We really went at this topic with gusto. Did we learn anything?
Editor Simon introduced the topic and noted that panel gaps or shutlines at their best become a positive part of the design and not are merely an interruption. And we spent the best part of the month demonstrating all the ways to get it wrong. Sean noted the problem of getting the wheel arch and door shutlines to relate properly. Should they follow the arch or should they form their own discrete shape on the side of the car as on the Renault Laguna or Passat? The case is not proven. I went over some old ground from another angle, looking at how the shutline between the bumper and the body has gained more and Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – A Review”
Those were the days! 2002 and people still smoked in the back of their cars. This is how Mercedes catered to the self-medicating nicotine user.
There is a lot of work involved in designing and engineering one of these. Even by 2002 this was here not because anyone expected them to be used much but because it was expected, a nicety, a sign someone cared. I must report that the action of this example was not very finely damped. It sprang out with undue haste.
The Lancia Thesis has a much nicer ashtray based on a similar concept of the horizontal hinge. I don’t think this ashtray is illuminated but if anyone knows, please contact me. I think it could be bigger as well. Just saying.
The tale is etched in automotive folklore, but how well do we really know the Lancia Gamma ? In this series, we unravel its difficult birth and inglorious career.
Death by a thousand Fiats:
Fiat’s stewardship of Lancia has been such a shameful series of episodes, it’s difficult now to imagine the road to perdition being paved with good intentions. Because if nothing else, the Gamma stands as an illustration of how mergers and acquisitions never quite work out. Throughout its history as an independent manufacturer, Lancia produced exquisitely engineered automobiles that garnered respect and deep admiration, but consistently cost more than the company could afford. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part One”
Some manufacturers today use a large plastic moulding as a front mask that includes bumper as well as radiator grille. A solution I appreciate for its simplicity and which can be pleasing to look at – but beware the pitfalls!
Not long ago, we discussed an odd triangle, trapped between shutlines, panel folds and functional elements. The object in question was the 2014 Lexus IS’s rear door. I was reminded of this discussion when I saw a short article in my local newspaper about the new Jaguar XF. There it was again – between headlight, bonnet shutline and radiator bulge. What the above Jaguar press photo (!) also shows: it’s not easy to align large plastic and metal pieces. There is a visible offset between the bonnet and the front mask above the left headlight (as seen in the picture), and the shutline itself varies in thickness. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – Nose Jobs”
Audi once understood subtlety. I’m not so sure they do any more.
Once upon a time, whilst Mercedes and BMW were attracting critical scorn for their new styling directions (some deserved, some not) over at Audi they couldn’t put a foot wrong. See how they treated the rear side shutlines on the A2. The front wheelarch blister is defined by an inset crease. The rear blister appears the same but, so as not to spoil the balance, the rear door shutline is continued all the way round the arch – the blister is a separate panel. See also how the A pillar flows all the way round to the rear without any door cutouts in it. All the side glasses have the same size border trims.
The seller placed this ad in January and the car is still for sale despite the promise of a complete lack of rust.
According to the spiel, the car came from Switzerland three years ago. The car has had a new timing belt fitted, its wheels renovated and the ashtray emptied. It even has a full Danish motor certificate which is a guarantee the underbody is sound. Alas, one of the engine’s valves has blown and the owner has not had the strength of character to get around to wanting to fix it. Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1988 Citroen CX Diesel”
Five million cars have a keyless ignition system. 13 deaths are attributed to the technology. Lawyers are on the case, reports the Guardian.
Some years ago I rented a Renault Megane. Much to my surprise I was able to get out of the car clutching the key card and walk away. The vehicle was still running. That confirmed for me the essential riskiness of the key-less ignition system and since then nobody’s been able to offer a good justification for them. Continue reading “Keyless Ignitions Under Legal Attack”
Does Ford really think that this is acceptable? (Caution : Viewer Discretion Required).
Throughout the month I have been accumulating images with a view to presenting a rogue’s gallery of bad shutlines. Never one to run from the crude and obvious, I had intended giving the post the title of ‘Shitelines’.
However, when I look at my collection, one stands out in my view so much that it deserves its own post. That a major manufacturer who employs some of the best trained designers could have produced something as ugly and inept as the rear light treatment of the current Focus doesn’t just surprise me – it offends me. The left lamp treatment is bad enough, particularly where the rather wide shutline of the hatchback meets it. But the right hand lamp, with the half-arsed attempt to merge the shape of the fuel flap into the shape of the lens is ….. beyond any excuse.
The ubiquity of this car means that I have to see it every day, and time has not endeared it, quite the opposite. I can’t really say any more.
We were discussing the merits of various car interiors recently. Here’s an example of putting the passengers’ interests high on the priority list.
In a way Volvo is or was Europe’s Buick, appealing to a certain type of middle-class buyer. The cars aren’t dynamic but are dependable and aim or aimed for comfort over style. Interestingly, Volvos as used cars never seem to end up as pimped wheels or to attract the same clientele as 15 year old BMWs and 20 year old mass-market saloons. They always remain firmly in the bosom of the bourgeoisie. Continue reading “World of Interiors: 1997 Volvo S70”
Oshkosh Corporation, an American defence supplier, has won a substantial contract to build the replacement for the Hummer.
This isn’t the usual DTW fare, but I thought I would draw your attention to one of the more extreme ends of the wheeled-vehicle spectrum. Defense News reported that Oshkosh Corporation have won a $30bn dollar contract to design and build a vehicle capable of replacing the Hummer. Lockheed Martin and AM General also bid for the contract and presumably their lawyers are working around all available clocks to find a way to Continue reading “Hasta La Vista, Hummer, The JLTV Is On Its Way”
Here at DTW, we have always held Bristol in great respect. If we haven’t written about them that much over the past couple of years, that’s because neither have they. What, if anything, will come from this silence, who knows, but if and when they re-emerge, will they maintain any of their idiosyncratic past?
Bristol, of course, made much of their aviation heritage. I’ve always felt that should be put into perspective. The Bristol Car Company was always a separate entity from the aviation business and, although there might have been some synergy, it doesn’t follow. In truth the aeronautical heritage was more of a marketing tool but, to consider Bristol’s post war aeronautical output, let’s Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Another Way”
I imagine all that welding and pressing made it unimaginably strong at the very least. There is a sharp groove at the base of the C-pillar and furthermore another join up at the top of the C-pillar. This triangular patch is held on with a screw. Note the window has four rounded corners and is not bonded into place.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at shutlines this past month…
… and one thing inevitably leads to another, so today we’re taking a (not particularly comprehensive) look at how manufacturers used to deal with another, often tricky junction. The one at the base of the C-pillar.
I was never a biker as a youth, which is good and bad. Good because that is the time you’re most likely to kill yourself, bad because that is the time you best hone the athleticism necessary to really ride a bike naturally. I’ve owned bikes since I was 30, except for a period when I sold a cherished bike in a fit of self-punishment and held off replacing it for several years. I still don’t really think of myself as a ‘biker’. That term involves a bit more commitment I guess – and also a desire to wear luridly striped leathers and a crash helmet that offers free advertising to Dietrich Mateschitz. I’m just a motorcycle rider. Continue reading “Handlebars”
Renault have not one but two design studios in India. What is the result?
One of way of looking at it is that you get a competitive and competent looking vehicle. As a raised-height hatchback it is what Indian customers want: “This is because the project was both Indian as well as French. Most of the data collection, however, was done from here, on the ground. It had to be. Renault was keen on an immersive experience for its design team. It wanted the design staff to be drowning in the local culture and local tastes, and there was a special emphasis on what Indian customers disliked too. This is how they discovered what Indian customers really meant when they said they wanted more car for their money.” Continue reading “Into the Magimix Goes National Style”
The 2000-2004 Toyota Yaris Verso’s A-pillar is not quite tidied up, as if they lacked time for one more iteration during the modelling process.
The mirror sail panel is abutting the door-shut slightly and the A-pillar ends with an irregular looking outline. The doorshutline ought to have enclosed the mirror panel, perhaps. The rest of the car is equally unruly.
Reuters have reported that in future most Buicks sold in the US may be imported.
Buick sell nearly a million cars a year in China but only about 230,000 vehicles in the US. The basis of Buick’s credibility in China is that the car represents upper-middle class quality and American values. In the US, Buick appeals or has appealed for similar reasons. Sources close to GM are quoted as saying that in future only the LaCrosse replacement and the Enclave SUV will Continue reading “Buick Risks Its Credibility”
Isn’t it interesting how a design feature sometimes pops up in unexpected places, or in cars that are totally unrelated?
I lately crossed the way of a 2006 Lexus IS, and especially its rear door shutline (basically, that’s what I looked at on all cars this month). It has an interesting treatment with its horizontal top part joining the curve of the rear window. Haven’t I seen that before? Right, it was there on the early Imprezas. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The Fake Frameless Window Shutline”
Ford’s 2015 Transit is a staggeringly competent piece of kit, but what’s with the creases?
One of my most memorable journeys of recent memory was a trip from Leatherhead in Surrey to Newcastle in a fully laden rented Ford Transit. Memorable for the staggering competence of the vehicle and the relative ease in which the 300 mile journey was dispatched. I handed back that van with an almost audible sob. It was that impressive. Continue reading “Transitory Lines”
Not long after losing Luc Donckerwolke from Bentley, SEAT has lost Stefan Lamm who had only been there for seven months.
CDN reports that Stefan Lamm has left for Mercedes’ advanced design studio in Carlsbad, California. That will be some bill for MB’s HR department when Lamm packs up from SEAT and I imagine SEAT have only just finished processing the expenses. Continue reading “What’s Wrong With VAG?”
The Alfa 166 had a nine year run. The unfortunate front had a redesign in 2003 but the rear stayed much the same for almost a decade.
I can’t visualise how Alfa Romeo got around to signing-off on the rear bumper of this car. The rest of it has some very eccentric detailing too. But I will concentrate on the bootlid and rear bumper. As the photos show, the bumper seems to mate with the body-in-white in an rather odd way. At the sides the upper and lower edges meet along a horizontal plane. But in the middle of the car, the bumper is tucked behind the bodywork. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The 1998 Alfa Romeo 166 Boot and Bumper”
Yesterday, Driven to Write gave you an overview of the A-pillar. Today however, we’re going a little deeper.
Since we started this month’s theme I’ve spent more time looking at shutlines and panel gaps than is either healthy or rational. Nevertheless, it’s been an absorbing study, giving rise to a number of observations about the manner in which manufacturers have managed these transitions over recent years. From a purely scientific perspective of course, we should really be limiting ourselves to those junctions where at least one of the abutting panels opens, but I’m trusting our editor will let this pass – and lets face it, we’re not about to get into all this again any time soon.
In this third instalment, I thought I’d provide my views on some of the more practical aspects of the Mazda3.
I’ve previously alluded to the fact that the 3 is not as popular with my family members as it is with me. In fact, the mood during the test drive we all went on together chilled the atmosphere in the car more than the air-con will ever manage. This resulted in pressure to consider various larger (new Mondeo), more expensive (A3 Saloon) and mainstream (Passat) alternatives from those in the rear in particular. My 15 year old son was particularly vociferous, although I suspected that the fact that he really wanted me to Continue reading “Long Term Test: Mazda3 Fastback 2.2d Sport Nav – The View from the Back Seat”
There are a number of ways to skin this particular cat. Do many people notice this? BMW thought so and ran an ad just showing the A-pillar of their 1988 5-series, or it might have been the 1995 version.
The little photo gallery shows a wide variety of ways to deal with the base of the A-pillar. It’s very complex since the glasshouse has to blend to the lower body; the doors need to close with a proper seal (are the doors inset, flush or to they cover the A-pillar?); the windscreen needs to Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – A-pillars”
Perhaps it has eluded others too. I think it’s because there are so many factors in question. It is unlikely they all are in alignment. The perfect picnic is a phenomenon quite well suited to motor travel. The car can hold a lot of things necessary for “dejeuner sur l´herbe”. You can peruse a lot of places at your leisure too whereas cyclists tend to Continue reading “Pit stops II: The Perfect Picnic”
… Now You Don’t. We look at the GINA, BMW’s attempt to produce a literal shutline
However much he might have railed, an engineer of Dr Piech’s standing knew that, even by calling it a shut line, it would always be, in reality, a shut gap. Expansion, engineering tolerances, sag and the possibility of damage means that the shutlines of a solid bodied car will always be measured in millimetres, not microns. Even those uniformly narrow gaps on modern VAG products must have been an irritation to him until the end. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Now You See It …”
Audi evidently didn’t want to give anything to the Mercedes E-class in the shutline and craftsmanship battle.
The W-126 had a visible weld crease under its rear lamp. So Audi spent a bit extra to avoid it. 20 years later the C4 Audi A6 is still an object lesson in the pursuit of orderly detailing. The only line visible is one related to the boot aperture.
[Editor’s note: Text altered to correct the A6’s model designation – see comments below]
Renault’s designers had the idea to endow the new Espace with an electrically actuated glove box.
At the back there are three separate seats and therefore no central armrest. The centre seat folds down – is a picnic table what his excellency expects? I really hoped the Espace would be more lounge-like. I feel like the Cadillac fans yearning for a 1990 Coupe de Ville to brought back in a new form.
Run by: Executive Classic Cars Editor Myles Gorfe. Total Mileage: 299,918. Miles since June 29 2015: 0. Costs: £902 labour, £1200 spares including rear axle mounts, exhaust piping brackets, paint, filler, sandpaper, plastic bucket, heater matrix, oil filler cover, petrol tank neck (cracked).
It’s been a busy month for the Grannie. Len Gudgeon at the Granada Garage has been unable to resolve the non-starting problem reported last month. The rust spot on the rear wheel arch and sills turned out to conceal an extensive area of rot underneath which Len Gudgeon dealt with.
We don’t really think much about sills. On some cars they were not even visible, as in the 1978-1993 Saab 900. It’s a case of the missing shutline.
Admittedly this example is rather dented. Looking past that, notice that the door comes all the way down to where the sill or rocker panel is normally visible. There is a sill there, but it is about ten centimetres in-board, with a thick rubber seal to Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – Look, No Sills.”
…includes the Stream and the Legend. And it has space for a few more cars too.
What was supposed to be a bit of sleuthing in search of news that didn’t come courtesy of secondary sources led me to Honda UK’s hall of fame, “Previous Models”. I will come to the news part eventually. The image above is Honda UK’s own suggestion of its favourite cars. There is no commentary: I checked that twice to be sure (to be sure).
Some collected, if slightly disconnected thoughts on this month’s theme gives us an opportunity for a little gratuitous Mercedes-bashing.
So much is known and quantified, be it politics, cuisine, architecture or indeed recognising a decent pasodoble when we see one. It’s all out there to be discovered, downloaded and co-opted into our lives and dinner party conversations: we’re all experts now. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – Mind The Gap”
At the moment I am researching a 1995 car, a model still around in considerable numbers today. It doesn’t seem all that antique to me. But does it seem ancient to others?
Here is another 1995 car, the Nissan Primera (above). This object still looks fresh and not especially antediluvian. Yet it’s 20 years old now which is a fair amount of time by anyone’s standards. In 1995, in contrast, a 1975 car (below), the few still around, looked extremely old and, moreover, tired. I am curious to Continue reading “Perceptions”
Our good friends at Automotive News Europe have interviewed Citroen’s CEO, Linda Jackson: expect more Cactussy Citroens.
Here is the article’s intro: “The C4 Cactus has been a sales winner. Citroen has sold 90,000 C4 Cactus models since its debut last year and the car was awarded the World Car Design of the Year at the New York auto show in April. Citroen CEO Linda Jackson wants to channel the quirky compact hatchback’s success into the rest of the brand’s lineup. Jackson explained how in an interview with Automotive News Europe correspondent Nick Gibbs.” I recommend you Continue reading “Old Wine In A New Bottle? Or Old Wine In An Old Bottle?”
The Citroen AX has come up in our recent discussions. It has a sagging line at the base of the side glass.
In this case, the curve makes sense whereas it didn’t on the Mercedes E-class coupe or the Colt 1400 that started it all. I think the feature might be a very standard touch that, for a time, became one of those things a designer always does: link the side glass to the front windscreen. Continue reading “Sagging Lines Again”
Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1. Logic suggests these two cars would have identical constructions, but apparently not.
The previous generation small car from Toyota and PSA, though basically the same vehicle, differed quite markedly in its rear treatment, particularly in 5 door form.
The Toyota is more conventional and looks, maybe, the slightly more substantial, grown-up car with a full body panel, seamlessly integrated with the body structure from sill to roof. All the normal joins are present – bumper to wing/wing to door/door to wheelarch/tailgate to rear wing, etc. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – One Car / Two Solutions”
I don’t pretend to understand the byzantine model history of this car. Here is one, a mass of rust, held in place by thick, beautiful blue metallic paint.
Up until the point I looked at Wikipedia for clarification, I’d considered this as part of the Mercedes S-class family. It certainly looks grand and when you know it has a V8 engine, you know it means business. The underpinnings are derived from the W114 saloon while the replacement car, the SEC series was derived from the contemporary S-class. It’s a bit of an in between car then. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: 1971-1981 Mercedes SLC”
A look at some rear bumpers illustrates changes in the way cars are constructed
Around the mid 1980s the bumpers of most cars were quite separate items added to the front and rear of the car’s metal structure or “body in white” as it is sometimes known. If you look at a Volvo 340 in its first iteration, for example, the bumper is a plastic coated metal item wrapped around the wings and front valence. The same goes at the back. Clearly the bumper is not an integrated element of the car and you can Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The Body In White Recedes”
FCA’s Olivier François outlines Fiat’s flat-pack future.
On the basis of his recent outpourings, I rather doubt whether FCA’s Olivier François has ever been to an IKEA retail outlet. After all, visiting one of their stores is a little like dentistry. Numbingly unpleasant but occasionally necessary. At such times I’m compelled to go, I try to plan my expeditions in military fashion. Go when its quiet, get in, get the target and get the hell out. Continue reading “Forthcoming Fiats Will Be Like IKEA.”
I look at a personal irritation and wonder if I share it with anyone else.
At school, my Technical Drawing teacher once counselled us against mixing straight lines and curved lines in a design. Even at an impressionable age, I could tell that was a crude and general rule, made to be broken. But his words have come back to me now and then over the past decade or more, when I view the shape of the trailing edge of the rear doors of an increasing number of cars.