Behind Closed Doors

A foiled museum visit leaves DTW’s temporary Continental Correspondent in a philosophical frame of mind.

Citromuseum 01

My recent attempt to visit Citromuseum in Castellane in the French Alps was foiled by its rather short opening hours. Arriving in the morning, I found that, except for July and August, it only opens in the afternoon and, unfortunately, by that particular afternoon I needed to be somewhere else.

Personally, I’m not sure how much I missed. With no disrespect to the museum itself, which I believe contains a comprehensive collection of low-mileage Citroens in original condition and is run by an energetic, enthusiastic and good-natured curator, I tend to agree with Richard Herriott, who wrote a piece on this site about car museums early last year. Continue reading “Behind Closed Doors”

2015 Citroen C4 1.6 BlueHDi Roadtest

The Citroen C4 has been on sale for half a decade. The time is right to put one to the test.

2015 Citroen C4 BlueHDi: it has nice interior lamps.
2015 Citroen C4 BlueHDi: it has nice interior lamps.

During the course of this weekend test I really did struggle to think of something to say that did not over-emphasise my feelings about the car. The thing is that the C4 is a collection of details that don’t hang together. The character of the car is not in the measurable dimensions. It doesn’t actually have any character at all.

Looking at the outside of the vehicle there can be found a collection of modish features that are there to conceal quite flat sides and a less than thrilling profile. You would imagine this is to Continue reading “2015 Citroen C4 1.6 BlueHDi Roadtest”

Aston Martin DB9 / Ford Fiesta Review: Family Ties

There I was, a lowly commoner, behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB9, one of the finest cars in the world by anyone’s measure. Before me, beyond the long, long bonnet, was a circuit laid out on an abandoned airfield. And no speed restrictions.

Aston Martin DB9. That is some other pillock behind the wheel but I suspect it is the same car I drove. I hope they have retired it by now, it must be shagged. Source: t’internet.

The occasion was a “supercar experience”. Held both for and by people too impoverished for supercar ownership, a variety of “exotics” were available, ranging from a mark 1 Lotus Elise, through a slightly ratty 997 Porsche 911, to a visibly distressed Ferrari 355. The Aston Martin, immaculate and barely a couple of years old, was an easy choice.

A hundred grand’s worth of England’s finest conveyance was a nice place to sit. The seats and steering wheel where covered in soft leather. Only the analogue clock in the centre of the dashboard jarred, perhaps purely through association with the mark 2 Mondeo.

Time for my four laps. Anticipation building, I pressed the starter button to Continue reading “Aston Martin DB9 / Ford Fiesta Review: Family Ties”

1975 Hillman Hunter Super Roadtest

In July 1975 Archie Vicar contributed a review of the Hillman Hunter to the “Brecon Beacons Herald Advertiser”. Here is what he wrote.

1975 Hillman Hunter advert

[Original photos taken by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to butter stains from crumpets affecting the original items stock photos have been used.]

Impossibly good value sums up the Hillman Hunter series of saloons and estates. The general car body has been around since 1966 and Rootes are still managing new ways to improve on its formula. Here are some of my impressions about this old stager. Technically, the Hunter is nothing to write home about. There are two engines, a 1500 and a five-bearing 1725 unit which is familiar to anyone who has ever driven a Sunbeam Rapier, for example. As a result of this policy of using established components and putting them in a simple-to-make body, the prices are very attractive. How does £1,750 strike you?  Continue reading “1975 Hillman Hunter Super Roadtest”

‘I’m Really Rather Cross’ – A VW Owner Speaks Out

Have you been a victim of TDI? Our journalists are waiting.

Ashley Scarpa at the wheel of her well-used 2014 VW Passat yesterday. Image vis The Guardian
Ashley Scarpa at the wheel of her 2014 VW Passat TDI. Image via The Guardian

The author writes:

When we founded Driven to Write, we didn’t exactly begin with a set of guiding principles. Our aim was to provide an alternate voice to the mainstream motoring press and perhaps hold their feet to the fire from time to time. Similarly, ‘Big Auto’ and their well remunerated leaders have frequently felt the sting of our pen. However, one thing we never set out to do was to cause a member of the public to feel belittled and hurt, which is what this piece unintentionally achieved. Continue reading “‘I’m Really Rather Cross’ – A VW Owner Speaks Out”

A photo for Sunday: 1979-1991 Mercedes SEC

It’s another Mercedes. Say what you like about them, they do last. 

1979-1991 Mercedes SEC
1979-1991 Mercedes SEC in central Dublin. What a fabulous colour. Is this car less serious because it’s golden bronze? I think not.

The caption for this image should be “parked up like it’s 1979.” Or 1983, to judge by the licence plate (is it British?). Up until the late 1990s it was possible to park creatively like this in Dublin, in lots of places. There were lane-ways where double-yellow lines had not been applied or where traffic wardens seldom went. I used to park on pavements if the need arose (but only pavements where nobody actually ever walked). I had a list of places where I could hide the car and not pay while in town. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1979-1991 Mercedes SEC”

Bringing It All Back Home

Automotive News reports that expansion in the use of robotics and the increased use of battery packs will drive the repatriation of car production to Europe and the US.

Not many people work in the factory of the future: Reuters.
Not many people work in the factory of the future: Reuters.

The gist of the story is that it will make less sense to have production of vehicles in places such as China (far from the West) when robotics can replace labour, when the parts are costly to ship and when the cost of over-seas labour is rising. The effect will be to make it once more economically sensible to have car production in the US and Europe that might previously have been unprofitable. Continue reading “Bringing It All Back Home”

Theme: Wheels – Going In Circles

Once upon a time, there was a belief that the ideal way to complement the shape of a wheel was… by adding circles. That time was the Eighties.

The, somewhat notorious, GKN ‘Pepperpot’ Wheel

Perception is a fickle beast. Take Jaguar’s XJ saloon: an undisputed classic to most, yet, as far as its image is concerned, the devil is in the details. In the UK, its elegant silhouette cannot quite strip off the odour of Pub Owner’s Favourite. In Germany, on the other hand, Jaguar still suffers from being perceived as a much more elitist brand than its actual pricing suggests. Which is why running a classic XJ is viewed as an enterprise closer to owning a Rolls-Royce than a relatively run-of-the-mill S-class, in terms of the financial commitment necessary. But that only half explains why an XJ is considered the exclusive domain of silver haired golfing enthusiasts on these shores. Continue reading “Theme: Wheels – Going In Circles”

A Bit More Volvo 780 ES: It’s 30 This Year

Murilee Martin used to post Down At The Junkyard at Jalopnik. Here’s a discovery from 2010, a 1989 Volvo 780 ES. Alas, there’s no commentary, which is puzzling.  

1989 Volvo 780 ES:better
1989 Volvo 780 ES:better

The 780 ES was presented the 1985 Geneva motorshow, and went on sale in 1986. That means this is its 30th anniversary year. Skol!

There is a nice collection of photos here plus a little bit of history. What I didn’t know is that the 780 ES was not only sold with the 6-cylinder PRV engine. One could also have a 2.0 L turbo I4,  a 2.0 L turbo dohc I4 ,2.3 L turbo I4 and 2.4 L I6 turbodiesel. They only made about 6000 of the things so some of those must have been made in very small numbers indeed. Continue reading “A Bit More Volvo 780 ES: It’s 30 This Year”

What Bertone Could Do For A Chinese Nameplate

Here’s a the Changan CS35 as presented by Car News China. 

2014 Changan CS35 spyshot:
2014 Changan CS35 spyshot:

Mark Hamilton spurred this inquiry. The game here is to play spot the reference. I see mostly Ford’s kinetic design below the waistline. The C-pillar was artfully inspired from the Nissan Maxima concept car, I hazard. In the grille the designers have married a blend of Buick and Honda. At the back I see a little BMW in very homeopathic, watered down way. Or else it’s more Nissan. The CS35 does have what look likes good approach and departure angles. Continue reading “What Bertone Could Do For A Chinese Nameplate”

It’s the Hard NOx Life – VW in the Dock

A week is a long time in the motor business and this sh*tstorm just got real.

I think they call this an open goal. VW launches the 2016 Tiguan at Frankfurt IAA. Image via VW.AG
I think they call this an open goal. VW launches the 2016 Tiguan at Frankfurt IAA. Image: VW.AG

I sat down today to write something of a Frankfurt IAA overview. A sofa-eye view of the trends, winners, losers and why-botherers. Post-NOxgate however, there’s only one story, no winners and one loser. Well perhaps more than one.

Just seven days ago it was all looking quite jolly for the German auto industry at their home show. New car announcements rubbed shoulders with credibly exciting concepts while the World’s press gathered to Continue reading “It’s the Hard NOx Life – VW in the Dock”

Theme : Wheels – Citroën’s Plastic Wonder

From a time when Citroën led the way – and, of course, nobody followed

I know which I’d choose

The standard wheels for the Citroen SM were heavy steel items, clad with hubcaps. These are made from stamped stainless steel, held firmly to the wheel by a centre bolt. The centre section is painted satin black and the sections between the outer fins are painted in satin silver-grey. There are holes in the hubcaps that allow the actual wheel bolts to show.

Although that might not have been the intent, there is the distinct feeling that they were trying to Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – Citroën’s Plastic Wonder”

Car Design Gossip

Car Design News has this interesting snippet, to the effect that Giugiario is thinking of buying the Bertone styling house. 

Bertone did this, the 1987 Volvo 780 ES. I have seen three in my life:
Bertone did this, the 1987 Volvo 780 ES. I have seen three in my life:

“But why would they use the Bertone name? There are a number of reasons, some more practical than others. Firstly the Bertone name, despite falling from grace before its eventual closure last year, is still widely known and synonymous with some of the most fantastic cars in history, some of which were designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro himself during his time at the company from 1960 to 1965. This gives it the immediate advantage of its heritage,” writes Car Design News. Continue reading “Car Design Gossip”

Theme: Wheels – The BBS RS

A prince amongst wheels – in praise of a design classic

The BBS RS - image via devianart
The BBS RS – image: devianart

Power ballads and poodle hair weren’t the only big things in the 1980s. Wheels were too, particularly the aftermarket alloy variety. At a time when most cars were still fitted with pressed steel wheel rims, the aftermarket was big business. With bodykits and Rude Mercs abounding amongst the hotshoe contingent, having the right set of mags mattered. Continue reading “Theme: Wheels – The BBS RS”

2015 Opel Zafira 1.6 litre Innovation

We were talking about the relative merits of the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso and other cars. This is my preferred choice in this class. Nobody offers a nicer interior in this class. The Meriva can be as lush too.

2015 Opel Zafira interio in Innovation specification. This will cost €33,000.
2015 Opel Zafira interior in Innovation specification. This will cost €33,000.

Continue reading “2015 Opel Zafira 1.6 litre Innovation”

2015 Citroen C4 Picasso Review

We took a Citroen C4 Picasso on a 186 mile trip. It does one thing better than an Opel Zafira. We’ll come to that later….

2015 Citroen C4 Picasso in diesel guise
2015 Citroen C4 Picasso in diesel guise


There’s so much wrong with this car. Ahead of you are 1740 words, almost none of them are complimentary.

More introduction

The C4 Picasso is a car that I am sure that you have all seen on the school run, launched in 2013. It has seven seats and an electrically powered tailgate. DTW took charge of a C4 Picasso with the express intention of seeing how it coped with three adults and two children. Normally I would structure a review like this along the lines of: general description, design, engineering, driving, comfort and conclusion. That general ordering assumes that all of those things are of equal value and you’d want to Continue reading “2015 Citroen C4 Picasso Review”

How Old Is Subaru’s Range?

This little survey was prompted by SV Robinson. How old is the Subaru range and what does it consist of?

Can you name this car? It is available in three colours: Subaru UK
Can you name this car? It is available in three colours: Subaru UK

The price ranges from £17,500 to £30,000 (rounded up a shade). The average price is £24,700. The Outback and Forester are available with six options;  the XV with four and the others with one or two. What is a Levorg? I have not read any reviews of this and the name is appallingly made up. You can read Autocar’s view here (it’s a 4-wheel drive estate). There’s no Legacy, note. When did that happen? Subaru’s range is composed entirely of niche vehicles, barring the Impreza which is a five door, five-seater hatchback. Everything else is niche with a topping of niche (boxer engines or boxer diesel engines). Continue reading “How Old Is Subaru’s Range?”

VW´s TDI Engine Problems

What were they thinking? VW has been found to have fitted its TDI engines with a device to change emissions during testing. 

Fitted with a cheater device, a 2013 VW TDI engine.
Fitted with a cheater device, a 2013 VW TDI engine.

There is a lot of coverage about this. Automotive News, Jalopnik, Autocar, NY Times, NY Times and NY Times. What has happened? Volkswagen said on Sunday that it would halt sales of cars in the United States equipped with the kind of diesel motors that had led regulators to accuse the German company of illegally installing software to evade standards for reducing smog. Continue reading “VW´s TDI Engine Problems”

DTW Adds a Chinese Electric Car to the Fleet

The car in question is a Dodge Challenger. Remotely controlled, it runs on four AA batteries. It’s made under licence by Maisto.

2015 Dodge Challenger remote control car by Maisto.
2015 Dodge Challenger remote control car by Maisto.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had an electric car. In 2005 I took ownership of a second-hand remote control car (make unknown) which I used for ten minutes until the vehicle slammed into something hard and never worked again. Continue reading “DTW Adds a Chinese Electric Car to the Fleet”

A Photo For Sunday: 1976 Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia

It’s a study in yellowy beige. Vinyl has been plastered over the roof. This is almost the top of the Taunus hierarchy. It finds echoes even today.

1976-1979 Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia.
1976-1979 Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia.

A casual Google search indicates these are very rare in this format. You can view a grainy one in action here. And if you want something comparable (but absolutely no vinyl) you need to pay €5600 and it’s for sale hereContinue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1976 Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia”

Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Run by: Assistant Motoring Editor Myles Gorfe. Total Mileage: 299,918. Miles since August 16 2015: 0. Costs: £1600 labour, £1350 spares including a new roof, window trim, headliner, interior trim, fuel lines and various heater matrix units.

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L
1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

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 and the month before. The engine has been dismantled twice.
The Granny has developed an appetite for heater matrix units. As of today I have bought twelve of them and none has worked or worked for long. Continue reading “Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”

The Truth About Cars on the 2015 BMW i8

The few reviews that have crossed my desk have not been very revealing. This one deserves some scrutiny.

2015 BMW i8 reviewed by the Truth About Cars:

This is how Kamil Kaluski begins his article: This is the car that people in the 1970s predicted we would be driving in the year 2000. Fifteen years after the turn of the millennium, the BMW i8 is the machine that looks like no other BMW — and certainly like no other car on the road. Its gasoline and plug-in electric powertrain compliment its looks, bringing together the efficiency of an electric car and the convenience of an internal combustion engine.” Continue reading “The Truth About Cars on the 2015 BMW i8”

What Is Mitsubishi Offering at the IAA at Frankfurt This Year?

They are showing us the PHEV version of the Outlander. That’s really it. 

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV:
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV:

This is what MMC say about their car: “The Outlander PHEV was first launched in Japan in January 2013 as the world’s first plug-in hybrid 4WD SUV. Now exported to 48 countries including those in Europe, it is the world’s fastest selling PHEV with cumulative sales of some 70,000 units.” I didn’t know that but also don’t know enough about the Continue reading “What Is Mitsubishi Offering at the IAA at Frankfurt This Year?”

Mercedes’ Movable Feast

Mercedes-Benz gets aero on everyone’s ass at Frankfurt.

Mercedes Concept IAA. Image via gizmag
Mercedes Concept IAA. Image: gizmag

While this week’s Frankfurt show-stopping Porsche Mission E concept appears to offer a vision of the future where (Porsche) drivers are offered the very latest propulsive technology wrapped up in a reassuringly familiar (if nicely proportioned) package, Mercedes-Benz have taken a sharply divergent approach; Daimler’s brave new world being a starker affair altogether. Continue reading “Mercedes’ Movable Feast”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Two

Fiat acquired the shattered remnants of Lancia in 1969. The Italian car giant was ill-prepared for what it discovered.

The 1969 Fiat 130 Berlina. Image via favcars
Corporate hubris? The slow-selling (if excellent) 1969 Fiat 130 Berlina. Image: favcars

Fiat made its name, reputation and not inconsiderable fortune from small cars, cost-engineered and rationalised to be inexpensive to produce, to buy and to maintain. During Italy’s post-war industrial boom, the Turin car maker grew massively, catering to the home market’s growing affluence and thirst for motorisation. By the late 1960’s however, Fiat’s management realised that over 70% of their car business was concentrated in the bottom end of the market – one with the least potential for profit. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Two”

Theme – Wheels: BMW E60 5 Series 19 inch

This month’s theme provides the opportunity for a mild personal indulgence, a chance to get a slightly geeky obsession with a specific detail out of my system – I hope nobody minds.

Lovely Bowlies - as Bulgin used to write
Lovely Bowlies – as Bulgin used to write

I rarely feel very strongly about wheel design, but this particular alloy wheel struck me from the outset as being really well suited to, and integrated with, this version of the 5 Series.  The way in which the spokes are dished inwards around the hub and wheel nuts for the first 7” or 8” and then continue on a flat plane to the rim is in sympathy with the surfacing of the body panelling. Continue reading “Theme – Wheels: BMW E60 5 Series 19 inch”

Lens Flare, Concrete and CAD Data

We return again to contemporary car advertising. What’s with these oil-painting-a-like hyper-real images of impossible perfection?

“Take the car to the Mulvaney Hills and take some photos, Jim.”

Well, they are not so nice as the advert shown above. How about this: Continue reading “Lens Flare, Concrete and CAD Data”

A Quiet IAA for Ford

Autoexpress and the Western Morning News have both reported the unveiling of the Ford Edge in its European guise.

2016 Ford Edge (left) and the US version:
2016 Ford Edge (left) and the US version:

The Ford Edge is a very large vehicle, large as if to make up for Ford’s relatively low-key display at this year’s IAA. It is, I suppose a kind of interregnum. Martin Smith has handed over to his replacement who is probably busy with working out how things operate in Merkenich rather than with breaking new ground for EuroFords. There has also been a bit of personnel change, with exterior designer Stephan Lamm recently departed. Conceivably rising star Murat Gueler may return to Merkenich, having done some work at Lincoln in the interim. Continue reading “A Quiet IAA for Ford”

2015 Frankfurt IAA Colour Palette

DTW has been out sampling the colours of the important new cars shown at Frankfurt so far. 
2015 Frankfurt colour IAA
…and none of the ones I looked at were green. That anti-green trend is continuing then. Obviously Bugatti’s car was going to be Bugatti blue. Ford went with an interesting orange metallic (as did Seat). Bentley made a choice for a paler version of gold with which to dress the Bentayga. Say what you like about the rest of the car, the colour is very nice indeed, not a million miles away from Volvo’s Maya Gold from some years back. Continue reading “2015 Frankfurt IAA Colour Palette”

Electric Dream – Porsche Mission E

Still want to order that Panamera?

Image via
Image via

Today, Porsche’s Mission E concept was shown to the press at the IAA motor show, signalling the beginning of the mainstream industry’s fightback against the groundswell of Musk emanating from Tesla’s Silicon Valley headquarters. Continue reading “Electric Dream – Porsche Mission E”

Mazda Sent Driven to Write An e-mail Today!

In it they explained that they are unveiling a new concept car, the Koeru. What else did they say?

2016 Mazda Koeru unveilled at the IAA: Mazda Press UK
2016 Mazda Koeru unveilled at the IAA: Mazda Press UK

That’s not the only bit of news: “Mazda’s IAA exhibition also features the all-new Mazda MX-5 roadster complete with a range of specially developed accessories. Among these are a space age boot-lid mounted luggage carrier in a solid yet ultra-lightweight carbon construction (to be offered with a matching Moncabas suitcase) and exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels in an asymmetrical diamond-cut look.” Continue reading “Mazda Sent Driven to Write An e-mail Today!”

2016 Renault Megane Interior Revealed

“The new Megane is an integral part of Renault’s design strategy renewal,” says Renault styling supremo Laurens Van Der Acker.

A bit dark in here, don´t you thingk? 2016 Renault Megane interior: Renault UK
A bit dark in here, don´t you think? 2016 Renault Megane interior: Renault UK

He goes on to say “Its dynamic lines project both sensuality and status, while its assertive proportions provide it with a well-planted stance on the road and its sculpted forms and strong shoulders hint at the brand’s Latin roots. It features a distinctive lighting signature  both front and rear, by day as well as by night, in its elegant interior exudes an unmistakeable cockpit feel.” Thanks, Laurens. It’s just dark. And very 2009.

What does he mean by design strategy renewal? Any guesses?

2016 Renault Talisman Re-Revealed

Thank you Renault for showing in public your new C-D class competitor in estate guise.

2016 Renault Talisman estate:
2016 Renault Talisman estate:

Renault sent me an e-mail about this. The estate, they said, was making its public debut at Frankfurt. The press release’s first point was “sleek style mated to huge practicality.” Also, seven other points related to safety, load space, ride and handling and a launch date in the first half of 2016. 54% of sales are taken by estate models, say Renault. Is it really only half? Some cars, you would think exist only as estates: Peugeot 407 and indeed the Talisman’s luckless predecessor, the Laguna. Continue reading “2016 Renault Talisman Re-Revealed”

Theme : Wheels – Keeping Them Covered

Driven to Write asks which manufacturers keep their nuts hidden

Rolls Royce Wraith C
1938 Wraith Photo : Ruairidh MacVeigh

The hubcap was originally a device for keeping road muck away from the centre of your wheel. The wheel cover was an expansion of the hubcap to cover the entire outer face of the wheel, thus both lessening the chance of bearings being contaminated and keeping your chauffeur from getting his uniform too dirty when changing wheels. However, I’ll generally use the term hubcap to cover any size of wheel covering. Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – Keeping Them Covered”

A photo for Sunday: 1995-2002 Renault Megane

As the new Megane bows in, it’s time to take a look back at how things were done in 1995 when the first of the line began prowling the highways.

1995 Renault Megane estate in moody black and white.
1995 Renault Megane estate in moody black and white. Yukky wheels.

Aged well, hasn’t it? It’s very much a 1990’s car and at the same time wears its period style lightly. The modellers did a good job putting nuances on the metal around the middle bump strips and notice the subtle way the sill is curved upwards, with little flares at either end. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1995-2002 Renault Megane”

Borgward’s BX-7 Revealed

Just fifty-four years after closing down, Borgward is back with the BX-7. And it just had to be disappointing, didn’t it?

2016 Borgward BX-7:
2016 Borgward BX-7:

I expected a saloon or sports car.

Autobild reports that the car will be shown at the Frankfurt IAA in late September. Autobild politely call the car a classical SUV with a lightly modernised version of the Borgward emblem. The Truth About Cars thinks it looks like a Buick  crossed with a Porsche. The car has a high beltline (Autobild tells us that too) and in case you wondered what the vehicle is when it passes you, it says Borgward in huge individual letter on the bootlid.  It’s 4.7 metres long (which is middle-sized). Powering the car are a 244 PS 2.0-litre turbo petrol and a 410 PS plug-in hybrid system. How much for this? €26,000 reckons Autobild.   Continue reading “Borgward’s BX-7 Revealed”

DTW’s Car Of The Year 1975

Eoin’s recent article reminded me of other cars launched in 1975. Does anyone remember the Foden NC? But who can forget the Peugeot 604 and Ferrari 308GTB/GS?

1975 Foden NC: wikipedia .org
1975 Foden NC is not DTWs car of the year 1975 because it is not a car: wikipedia .org

The Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch twins emerged into the depths of the Malaise Era in the US, as did the AMC Pacer. The Lancia Montecarlo also turned up, more by accident than design as it was intended to be a Fiat. Had it been a Fiat doubtless its birth year might have been ’74 or ’73. Lancia needed time to add a grille and check the brakes were very dangerous. Continue reading “DTW’s Car Of The Year 1975”

1976 Jaguar XJ-S

In between Coventry and Cologne. 

1976 Jaguar XJ-S in its natural habitat: Motor Sport magazine
1976 Jaguar XJ-S in its natural habitat: Motor Sport magazine

They managed 14 mpg on this trip even though. I will write a little more about this article soon. The short version is that the car offered “pace and quiet” with detail failures in addition to looking “ugly”. The photo is evocative, isn’t it?

Theme: Wheels – The GKN Kent Alloy

Some wheels come to define an era. 

The GKN 'Kent' alloy wheel. Image via Hemmings
The GKN ‘Kent’ alloy wheel. Image: Hemmings

For any marque enthusiast, wheel design can be as evocative and redolent of its era as any design flourish or styling theme. To me at least, these wheels just scream Jaguar, in the same way wires did during the 1960s. I’ve habitually known them as the GKN Kent alloy, standard equipment on the original launch-spec Jaguar XJ-S and optional on XJ saloons over the ensuing decade and a half. The final XJ saloon that left the Browns Lane production line in 1992 was a Series 3 Daimler Double Six on ‘Kents‘. No other wheel design served Jaguar as long or suited the car as well. Continue reading “Theme: Wheels – The GKN Kent Alloy”

Theme : Wheels – Wires

Attractive. But do we miss wire wheels?

Lamborghini 350GT Wires

The wire wheel is a device from another era. Invented early in the 19th Century, the first successful automotive wheels were produced by Rudge-Whitworth of Coventry about 100 years later.

In 1922 the Italian firm Borrani started making Rudge-Whitworths under licence but, in time, its own name became as well-known. Once the sports car default, by the mid Sixties the alloy wheel was in its ascendancy and the wire wheel was beginning to look like an anachronism. There were still certain Sixties designs that suited wires, both a Series one Jaguar XJ and a modernist Series 1 Rover P6 look surprisingly well on wires but, by the end of the decade, even stalwart Borrani customer Ferrari has switched mainly to alloys. Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – Wires”

Thought For The Day – Driving Shoes

We don’t do fashion here at Driven to Write. We are above that. But let’s take a moment to consider driving shoes.

The first pair of driving shoes I bought were bought by accident. They looked acceptable and, importantly, were very light. I still have them even if they are now quite wrecked. The great thing about a lot of fashion derived from sports is that it enhances everyday life. My tweed jacket has its roots in hunting but works very well when I need to Continue reading “Thought For The Day – Driving Shoes”

Ashtrays: 2015 Mercedes B-class

Well, I think it was a 2015 Mercedes B-class but it could have been the 2005-2011 series. However, here is a clear sign that Mercedes are willing to go the extra mile when it comes to refinements.

2015 Mercedes B-class ashtray
2015 Mercedes B-class ashtray

Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2015 Mercedes B-class”

Mega-Size Me

Marchionne’s Merger Mania Examined – Again. Where Driven to Write leads, the mainstream press follow: Autocar finally gets around to examining the Marchionne plan. 

Don't panic, there's a high percentage wool mix in this jersey. After all, a man's got to have standards.
Don’t panic, there’s a high percentage wool mix in this jersey. After all, a man’s got to have standards. Image credit: (c) motorionline

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Recently, one of our readers took us to task over our coverage of FCA’s latest product plans, suggesting we were being unduly negative about them and about FCA’s knitwear enthusiast-in-chief. It’s easy to see why, but at least we have been applying our critical faculties to the subject – something that has (up to now) been conspicuously absent in the mainstream automotive media. Continue reading “Mega-Size Me”

The Day’s Forgotten Car: 1996 Renault Sport Spider

On sale for just three years, the Renault Sport Spider weighed under a tonne and was yellow**.

1996 Renault Spider:
1996 Renault Spider:

Speaking of redundant names, was it really necessary to call it a Sport Spider? Or did Renault have plans for a Non-Sport version such as an estate variant or one with a weak powerplant meant strictly for posing? Continue reading “The Day’s Forgotten Car: 1996 Renault Sport Spider”

Something Rotten In Denmark: 1995 Nissan Maxima QX V6

There is one of these on sale in Denmark and the dealer does not know how to sell it. Look at these photos.

1995 Nissan Maxima, with the light coming from behind the car:
1995 Nissan Maxima, with the light coming from behind the car:

I wonder if is there money to be made in offering a photography service for cars? The seller is trying to flog this rather good car for about €7000 and has made every mistake possible in taking the photos. The photo above shows the car with the sun illuminating the side we can’t see. In this photo the car is just too damn big to Continue reading “Something Rotten In Denmark: 1995 Nissan Maxima QX V6”

Another Set Of Meaningless Alphanumerics, This Time From Cadillac

The very informative website GM Authority, reports Cadillac has a new naming scheme. And it’s terrible.

1995 Cadillac Fleetwood, a name that meant something and still
1995 Cadillac Fleetwood, a name that meant something and still does. Image source:

It’s very simple: CT2 through to CT8 designates the cars, coupes and estates. XT2 through to XT8 will be names for CUVs and SUVs. As with Lincoln’s hopeless MK-naming system, a large part of the names are made up of uninformative prefixes. Continue reading “Another Set Of Meaningless Alphanumerics, This Time From Cadillac”

A photo for Sunday: 1998 Lancia Lybra SW

Those were the days: Lybra (saloon and wagon), Z multipurpose vehicle, Kappa (coupe, saloon and wagon) and the Ypsilon. It’s 1998.

1998-2005 Lancia Lybra estate/wagon.
1998-2005 Lancia Lybra estate/wagon.

Lancia had a full line-up of vehicles, offering in most cases something distinctively different to what Fiat was selling. The Lybra had its basis in the Alfa 156 but you’d be hard pressed to tell. With the passage of time you can see a robust-looking car with a distinctive form language. Maybe it could have used some brightwork around the windows. Enrico Fumia started the development of the design in 1992 and Peter Robinson completed it. Where is he now? The rather pleasant interior is the work of Flavio Manzoni who is now at Ferrari, with a string of cars to his name. Some of them include the later Musa (not so good) and Ypsilon (treasurable). Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1998 Lancia Lybra SW”