like an invention but innovators often do something that, with the benefit of hindsight, the rest of us think is so bloody obvious that we can’t see what the fuss is about. So, in 1892, after a couple of years of fiddling around with alternatives, Émile Levassor decided to put an internal combustion engine in the front of the car he was developing with René Panhard, then he connected it to a clutch with, behind that, a simple gearbox which took drive back to the rear wheels. This they continued to develop, producing the forerunner of the manual gearbox we recognise today in 1895.
As regular readers know, I have been keeping a close eye on colour. On the way out of the car dealer last Sunday I grabbed a colour and trim brochure for the Hyundai i10. What did I find?
I find British buyers are being deprived of choice. To their credit, Hyundai are making their i10 available in ten different colours. Not a single one of them is green and nor will you find yellow. This is not a surprise. On the plus side, there are two deep reds and an orange called “New Orange” in Denmark or “Sweet Orange” in Sweden. They also offer the car in a very regal blue called Continue reading “A Little More Colour From Hyundai: i10 Colour Names”
While The Truth About Cars was informing us on the business model of the Autolib concept, I was thinking about something else.
This is some of what the Truth About Cars wrote: The technology involves lithium metal polymer batteries, developed by Bollore’s Blue Solutions. The batteries, which don’t need liquid electrolytes to store power, are not only lighter in weight than lithium-ion packs, but can be charged up to 3,000 times, and are stable at temps up to 338 F. No one else has gone for the technology thus far, however; Bollore invested €3 billion ($3.2 billion) over three years to develop the EVs and the battery technology now in use by his ventures.” Continue reading “Finally, Something Good From Pininfarina”
Classic car sales is not a line of business known for its propensity to change. Thus I am impressed by the efforts made by RK Motors of Charlotte, North Carolina, to invest in their presentation methods.
I chose this film at random and was very taken with the slick visuals to to display the features and quality of the vehicle. While most of the visual moves are directly from the play-book of television automotive advertising, it is noteworthy to see them applied to a single car. Continue reading “Innovation In Classic Car Sales”
Following our recent Benchmarks piece on the Renault 5, you are quite naturally burning to know more about this little French marvel.
Ever obliging, we offer this (not particularly short) film on the development and history of the Cinq. Made by Renault themselves, it’s a little hagiographic in parts, but an enjoyable (and informative) trawl nonetheless. Enjoy.
This is not yet another of my pleas for the world to acknowledge the subtle allure of the 2000-2007 Ford Mondeo.
Rather it’s a chance to meditate on the impact of trim on the perception of a car. In this instance we see something quite rare: a Ford Mondeo with all the options thrown at it. The version here is a Ghia in 2.0 diesel guise. It has a body kit which makes it look lower though not excessively so. Chrome accents give the door-handles a boost.
In 1991 Opel launched the F-series Astra which lasted until 1998. These unsung cars form part of our streetscape and are often overlooked. I took a series of photos of them in their daily setting so as to document the afterlife of the car.
While the VW Golf basks in kudos for its design consistency, and Ford enjoys the warm glow of popular approval, the poor old Astra lingers in the deep shadows of something or other. I find the shape has aged very well and I wish later cars in this class had the same clear fenestration. Continue reading “The Children of Eisenach”
It might interest you to learn that during the 1960’s, BMC assembled Mini’s in Dublin to a standard not vastly dissimilar to that at Longbridge. Make of that what you will. It was from here that MZI 265 – a light grey Morris Mini Minor emerged in 1966. Republic-spec Mini’s straddled basic and De-Luxe models, having carpeting, a heater and duo-tone upholstery, if little else by way of creature comfort.
Ever since 1978 (Oct 4, 12.34 pm), the dominant colour range used in car interiors has been tending towards the cool: that would be grey, blue, black.
Up until that time most manufacturers offered upholstery, carpet and plastic trim in colours such as ivy green, navy blue, light blue, orange-brown, mid-green, red, bordeaux (what the Truth About Cars insists on calling Bordello Red). I have been looking at colour lately and first noticed a more daring use of tans and browns in concept cars (the most concept-y aspect of most of them) and now this trend feeding into production car interiors. Here is my evidence: the new Hyundai i20. Continue reading “Are Things Warming Up? Hyundai’s New Colour Options”
A concept that does nothing more than entertain – which is no bad thing
Showcars often drive me up the wall by giving us an idealised version of something that actually will be produced, thus diminishing the effect of the production model. In the case of the 2006 Mille Miglia, I doubt anyone expected to build either it, or a watered down version. Continue reading “BMW Mille Miglia 2006”
Five reasons why the Cinq was a benchmark small car
1. Like many significant car designs, the Cinq was the brainwave of one man, originally created as something of a thought experiment. In 1968, Renault designer Michel Boué sketched the design proposal in his spare time, marking out the now familiar outline superimposed upon a photo of a contemporary Renault 4. Hence the silhouette and unusually tall canopy.
Motoring history has many concepts and show cars that disappointed when they were turned into production models, but equally tantalising are the occasions when a manufacturer has looked back into its own history and tried to re-create one of its own supposed ‘classics’. This is sometimes commercially successful, sometimes critically successful, but those of us in the world of motoring who spend our time considering the automotive equivalent of fitting angels onto pin heads are usually frustrated. Here are some of my own personal disappointments and maybe a success or two.
Mini to MINI : Starting with an obvious one that produces greatly polarised opinions. The styling of Frank Stephenson’s relaunch MINI was a clever update on the original, not too slavish, with its own distinctive detailing and more than a hint of Aston Martin at the front, which made the point that this was not intended as a true successor to Issigonis’s peoples car. Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – Lost In Translation”
Our good friends at Autocar have reported that Chrysler is going to give up and flee the UK market. This will disappoint only those Lancia fans who had a brief chance to buy the Delta and Ypsilon.
I was entirely unaware or had forgotten that Chrysler were selling the Delta in the UK and Ireland. There is one used Delta in stock in the UK, by the way. Sales of Chryslers were never impressive, 3000 in a good year. The cost of preparing these cars for RHD production must have meant they lost money on each of these unless they had huge success in some RHD market of which I was not aware… Japan? New Zealand? Continue reading “Chrysler Follows Lancia’s Footsteps Out of the UK”
In the middle of a piece of automotive copy the Lump is often found: the engine performance figures. I really don’t care for it much and it’s time it retired.
Typically the worst case is when a model is revised to be even more “ultimate”. As your eyes wander across the lines you stumble across it like a hiker in a mire: “The unit develops 178 bhp, up 23 bhp from before, at 6500 rpm, 450 lower than the outgoing model, and produces 194 lb fb of torque, 23 lb ft extra”. I find this incredibly unpalatable.
A copy of Car, Nov. 1975 turned up on my floormat last week. I ordered it so as to read a Giant Test involving the Peugeot 604, the Jaguar XJ 3.4 and the BMW 528. The Peugeot and Jaguar trounced the 528 which lost points for its shabby handling, confined interior and wind-noise. Car concluded that in several areas including ride, roominess and comfort, the Peugeot had bested the Jaguar. Continue reading “The Peugeot 604 is 40 This Year, Part II”
A few months back Car magazine ran a very harsh review of the 2015 Nissan Pulsar. You can read the text here (undated) to see all that they said.
Ever since then I have been wondering how bad could it be so in the name of half-baked research I went to look at a real Pulsar but didn’t manage to actually drive it. Key to understanding the Pulsar is this part of the Car review: “The wheelbase of the Barcelona-built Pulsar, at 2.7 metres, is the longest in its class, no doubt helping the supple ride quality, and rear legroom (all 692mm of it) at least matches a Skoda Superb, and might even better it.” Continue reading “Spot Check on the Motoring Press”
Boredom drove me to find out what sorts of colours are available for cheapish cars in Brazil. Then I came back to Europe via Japan.
I started out thinking that because Brazil is full of warm and spontaneous people they would have a very lively palette of vehicle colours. Not so. No greens, no yellows and no oranges. And guess which company offers 12 exterior shades for their base model car? We’ll leave that to the end. Continue reading “Full Brazillian Colour Analysis”
Here is a great new game for people out and about. It goes by the name “monochrome bingo”.
Each player chooses a colour e.g. grey, anthracite, silver or black. Here is an example: seven black cars in a row. Whoever spots the most cars of the same colour in a row by an agreed time wins. Good places to play include airport car parks and Ikea car parks. Car dealerships are not valid areas for play.
Every so often, a concept car symbolises the crossing of an invisible line. Here’s one of them.
The Aston Martin DBX represents the best clue yet to the Gaydon-based marque’s future intentions. Aston Martin’s new CEO, Andy Palmer has stated a version of this car will be produced, telling the Telegraph last week; “The DBX is not an SUV, it’s an expression of a GT sports car; a DB crossing over into that usable space… it will be a five-door vehicle, and it won’t grow much bigger than the DBX.” Continue reading “A New frontier? Aston Martin’s DBX”
Underrated. I’ve not seen more than a handful of these. Take another look. That’s a car many people could afford with little effort. Yet few bothered. Market failure, I say.
This is what the AA said: “Perhaps the greatest recommendation for the Astra Sport Hatch is that it feels very similar to the BMW 1 Series, both inside the cabin and in its on-road behaviour. It may lack the much-vaunted 50/50 weight distribution of the BMW but it drives as sweetly, seems just as well built and of course is much cheaper.”
Having sniffed the exhaust pipes of the French and German marques within Europe’s D-segment, we make one last visit to wave a fond adieu to our friends from Japan.
A facelifted Toyota Avensis bowed in at Geneva, featuring front-end styling eerily familiar to current Auris and Corolla owners. It probably represents the last opportunity to purchase one of these while they’re still warm because Toyota has broadly hinted that they may not replace the model once it breathes its last in a couple of year’s time. Continue reading “The European D-Sector – So Long, Farewell…Sayonara”
What one remembers often has little to do with what is important. I clearly recall James Ruppert deriding the 1998 Mazda 626 as being a car whose sole claim to fame was that it had the biggest glove box in its class.
This small and apparently modest claim is a good example of the problem of epistemology. That relates to how we know what we know and how much faith we can have in our beliefs. On the face of it, a glovebox is a simple structure with measurable dimensions. It ought to be easy to determine which glove box is biggest.
In these days, it is usually described as a loss of “mojo”, although I’ve never been certain of what that word actually means.
In terms of the launch of the 307, I’d prefer to describe it as a fall from grace. I suppose I could also have picked the transition from 205 to 206 from the same stable, but I think it less obvious and memorable for me. I think I need to become instantly more specific. The 306 was the chassis benchmark in its class. It was also one of the more lovely looking mid-range hatches of its time, but I think aesthetics are much harder to benchmark, and I am certainly less comfortable opining on the way a car looks under such a heading.
So reports the team at Autocar. It is true that only one firm can sell the cheapest product in a given market…
Citroën has noticed that being the next cheapest or quite cheap or cheap-ish is not really getting them very far. Time to try something else. But can they move away from the corner they are painted into? Price is nicely measurable. You add up the numbers and you get a figure you can compare easily to every one else’s figures. Style on the other hand is a qualitative thing. Once you decide to Continue reading “Refrain: Citroëns To Be Sold On Style Not Price”
At DTW we pride ourselves on our rigorous analysis and our capacity to separate the news from the hype.
Having looked at literally hundreds of thumbnail-sized photos I have been able to sort out the top six yellowest cars from all the other cars that weren’t yellow. I had to be careful though as one yellow car that came up in the search was from 2014. I didn’t include that. By the way, one of these cars, the Mila Plus, is the work of Magna, the Austrian Tier 1 supplier. Continue reading “2015 Geneva Motor Show – The Top Six Yellow Cars”