Ideally, an article on the theme of economy should contain no words at all – a conceit I did explore briefly, but the results proved disappointing.
Instead we reprise a piece from DTW’s early days which I’m forced to concede, runs to 1941 words. So while on one hand it does meet the brief, it also misses it by several nautical miles. Sorry.
The fact that ‘Durable Car Ownership – a new approach to low cost motoring’ didn’t knock Jackie Collins off the best seller lists in 1982 is probably due as much to its minority subject matter as a sorry lack of carnal shenanigans. It wasn’t a fashionable subject then and given that it’s been out of print for some years, probably wouldn’t be now.
The car magazines and the usual outlets tend to focus on sportscars and macho SUVs, all that ego-stroking machinery for the luckiest among us. Daihatsu have taken a grown-up approach with the Noriori concept.
The list of cars designed for accessibility is not a long one. Noble mention goes to Toyota’s Raum (two iterations: 1997 and 2003), the Ford Focus Mk1 (1998) and Ford Fusion (2002). Quite possibly all of the raised-ride height BMW GT cars are also accessible designs as well. The high H-point of the 3-series GT and 5-series GT is very senior-friendly. Of this list, the Mk 2 Raum is the most markedly different from the normal run of cars in terms of appearance. Continue reading “Car Design By Grown-Ups: 2015 Daihatsu Noriori”
One of the 50 best cars ever was the Saturn L200, at least according to our capricious, contradictory and downright random list.
As luck would have it, this is a good time to be reflecting on the failure of Saturn. Pending my own careful meditations on the topic I’d like to draw your attention to this very good article at TTAC. In addition to the article, a reader who goes by the name 28-cars-later offers a very good precis of Saturn’s history which I will take the liberty of reprinting here (see under the “Continue Reading” button). I immediately thought the chap writes well enough to deserve to be on the other side of the author/reader divide. Others at TTAC did too. Continue reading “Saturn: 5 Years Dead”
He’ll never lose it in a car park but, after 4 months, how is Sean’s relationship with his Cube going?
So, how does the Nissan Cube measure up to the classic Cubes of history. Rubik’s Cube, The OXO Cube, the Sugar Cube, the 1997 science-fiction film Cube and O’Shea Jackson, AKA Mr Ice Cube. Well, it has one thing in common with the last named in that it is not truly a 3D object bounded by six identical square faces. But is it in any way exceptional? Continue reading “Final Report : Nissan Cube”
In September I mentioned an article about a road trip from Coventry to Munich in the Jaguar XJ-S and I said I would write a bit more about it. Finally.
Motor Sport were curious as to whether Jaguar’s claims to have made a car that would frighten Mercedes and Ferrari were valid. They initially tested the car (Oct ’75) in the Cotswolds which is not really a place to stretch the legs of a sporting grand tourer. A better test was to take it 2,435 miles on a trip that led to Munich. The Motor Sport people addressed two points in their article. One, quantitative. With three people (did they really put someone in the back?), luggage and 20 gallons of Super they achieved 150.1 miles per hour. “We know of no other car in the world which would Continue reading “The Jaguar XJ-S as Dinner Time Conversation”
These cars won’t keep out of the way of this site. It’s a W114 coupe ashtray, as designed by Paul Bracq.
If you look at Bracq’s career, we see that the 1968 W114 (the six-cylinder cars) and the W115 (the four-cylinder cars) came out the year after he left Mercedes Benz. So where does this design fit in with the story of German design rationalism? How can we reconcile the fact that these cars which epitomise German design sensibilities were overseen by a French chap who trained under another French designer, the great Charbonneaux? Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1968 Mercedes W114 Coupe”
This VW diesel scandal is going to take a heavy toll on that fuel as a means of propulsion. For some companies it is a great opportunity.
In the same week the good people at Car and Driver have offered some insight on the upcoming Volvo S90 and Automobile have some news on the electric Jaguar E-Pace. Before getting around the to main points of those articles, I note with some pleasure that there will be a Volvo S90. Having had a chance to visit Volvo’s museum (all of Sweden, apparently), I have seen at first hand Volvo’s unique contribution to the art of the quite large car. Rather I was reminded of this. From the 240 to 760 to the magnificent 960 estate, Volvo have made robust and practical cars that manage to Continue reading “Volvo and Jaguar On The Same Road”
When compared to the human body, even a small, light car is a powerful and relentless device. Once under way, momentum builds up and, as anyone who has been in or just considered any car accident at a speed of more than single figures knows, a car deserves great respect. So, it’s maybe understandable that some people treat driving a car as they would wrestling with a bear. For them, the car is a beast to be tamed, and each turn is a matter of hauling on the steering wheel, maybe with an inverted hand inside the rim for extra leverage. The wheel is clenched, the car lurches round and the sweat finally recedes from their brow as another herculean task is completed – just in time for the next bend. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – Effort”
This makes a change from cars seen around my neighbourhood. It’s a 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis LS, sighted in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Much to my surprise, some of Sweden’s older city centres have a rather American feel, specifically that part of the US in the north east such as Upstate New York. Gothenburg, where this car was seen, has stone and brick houses on streets lined up in grids. That immediately suggests an American way of town planning which is supposedly rational but disrespects topography and leads to stupidly steep roads among other ill-effects. The major roads of the mid-20th century in Sweden are styled after American freeways and have a similar brutal character: ugly to look at and confusing to drive on.
We continue our run down of the definitive list of the best cars ever.
29. In 1990 General Motors decided the way to take on the imported cars that were eating its lunch was to sell imported cars of their own, but made in the US. With a moderately restyled interior and exterior, the Prizm conquered sales from Toyota’s Corolla upon which the Prizm was based. In 1991 the Prizm’s nameplate went italic on the rear bumper. The standard four-cylinder engine produced 102 hp. At the same time Saturn was also trying to Continue reading “Driven To Write’s Top Fifty Best Cars Ever 29-20”
DTW might wonder if symmetry is overrated. Sean is sure it isn’t.
There’s a lot to be said for a well-balanced world. At least I think so though, never having experienced one, I can’t be sure. Nature has a liking for symmetry and does its best. Sure, one side of our face is never a complete mirror image of the other, and there’s always the odd flatfish, but that’s splitting hairs and, generally, it seems that nature abhors asymmetry.
So, rapid prototyping is accelerating the design process. This comes with pitfalls as well as advantages.
As someone pointed out, the Hyperion concept car could be said to have an unfinished or immature look to it. What is this quality exactly? It has to do with the reduced time available to evaluate the forms in the cold light of many days. While a design is a finished and static thing, there is a dynamic and iterative process leading up to its creation. Designers begin with raw ideas and select from these the most plausible concepts. The process goes from a sketch to a clay model to a final, definitive version and in so doing the designers must Continue reading “Concept Cars and One-Offs”
Every month that a project runs costs a car company money. In the ’80s a major car project could last 8 years, of which four was probably fully manned. These days the figure is 36 months but it could drop to 24. How?
One aspect of the drive to cut development time is in rapid prototyping. This has been going on for quite some time. In 2006 it was normal practice to mill quick models of car interior trim prior to tooling so as to see how the form looked in three real dimensions. Non-visible parts have also been made quickly so as to speed production. Even CAD modelling itself is a time-saver (or can be) which is now taken for granted. Continue reading “Theme: Economy – Cost Cutting the Digital Way”
That revolving door is still swinging. Digital Trends and TTAC have reported that Turkey’s government has purchased the rights to make the Saab 9-3.
And it will have a Cadillac BLS front end. Goodness me. It seems the 9-3 will be made and sold in Turkey with a engines of an unknown provenance which might or might not be electric. At the same time Dongfeng who are the main owners of the remains of Saab will Continue reading “Death’s Revolving Door: More Saab EV News”
We have considered various ways to save money on cars. Now what about when the budget is so big you can see it from space?
This is the 2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion, designed and made to order by Pininfarina. It turned up for sale in the Middle East in 2012 and may have been sold for about six million dollars. The person who commissioned it, a Briton, presumably had a lot of say in how it looked. Continue reading “Theme: Economy – When Money Is No Object”
Car and driver headlined an article about Lincoln with wording about the brand’s focus on luxury over performance. They didn’t really address the point.
I’ve been very busy so it’s taken me eleven days to get around to drawing your attention to this one. After the boiler-plate text about there not being any chance of European sales (there will never be European sales of Lincolns), the blog from Car and Driver gets down to the point and notes how luxury not performance is the main focus of the new Continental.
Find out how DTW ranks the best cars from the 39th to 30th. This list is definitive, by the way. All decisions are final.
39. Another stunning car from Fiat: practical, modern and easy to drive. The doors were essentially the same as those found on the Lancia Thema, Alfa Romeo 164 and Saab 9000. No other mid-size family saloon could make that claim. The Croma was galvanised from sills to roof and resisted rust like no other Fiat before it. Continue reading “Driven To Write’s All Time Top Fifty Best Ever Cars 39-30”
It’s a real pleasure to be able to present this car’s ashtray. It’s not that the ashtray is all that good it is more because…
…it’s a chance to see Cadillac’s attempt to get away from land-yachts and move in the direction of a more roadable car before it got out of hand and they forgot their values. The ashtray itself is just about alright. If you are driving then the gear-selector will be pulled rearwards and out of the way of the ashtray. If you are sitting in the car waiting and kippering yourself with cigar smoke then the relationship of the T-selector and tray is less satisfactory. As in the Citroen XM for RHD cars, you need to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1991 Cadillac Seville STS”
It’s now 10 years since the revelations regarding the erstwhile car producer, Volkswagen, came to light. Initially, industry experts predicted that it would be a large storm, but one that would soon subside. In the thinking of a previous decade, VW was seen as ‘too big to fail’ and it was assumed that, suitably chastised, the motor industry would soon revert to its established ways. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – The Open Road”
If there was a single over-riding theme to the Gamma’s gestation, it can be summed up in one word. Politics.
As Fiat management began the process of ingesting their new acquisition, they found they were being thwarted by Lancia’s core of loyalist engineers. Like most grand marques, Lancia was engineering / manufacturing-led, so naturally all resistance to Fiat’s integration was centred here. Camuffo one imagines, must have been viewed with suspicion; seen as Agnelli’s man and schooled in what was probably viewed as an inferior tradition. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Three”
Further to my discussion of magazine editorials, here is a good one, suitable for any month, with the filling in of the blanks.
What a month for [insert name of magazine]. Not only did we drive [insert name of car] but the new [insert name of car]. Without a doubt the people at [insert name of firm] are setting off an exciting new course. With [insert technology] the new [name] will upset purists and thrill petrol-heads everywhere. All this is in stark contrast to [insert first name of car] where everything is as you would expect but more so. Speed, handling, thrilling sounds and astonishing looks, this car has it all, the ultimate [type]. At least until the next model that is. Continue reading “What a Month It Has Been!”
The blogosphere has been excited about this “concept” car which is scheduled for production. Most people like the sportscar format and funky exterior design. We like it because….
…it has felt door cards. This material has been hanging around waiting to be used in this way for a long time. As well as being recyclable and very light compared to plastic, it improves the cabin acoustics and feels nicer to the touch. The minimum radius attainable by felt is quite large so it yields nice round forms and smooth sweeps when folded across the door structure. Handling this must have provided some challenges to the manufacturer and I am in doubt as to whether it will see the light of day.
For a few years I was bangernomist. I had a car I bought for £700. A £900 car replaced it. What went wrong then?
The key to bangernomics is in finding a car with a lot of remaining value in it and then depleting that value mercilessly. That means you buy an unloved car that someone has foolishly cared for long after the repair costs exceeded the market value. The classic bangernomic car is a 17 year old Vectra which is worth about €500 but is still as shiny and nice as the day it left the showroom.
It might have about €2000 of value locked inside it. It was the last car of one of those sensible, cautious old guys who understood deferred gratification and respect for resources (or just their own money). I don’t think these chaps will Continue reading “Theme: Economy – Bangernomics”
Life is lived forwards but understood backwards. Something similar applies to magazines.
Sometime last week I picked up a copy of my usual car magazine. This is something of a futile exercise, a triumph of optimism over experience. I did as I always did and started leafing from the back pages to the front. For a long time some of the most interesting nuggets have lived in the back of magazines and as one moves forward past features one then gets to the dust and detritus at the top of the cereal box. In between one passes the meat of the sandwich, the long form-articles that are supposed to command our attention. Continue reading “Reading Backwards”
This one is perfect: a high-mounted central drawer-type tray on a car with only 50,00 km under its wheels. As usual it’s in Silkeborg and not Aarhus.
The location of this ashtray is so instinctive. And this is where useless touch-screens are put instead. This is a terrible development when you see what originally occupied that space on the dashboard. Continue reading “Ashtrays- 1979 Ford Capri”
Economy sounds like a very objective word. It’s to do with numbers and we all agree what they mean, don’t we?
If we assume a person drives for fifty years of their life, is it cheaper to buy a long-lived car or to drive a fuel-efficient but short-lived mayfly? Whilst numbers can be applied to both scenarios, it is really a value judgement about which set we prefer.
Car Design News reported the death of the car designer and educator, Bryon Fitzpatrick.
Bryon Fitzpatrick might be considered one of the godfathers of car design education. In the absence of a proper industrial design course in Australia. As CDN describes it: “Fitzpatrick studied at Queensland Technical College in Brisbane where he pioneered the study of Industrial Design: “The subject of Industrial Design wasn’t offered there in the 1950s, so he went to the head of school and said that’s what he wanted to do,” Bryon’s son Leon has shared with [CDN]. “They basically assembled it themselves – drafting, furniture making, visualisation – which also included courses from the US.” Having done that, Fitzpatrick set off in search of a work and career, to Australia, Denmark (where he designed for B&O), Germany (for Ford under Uwe Bahnsen) and on to the US. Continue reading “Bryon Fitzpatrick, The Drawing Machine.”
Regular readers of DTW’s reviews will note we like to report on fuel consumption.
For as many years as I have been driving I have strived to maintain a fuel consumption log. The longest continuous period ran from 2006 to about 2010. At some point I was unable to note the details in a handy notebook and scribbled them on a piece of A4. The plan was that I’d transfer the figures to the notebook as soon as it turned up from wherever it had got to. During a long drive my daughter got a hold of this page and was allowed to tear it up on the grounds that this would provide a few moments peace while she was distracted. At that point I lost interest in the project as the continuity was now ruptured. Continue reading “Theme: Economy – Fuel Consumption Figures”
If you want to know how low perceptions of the French car industry have sunk, try telling people that you have bought a Renault Clio. Reactions vary between pity and incredulousness. “ARE YOU MAD?” people shout, grabbing you by the lapels. “WHY DID YOU DO IT?” they scream into your upturned, spittle-flecked face, shaking you roughly in the hope of reawakening some neglected sense of self preservation. Suddenly you are not the well adjusted and vaguely handsome man they thought you were. Clearly for all this time you have been a self-hater or a masochist. Or worse, a socialist. Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”
We take a look at a press release from Mazda and see if it’s interesting. Here are the best bits paraphrased and commented upon.
Mazda has increased unit sales by 29% year-on-year and has grown for 12 consecutive quarters. Between July and last month, Mazda sold nearly 60,000 vehicles which explains why there are so many 3’s roaming around my neck of the woods, though no new 1’s have been sighted. The overall market has grown by 10.6% so Mazda have done better than the average. I suppose this might be from a smaller base but creditable nonetheless. The net effect of all this stupendous growth is to Continue reading “Just How Good Is It For Mazda? Rather, But From a Low Base.”
In a revised piece from the earliest days of DTW we look at the UK’s first true economy car. But we make an even grander claim for it.
My French teacher at grammar school, Mr Roberts, had a small collection of Austin 7s from the 1920s, which he alternated using as transport to work – back then, that sort of car collection was practical, even on a teacher’s starter salary. I think that he considered me a bit of a prat (and history has certainly vindicated him on some levels) so, sensing this, I reciprocated with contempt for his collection of little, old and, at the time, very cheap cars. In hindsight, I might have had a more rewarding time discussing the niceties of the Ulster, Ruby, etc with him and he might have decided that I had some redeeming features. I deeply regret my glib teenage contempt, though it was entirely my loss. He was right, I was wrong. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – 7 Degrees of Separation”
With the particulates still settling over the VW emissions scandal, automakers are under scrutiny like never before. Yet VW may not end up being worst off – not by a long shot.
Almost a month into the VW emissions scandal, repercussions remain within the realm of conjecture and the view ahead no clearer. Everyone wants answers – VW owners who feel cheated and in possession of a tainted product, legislators (complicit or no) who now have to deal with the political fallout, and us – the faceless commentators who dole out harsh judgements from a safe distance, before scuttling back to the safety of our caves. Continue reading “NOxgate – Through a Looking Glass, Darkly”
On the downside, this is a critical comment: “Rather than bringing Tesla closer to the goal of the Model III, the Model X may be a 2.5-ton warning sign that the company is either unwilling or unable to pull it off. The Model X’s prohibitively expensive technology, including its low-volume aluminum construction, batteries and propulsion system, is virtually identical to that of the Model S. In other words: The Model X may Continue reading “What the Others Are Saying About the Tesla X”
It’s not easy to find much to say about this vehicle.
All the features on this car, barring the plastic mouldings around the hem are straight off the saloon. They are all masssaged and tweaked to fit the package and credit is due here for this being a much less forced exercise than the translation of Porsche 911 cues onto the Cayenne. It also says something about the blandness of the saloon. Continue reading “2016 Tesla Model X Design Notes”
How has the new Vauxhall Astra been received so far?
There are two approaches to this. From the US, motoring scribes are asking what the new Astra means for Buick since the Astra-platform is going to be used as a basis for forthcoming Tri-Shield cars. The European view is more direct since we get the Astra without American make-up. Doubtless the Chinese are also asking about the Astra. It is sold there as the Buick Excelle XT. It’s the platform that matters rather than the dressing on top. The view is that the Astra had outgrown its class (whatever that really means). Continue reading “2016 Opel Astra Reviews Review”
Over the past couple of months I’ve skirted the peripheries of the XF, but now it’s time to address the core of the XF – its road behaviour.
Lets begin with a positive. For what can be described as a fairly mundane executive saloon, the Jaguar’s steering response is from the top drawer. In my experience I’ve only driven one other car fitted with a power-assisted rack (which wasn’t a Citroen) that had nicer steering than the XF. That was a Lotus Evora. Continue reading “Cutting Corners: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”
We remember Renault’s 5GTL, an interesting take on an economy car.
The 1973 oil crisis hit the motor industry hard. Fuel consumption had always been a selling point, but now it became a crucial one, especially in France where petrol was highly taxed. The traditional French economy car had the smallest engine possible, The 2CV started with 425cc, working up to 602cc. Renault’s answer to the 2CV was the 4, which carried over the small capacity, four cylinder Ventoux engine from the rear engined 4CV. When the first ‘supermini’, the Renault 5, was introduced, beneath the skin it was much the same as the 4, with the base engine having just 782cc. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – More Is Less”
What with all the kerfuffle regarding Ferdinand Piech’s stepping down from his post as leader of VAG’s board of directors this summer, it went by almost unnoticed that an era was ending at BMW, too.
Norbert Reithofer is not what one would call ‘showy’. He’s gifted with neither the shock-frosting stare of a Piech nor the gunslinging attitude of a Bob Lutz. Reithofer’s hint of a Bavarian accent and non-boisterous delivery were the most noteworthy elements of his public appearances.
So far, so unexceptional. In keeping with BMW traditions, the end of Reithofer’s tenure also wasn’t accompanied by bells and whistles – it’s as though the office of ‘A’, which is what the CEO of BMW is traditionally being referred to internally, is merely being rented out to another tenant (former head of production, Harald Krüger, to be precise). Continue reading “‘A’ Departure”
Having a chance to sit inside a Renault Vel Satis allowed me to check out two things.
When Car magazine reviewed the Renault Vel Satis I remember being disappointed in their judgement. Stephen Bayley said it was not ugly enough and Anthony ffrench-Constant spent much of the article’s text talking about tropical parasites*. The part I remember is that ffrench-Constant criticised the rear compartment for the lack of room for feet under the front seats. Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2005 Renault Vel Satis”
The renowned motoring journalist LJK Setright was famous for his speedy driving. He could also drive as if every drop of petrol mattered. Here’s how he demonstrated the fuel efficiency of the 1976 VW Polo.
“Unless you have tried it, you can have no idea how acutely embarrassing it is to employ this ultimate economy driving technique on roads bearing normal traffic.” This meant accelerating down hills but not up the hills, keeping throttle openings small and constant. He was borrowing a method known as squirt-and-coast. In this method you Continue reading “Theme: Economy – The 1976 VW Polo”
Time and again I come across quite rare cars being sold with blinding ineptitude. Here’s one photo the job of which is to convince someone to part with €4691.
The dealer has revealed the car has driven 120,00 miles but nothing else at all. So, you’ll need to ring them to find out more. It looks to be in good condition but who knows if the photo is old or new and from this distance there might be some nasty surprises waiting. There are even worse examples of dealer carelessness. The Renault 25 might be rare but it is not a thoroughbred.
Will The Editor spare his words for this month’s theme?
Miserliness, Parsimoniousness, Meanness. None of these terms is ever used to indicate approval yet surely, as we go through life, the trail we leave should be as slight as possible, except in our achievements. We might look back at our ancestors and forgive them their profligacy, on the assumption that they didn’t properly understand the nature of our Earth. But, today, even those who believe in a deity, usually acknowledge that they have been given enough autonomy to be responsible for the finite resources they have been provided with. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – Introduction”