Is there, to be brief, something we are not talking about that you think we should? A while back I ran a series which aimed to look at what I wasn’t writing about and why. After I exhausted that, I left the matter rest for a while. Things I haven’t written about all that much include the VW diesel fiasco, sales figures and market share and I haven’t reviewed a car for a while.
We all like Daihatsu for their original concept cars and useful small cars. Except the Europeans, of course. Toyota have decided now is the time to pounce
According to Autocar, Daihatsu, Reuters, Bloomberg, AutoExpress, Japan Times, and the Washington Post, Toyota have raised their stake in the firm by purchasing $3.2 billion of the remaining shares. The argument runs that Toyota needs Daihatsu´s talent at building small cars. Toyota feels it lacks this capacity while Daihatsu could benefit from being smothered inside a large firm. Reuter describes the deal as follows: “Toyota Motor Corp. will aim to transform Daihatsu Motor Co. from a maker of small cars that used to deter their owners from going out on dates into a brand as valued as BMW AG’s Mini.” The difference here is that Daihatu doesn’t Continue reading “Toyota Takes Over Daihatsu”
Among those in the know, a Mk2 Ford Granada is recognized for its space, speed and quality, writes Myles Gorfe, our senior acting classics sub-editorial assistant.
For sale for a modest £3,950 here’s a lovely 1985 Granny in white, with fog lamps, factory alloys and a factory windscreen. It just doesn’t get any better than this ever, really. Some people might be looking into an old W-123 Merc or maybe a Volvo 740 but those cars are over-rated, lumbering and over-priced. They don’t even look as smart as the Ford either. The Merc is dated and the Volvo too square-rigged and American. So, what do you get with an ’85 Granny estate? You get to Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas 1985 Ford Granada 2.8 GL estate”
It means that Ford posted a profit in Europe. The news emerged as part of a general wash of favourable financial results. “We promised a breakthrough year in 2015, and we delivered. In 2016, we will continue to build on our strengths and accelerate our pace of progress even further, while transforming Ford into both an auto and a mobility company and creating value for all of our stakeholders,” said Mark Fields, Ford President and CEO.
Yesterday we ran a small celebration of the Citroen ZX. Here’s a small gallery…
…showing the car as it is, with some window-lines marked up and then some small revisions which I think are in keeping with the designs of the period. The third side glass is neither fully aligned with the lines from the main DLO nor is it markedly different. I chose to make it more clearly different.
Among the very best of an already outstanding crop, this. An estate of the highest quality, writes Myles Gorfe who is now Driven To Write’s assistant classic cars editor-at-large
If Merc, Volvo and Peugeot thought they had the estate market tied up, Ford was there to remind them that they were well wrong. Ford’s outstandingly roomy cruiser also showed Saab that offering a big hatchback was not going to cut it, and not when it was only front wheel drive. If you wanted more room in a car, you had to have a Transit and that was a Ford too.Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: 1983 Ford Granada 2.8 GL estate”
Let’s look back at a quarter of a century of disappointment from Citroen. The ZX is 25 years old today.
Such was the let-down of seeing the first photos of the Citroen ZX that I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at that moment. You don’t normally remember this kind of thing. If you recall that Citroen’s previous big launch had been the XM, then you can understand the shock of the ZX’s all-round ordinariness. Continue reading “A Quarter Century of the Unexceptional – Citroen ZX”
Porsche begets Pacer, begets Porsche. Nice theory, if it held water…
Before going any further, I have to point out my experience of the American auto industry is scant, apart perhaps from some surface level intelligence any motor enthusiast worth his automotive archive would be privy to. But assumptions can make fools of us all, especially when knowledge is spread thinly. Continue reading “FLAgrant Assumptions”
I’ve been to just two motor shows and I found nothing glamorous about the aching feet and expanses of leased carpet.
[It’s a coincidence that we posted an essay on this topic only yesterday. Simon Kearne, the editor, asked for more articles on this theme so I feel I must oblige even if it means a repeat. That said, Sean took a different tack and if you don’t like his dry, elegant style you can sample my self-consciously writerly gimmicks and see if you prefer that approach].
As a regular paying customer to the pompously named Automobile Salons you don’t see a great deal of the same visual excitement as the press do on the opening days. The models have usually gone away and the folks stalking the stands only want to Continue reading “Theme: Glamour – Motor Shows”
Everyone else is doing it so why can’t we? That was the plaintive question asked by Irish folk-rock-pop balladeers the Cranberries in 1993.
The Cranberry question applies to Ford’s Lincoln division who must be squirming in their corporate seats. The Genesis G90 saloon will be sold with a V8 as we well know and it looks the part. The other day Car & Driver revealed more details of the V8 Cadillac will be fitting to their CT6 which also looks the part. Considering that Genesis is a newish entrant in the upscale V8 market and that Cadillac is selling fewer cars than they were a decade ago (and so short of cash), Ford’s unwillingness to Continue reading “Oh No, Not Again”
I’ve not been to a Motor Show for ages. I went to a few many years ago, when they were at Earls Court each Autumn. All I got was a pain in my chest and a load of brochures. I don’t miss them. Cars just seem different at shows. The lights show up everything, so they are polished relentlessly. They look perfect, and that’s probably why I don’t want to see them under such circumstances. Continue reading “Theme : Glamour – It’s Showtime!”
There’s nothing like spending weeks at meetings to discuss technical issues of draft angles, paint finishes and packaging requirements. Car design isn’t all glamour.
But it has that too. Car designers get to see and shape the future, travel to car shows in nice cities and Detroit and wear striking shirts as well. Like the performing arts, car design mixes episodes of gruelling tedium with bursts of flamboyant style. Creativity is really about doing something very boring for a very long time so that someone else gets a nice visual surprise. The shirts, car shows and interviews are a payoff for all the drudgery that is required up to the point the project is revealed. Continue reading “Theme: Glamour – Car Designers”
Just before Christmas I took a train trip, the last direct rail service from Aarhus to Berlin, itself part of the discontinued direct Copenhagen to Berlin service. Determining the fate of this service was Deutsche Bahn’s decision to phase out diesel trains. The ICE train running the Aarhus-Berlin route remained the only diesel main line train in Germany. The diesel carriages have no future Continue reading “The Ulm Design School and Mercedes”
As Lancia posts another respectable sales performance, where’s an automotive van Helsing when you need one?
I don’t know about you people but I’ve had just about enough of Lancia. I’m worn out from the serial indignities foisted upon this proud marque, sick to the eyeteeth of Sergio Marchionne’s platitudes and inaction. I just want the pain to end. But for those of us who’d prefer to see Lancia’s drooling remains smothered with its own pillow, the past two years have offered little by way of consolation. Continue reading “Bereft in Deathly Bloom: Not Bloody Likely”
Tainted Love: There wasn’t a lot of glamour to be found in 1970’s Ireland. Not too many coupés either. (Originally published on 23 February 2014)
The coupé evokes a variety of adjectives in our automotive lexicon, most of which we broadly aspire to; words like glamour, sophistication, affluence. As an ideal it’s suffused with images of impossibly salubrious locations; languid cocktails on the shores of Lake Como, nibbling swan canapés on the Croisette, driving west on Sunset. So from the foregoing it’s fairly safe to assume that Ireland is not a place that readily springs to mind when the subject of the coupé is raised over the hors d’oeuvres.Continue reading “Theme: Glamour – A Very Irish Coupé”
In Part 1, I made it as far as the Lancia Flaminia and not much further. In this instalment I will kick and jostle myself so I can cover more ground in fewer words.
This is the 1965 Lancia Appia with its impressive door closures and very lovely form. And if we continue to the other side of the car we are greeted by this flowing highlight over the front wing. The 1996 VW Passat did something conceptually similar. Continue reading “Sommer’s Automobile Museum, Part 2”
Most of the effort in preparing this is in the image. It shows the number of times per year that exclamation points appeared on the front cover of Car magazine.
The reason I have chosen to analyse Car is that I have a continuous collection from 1998 to hand. I might later go and do a control and see how other magazines’ use has changed over time. Continue reading “A history!”
This is part of Driven To Write’s unique service. Normally colour analyses are expensive and hard-to-get proprietary information. We give it away for free.
It’s probably not comprehensive. Gizmag kindly put together a slide show of the most important cars and I added to the list with some Google image searches of brands they didn’t cover in their slide show. Did Cadillac really not show anything of note? Hyundai isn’t on my chart. If they were, it would have been another white car. Toyota showed a Continue reading “2016 Detroit Motor Show Colour Analysis”
David and Goliath? This question springs to mind in this report of life with a RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup.
I once shared a university house with a man who studied Physics. He was tremendously good at it. As a lazy English student, I envied the clarity of his thought processes, of his ability to harness complex mathematics to make sense of the forces that shape our world. Meanwhile, I struggled to marshal the energy to make a toasted cheese sandwich. (And this despite me keeping a Breville sandwich toaster on my bedside table. And my bedside table being a mini fridge liberated from a caravan, filled with cheese and booze.) Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”
Further to our discussion of the visual attributes of the 2017 Lincoln Continental, here is a view of the current car and one where I generously added more length front and back.
Put together like this you can see how wrong the Lincoln really is. There is no point in making Lincolns off Ford platforms. They should do it the other way around. It looks like the front wheel is about half a wheel’s diameter too far back on the existing design. It could be that my version would be too long in reality. It just shows you can’t design a car piecemeal. Proportions matter.
One is from a Korean company and one is by an American company.
I have to say the Lincoln does not come out well in this little competition. It is missing visual mass at the front. The Genesis might not be innovative in any particular way. On the other hand all the details are right and the proportions spot on. Ford’s accountants hamstring their designers who, I am very sure, don’t want to draw cars with side views like this Lincoln. Continue reading “Two Takes on the American Large Car”
The forthcoming junior Ford represents the model’s biggest creative departure since the original version debuted twenty years ago. But is it really a Ka at all?
The original Ford Ka was a landmark small car. Intelligently designed, if poorly built; it sold strongly despite being saddled with an asthmatic nail of engine and a spectacularly rust-prone body. But in a sector up 10% over the first nine months of 2015, the current Ka held a less than mighty 13th position in the minicar sales table, with the Smart Forfour and Skoda Citigo nipping its heels. Continue reading “Sega to Saga: Ford’s Kompromised Ka”
Yesterday we showed the Lincoln Continental interior. Now we have this. Some of you may know what this is, shown at the Detroit motor show this year. If you do know, wait a while for others to guess. What is it?
My point is that this interior does not look remotely like its a concept and it looks quite fabulous. They are getting the hang of what do with those touch screens. Rather than have a slab stuck in a conventional cliffscape of buttons everything is enclosed on a smooth surface. It looks as if it works. Whether it does is another matter. My inner ergonomist might end up loathing this car. For the moment I can say it has a great visual coherence to it.
Recently I promised to write more about my visit to the Sommer’s Automobile Museum in Nærum, outside Copenhagen. Today I’ll introduce the museum and the first car that drew my fascinated gaze.
You can read more about the museum’s history here. My brief overview is that the collection dates back to the 50s but was gathered together under one roof in 1980. Since then it has moved to a dedicated building near Ole Sommer’s former dealership. The Sommer collection is made up of a mix of Swedish, Italian and British cars, reflecting Sommer’s commercial activities as well as personal interests. The Italian section includes Lancias, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos. Continue reading “Sommer’s Automobile Museum Part 1”
In December 2014 we ran an item about the changing styles of luxury car interiors.
A year or so later we find someone answering our calls.
In an article about how Lincoln do not want to copy the Germans, there is also discussion of the Lincoln Continental’s blue interior option. Here is a chance then to see if blue interiors are something that appeal to anyone other than automotive design commentators. My impression is that this is a welcome bit of bravery on the part of Lincoln. The all-blue colourway creates a very pleasant atmosphere that manages to Continue reading “Be Careful What You Wish For II”
As promised, here is a small fillet of Motor (July 1972) who took the time and trouble almost 44 years ago to prepare a review of the Toyota Crown estate.
Images of this car are rather hard to come by and few of the cars remain. If you are aesthetically sensitive be careful searching for photos because for some reason a worrying number of them feature inappropriate wheels and a lowered ride-height.
Happy 20th anniversary, Rover 200. Or is it 21st anniversary?
Around about this time 20 years ago Rover enjoyed the beginnings of renaissance. We all know where that ended. It ended in a story that classic car journalists like because they can rake over and ask “what if” as they swirl madeira in their glasses.
This image is from the front cover of Autocar, January 17, 1996. It’s one of the first reviews, perhaps. Either way. Water. Bridge. Under. A lot of. The article pitted the Rover 214 against the new Fiat Bravo. I’d like to say which one won but in the end Continue reading “20 Years of the Rover 200”
At the Detroit Auto show Buick showed off the rather handsome Avista concept car which is based on Chevrolet’s Camaro.
And at Geneva ’16, Opel is planning to show off a GT inspired by the GT of the 1960s, a car many admired for its pretty styling.
I’ve lumped Buick and Opel together because these days they are interchangeable (for better and for worse). When the Avista was revealed I immediately saw that the Tristar badge could be replaced by an Opel propeller flash if something like the Avista was sold in Europe. This would be a good thing because the Avista would be a Buick first and an Opel second. For too long the traffic has been from Rüsselsheim to Detroit and at this stage Buick is a nameplate lacking its own identity, nice and all as some of those Buickised Opels are. Continue reading “Whither Buick and Opel?”
Evidently the C-pillar invites useless decoration. Here are four examples of the meaningless groove.
The first one is the 2005 Mercedes ML-class which was the first one I noticed. The aim is evidently to lead the eye from one place to another, and to draw one’s attention to the felicitous alignment of shapes. We have discussed the 2004 Ssang Yong Rodius before: the aim is hard to fathom as it gets in the way of understanding that the rear graphics are supposed to recall the essence of a luxury yacht. Continue reading “Horror Vacui: More C-pillar Madness”
The latest Superb is a very nice thing, but I’m concerned that it lacks the essence of Skoda.
The other morning I had the pleasure of parking up at Milton Keynes Central Station car park early, and was struck by the profile and form of the two cars between which I had inserted my C6 (I still can’t drive a manual, which is no significant hardship really, but now I’m threatened once again with immobility as the Citroen’s power steering is definitely on the blink – there always seems to be something …) It was still quite dark, with just the dull glimmer of a January dawn to take the edge off the night sky, together with the drizzling amber tones of artificial lighting, and so it took me a moment to Continue reading “The Superb Skoda – a Mixed Blessing”
As the brakes come off a troubled mainstream European car market, Ford and General Motors jealously guard market share, but at what cost?
The post crunch era has been tough for America’s European automotive outposts. Of the pair, Ford appears in better shape, having already taken painful steps to arrest serious overcapacity in their European operations by shutting loss-making plants. The closure of the Genk plant only partially explains why the US Fusion took so long to become the European Mondeo. Last year, we suggested Continue reading “Can the Mondeo Stage a Comeback?”
Though a fool for Romance, I am rather impervious to Glamour. I certainly don’t suggest that I’m spiritually above the vulgar charms of diamonds and mink, and this isn’t a case of me eschewing something that I really want but can’t afford. It’s just that I could never take myself seriously in that world. Today’s high-end supercars leave me cold, since their ultimate abilities would be beyond my skills, and climbing into them with dignity is so difficult. And, although I might quite find the idea of the Rolls Royce Starlight Headliner, in a constellation of my own choice, quite intriguing on technical grounds, for me the simple moulded rippling wave inside the roof of my Nissan Cube does the job better. Continue reading “Theme : Glamour – More Flash For Your Cash”
The Gamma’s engine became its Achilles heel, but what choice did Lancia have? In this part we look at some of the options available to them.
The central pivot of the Gamma’s failure is encapsulated in one area of its specification that should have been inviolate. Because the Gamma’s engine was a pure-bred power unit based on a design produced under the stewardship of the late Dr. Antonio Fessia. But why this configuration at all? As we know, Sergio Camuffo originally schemed Tipo 830 to replace the mid-range Flavia, making this engine a logical choice, if not one entirely in keeping with Fiat’s rationalisation plans. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Six”
This is almost the most exclusive ashtray yet featured. It’s the very small and rather agricultural ashtray of the Aston Martin DB Mk 3 (1958).
This ashtray is centrally located which is good. The height above the gear-lever and relative to the driver’s hip is not so good. It’s not a very deep ashtray. If you think of Fitts´s Law you see that you have a small target and the car is moving too and therefore one’s hand and the target will be jostling. I imagine these cars were littered with debris from failed attempts to dispose of ash. Any decent half-corona is going to make a real mess of this. Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1958 Aston Martin DB Mk3”
In the not too distant past DTW covered the matter of the slow end of the internal-combustion engine era. The matter comes up again… It’s not so bad really. In fact, it’s great.
This time the prompt for this article is a proposal by the German Green party to essentially do away with petrol and diesel engines by 2036. Their proposal is reported by Der Speigel. The alternative is to use electric cars and more buses and trains. In my earlier article I mentioned that certain north European and North American states were planning to be rid of ICE vehicles within forty years. I suggested that Continue reading “More Harbingers”
After a bit of a hiatus a Photo for Sunday returns with an old favourite of Driven To Write, the Rover V8 engine in its original UK application, the Rover 3.5 Litre.
This one was not seen in my local neighbourhood, but in the midlands of Ireland. Normally I do as little editing as possible with these images. As there was a person sitting in this car I promised to anonymise the photos. Hence the blockular incongruities.
The Rover isn’t relatively big compared to most modern cars. It’s probably smaller than a VW Polo. You can measure it and yet still not believe your eyes. It still looks enormous and incredibly imposing without having the massive, stately-home inertia of a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow which manages to Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: 1967-1973 Rover P5B”
Driven to Write attempts to foster an addition to the motorist’s lexicon.
Someone reading this somewhere might have been given a Christmas present of a book that gives names to things that don’t have names. Like the dust that collects inside PCs which is, maybe, microfluff. I don’t know if such a book exists, but books such as that, given as gifts, often end up in toilets. There is probably even a name for those sorts of books; maybe lavastories. Or maybe not, because they aren’t fiction. At least, I don’t think so although, in truth, I find myself unable to read them. I long ago shook off the worst of my childhood OCD, but I do find the idea of handling paper that has been handled by other people who are crapping as unacceptable. Continue reading “In Need Of A Name”
In another part of my working life I had reason to revisit the Lancia Kappa coupe and discuss its aesthetic failings. I may be the first person ever to get the car into a peer-reviewed article, which is something to be proud of.
Using a stock image and my rough and non-evolving Paint skills, I thought I’d see what the Kappa coupe would have looked liked if it had conformed to the norms of vehicle proportions. In order to generate some interest I have not labelled which is the original. Continue reading “The Aesthetics of Car Design”
The last example of an automotive mudge that we looked at was the Ssang Yong Rodius of 2004. In comparison with the 2001 Pontiac Aztek, it’s almost good.
As part of some other research I did a visual analysis of the Aztek. The quintet shows the car as it is, the vertically stacked confusion, the two conflicting themes and a detail look at the shutline horror at the front. An interview I found with Bob Lutz revealed that prior to the Aztek GM had decided to ensure 40% of their cars were innovative. Without needing a degree in philosophy you can see how this kind of planned spontaneity is self-contradicting. Continue reading “Rubbernecking the Pontiac Aztek”
As a car stylist, you’re only as good as your last design. Oh dear…
Once upon a time, there was a dashing Dane who, it appeared, could do no wrong when it came to creating sleek, elegant, timeless shapes for sophisticated sports cars. A mere decade later, little of this reputation remains intact – which also taints his past body of work.
Recently we had a bit of a discussion about the DS brand. I suggested the DS5 could do with being lower and having a different front fascia.
Squint and consider the roughly-made changes wrought on the image [below]. It’s squashed by perhaps 7% and I deleted the busy stuff under the lamps. The foglamp moved rearwards. Out of curiosity I fixed the C-pillar. It’s crude work but gives at least a feel for what else this car might have been.
But it’s actually a veneer of stone made to look like a cafeteria counter-top.
Fatuously, the sales pitch makes a point of noting the stone is 200 million years old. Most stone is very old. 200 million years is nothing. You would have to be very ignorant of the age of the earth to feel 200 million years is a special number. I think the reasoning for stressing the age of the stone is derived from the world of vintage wines. Older vintages are indeed rarer. A 1970 is probably rarer than a 1980. A 1930 would be priceless and scarce. Continue reading “Bentley Recreate The Magic Of Formica”
A lot can happen in two years, and since we’re examining the fortunes of PSA’s Distinctive Series, it might be useful to revisit this piece from Driven to Write’s early days to see what we thought then.
Is Citroën’s ‘Distinctive Series’ the final frontier for the legendary French automaker? [First published 16 January 2014].
Lately, France’s PSA group became the automotive Blanche DuBois – lurching with mounting desperation from one apparent suitor to another following the collapse of their core market. Yet amidst the gloom, a hitherto unimaginable success story seems to have unfolded, involving the marque most analysts had written off as beyond saving. Could Citroën, PSA’s trouble child since 1976, belatedly, and against all odds, find itself at the forefront of a marketing coup?
Berstein Research’s Max Warburton recently made some stark observations on brand DS’ prospects which make sober reading for PSA chief, Carlos Tavares. But is he right?
“Ill-defined, low consumer recognition and highly unlikely to generate shareholder returns”. Not my words, but those of the European industry’s current economic sage. But is Max Warburton being fair? Lets look at the evidence. Take DS’ brand identity. Is it a Citroën, a non-Citroën or an anti-Citroën? Nobody seems to be sure. DS has no visibility in the marketplace – few outside the industry or its followers knows what it is, or what it’s for. The cars themselves offer little to distinguish themselves from cheaper Citroën derivatives, merely fussier styling and a thin veneer of luxury. Neither the DS4 or 5 can be accurately positioned within their segments, being neither fish nor fowl; the DS4 in particular a symphony in pointlessness. Continue reading “Diamond Dogs – The Distinctive Series Dissected – Part two”
Part one: With the jury on PSA’s luxury line coming to some less than palatable conclusions, is Carlos Tavares in the mood to listen as the DS project sputters and pops.
When PSA launched the DS line in 2009, many observers viewed it as the final throw of the dice for Citroën. Suffocated by a value strategy that saw ever-decreasing returns, the ailing brand icon appeared on its last legs. Critics and Citroënistes alike condemned PSA’s plan as madness, yet early sales both in Europe and latterly China saw many of us eating sizeable chunks of humble tarte. Indeed so bullish was PSA Chairman, Carlos Tavares last year that DS was divorced from Citroën as a stand-alone marque. Continue reading “Diamond Dogs – The Distinctive Series Dissected”
An old-fashioned Glamour Girl, or an unlikely precursor of Girl Power. We look at Norah Docker’s Golden Years.
In the period after the Second World War, and the long climb out of austerity, the Dockers were the visible end of the malaise of much of UK industry, particularly the motor industry. Most car companies had been started by hard working individuals, often from humble backgrounds, and their energy and ambition had allowed them to prosper, But, by the middle of the Century, many had become personal fiefdoms, run by bosses who were, at best, paternalistic philanthropists such as William Morris (Lord Nuffield) and, at worst, greedy and self-important incompetents. Continue reading “Theme : Glamour – Grit in the Mascara”
Normally DTW finds itself taking an ironic look at what passes for engineering and styling excellence: Lybras, saggy Renaults and small ad detritus. Today we look from our place in the sewer up at the stars.
And in so doing we look at a Lancia. Quite apart from the exquisite quality of the car, the engineering principles are pure pleasure to consider. The rear-wheel drive Appia has a monococque body, a one litre V4 engine and sliding pillar front suspension. All of this is there to help the driver to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1958 Lancia Appia, Series 3”
After a Disappointing end to 2015, we start the first month of the New Year with an upbeat Theme. But what exactly is Glamour? Well, it is certainly not to be confused with November’s theme subject, Romance.
Both may be ethereal but, unlike Romance, Glamour is strictly a fleeting thing. Even the Glamorous only experience it for short periods. It is the accoutrements that give the appearance of Glamour. Individually, naked, we are not Glamorous, which is ironic bearing in mind the traditional euphemistic use of the word to describe a niche of the British publishing industry. This reminds us that there is always something not quite respectable lurking beneath the veneer of Glamour. Continue reading “Theme : Glamour – Introduction”