DTW Summer Reissue: Throbby, Thrummy Quints

So who uses five cylinder engines and why? Do they have a future? DTW asks these questions today. Read on to accumulate wisdom on this subject.

1976 Audi 100: five-cylinders available
1976 Audi 100: five-cylinders available.

One might be tempted to think of five cylinder engines as being something of a novelty, if they are not a rarity. However, before Audi and Mercedes in the 1970s, Ford experimented with the concept in the 1930s and 1940s but never put anything into production. The heyday of the five has been from the end of the 70’s until a few years ago. Not a bad run. The window of opportunity for the five-cylinder now seems to be closing. What opened it?
Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Throbby, Thrummy Quints”

A Brougham Holden That’s Not a Holden Brougham

Some unlikely things turn up on the streets of my home territory, but I never expected to see a Holden WH Statesman 17,000km from Fishermans’ Bend.

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It’s not even the most Brougham of the series, the bodily and mechanically similar Caprice topped it for equipment and ornamentation.

The reader will have quickly worked out that it is related to the Omega B and Cadillac Catarrh, but with a widened body and track.  Unlike the German cousins, it was never blighted by the troublesome Merseyside-built 54 degree V6. A quick check of the DVLA Vehicle Enquiry website reveals that it has 300bhp from its gutsy 5667cc New Generation III V8. Continue reading “A Brougham Holden That’s Not a Holden Brougham”

A Photo for Sunday: 1968-1976 Audi 100

Audi found 800,000 customers for this car over its eight year production run. The first 500,000 customers paid up before 1971.

1968-1976 Audi 100
1968-1976 Audi 100

That means that for the next five years the Audi 100 trailed in the sales stakes. Audi attempted to keep it competitive by raising the power output of the engine and some modest restyling efforts. That it didn’t work is indicated by the 50,000 units sold per year between 71 and 76. The car had a lot of competition at that time which might go some way to explaining the later half of its sales career. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: 1968-1976 Audi 100”

Theme: Colour – Flat Blue Is the Colour

Some months ago I photographed a flat blue Nissan QX. Shortly after I deleted the series despite the rarity of the car. Why, Richard, why?

Ford Transit: it wasn't this blue but darker.
Citroen Relay: it wasn’t this blue but darker.

Despite the good lighting I could not get the forms to stand out. Tonal treatment failed as did all the other variables. That says something about that colour which makes you want to ask why Nissan offered such an anonymising shade for an already anonymous vehicle. Continue reading “Theme: Colour – Flat Blue Is the Colour”

Looking Back to the Future : 2

A lot of excitement fizzed in the air in 2002 regarding Ford. 

Image via mad4wheels
Image via mad4wheels

The Focus, Mondeo, Ka and Fiesta achieved good sales results and a lot of good will for Ford. The DCDQ ethos resulted in Ford gaining a new image. What were they going to do next? Around 2002 rumours circulated that there would be a new Capri, project S307: imagine, a Capri with the striking looks and exciting driving character of a Focus (that wasn’t the Cougar, the last “new Capri”, which Ford killed off in 2002 after four sad years?).
Continue reading “Looking Back to the Future : 2”

Making Up is Hard to Do

Britain’s decision to leave the EU has rung alarm bells throughout the industry, but PSA is lovebombing Blighty with this: the DS 3 Puretech 110 Givenchy Le Makeup.

Image: dsautomobiles
Image: dsautomobiles

Since Britain’s engaged and informed electorate voted for Brexit last month, a quiet but concerted campaign is being waged by our European cousins to lure us back. Most of this has been met with slavering rebuke, but like a patient and loving parent soothing a petulant child with too much sugar in its bloodstream, efforts at rapprochement continue. The latest being this. Continue reading “Making Up is Hard to Do”

Ashtrays: 1972 Fiat 130 Coupe

We can add this vehicle to the DTW collection of ashtray rarities.

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There are not so many of these cars hanging around and good one costs around €17,000 these days. The styling, by Paolo Martin at Pininfarina, is something of a legend. He also handled the interior, sprucing up the design based on the 130 saloon. And in turn Fiat carried these improvements back to the saloon (which already had a very fine interior). Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1972 Fiat 130 Coupe”

Taking Leave (of Our Senses?)

Now that the kaleidoscope has been shaken, what lies ahead for the UK automotive sector as it calculates the cost of Brexit.

Image: davidsonmorris
Turn right. Turn right. Turn right… Image: davidsonmorris

In the months leading up to the EU referendum the likely fallout of leaving the European Union was known and quantifiable. Every respected financial and business body urged remain, citing economic turmoil should the nuclear option be taken. So while major multinationals probably had every permutation of Brexit modelled and case-studied, according to figures from the BBC, less than 50% of UK businesses developed a contingency for an exit vote. Now, just over a month since Brexit day-zero, only one thing is certain – we face a wholly new idea of North. Continue reading “Taking Leave (of Our Senses?)”

DTW Summer Reissue: Matching Designer Luggage

When confronted by a question of taste, I always ask myself, what would Bryan Ferry do? 

1979 Cadiilac Seville Gucci edition
1979 Cadiilac Seville Gucci edition

[First published Oct 10, 2014]

My extensive research has thrown up a nice example of a sub-set of a subset, designer accessories for designer editions of mass produced cars. It’s Gucci fitted luggage for the 1979 Cadillac Seville. Would Bryan Ferry go for this or not? The Big Two and a Half in the US have been more prone to tie-ins and designer editions of their cars than we have here in the social-democratic paradise of Western Europe. Cartier have been associated with Lincoln; Bill Blass added his magical touch to the understated elegance of the 1979 Lincoln Continental Mk V; there was the 1984 Fila-edition Ford Thunderbird; AMC asked Oleg Cassini – yes, that Oleg Cassini – to trim the 1974 Matador, for example. Just recently I have become aware of the Gucci fitted luggage that came with the Gucci-edition Cadillac Seville, truly a part of this very fine tradition. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Matching Designer Luggage”

Ashtrays: 1972 Maserati Indy 4700

It’s nice to think that Giovanni Michelotti spent some of his creative time trying to think of a suitable ashtray for this car.

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He might have sat at his desk with samples from suppliers or he might have drawn some simple sketches and asked the artisans to run up a few prototypes. At some point Adolfo Orsi, the firm’s president, could have been invited to review the shortlist of possibilities. Perhaps he sat in the car and had a smoke Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1972 Maserati Indy 4700”

Caution, Live Cargo!

Last month, in Vlissingen in the Netherlands, DTW came across a pram museum. They’ve got wheels, so we’ll write about them.

Oudekinderwagens, Vlissingen
Oudekinderwagens, Vlissingen

When I was a student designer, there was a clear difference between the straight from A level bunch, like me, and the ‘mature students’, some of whom were maybe just 3 or 4 years older than me, but who had seen a bit of life. That ‘bit of life’ might have been bumming around the world, or it might have been all that grown-up stuff like parenting, and those people could interest themselves in a project like designing a pram or a baby buggy in a way that I never could. By that, I don’t mean that my ambitions were only to draw ludicrously impractical sports cars – I was quite interested in doing something a bit more worthwhile, especially since, with the Arab Israeli Conflict, the activities of the Baader-Meinhof Group and, as the final nail, Showaddawaddy being near the top of the charts, it was clear that society as we knew it was coming to an end. No, my problem was that I could never really appreciate the difficulty in piloting a clumsy wheeled device with a screaming passenger through a crowded supermarket, since, although I’d read both On The Road and Nausea, I lacked any actual experience of the real problems of life. Continue reading “Caution, Live Cargo!”

Ashtrays: 2008 Daihatsu Materia

This must be a DTW exclusive. Daihatsu offered a small-car with a tank-like demeanour.

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I thought I’d like being inside this car but I didn’t. The high window-line and the cliff of dashboard coupled with the hard seats lent the car an altogether unwelcoming feeling. A casual net search showed only grey interiors. It is spacious and according to Car was quite alright if taken as an urban runabout and not a device for spirited driving. Thanks, Car, for conceding that much. They said this: “This is one of the Materia’s ace cards. It really is roomy in there, with plenty of room for four adults to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2008 Daihatsu Materia”

Looking Back to the Future

By now we ought to be seeing the replacement for the Cadillac Cien but there was nothing to replace. 

2002 Cadillac Cien concept car: source
2002 Cadillac Cien concept car: source

The Cien broke cover in 2002 as a showcar penned by Simon Cox. It’s fourteen years later and Cadillac are still trying to find their feet. The Cien concept car might have been a help in getting some credibility to stick to Cadillac’s tarnished brand. Looking at the photos of the car’s exterior, there’s not much about the car that strikes ones as unfeasible. Perhaps it doesn’t conform to the strict details of pedestrian safety. The finish has the hallmarks of something one could manufacture. Lamps are normally a giveaway Continue reading “Looking Back to the Future”

Theme: Colour – Red Micropost

We’ve been talking a lot about red. Here’s a 2016 Mondeo in Hilti red. It’s a quite terrible photo …

2016 Ford Mondeo (or is it the 2007 car?)
2016 Ford Mondeo (or is it the 2007 car?)

….but if you had a chance to photograph a unicorn you’d take a shot, regardless if the sun was behind the unicorn and Lord Lucan was slightly in the way.

Objects In The Rear View Mirror

The first car I bought with my own money was a Mark One Ford Focus.

thumb_DSCN1107_1024
There are many Foci in the world, but this one was mine.

Having decided that a Focus was going to be the car for me, I spent months scouring local dealerships, newspaper classifieds and Autotrader for the right car. Eventually a dealer called me with a candidate. And there it was: a sky blue three door in 2.0 Zetec trim. Despite spending five years gracing the surface of this planet whilst being blasted with wind, rain, road salt and solar radiation, the Focus looked as if it had rolled out of the Saarlouis factory just last week. An inspection and test drive confirmed my impressions: it was a peach. Continue reading “Objects In The Rear View Mirror”

The State of the Newstand

Before the internet captured every conceivable niche related to cars, a trip to a German railway station offered a chance to find out about cars from far-flung regions. 

Lots of magazines in a German railway station.
Lots of magazines in a German railway station.

If you thirsted after wisdom about the US market, there usually could be found a magazine or two in the Presse shop. As you might have noticed I’ve been auf achse in Germany for most of the month. During that time I’ve travelled by rail from Flensburg to Hamburg and on to Goslar in the Harz and then to Zittau on the Polish-Czech-German border via Dresden; and then I travelled from Schwedt on the Oder river to Bad Bellingen via Berlin and then Continue reading “The State of the Newstand”

Some More Gestalt Theory: 2008 Chevrolet Cruze

The headlamps of this car never appealed to me. Gestalt theory explains why.

2008 Chevrolet Cruze: source
2008 Chevrolet Cruze: source

For a quick resume, Gestalt Theory is about how the mind is disposed to try to make sense of visual data. Your mind is inclined to fill in gaps to make whole outlines, and turn collections of individuals into groups and to pick exceptions from ordered arrays. The mind wants to sort out moving objects from a stable background. In short, it’s the equipment a mind would need to distinguish a moving thing in a complex background. Continue reading “Some More Gestalt Theory: 2008 Chevrolet Cruze”

1971 Lancia Flavia 2000 Pininfarina Coupe

The Lancia Flavia coupe appeared in 1961 and stayed on sale with a name change until 1975. This is the first time I have ever seen one. Ever.

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Lancia kept its models in production for a long time in the period before Fiat bought them. As I am not au fait with the intricacies of the Flavia’s history, I can only show these and ask some questions. The Flavia name retired in 1971 according to the commonly accepted history of the car. The name change to 2000 signified a face-lift and a new, bigger engine, going from 1.8 to 2.0 litres. According to Wikipedia the revised “2000” received the 2.0 engine in 1971. This body work is the Series 2 version. So, why does it say Continue reading “1971 Lancia Flavia 2000 Pininfarina Coupe”

Mind the Gap!

More shutcrimes from Sindelfingen…

photo 1
The early noughties’ S-class coupé in all but name

Far from being the worst offspring of the late Sacco/Peter Pfeiffer era at Mercedes-Benz, the CL-coupé (C215) still exhibits a very poignant reminder of what went wrong at Untertürkheim during this particular period of time. Its proportions are actually very pleasing indeed (unlike those of its immediate predecessor), yet the CL is utterly let down by its detailing. Continue reading “Mind the Gap!”

Theme : Colour – Big Red

Recently, a red Fiesta was added to the DTW fleet. Is red a Marmite colour?

2010 Alfa Romeo Pininfarina 2uettottanta
Was any other colour even considered? 2010 Alfa Romeo Pininfarina 2uettottanta

No actually that’s a very murky brown. I mean of course that red is one of those colours loved by some, usually a red car’s owner, and hated by others, usually their fellow road users. Red lives at the hot end of the spectrum and is seen as the colour that stimulates – the aggressive colour. As such, the red sports car is, to many, a red rag to the bull.

At one time all Formula 1 cars were painted in the colours of the country of the entrant. Red had become the racing colour of Italy following the Peking to Paris race of 1907 but, with the disappearance of Lancia, Maserati, ATS, Serenissima, Tecno and others from the grids, it has become seen as the colour of Ferrari who, despite the use of British Racing Green by Jaguar and the short-lived Lotus Racing was, until Mercedes returned to Formula 1, the only manufacturer that stuck doggedly with its national colours following the advent of sponsorship. The actual red used deviated from Rosso Corsa for quite a while however, both because of the need to overcome the shortcomings of older TV sets that muted reds, and from the need to compromise with the branding of their main sponsors. Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Big Red”

DTW Summer Reissue: 2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review

After discussing the dead centre of the car market, we take a visit there: the Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic. [First published May 11, 2014]

2012 Ford Focus rear 1This is the third generation Focus that I have tried. The Mk1 is a landmark and indeed a benchmark for many. It casts a long shadow over its successors. The Mk2 added refinement at the expense of driver enjoyment. Compared to the Mk1, the successor felt like being in a fat suit. So, what is the Mk 3 like now I have finally gotten behind the wheel? The main impressions are described below. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: 2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review”

Theme: Colour – She Wore Lemon

Mimosa yellow must be one of the most distinctive paint names after whatever the heck it is Ferrari calls its red.

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Over the last few weeks I went in search of yellow cars and, for the sake of completeness I’ve thrown the Tesla into the pile. None of these manage to be Mimosa yellow. That would have been very pleasing. From a safety point of view, a bright yellow car must be among the most visible against the widest range of backgrounds. Apart from that rather dull reason to prefer it, I find yellow a cheerful colour which to my eye, seems quite gender neutral whereas Continue reading “Theme: Colour – She Wore Lemon”

DTW Summer Reissue: Unforgetting the 1981 Talbot Tagora

If you’ve ever wondered about this famously forgotten car, this is the place to find out why it has become a footnote in automotive history. [First published July 16, 2014]

1980 Talbot Tagora a car show
Image: Alfaowner

The Tagora doesn’t have much of an afterlife. It’s been out of production since 1983 and if anyone remembers it, they aren’t saying much about it. But what was the view of the car at the time of launch? Did it look like it was going to be the flop it turned out to be? I bought a copy of Autocar from 1981 to find out how this car was viewed by contemporary writers. Other magazines followed in the post. This (below) is how I digested the information for Wikipedia. Alas, it was removed shortly after it was published on the grounds that it was “not balanced”.  I later revised the text with more “balance”and it seems to have survived. Here is what I wrote first: Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Unforgetting the 1981 Talbot Tagora”

Resurrecting the Defender

While the story of the Defender’s potential rise from the grave continues to garner column inches, does it mask a more compelling drama?

The ultimate durable car? Image: Topspeed
The ultimate durable car? Image: Topspeed

Something of a minor storm has been taking place amid sections of the media over reports that industrialist, Jim Ratcliffe has been in talks with Jaguar Land Rover over purchasing the rights and tooling for the recently axed Defender model. The story which first appeared in The Times newspaper claims the chemicals boss intends to re-start production of the 68-year old model, with some suggesting a Caterham-style reinvention and modernisation programme under an alternative nameplate.

This story was picked up with some seriousness by Autocar but has been refuted in robust terms by JLR – a spokesperson telling reporters; “There is no way this is happening, we’re not going to let anyone build our Defender.” Continue reading “Resurrecting the Defender”

Theme : Colour – Signature Colours

Most cars are some kind of grey today, a fact we have mourned often here at DTW… 

zz_01-05
Signature colours – white to black

But every now and then, a manufacturer decides to market a model in what I call a ‘signature colour’ – one that is closely linked to a car model. Now this definition is somewhat fuzzy, and subjective, too. But as a hint, think of a colour the car was presented in on press photos, a colour that was only available for a single model, or a model / trim variant that was only available in a single colour. Rather than an in-depth essay, I’d like to present a small colourful gallery with some comments. Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Signature Colours”

1967-1972 Fiat 125

From 1967 to 1972 Fiat sold the 125 and, according to Wikipedia, it combined saloon car space with sports car performance.

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This formula could also be found in the 1966 BMW 1602/2002 and 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia. What might distinguish the 125 from these might be that it offered these characteristics in a cheaper package than Alfa or BMW. It certainly had more doors than the 2002 and it had more space than the Alfa Romeo. Continue reading “1967-1972 Fiat 125”

Point, Counterpoint II

By coincidence there parked side by side an example of Bruno Sacco’s era and that of Gorden Wagener.

Can you name the model?
Can you name the model?

To be fair, Sacco had nothing like the rules to follow that today’s designers do. Wagener’s team have CAD and rapid prototyping to speed the iterations and so work through the options. If only the shut-line around the grille didn’t dog-leg at the lamp the newer might be acceptable. Continue reading “Point, Counterpoint II”

A Photo For Sunday: 1983 Volvo 240 GLE

A mid-career midliner from Sweden under the DTW microscope today.

image
1983 Volvo 240 GLE

We should know this off pat: launched in 1974 and retired in 1993; was based on and replaced the 140 series and outlived the supposed successor, the 700-series of 1982-1992; both are the work of Jan Wilsgaard and you would not know unless someone told you. He evidently subsumed his personality into the project and only Swedish values come through.  Let’s Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1983 Volvo 240 GLE”

Not Again?

We all know the “Alfa is back” narrative. Cadillac has a similar line in deja vu.

2016 Cadillac CT6: caranddriver.com
2016 Cadillac CT6: caranddriver.com

Automotive News ran a story which had such an eerie air of familiarity that I thought it was a summer reprint. As well as the Camaro and Corvette, the CT6 and XT5 will be made available in Europe, here and there. It’s yet another “Cadillac returns” story that doesn’t add up. Continue reading “Not Again?”

Micropost: 1994-2000 Lancia Kappa SW

Given Lancia made only 9028 examples of the Kappa SW, I see them often enough.

1994-2000 Lancia 1994 Kappa SW, Guben, Germany.
1994-2000 Lancia Kappa SW, Guben, Germany.

Pininfarina did the design and construction and I expect charged Lancia more for this than Lancia made selling them. That makes them good value now.

You’d want an SW if a Kappa saloon appeared too common, if a BMW 5 too mainstream, an XM too complex and a Scorpio too ugly and an Omega too banal.

1970 Simca 1000

The fate of extinct marques is that fewer and fewer people care to cherish the name and burnish the heritage. 

1970 Simcy 1100
1970 Simca 1000: timeless classic or forgotten for a reason?

It depends entirely on the interest in classics magazines, the numbers made, how far back in time since the marque died and the numbers of cars made whether the cars stay in the broader motoring mind. All of this is a preamble to the fact I know even less about Simca than you do and this one is the first I have seen in the metal since last year at the same place and event. Continue reading “1970 Simca 1000”

Polish Snapshots

The differences between Poland and Germany take many forms.

FSO Polonez, Gubin, Poland.
FSO Polonez, Gubin, Poland.

Fighting in 1945 meant Guben (Germany) and Gubin (Poland) both experienced near total devastation. They stand on the Niesse river that divides the two countries. Today Guben has a city centre and Gubin has some apartment blocks, a ruined church and a lot of trees. Essentially, the Poles didn’t rebuild. Among this lot I found a lovely FSO Polonez in what looks like late-model trim.  Continue reading “Polish Snapshots”

Theme: Colour Micropost

We haven’t quite got around to exploring this so much.

Opel Agila
Opel Agila Njoy edition

In mitigation, I’ll present the interesting colour combination of the Opel Agila “Njoy” special edition. Critics of my Opel bias can roll their eyes if they wish. However, in keeping an eye out for bright, distinctive colours while roving around Germany it’s been Opels (Corsas, Merivas, Astras) that have been most likely to have characterful paint jobs. Continue reading “Theme: Colour Micropost”

Requiem for a 5-Series

As BMW readies a new 5 GT for 2017, we pay tribute to their 2009 niche bender.

Image: Zombdrive
A rump that only it’s mother could love? Image: (c) Zombdrive

Back in 2009, BMW introduced the 5-Series GT – a car few have felt much affection for, the poor thing. It’s unclear why BMW felt they needed it. When it first appeared as the Progressive Activity Sedan concept in 2007, it seemed BMW were just toying with niches in a similar manner to their Swabian rivals in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim.

But PAS was no R-Class, being far more saloon-like in concept and appearance, even if the desirability of a 5-door BMW hatchback as large as a 7-Series seemed questionable even in those innocent pre-crash days. Continue reading “Requiem for a 5-Series”

Far From the Mainstream: Aspid to Borgward

We continue our stroll down the list of obscure brands that may tempt you from Opel, Ford and VW.

2012 Aspid: source
2012 Aspid GT-21 Invictus: source

I shall kick off with Aspid. Seven linger on the lists of Autoscout 24. Based in Spain, Aspid sell rather specialised sports cars. Wikipedia has two lines on the cars and those seven sellers of used Aspids can’t find the time or mean to upload photos of their cars. That I find very curious. Everyone knows what a Golf looks like so if you don’t include a photo it’s not such a big deal. Since Aspids are less common, a photo would be quite helpful to whet the appetite of a the buyer torn between a 2012 Focus 1.4 and a €35,000 car with 404 hp on offer. Without photos it’s hard to know what to make of cars listed as being from 1999 (before Aspid was founded) with 45 hp and costing curious sums like €4431. The next one costs €5000 and has 355 hp. TopSpeed ran an article about the GT-21 in 2012 and Car and Evo reviewed the SS in ’08 and ’09 respectively. The car GT-21 has a 4.4 litre  V8 and weighs half nothing meaning the claimed 0-60 last no longer than 2.9 seconds. It’s nice to know that cottage manufacturers exist outside of Modena and the British Midlands. Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Aspid to Borgward”

Fiat Panda, As Seen in 1989

The Fiat Panda as described by one Russell Bulgin.

1983-2003 Fiat Panda 4x4
1983-2003 Fiat Panda 4×4. I can’t be more precise about the date. Anyone?

Not so very, very long ago I presented an excellent gallery of Fiat Pandas as seen on location somewhere in sunny Italy – (thanks to Sean for helping out with the technicalities on that). Since then, I found the article Russell Bulgin wrote about the Panda in 1989. I had been thinking of this article in June.

For Autocar, Russell Bulgin wrote a series called the Bulgin Files (why the Bulgin Files?). The sub-header explained “Our angry young man is into his fourth week of driving bargain-basement superminis and now he auditions a Starlet and two Italian sisters, Fiat’s Uno and Panda.” Continue reading “Fiat Panda, As Seen in 1989”

Land Rover’s XJ40

Not satisfied with a year-long treatise on Jaguar’s mid-80s saloon, DTW’s kitty chronicler-at-large goes looking for connections further afield.

The P38A Range Rover. Image: autokult
The 1994-2001 P38A Range Rover. Image: autokult

In 1988 thoughts at Rover Group finally began to coalesce around a replacement for the original Range Rover. P38A was the result, a car mostly dismissed now as a half-hearted reworking of a true original. Sound familiar? Well, history isn’t just confined to repeating itself at Jaguar, because as you’ll see, similarities between P38A and Jaguar’s XJ40 run surprisingly deep. Allow us to count the ways. Continue reading “Land Rover’s XJ40”

The Removal of Doubt

Sometimes a quantum leap is called for, but be careful where you land.

Image: emercedesbenz
Image: emercedesbenz

“Evolution: /e-va-loo’ shan/ n the cumulative change in the genetic composition of an organism over succeeding generations, resulting in a species totally different from remote ancestors.”

There are a number of striking aspects to this photo, but most compelling for me is the iterative nature of each model from Ponton through Heckflosse, Strich Acht all the way to the 1976 W123. The break in the evolutionary chain therefore begins with the 1985 W124 which is stands out, not just for its essential rightness but for the fact that in this company it appears so dramatically at odds with Mercedes’ previously more cautious approach. Continue reading “The Removal of Doubt”

Gorfe’s Granadas: 1984 Ford Granada 2.3 L

The middle of the first half of the 1980’s is considered an interesting time by fans of big Fords. Here’s why.

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The 1984 2.3 L offered all the main features of Ford’s respected motorway mile-muncher in an economical package. The styling was at the cutting edge but didn’t frighten people like spaceball weirdness from Renault, Peugeot’s bizarro big saloons or Citroen’s disastrously complicated hydraulic malarky. At the same time, it had a dash that Volvo and Mercedes couldn’t even dream of copying. BMW: they didn’t even get a look in. The Granada undercut Vauxhall’s drab Carlton and offered a modern V6 instead of the General’s dated and rough straight-six. You won’t find an engineer who has a bad word to say about Ford’s Cologne engine and you won’t find an engineer who will go anywhere near a Carlton (if you can find one – they are all rust now).  Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: 1984 Ford Granada 2.3 L”

Little Black Number: 2000 Renault Twingo Initiale

Here we have a micro brougham, the luxuriously tiny Twingo, heir to the R5 Baccara.

2000 Renault Twingo Initiale
2000 Renault Twingo Initiale

Those are wood inserts on the dashboard. You can argue that such a treatment goes against the spirit of the Twingo in which case you can always buy a base model. Continue reading “Little Black Number: 2000 Renault Twingo Initiale”

Sir Basil Milford-Vestibule. An Interview

In a recently unearthed transcription, Simon A. Kearne matches wits with engineering legend, Sir Basil Milford-Vestible. 

Image: fab50s
Image: fab50s

It has been long assumed that Sir Basil Milford-Vestible never gave interviews, but a moth-eaten copy of The Journal of Automotive Progress – Spring 1959 number recently came to light in Simon’s attic. In a World exclusive, the mercurial engineering genius gossips about rivals, takes issue with aero and heaps vitriol on the double chevron.

Continue reading “Sir Basil Milford-Vestibule. An Interview”

They Don’t Make Them Like That Any More and They Probably Don’t Exist Either

If the headline had been a bit shorter this would almost count as a micropost.

1989 Ford Sierra GLS 4x4: Autocar
1989 Ford Sierra GLS 4×4: Autocar

Not only did Ford make a 4×4 Sierra in XR trim, they also sold it in a calmer and cheaper GLS format. This is a 2.9 litre V6 four-wheel drive family car. I didn’t find any for sale so those few Ford sold are now all rust or converted to XR fakes. Off the top of my head, the combination of six-cylinder power and four-wheel drive didn’t appear on many other contemporary saloons apart from the Scorpio and the ’86-’93 BMW 325iX. The Vectra had a 2.0 turbo.  That’s it then, for competitors, as far as I can see. Continue reading “They Don’t Make Them Like That Any More and They Probably Don’t Exist Either”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Twelve

Ultimately then, how does one encapsulate the Lancia Gamma?

Image: schlichtmeier
Image: schlichtmeier

When Fiat handed Sergio Camuffo Lancia’s flatlining cadaver and told him to administer emergency CPR, he did the best he could, but there was only so much that could be achieved. Because despite Fiat management allowing him sufficient autonomy during the immediate post-takeover period to produce cars that were (on the face of things at least) respectful of Lancia’s traditions, the Italian car giant’s locked-in prejudice against the upmarket led to a fatal ambivalence. This schizophrenic attitude to their new acquisition most likely informed the compromises that damned both the Beta family and later, the Gamma itself. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Twelve”

Misposted in Posterity’s Pigeonhole : Rover P6

We ask if it’s sometimes better to die young.

Rover 2000TC C

Recently it’s been pointed out that, whatever his past achievements, such as a surprising yet admirable commitment to gay rights, David Cameron, British Prime Minister at the time of writing, will be defined by history as the man primarily responsible for Britain leaving the European Union and, conceivably, of causing irreparable damage to the EU itself. Whether you deserve it or not, posterity can be a harsh judge. Continue reading “Misposted in Posterity’s Pigeonhole : Rover P6”

Knightsbridge, 2016

Today, golden sneakers have taken over from monk-strap brogues.

photo 2
Behold the splendid variety and exceptional exclusivity that is the domain of upper class motoring in 2016!

Back in the olden days, my younger self used to indulge in the stiff upper lip, olde worlde charms of Knightsbridge’s crusty kind of wealth. As a young, car obsessed German boy, the illustrious parts of London used to be some kind of automotive mecca: Bentleys and Royces galore, not to mention vintage exotica (at a time when old cars were considered just that in Germany). There was a certain nonchalance even to that aloof chap that parked his Ferrari 456 halfway across a zebra crossing, just because that happened to be right in front of the café where he intended to have his breakfast. Not to mention all those gentlemen in double-breasted pinstriped suits, who always seemed to embody some kind of aristocratic calm. Continue reading “Knightsbridge, 2016”

Far From the Mainstream: Aixam to Artega

Some of these little-known marques don’t justify an entire posting at DTW’s preciously-guarded webspace. 

2000 Aixam Luxe: source
2000 Aixam Luxe: source

So in this post we trot from Aixam who you may know to Artega, who you may not know. Autoscout have 934 separate items for Aixam, maker of small electric cars. The cheapest costs €500 and boasts 4 kW or 5 PS. These cars have a special place in rural France, so far as I have experienced it twenty-five years ago. Elderly people use them as a kind of proto-Dalek Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Aixam to Artega”