They said it couldn’t be done, but he’d heard that before. Nobody had presented a car at London’s prestigious Institution of Mechanical Engineers and certainly no complete vehicle had ever broached the main entrance of number One, Birdcage Walk, Westminster. This hallowed society of engineers, founded by Railway pioneer, George Stephenson in 1847, had already hosted some of the finest technical minds over its 140-year history, but on August 28 1986, it would host its first ever motor car.
As Jim Randle surveyed the lecture theatre, with the still-secret new Jaguar, now back on four wheels inside and safely under wraps, Jaguar’s Director of Vehicle Engineering cast his mind back for a brief moment to the voices of doubt, the intense debates, to his insistence that a way would be found; the hours of calculations and re-calibrations, the ingenuity, improvisation and intellectual rigour which saw the construction of a purpose-built, detachable rotating metal cage which enveloped the car as it was painstakingly inched on its side through the ImechE’s narrow portal only a few hours previously.
My intention was to ask readers which extinct car brand they would like to see back in production. My preference is for Alvis. Interestingly, Alvis is not as dead as I thought.
My one caveat was that it ought to be a brand dead for more than 20 years so we can avoid regretting Rover, Pontiac, Austin, Morris and Oldsmobile, Citroen**, Lincoln**, Saab and Saturn. For example. Alvis are back in the business of car production. They have hit upon the wheeze of completing an unfinished run of cars from 1940. “There is evidence from the 1938 Alvis Board Minutes that 77 of the 4.3 Litre chassis that were officially sanctioned for production were never completed because car manufacturing had to be suspended in 1940. As a result the new 4.3 Litre “Continuation Series” will be limited to the production of these remaining 77 chassis, thereby fulfilling the original intention of the Alvis Board,” write Alvis at their nice website. Continue reading “The Alvis Continuation Series”
Run by Myles Gorfe. Total Mileage: 299,918. Miles since May 30 2015: 3. Latest costs: £169 for removing carburettor, £89.01 for installing the carburettor. £23 for repairing bonnet insulation, £12 for loosening the rear parcel shelf to find a rattle, £19 for new oil and adjusting the second air filter, £40 for two punctures and £310 for a new heater matrix, £50 for the flat-bed truck, £490 for cutting, welding, filling and painting of b-pillar rust problem.
It’s been a busy month for the Grannie. Len Gudgeon at the Granada Garage has got the carburetor sorted out finally and revealed a fuel tank problem. Gavin Chide has been paid and that matter is now closed. The rust spot on the outside of the B-pillar turned out to Continue reading “Our cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”
For a decade and a bit, Lancia’s principal cars evolved, if you want to be generous about it.
The midsized Flavia saloon debuted in 1961 and soldiered on until 1975 (though renamed 2000 in 1971). The compact Fulvia saloon appeared 1963 and hung about until 1972. Fiat took over Lancia in 1969 and by 1972 the Beta had appeared. There was a quiet interregnum after which the old guard were put out to pasture and shot with silencers. Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – Lancia and Others”
Most of these photos for Sunday are taken outside my front door, somewhere along my street.
It’s not that I don’t go anywhere else. I do but I seldom, if ever, see an unusual or interesting car to photograph. I even stop into look at old garages to see if there are rusting treasures hidden from plain view. There aren’t. All the interesting cars in Denmark are either on my street or in a suburb of Copenhagen. This specimen appeared last week. The car is a Morris Marina 1.3 coupe. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1971-1979 Morris Marina 1.3 Super Coupe”
Today there are quite a few contenders for that dubious accolade, possible exemplified best by the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake. The idea of tacking a glassy, generous box onto the boot of a saloon, maybe even lengthening it a bit, in order to make something supremely useful just isn’t sexy in the 21st Century. People don’t want to be thought of as saddoes, who are only at their happiest bustling around B&Q with a groaning trolley of timber flooring. No, their lifestyle choices are better and, whilst they might need a bit of added loadspace for windsurfer accoutrements, old school golf clubs or just to fit in an extra Louis Vuitton hatbox, it’s important that the car doesn’t look in the least bit practical. Continue reading “Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 7”
Tragedy, Loss, Redemption? Driven to Write brings its XJ40 epic to a close and asks, can Jaguar ever truly escape its past?
Apparently, Sir John Egan considered cancelling XJ40 in 1984 and starting the programme afresh, claiming he was talked out of it, not only by his management board, but by Sir William Lyons. This remains one of the great unknowns regarding the car, as it remains unclear what such a decision could have realistically achieved.
Its own to be exact. This week Alfa Romeo announced a new visual identity. The signs are not good.
It’s invariably worrying when auto manufacturers fiddle with their visual identity. Even if you’re a VW, the fact that you see fit to mess about with your trademark suggests the wrong business decisions are being prioritised and at the very least, the marketing people have run amok.
Once, saloon and estate cars behaved soberly. Some of them got a bit spritely with the addition of a second carburetor and 1/2 inch wider tyres, and indeed I offered the 1962 Alfa Giulia as the partial template for the modern hot hatch/saloon a while back. Then, of course, there was the Lotus Cortina. The Mk2 Jaguar doesn’t count because it was always supposed to be fast anyway, so only surprised people who bought it in 2.4 litre form and found it slow. Continue reading “Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 6”
Honda’s styling has gone off the rails in a big way, to judge by the interior and exterior appearance of this MPV which is on sale in India.
The rear view is especially confused, with a modish and rather useless faux semi-glazed D-pillar. What more is there to the car? The Mobilio is short, just 4.3 metres and is judged to be well packaged. Two engines, a 1.5 litre petrol unit (119 PS) and a 1.5 litre diesel (100 PS) are the only power plant available. It is based on the Brio platform from 2010 and competes with a swarm of small MPVs in the Asian and sub-Continental market. Continue reading “Not On Sale Around Here: 2015 Honda Mobilio”
Here it is, the long-awaited 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia, nice and official.
It has the overall proportions of a BMW 3 from back in the day when these were proper compact sport saloons. The bonnet bulges for pedestrian-safety reasons. This is the Quadrifoglio version; it could look more appealing if there are versions with some more brightwork. What do you think?
Some news from Volvoprompts some DTW crystal ball gazing.
Volvo will be getting together with Chalmers University to research driverless cars and sustainable mobility. The ‘Drive Me’ project – a unique public pilot with ordinary drivers behind the steering wheels of 100 self-driving Volvos – has been joined by a new prominent Swedish partner: Chalmers University of Technology,” writes Volvo at their PR portal. Continue reading “More About Driverless Cars”
According to ANE, the Giulia’s launch date is next year at the earliest.
Some allege the car is derived from the Fiat Viaggio and not the Maserati Ghibli. The anticipated annnual sales are under 50,000 units say some analysts. Over 6 years that’s 300,000 which is not enough for a car in this sector. It seems to me that projections seem to be based on the idea that sales will be gained left right and centre from other brands in the market. Has this ever happened? Continue reading “Alfa Romeo’s News”
Today we take a look at a small but important area of car body design, the window frames and cant rails.
Up until 1982, the standard solution for mating the roof to the sides of the glass house was a rolled flange. In simple terms, the edge of the roof panel was mated to the edge of the bodyside and welded after being rolled by two folds along its length. The resultant u-shaped structure was rigid and provided a useful gutter to stop water flowing down the sides of the car. In some cases, a chrome sheath was slid over the outer edge of the gutter to Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – Cant Rails and Window Gutters”
Don’t look down Sergio, because the analysts are revolting!
This afternoon’s reveal of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia will undoubtedly be the day’s big automotive story with the car’s styling and likely chance of success being foremost in commentator’s minds. But it’s worth pointing out this is not an announcement of a production-ready car; more a piece of theatre, aimed at a far more rarefied audience. But don’t take my word for it. Continue reading “FCA Didn’t Launch the 2016 Giulia Today”
The French like Citroen above all other French brands, reports the Posternak-Ifop brand image survey. Appropriately, only Michelin scored equally well.
How Citroen style this result so as to mean they are first among equals was not made clear in their report. Add to this the fact that the Citroen Cactus is so popular that production is being increased then to some extent I have to eat a small amount of humble pie.Continue reading “Well What Do I know?”
Many petrolheads would condemn the Nissan Cube as being a superficial thing, the sort of car bought by metropolitan types with no interest in or knowledge of cars. Having lived in London for all my adult life, I can’t really avoid the Metropolitan tag but, without bragging, I know a lot about cars (too much probably) and I like driving fast (too fast probably) and I like a car with an interesting engine.
On the subject of tail lamp units, an cursory glance might suggest to the uninitiated that the Maserati Kyalami sported a pair of these – not exactly the wildest assumption given their superficial similarity to those fitted to the SM. Both Citroën and 130 are from very much the same era, so one can safely assume their respective designers were thinking along broadly similar lines. But regardless of whether or not these were also borrowed for use elsewhere, they definitely set a template for the 1970s, as did the 130 Coupe itself. Continue reading “Zoom Lens”
“New Leyland small car spied”, writes Archie Vicar, in the 1978 edition of Contemporary Driving News Magazine. This transcript of what appears to be a commentary on the much-discussed new ‘Mini’ shows Vicar’s analytical journalism at its best.
“Spy photographers have caught the replacement for the much-loved but geriatric, cramped and unreliable Mini on test. The planned car is an advance on the very modern ADO88 design which the engineers at Leyland have been working on since the early 70s. The wheelbase is now longer than ADO88 in response to developments in the market since the project’s inception just after the second World War. Continue reading “Spyshots 1978: How the New Mini Emerged Into Daylight”
It’s always the way. You wait ages, then two incidences of Citroën SM’s tail lamp units crop up on the same week – on two vastly different cars.
Firstly (as we saw earlier) on Maserati’s 1976 Kyalami, and now here on Frua’s 1977 Rolls Royce Phantom VI Drophead. Of course the common strand here is Frua themselves who plainly had a job lot of SM lens units knocking about. Regardless of the merits (or otherwise) of this vast open tourer’s aesthetics, it’s interesting to see how adaptable a humble lens unit such as this can be. I can’t help feeling I’ve seen the SM tail lamp elsewhere. Any thoughts? Continue reading “Rooting in the Parts Bins – Again…”
Slow, incremental change could be said to represent one of the hallmarks of the Rolls Royce marque. Something similar could be said of its engine.
The L410 V8 engine was born in the early 50s with the role of powering Bentleys and Rolls-Royce cars. From the 50s to 1998 the engine found homes in cars of both brands. After BMW acquired Rolls-Royce (the name and nothing else), the engine then became the sole preserve of Bentley where it is still in use, very highly modified, in the Mulsanne.
The body copy here attempts to challenge the contemporary perception that BMW was essentially a niche manufacturer with a tiny range of specialist cars by highlighting the broad scope of BMW’s 1975 UK range: 14 cars. Today there are as many variations of the current 3-door 1-Series available upon these shores. So while the 40-year old range could fit on an single A4 sheet, BMW’s entire 2015 range would now require a good 38 pages – and most likely a glossary of terms. Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – Proliferation”
By coincidence, on the heels of the Opel Adam Rocks, DTW has a chance to test its stablemate, the Corsa. Here are the main points of the news.
Having an opportunity to drive the “new” Corsa meant I could assess the car in isolation but also compare it to its zanier sister, the Adam. Mechanically the two cars are not far apart and the same goes for price. An Adam Rocks costs £14659 and an Opel like the one tested here costs £13,330 and more, depending on spec. The latter is a bit larger than the former and the Corsa comes in three and five door options (why no estate or convertible I wonder?). Continue reading “2015 Opel Corsa 1.0 Ecoflex Review”
Maserati’s natural history came to an abrupt halt in 1975. Survival meant change – not just a new model, but an entirely fresh approach.
It’s tempting to view evolution as a continuous series of gradual mutations, but events throughout history have illustrated it only takes a single catastrophic event to propel it in an entirely different direction – or stop it entirely. The 1973 oil embargo for instance was the motor industry’s very own fiery catastrophe and 1975 the year when the conflagration really took hold, consuming a swathe of specialist carmakers. Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – Adaptation, Diversification, Survival”
Here is the Truth About Cars’ view of the Opel Adam. They have also reviewed the Rocks version.
The article considers the Adam as a potential future Buick. And here is the conclusion (I note they find the ride quality better than I do but agree the car does a good impression of near-luxury. I am reviewing the new Opel Corsa soon and the contrast is marked.) Continue reading “2015 Opel Adam Rocks – A Second Opinion”
Of course, this is no obscurity to most of our American Readers (both North and South) but we in the UK do tend to imagine that we elevated the 4WD from the farm to the polo fields with the first Range Rover. Actually, the first Rangie was admirably austere and, if it’s social climbing you’re looking for, designer/showman Brooke Stevens’s 1946 Willys Jeep Station Wagon gave new life to the ubiquitous wartime military vehicle. Continue reading “Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 5”
Assistant-editor Myles Gorfe looks at another milestone in the annals of the Granada.
In 1972 Ford pulled off what many thought was impossible. They managed to create a car that was even better and more popular than the UK-market Zephyr and the German market ‘bahnstormer, the Ford P7 cars, known as the Taunus. That 1972 car became, after a little bit of uncertainty, the Granada. Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: 1973 Ford Consul”
It’s Linda Jackson again, CEO of Citroën. More half-baked ideas.
In March we learned from Jackson that Citroëns are to be sold on style not price. Today’s news is that while planning to cut Citroën’s model ranges down to seven most important body-styles by 2020, one of them will be inspired by the Mehari, a less than practical 2CV variant with plastic cladding. Why? To make Citroën “fun”, says Jackson. So now we can add this to “style” as the main attractions of Citroën . Continue reading “Is This News Then?”
Before penning this I consulted Simon about this story on the demise of the Citroën oleopneumatic suspension system.
He reminded me that the matter had come up a year ago and indeed I had myself imagined that the current Citroën C5 would be the last hydraulic Citroën. What prompted me to think it was news was that TTAC reported it yesterday. And they got the story from… Continue reading “Is This News?”
Obviously if Bruno Sacco is involved, a design decision is not trivial. Under scrutiny here is the decision to make the lower edge of the 1991 Mercedes S-class sideglass sag by a very small amount.
What effect did it achieve and would the car be better off without it? Here are four photos to show the effect of a straight lower window line. Obviously this sag is a deliberate choice. By removing it we can see what effect it was supposed to have. I think.
In 1922, against great opposition from his board, Herbert Austin introduced his Seven into a market dominated by the rudimentary cyclecars that had sprung up in the wake of the First World War. The Seven was a proper small car and, unlike other ‘people’s cars’, it had no radical and untried solutions.
I had reason to be in the back of Audi A6 the other day.
They have rather swish taxis in Denmark, I would say. Seeing a fully functional ashtray in the door of the A6 made me raise my eyebrows and I had the time to take two slightly blurred shots of the design. I don’t much care for door mounted ashtrays. They are positioned so that you must Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2014 Audi A6”
Chile is south America’s most stable nation, well-ranked for lack of corruption and sustainability.
Historically, it was also one of South America’s most Europeanised countries with its track record blown off course by the 1973 coup that ousted Salvador Allende, a coup helped by the US. Pinochet’s dictatorship ended following a plebiscite, and since then it has renormalized. There are 18 million Chilean living in this famously long and tassled country. What do they drive? Continue reading “What Are They Buying In Chile?”
A once invisible piece of streetscape, now rendered fascinating by age and rarity.
The most interesting thing about the 1965 Kadett is that it donated parts to the Opel GT. And even more interesting is the 1968 Opel GT was made in France by Brisonneau and Lotz in Creil. Eight versions of the Kadett could be had: four door saloon, two door saloon, two door fastback, four door fastback, a two and four door estate and two variants, one known in German as a Kiemencoupé and the other the LS coupé.
The Kadett has a fair amount in common with the themes of the Dipolmat/Kapitan/Admiral saloons (1964) and Rekord B but scaled down. It appears to have kicked off the series of Buick-inspired Opels which drew their inspiration from the 1963 Buick Riviera. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: 1965-1973 Opel Kadett”
I am not an expert in graphic design which means the very subtle differences in sans-serif fonts often elude me, especially when the font is a version of Helvetica.
For graphic designers such differences are as clear to them as the difference between an Audi A6 and an Audi A4 is to me. Thus it is with some bemusement I note VW has elected to change their corporate font to something very slightly different. If you look closely you notice the “a” has changed the most and the letters seem slightly different. Continue reading “All Change At VW in the Font Department”
The new BMW 7-Series is awash with colour and tech. Oh joy.
According to Autocar, who seemingly troubled the press pack – (something I’ll admit to not being bothered doing) – the newly announced BMW 7-Series will be available in a dazzling array of cheerful colours. Or to put it another way, it won’t. On the surface of things, the new 7’s colour palette looks even more drearily monochrome than its uninspired styling. Continue reading “The Future’s Bright – (oh, hang on a second…)”
The ACEA calls on the EU to ‘rebalance’ its attitude to carbon dioxide emissions.
It’s not hard to guess the rebalancing is not in the direction of an even more stringent approach to reducing carbon emissions. Carlos Ghosn said “As Paris and the world gear up for the COP21 global climate change conference, we must make sure that ambitious climate change policies do not conflict with the need to protect jobs and growth in Europe.” The next interesting bit is this “By 2020 average emissions of new passenger cars will need to Continue reading “You’re Bothering Us With This Carbon Dioxide Business, You Know.”
What is it with those slightly sagging window lines of the late 1970s?
A few days ago we posted an article about the 1978 Colt 1400. I noticed the window line sags slightly. The Opel Manta did this along with a few other cars of the era. What effect would it have had if the window line was dead straight? I did a simple edit on the original photo and found the difference between a dead straight line and the actual line is small. Does it look better? Continue reading “Small Details”
Recent reports are suggesting that Bristol is going to return to car manufacture using BMW engines as part of a hybrid powertrain.
The photo shows one of Bristol’s earlier efforts. The new cars are going to be rather different, featuring a bought-in engine from BMW and electric power systems from Frazer-Nash engineering who now own Bristol. As a long-standing admirer of Bristol I am very intrigued by the prospect of the marque’s revival. Two things will be interesting to watch. One is how the new design will reconcile the futuristic or at least fairly modern concept of hybrid power trains with Bristol’s traditional ethos of pretty heavy and old-fashioned design. Continue reading “Bristol Returns To Its BMW Roots”
Next year’s E-Class will be a tech-fest. We lift the lid.
Next year’s Mercedes E-Class is primed to evolve ‘in-car connectivity’ and autonomous driving to the next level, says a report in Automotive News Europe this week. Thomas Weber, Daimler’s head of development, told ANE journalists; “Innovations in this area are coming thick and fast,”. Just how thick and how fast Sindelfingen’s 2016 mid-liner will be, DTW can now exclusively reveal. Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – Coming Soon…”
The other day I wrote as a comment to someone else’s blog bemoaning the fact that car magazines don’t write truly long term tests anymore. This morning, I realised on my drive to work that I had the perfect opportunity to right that wrong.
So, change of working circumstance (and those of this website!?) aside, here’s my statement of intent – to write an irregular progress report on my new Mazda for as long as I keep it. I bought the car as a means by which I get to work and back 3-4 days per week. I live 65 miles away from my place of work, over a mix of the M1, A43 and B4525 (otherwise known as the” Welsh Lanes”). This journey will form the bulk of the miles that I cover in the new car, but there will be exceptions. Previously, this had been the work of my other means of transport, the much referenced Citroen C6, which has become a little too inconsistent of recent months.
The linear, full-width grille was a staple of production car design for years. Always incorporating the headlamps, often sidelights and indicators, it was a logical reduction. The idea can be seen appearing in the States at the start of the 60s with the Ford Falcon, but where do we first see it in Europe? I’d propose the Glas 1004, introduced in 1961. Continue reading “Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 4”
Is design still evolving? As part of this month’s theme, Driven to Write republishes a post from the beginning of last year
Does Car Design Have a Future?
Car design is usually late to the party. This isn’t because designers aren’t up to it – consider the bold output of the Bauhaus in the 1920s and 30s, when run by Walter Gropius, then consider his rather conventional design for an Adler car of the same period. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that critics felt that a car, an Audi, deserved the Bauhaus soubriquet.
Today, there is a dearth of truly practical hatchbacks. VW’s excellent Golf routinely gets lambasted by various enthusiasts as ‘boring’. Everyone wants their family runabout to look like it belongs at the ‘Ring, and much of what is now on the market seems designed to flatter the driver’s self-image whilst ignoring their passengers needs. The lack of rear headroom, visibility and easy access in so many current bread and butter vehicles in the quest for someone’s idea of a cool exterior is now the norm, rather that the exception. But, if I wanted to point at a car that, at the time seemed rather refreshing for breaking away from the ubiquitous boxiness, I’d nominate the Mazda 323F from 1989..