Quite some time has elapsed since I mentioned I’d write a little about the Bristol Bullet.
This reminds me of the legendary Archie Vicar taking several months to decide what he thought about the Peugeot 505. You can read the general outline here: big engine, light car, Italian retromod styling, carbonfibre body and a big price tag (£250,000). My first reaction is to welcome the existence of the car even if it’s not something I’d want to buy were I to have more of the world’s money than I do. Continue reading “Bristol Bullet (Part II)”
I’ve always been aware of Bristol Cars, but it was only in this century that I started looking at them more closely.
Until then, they were an oddity, but one that, for some reason, seemed to engender goodwill rather than antagonism in me. Bearing in mind its scant production over the past decades, there is a surprising amount of goodwill felt towards Bristol in the world of the motoring enthusiast, though often not accompanied by much actual knowledge. Continue reading “Bristol Bullet (Part I) – Life After Filton?”
Sufficient time has elapsed now for Citroen to admit to making the CX.
Make that 25 years in the dog house before they could bear to put the name, or something like it, on their latest concept car, the Cxperience. Thancx, Citroen. Extrapolating from this we may have the Xmination concept car in 2026. The car is showcasing the drivetrain and not the appearance. We’ll see what others have to say about the oily/electrical bits first. Continue reading “2016 Citroen Cxperience Concept”
The 1975 AMC Pacer is one of those famously unsuccessful cars to list with the Pontiac Aztek, Chevrolet Corvair, DeLorean DMC-12 and perhaps the Tucker Torpedo. As a resident of that list, it’s also routinely jeered at due to its appearance. I’d like to take a different tack with this and reflect on what is right with the car and also to consider the possibility of taking enjoyment in other people’s enjoyment of a car. Continue reading “Vicarious Pleasures: 1976 AMC Pacer”
Cadillac’s latter-day Art and Science design theme saw many fine concepts, but this perhaps was its finest.
For a company that has experienced as many false dawns as Alfa Romeo and as many brilliant unrealised concepts as Renault, the fact that latter-day success continues to elude Cadillac remains one of automotive’s more absorbing melodramas. Recently, exterior design director, Bob Boniface told an Automotive News reporter; “There’s still this misperception in the public’s eye that Cadillacs are these big, heavy cars that your grandparents used to drive. We haven’t built those cars in generations. But you almost have to overachieve in the messaging.” One can see his rationale. Continue reading “Sixteen Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six”
Just two Renault 30s remain in Denmark. Here is the driver’s ashtray of one of them, another DTW world exclusive.
I may not have seen an R30 for decades. Like all Renaults these cars aren’t keepers so almost nobody has preserved them. The owner was embarrassed by the paint. This opportunity afforded me a close look at the finish, fit and materials. Having recently seen the 1975 Peugeot 604 I can see that the Renault doesn’t do things worse but differently. The ashtray is smaller than I expected; the R25 (how did the series number fall back?) had one maybe twice as large though. The position is okay; it’s a tray-type with a smooth action. If you want to see it open you need to… Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1976 Renault 30 TS V6”
In the Triumph naming system, the TR numbers indicated a new body. Not the TR8.
The ’65-67 TR4a had a four-cylinder 2.1 litre unit. The ’67-68 TR5 had a straight six 2.5 litre unit as did the TR6 which ran to 1976. Then Triumph reverted to a 2.0 litre four with the TR7. Oddly then the TR8 name served to indicate a new engine, the Rover V8 and not a new body. But it’s the disappointing ashtray that we’re here to Continue reading “Ashtrays: Triumph TR8”
Driven To Write comes face to face with the car that (arguably) sank FIAT.
Three or four themes entwine here. We’ve had a Fiat Tempra on sale and here is its semi-successor. We’ve been doing colour and this car is white. This car lacks chamfers on the lamps. And finally, we’ve discussed in a tangential way the demise of the three door car. This is a three door Fiat Stilo. The first one of these I saw in the metal lurked in a corner of Cambridge in 2001. Isn’t odd that I still remember that with such burning intensity? Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 2001-2007 Fiat Stilo”
It’s understandable that haircuts and trouser bottoms and patterns date, and what seemed really smart to you once, now sits embarrassingly at the back of a cupboard because you’re too ashamed even to take it to the charity shop. But it’s odder that something as basic as a colour can date. There aren’t that many colours, or there are infinite colours depending on how you look at it, but either way how can something that seemed so agreeable to you once, suddenly (and it often is sudden) become so jarringly dated?
One explanation is association – maybe you fell in love with the purple colour of Eric Clapton’s loon pants when he was in Cream (no, I didn’t since you ask) so painted your bedroom walls that colour. Your parents have kept it like that ever since you left home 40 odd years ago and they wonder why you Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Beige New World”
Detroit’s SL fighter wasn’t a winner, but was that the point of the exercise?
The Cadillac Allanté was not a brilliant commercial success. In fact its best year was its last, with just over 4,500 cars sold. It’s unlikely the Allanté was a profitable car, even at the (really quite optimistic) prices Cadillac were charging. Its convoluted production process most likely saw to that, even if the warranty claims already hadn’t. Nevertheless, the Cadillac two-seater was perhaps a more significant car than appearances might first suggest. Continue reading “Mid-Atlantic Caddy – 1986 Cadillac Allanté”
There are no prizes for identifying it but we do welcome some interesting insights. I suspect the paint colour is enough to trigger recollections. That paint colours are so undistinguished now means such gut-responses will be harder to make when we see the mystery cars of 2016 in 2030. Hmmm; metallic grey. It must be a VW, or Audi or Ford or Renault or Opel or Kia or maybe a Benz… they did that colour in the period 1995 onward? By the way the mystery car is the one in the centre of the photo and not the Laguna parked to the left of it. Those paved front yards are dismal.
The DTW difference is that we don’t just repost the news but provide incisive analyses that compound mere data into something altogether more meaningful.
This article represents an instance of our remarkable service. Autocar and Automotive News both reported on the upcoming Kia Rio by kindly showing some renderings of the planned car. Autocar also reported on the Polo showing it driving around in disguise (“camo”). Regarding the Rio, AN felt it important to tell us that the car will look sportier and that it will have a longer bonnet. In comparison to the quite fine outgoing vehicle, Kia said the new design would have a “longer wheelbase, and upright C-pillar [to] give the car a more confident and balanced appearance”. So the current car is not that confident and not balanced enough apparently. Owners must be happy to be told that. About the VW Polo, Autocar reports it’ll be a longer and lighter car. For a change, no mention is made of increased sportiness. So far so good, that’s our data: now the synthesis part. Continue reading “Three to Five”
Last week I mentioned a bit of news from Cadillac and promised I would return to that when the car had been revealed. That happened. Here is my response.
As you might recall the teaser photo drew our attention to the spangly OLED technology which is going to grace Cadillacs in future. I expected the follow-up news to deal with a new exterior form-language for Cadillac. Much of the commentary dealt with that, with less on the interior. Previous Cadillac show cars at Pebble Beach included the well-received Ciel of 2011 and the Elmiraj coupe from 2013 and people expected something more production-ready. They discussed that too. Continue reading “2016 Cadillac Escala Concept Car Interior”
Jaguar used to be renowned for their warm and inviting cabins. No longer.
Jaguar’s current stream of new models is testament to the enormous sums being spent on reinvigorating the brand – unfortunately, the new car’s interiors make every effort to appear as though they were lowest on the list of priorities. A new family of combustion engines doesn’t come cheap. Neither does an all-new aluminium platform. But is that enough to explain quite why the cabins of Jaguar’s new-from-scratch XE, XF and F-pace models are so blatantly disappointing? Continue reading “Entering the Plastic Age”
Expression distinguishes designed objects from engineered ones.
Expression relates to meaning: it draws attention to an aspect which is more than geometry or function. In this little photo essay I’d like to show how this idea emerges from looking at chamfers on tail-lamps Continue reading “How Articulate”
Starting on a pedantic note, I use the term ‘two-tone’, knowing full well that, like the term ‘colour coding’, its use in regard to car painting is usually incorrect. A tone is technically a greyer, less colourful, version of a single colour. Frequently, cars described as ‘two-tone’ are, more correctly, ‘two-hue’. Nevertheless, let’s stick to the generally accepted vocabulary.
With news that Ford’s upmarket Vignale line is falling below expectations, are the wheels already coming off the Blue Oval’s last chance saloon?
The key to viability in the European car market is finding ways to encourage customers to pay more. Easier said than done. According to a report last week in Automotive News, a JATO Dynamics analysis states the average UK customer pays £25, 400 for a mainstream brand D-segment car. By contrast, the average spend on a premium branded car of similar size was 36% higher. Continue reading “Up-selling Henry”
I’d like to present a car only Myles Gorfe, our contributing classics assistant sub-editor-at-large, would like.
The sills are badly perforated. Goodness knows what’s under the car. This rot’s not shown in my photos, taken in a pretty part of southern Denmark (not the area right around the car). The bumpers are faded. Note the driver’s door toproll is safely secured with two screws that most likely weren’t there when the car rolled of the line at Ford’s Koeln plant in 1983. The rug comes with the car, justifying the 9100 kr asking (I think the rug costs 100kr). The 2.3 litre V6 would otherwise be a nice version (114 ps) but not this example. The colour is sad. I looked for a 2.3 in 2004 and failed to Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1983 Ford Granada 2.3 L”
Japanese cars from the eighties and even before have more or less disappeared from our streets.
Nobody seems to care for giving them collectors’ item status, except for some exotic sports cars maybe. All the bigger was my excitement when I discovered two Japanese everyday cars on dealers’ lots recently. The first example is a 1979 Datsun Sunny estate in a very nice pale metallic green, typical for this time. Continue reading “For Sale in Switzerland – Japanese Rarities”
If you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, at least get a decent set of wheels.
[We round out Driven to Write’s Kanniversary with this piece first published in November 2014]
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in his forties has a higher than average propensity to some form of mid-life introspection. As we know, the clichéd route to self-actualisation ranges from an inadvisable tattoo, to an inappropriate affair with a younger member of whichever gender he’s attracted to. Some choose to experiment with various derivations of the above. The more conventional opt for a sportscar or convertible. After all, just because you’re in the throes of a life event doesn’t mean you have to be original about it. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Midlife Krisis KA”
I went hunting for the ones where the door panel and A-pillar share a surface. It means a shutline runs down the “visual” A-pillar which is itself continuous with the cant rail. It didn’t stop there… I found these three interesting ways to divide the bodyside. Above: note the door’s top edge cuts into the visual A-pillar. The actual A-pillar is partially exposed and part covered. Neatly, there is no need for a pressing to Continue reading “Design and Assembly”
Whatever happened to Steve Mattin? After a spell at Mercedes and then producing some unhappy-looking Volvo’s he went to work for Autovaz in Russia.
Lada showed this car two years ago and launched it last year. Despite a downturn in the Russian economy, the car is selling well. The wheel arch treatment is there to disguise the height of the bodyside. The car is 4.4 metres long, has a 1.6 litre petrol 4 (and that’s it) and is based on Renault-Nissan bits (that firm now controls Autovaz). Renault are making a name for themselves as the new Fiat: providers of cheap and cheery transport in developing countries. Continue reading “And News From 2015”
By the time this is published you may very well know what the concept design in question looks like. I think it’s an interior concept but may involve a new exterior form language. I didn’t want to nudge any of our other articles to one side for a teaser so the first available place to discuss it is here, after your breakfast. Continue reading “Is Art and Science on the Way Out?”
Mentioned previously in dispatches, a particularly nice, if fading example of my favourite variant of VAG’s fecund PQ34 platform.
I’ve found some pictures taken last year, but it seems to have disappeared from my neighbourhood. The DVLA Vehicle Check information suggests it is set fair for its sixteenth year. Pale beige leather complements the gold exterior. It was registered in Edinburgh, traditionally a place where wealth showed a discreet face. This fits nicely with a well-optioned car from a less than top-tier manufacturer. Continue reading “A photo for Thursday: SEAT Toledo VR5”
In Part 1, we charted the genesis of the New Routemaster. Now, after intense anxiety counselling, DTW’s intrepid correspondent braves the world of public transport in order to see what it’s actually like.
My own view of the New Routemaster’s aesthetics is that they deserve full credit for avoiding any direct references to the original. The lines of the windows are not all mere graphics, they follow the stairs as they drop from the top deck, which would be more pleasing, rather like a piece of old-school modernist architecture, if they didn’t they sit at odds with the curved roof and the pinching as the line drops from the rear right hand corner is clumsy. Rival manufacturer Alexander Dennis was certainly impressed since their recent Enviro 400H copies the glazed staircase. At the front, the asymmetry of the original is hinted at by the diagonal windscreen line dropping right down to the bottom of the door. Little items such as the rear view mirrors seem a crude afterthought, but I like the fact that the exterior avoids some of the fussy detailing favoured by many in the bus and coach industry in the false belief that they make their vehicles look less ‘municipal’.Continue reading “The New Routemaster Bus – Part 2 : ‘Old On Tight, Guv’nor!”
Did Ford originally have bigger plans for Ka? Evidence suggests they might.
Following ur-Ka’s launch in 1996, there was speculation that Ford had plans to expand Ka as a stand-alone sub-marque, perhaps along similar lines to General Motors in the US when they created the Saturn brand in 1990. Certainly, the manner in which Ka was introduced to the public suggested this was a Ford for people who wouldn’t normally buy Fords. Continue reading “Supersize KA”
John Topley penned this rumination on the Ford Ka when it went out of production. I thought you might like to take a look.
About the only point where I am not in agreement with John is what he refers to as the Ka’s discordant lines. What makes the shape work for me is that absolutely everything adds up to a strong unity. Amazingly, the alternative design was as wrong as the actual one is right. Continue reading “More Ka Thoughts”
To mark the 20th anniversary of Ur-Ka’s debut, we don’t write about it.
We’ve spilled a good deal of ink over the Ka on Driven to Write over the past couple of years – too much, some might say. But with the car’s 20th anniversary now looming, one has to be seen to be doing something. So rather than retread old ground, the opinions of the foremost UK auto journalists of the time will have to suffice. Failing that of course, there’s always the narcotic Laurie Anderson soundtracked launch commercial – which is notable for showing no footage of the Ka at all. Continue reading “Getting (back) Into the KA”
This is about colour. Toyota also offered the Yaris in a metallic mint green. Later years seldom saw such personal colours.
The Yaris is a car that I feel has been around for longer than it has. Why is that? The first one had a zany Europroduct appearance which has gone direct from fresh to “period” with no intervening awkward phase. The dusky pink looks pinkier when you Continue reading “Micropost: 1999-2005 Toyota Yaris”
Before I get to my discoveries, let’s take a quick look at the background to the 604’s development. [A longer discussion can be found here]. The French know the period from 1945 to 1975 as “les trentes glorieuses” or “the glorious thirty”. The rising economic tide seemed to lift all boats: the average French worker’s salary rose 170% during that time. Customers could afford more. At precisely the end of this period, the beginning of a protracted malaise, Peugeot launched their interpretation of the large, luxury car: the V6-powered, rear-drive 604. Many know the car as “the French Mercedes”, being as it is a clear response to Benz’s W-114 of 1968. Peugeot wanted to offer increasingly affluent customers a domestic product other than the beautiful but unorthodox Citroen DS which, in 1975, had reached two decades in production. Things didn’t work out for Peugeot and today most know the 604 only for being a bit of a glorious failure, despite the car receiving glowing reviews for its ability to Continue reading “1975 Peugeot 604 Road Test”
It’s been ages since I crossed one of these: Pininfarina’s version of the Lancia Thema.
Pininfarina assembled the SW in the Borgo San Paolo factory (which is not Fiat’s Mirafiori plant, an important difference). Unique among the T4 cars, it came as an estate though it doesn’t look all that unlike how the Fiat Croma might have done had it been offered in the same format. Continue reading “A Photoseries for Sunday: 1986-1994 Lancia Thema SW”
In Japan it’s the colour of death. In the west it suggests purity and simplicity. In a building it invokes introversion and despair. White. What’s it like on a car?
White is the new black. In recent years white has changed its social status in cars and gone from being a poverty-spec colour or the choice of Meditterraneans to being, well, just another colour actually.
Recent talk of 5 cylinders causes our Editor to conflate two of his pieces from DTW’s very early days
Many thanks to Eoin for his kind mention below of my recent little volume on Sir Basil Milford-Vestibule. I’ve been putting away the research material of late and was leafing through the long out-of-print autobiography of Len Brik, who will be remembered by many of us longer serving types as the charismatic Chief Engineer at Victory Cars. Following the merger of Victory Cars with Empire, he came into close rivalry with Sir Basil. Len was entirely self taught and there was mutual loathing between the two men. Sir Basil is usually reported as referring to Brik as ‘The Blacksmith’, though more exactly he used the phrase ‘The Blacksmith’s Dull Apprentice’, whilst Brik returned the compliment with ‘Sir Beryl’.Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue : Len & Now”
What do the Triumph Toledo, the Ford Taunus and the Rover 75 have in common?
For a very long time the general trend in automotive drivetrain layouts has been to move from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. It started in earnest in the 60’s with smaller cars from mainstream manufacturers though of course the pioneers were specialists, Citroen and Lancia. Thus a trickle of front-wheel drive superminis exploited the packaging efficiency of front-wheel drive and showed the way forward. Then the Golf/Kadett/Escort class yielded as follows: 1974 for the Golf, 1979 for the Kadett and 1980 for the Escort. Things took a little longer to Continue reading “Throwbacks: Examples and Non-Examples”
We’ve moaned about the dull uniformity of the world’s car parks. TTAC has some insight on the fact that opting for the boring colours is not helping you resell that car.
This is the link. “Silver and beige, the go-to colours of the 1990’s and 2000’s, have higher depreciation rates, but nothing is worse than gold. With an average depreciation of 33.9 percent, gold vehicles are dead last. Oddly, it’s the third-fastest-selling colour in the study, behind gray and black,” says the article. As it reports American data it does not say so much about black or mid-grey metallic. I imagine that a similar study would show that these colours aren’t helping protect value at this stage. There can’t be a competitive advantage to having a silver-grey or black Audi or Ford at this point. We must at this point be at peak monochrome. Continue reading “Theme : colour – The Lost Competitive Advantage”
Bristol launched the 603 in 1976. They were still making a derivation of it right up to their demise in 2009. We chart its languid progress.
Considering the fact that Bristol used a variation of the same chassis for half a century, it might seem a little pointless discussing the 603 as a stand-alone model. Especially so when one considers how much the end-of-days Blenheim 4S owed to its 1976 forebear. However, it did mark one of those rare evolutionary shifts in Bristol style – one which saw them through the next thirty-odd years, although in retrospect that may have been unwise. Continue reading “Silent Running – 1976 Bristol 603”
A more expansive Elise or a Norfolk Cayman? Lotus themselves seemed a little unclear.
Lotus hasn’t a great track record when it comes to recycling storied nameplates. Elite, Elan, Esprit – the originals have tended to be more memorable. This no-exceptions policy seems to have extended to 2006’s Europa S too, cynics deriding it as a re-bodied Opel Speedster. Similarities between the cars are undeniable of course, sharing as they did the same Elise-based extruded aluminium chassis and GM sourced 2.0 litre Ecotec turbocharged engine. Others have suggested it was a still-born Lotus consultancy project re-purposed and shoehorned in to broaden the model range. Continue reading “Hethel’s Outcast – 2006 Lotus Europa S”
There are two names connected with the New Routemaster London bus, Boris Johnson and Thomas Heatherwick.
The latter is a controversial designer, feted and sometimes scorned. He is maybe, in stature if not style, the UK’s Philippe Starck. Someone who is obviously clever and ambitious, and doesn’t want to be hemmed in by specialising in a particular field. The same, of course, can be said of Mr Johnson which, one might assume, is why they gelled. The original Routemaster, let’s call it RM, a vehicle never a bus stop away from having the ill-used adjective ‘iconic’ added to its name, was a product of a very different era. It was never designed to attract tourists to Brand London but its longevity on the roads meant that it became an ingrained part of the city, viewed with affection by all those who didn’t get stuck on the rear platform on a freezing Winter’s day. Continue reading “The New Routemaster Bus – Part 1 : Room For One More, Love!”
It is with profound pleasure that DTW presents the ashtrays of the legendary 1975 Peugeot 604. What we find is that the car lives up to its reputation of all-around excellence coupled with a few idiosyncracies. We’ll be presenting a full review of the car later on this month. In the meantime let’s not focus on the ride, handling or strange driving position. What if you want to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1975 Peugeot 604”
Death by a thousand Fiats: The tale is etched in automotive folklore, but how well do we really know the Lancia Gamma ?
Fiat’s stewardship of Lancia has been such a shameful series of reversals, it’s difficult now to imagine the road to perdition being paved with good intentions. Because if nothing else, the Gamma stands as an illustration of how mergers and acquisitions never quite work out.
Throughout its history as an independent manufacturer, Lancia produced exquisitely engineered automobiles that garnered respect and deep admiration, but consistently cost more than the company could afford. Continue reading “Signs and Portents”
The 2003 X350-series marked the point where Jaguar’s retro styling path met its maker. We examine its failure.
Had Sir William Lyons been working in the current era, it’s likely he’d have continued to plough his own stylistic furrow. Many have speculated on how Jaguar’s founder might have evolved the ‘Lyons line’, but in his wake, all we have is a subsequent body of work that amounts to studied guesswork on the part of the old master’s successors.
The quality of Jaguar’s stylistic output in recent decades can best be described as patchy; certainly few could reasonably argue that anything produced in recent decades matches that of Lyons at his apex.
Remember the Chrysler K-car? It helped save Chrysler until the next crisis. The Fiat Tipo played a similar role, at least in underpinning a lot of models. Here’s one of them.
Another Fiat, a 125 behind glass, made me stop at the location. When I stopped looking at that I wandered further. In the otherwise empty lot nearby this Tempra crouched. Looks good from afar, but it’s far from good. Although the body had galvanising, rust is biting the doors and the handles are seized. It’s not for sale anymore and evidently wasn’t worth taking to the dealer’s new location 10 km away. Continue reading “Something Rotten For Sunday”
I visited here in 2011, just after it had re-opened following a complete restoration. I posted a small gallery and the accompanying text 20 months ago. Here it is again, with added images. In addition to what’s displayed, plus temporary exhibits, they have an impressive collection in storage, so I imagine that, 5 years later, some exhibits will have changed. Anyway, if you’re near Turin, it’s well worth a visit.
It is a large and impressive museum, mixing the informative (exposed engines and bare chassis) with the glib (new Fiat 500s bursting through kitchen walls). But you need to get them in and presentation is important, especially if you are accompanied, as I was, by someone who does not find cars at all exciting. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue : Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile Torino”
The genepool of the Monovolume is littered with evolutionary cul-de-sacs. Today, we present two examples from a highly likely source.
It should surprise nobody to discover that Citroën were at the forefront of monospace research. Indeed, studies into such a vehicle began under the supervision of André Lefèbvre as far back as the early 1950’s. A series of mono-volume prototypes were built under the Prototype-C nomenclature, culminating in the 1956 C 10 seen above. Continue reading “Morphologie du Monospace”