Theme : Sudamerica – Variants on a Theme

Driven to Write examines a missing link from Brazil.

The earlier years of South America’s motor industry were influenced both by its relative geographical closeness to North America and its cultural closeness to Europe. But this influence might have gone both ways. When I first saw the 1962 Studebaker Avanti, in my trusty edition of The Observer’s Book of Automobiles, I was greatly struck. A really novel shape. When I first saw the Jensen Interceptor, in The Autocar in its 1966 Motor Show run-up, I was greatly impressed. A really novel shape. It was only after a while that I realised that the earlier, Loewy Studio designed car might have influenced the Touring styled one from West Bromwich. But, unknown to me at the time, there was a third car, the missing link, the 1964 Brazilian built Brasinca 4200 GT Uirapuru. Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Variants on a Theme”

Theme: Sudamerica – The Troller Pantanal – Victim Of Circumstance

Today, DTW takes a stroll (or should that be Troll?) through the Pantanal. 

pantanal-troller-oficina-troller

DTW, thankfully, has no place for the pernicious curse known as ‘clickbait’, but the Troller Pantanal would richly deserve its place in “What the 20 most unsuccessful light commercial vehicles you never realised were gay look like now will make your jaw drop”, if ever such a gallery of shame were assembled. The subject of our tale of misadventure is Brazilian 4×4 vehicle manufacturer Troller Veículos Especiais S/A, founded in 1995 in Horizonte, Ceará Province.  Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – The Troller Pantanal – Victim Of Circumstance”

Benz Buster -1986 BMW (E32) 7-Series

The keys to the executive lounge are hard-won. Sometimes you’ve got to force your way in…

Image: Autoevolution
Image: Autoevolution

The 1986 E32 BMW 7-Series may not have been as polarising a styling statement as its E65 descendant, but was if anything a far more significant car. Bayerische Motoren Werke’s ‘here’s Johnny’ moment; it represented a point where BMW took a metaphorical axe to the boardroom door and gave their Swabian rivals the fright of their lives. It also inspired an entire generation of BMW saloons, introducing the distinctive (and patented) L-shaped tail-lamp motif.
Continue reading “Benz Buster -1986 BMW (E32) 7-Series”

Theme : Sudamerica – Lafer LL – The SLC from São Paulo

A Brazilian beauty comes under the DTW microscope.

lafer-gt

Controlled markets create their own phenomena, and the autarky imposed by the Brazilian government from early 1976, when all car imports were effectively forbidden, resulted in the emergence of a small scale luxury car industry whose high ambitions were often thwarted by economic and technical reality.

At the 10th  Automobile Salon in late November 1976, local manufacturer Lafer presented the LL, an elegant and innovative grand tourer, immediately dubbed the Brazilian 450SLC. Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Lafer LL – The SLC from São Paulo”

Let’s Sort This Out, Shall We?

Recently we have been discussing the origins of the Citroën XM.

1989 Citroen XM
1989 Citroen XM

Here are as many of the influences I can find, not counting the aspects of the car that draw on Citroen’s own general heritage. The roll call is long and not exclusive. However, it begins with the 1974 Lotus Eclat which has a similar dropped window line, one of the XM’s signature features. Deschamp’s drawing looks like a saloon Eclat, if you Continue reading “Let’s Sort This Out, Shall We?”

Theme: Sudamerica – Citroen in Chile

For a few years Citroen produced the CX in Arica, Chile.

1989 Citroen CX GTi
1989 Citroen CX GTi

I saw this one in Sweden: nearly all GTi CXs that I see are like this: immobile and decaying. Owners seem paralysed between scrapping and repairing.

From 1978 to 1984 Citroen delivered knocked down CX’s to Chile for assembly. There a few for sale in similar condition. Information on the Chilean version is sparse- perhaps our Chilean readers can fill in some details on engines and trim. I’d guess the range was narrower on options such as colour, trim and motors. Or was it? I must say how appealing the idea is of a Prestige negotiating dramatic Andean scenery.

A Green Car for Sunday

Cheery: Kia’s green is vibrant and refreshing.

image
Image: Driven to Write

The trim around the sideglass gives the car a solid look it’s 3.5 m length might lack. You can see similar detailing on the Volvo S70 saloon. The remarkably awful Getz is related to this. Cars like this have cemented Kia’s reputation for well-priced, well-made and attractive products. With a small increase in the fun-factor such as warmer versions they could dramatically change the perceptions of the brand without scaring existing customers. I wonder why they don’t make this move.

A Photo for Sunday: 1992 Alfa Romeo 75

It’s a twin-spark 2.0 and black: I thought they had to be red or white.

1992 Alfa Romeo 2.0 Twin Spark
1992 Alfa Romeo 2.0 Twin Spark

The year might be 1992 or a little earlier. Notice the width compared to the Auris. The two cars have much the same interior space. While no beauty, this is the car I tried to represent when I first started to draw cars so I owe it debt of gratitude.

Gorfe’s Granadas: The Limousines

The Granada is the ultimate in luxury motoring, writes acting-sub-editorial classics editor Myles Gorfe.

1975 Coleman Milne Granada: source
1975 Coleman Milne Granada: source

If you want more than best, try the Coleman-Milne limousines! Coleman-Milne and Ford, two great British names, have been in partnership since 1953. And as C-M say at their website, the firm is the UK market leader in limos and they use their own British engineers. That means that the finest Ford engineering gets an extra dash of imperial style for when excellence is demanded. Take a look at these unique beauties… Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: The Limousines”

Coventry via Turin – 1966 Jaguar 3.8 FT by Bertone

Second guessing Sir William on styling matters rarely succeeded. This Bertone concept was no exception.

Image: carstyling.ru
Image: carstyling.ru

For decades, innumerable coachbuilders tried their hand at re-imagining Jaguars with varying degrees of success. Frankly, even the best of them failed to match, never mind exceed an on-form William Lyons. After all, Jaguar’s founder and stylistic torchbearer possessed a personal vision coupled with an uncanny eye for line which not even the finest Italian carrozzeria could rival. Only Lyons really knew how to shape Jaguars – a matter which became embarrassingly clear in the aftermath of his passing. Continue reading “Coventry via Turin – 1966 Jaguar 3.8 FT by Bertone”

Far from the Mainstream: Changhe

Our sharp-eyed readers may notice something amiss but I’ll carry on with my trawl through the obscure car brands, today it’s Changhe.

2014 Changhe microvan
2014 Changhe microvan, note the A-pillar : source

People hunting for an inexpensive and practical load carrier will find a mere two Changhe vehicles on sale at Autoscout24 at the moment. One is a small panel van with a 53 PS motor and the other is a pick-up with a tilting load bay (you load it with, say, loose marbles, snooker balls, or oranges and when you get to the delivery point you just let the whole load tip out onto the floor without all that laborious scooping or shoveling). Both cars have delivery miles yet are strangely registered in 2014. The dealer is in Dörfles-Esbach.
Continue reading “Far from the Mainstream: Changhe”

Cars That Could have Been Citroëns – 1980 Ital Design Medusa

What you say isn’t always necessarily what you mean.

Ital Design Medusa. Image: autoviva
Ital Design Medusa. Image: autoviva

As Europe’s leading car design consultancy, Ital Design has always been in the business of ideas, and while they could to some extent predict the future in styling terms, they couldn’t necessarily convince the industry to follow their lead, which saw many promising styling studies on the cutting room floor. But in the industry’s defence, the price of failure has always been high.
Continue reading “Cars That Could have Been Citroëns – 1980 Ital Design Medusa”

1971 De Tomaso Deauville Roadtest

Veteran motoring correspondent Archie Vicar offers his driving impressions of the 1971 De Tomaso Deauville.

1971 De Tomaso Deauville: source
1971 De Tomaso Deauville: source

This may be a transcription of an article that first appeared in the Hartlepool Afternoon Post. Original photos by Dean Suarez but owing to the poor quality of the source, stock images have been used.

Consider luxury cars from Mercedes, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin and one must undeniably concede they suggest a degree of similarity which borders on the insipid. Manufacturers are being forced by the nanny state and ever-more-cautious customers to present cars which differ from each other in only the smallest ways. So, in these increasingly competitive times, originality is even more important (and rarer!) than ever before. Luckily, the De Tomaso Deauville has it in large quantities and the car is on sale now to the lucky few. Continue reading “1971 De Tomaso Deauville Roadtest”

Theme: Sudamerica – +(500) Land of Bikes, Quads and Boats

While it might be culturally, and indeed physically a long way from the rest of South-America, the Falklands are part of the continent. What do they drive?

Port Stanley: source
Port Stanley: source

Outside of Port Stanley, the capital, most of the roads are gravelled and are described as tracks. Furthermore, there is not a very large road network (900 km) due to the island’s low population density: 3000 people reside there. It is tempting to say that the most popular vehicles thereabouts are boats since the Falklands are made up of two large islands and about 700 smaller ones. The road network is being upgraded to Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – +(500) Land of Bikes, Quads and Boats”

A Big Car for a Big Country

Now seems a good time for DTW to recall the Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan.

Image : autobild.de
Image : autobild.de

I first knew about it from Car & Driver in the late 1960s. C&D is still a good magazine, but readerships have changed and it is no reflection on their current writers, who must function in a different publishing climate, if I refer to back then as their Golden Years. Back then, C&D had a dry and subversive wit missing from other car magazines and, when I started reading the article about the Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan, I assumed that it was a smart joke, a parody of a review of a car that couldn’t really exist. Continue reading “A Big Car for a Big Country”

One Or Two, Asks Henry From Derbyshire

We might be one of the least influential car websites but we are responsive. Sam the Eagle raised the question yesterday. This is the answer.

2007-2013 BMW 1-series coupe: source
2007-2013 BMW 1-series coupe: source

The start point of the discussion is a fictional letter (sent by post, imagine!) from a fictional reader, Henry. Henry is based in northwest Derbyshire and sells office furniture cleaner. He wants to Continue reading “One Or Two, Asks Henry From Derbyshire”

Guangzhou Revelations

The Guangzhou Motor Show has just ended. BMW are hinting at their front-drive future.

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And if you can click here you can see it’s one of a few cars revealed that are not cross-overs so be thankful for small mercies. As a matter of comparative interest I have also posted the BMW 1 and 2 series coupés. They are very alike, aren’t they? Continue reading “Guangzhou Revelations”

Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Myles Gorfe, our acting resident assistant classics sub-editor-at-large, gives a run down on the latest news from his 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L.

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L
1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

It’s been a busy few months for the Granada, as usual. The rust in the floor pan has been dealt with but this has resulted in a lot of searching for replacement trim – must have used 40-odd hours on eBay in the last two weeks alone – and mechanical components … (not to mention a lot of driving about) … as the new parts and old ones aren’t fitting like they should. Seems like two different cars now it’s been welded up. The doors are a particular problem. Getting them to

Continue reading “Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”

Feline Expedient

The story behind the Jaguar 420 might be more interesting than the car itself, but this belies its significance.

Image: Hemmings
Hello Kitty. Image: Hemmings

Often portrayed as a decade of unbroken success, the 1960’s were troubled years at Browns Lane. The halo provided by the E-Type masked faultlines elsewhere – especially in the area of new product development. Jaguar’s 1961 Mark Ten saloon, their most ambitious and expensive model programme yet had proven a commercial failure. But by mid decade, matters were equally worrying for its compact saloon stablemate in their most crucial export market. Continue reading “Feline Expedient”

Another Photo for Sunday: 1998 Honda HR-V

We have a thing for green cars here. While out on field work, we spotted this undisguised production version of the Honda HR-V in Warwick.

1998 Honda HR-V
1998 Honda HR-V

At only 4 metres long, it is not big. It is, however, perfectly proportioned and showed another approach to the kind of thing Ford had in mind with the unloved but good Fusion.

Continue reading “Another Photo for Sunday: 1998 Honda HR-V”

A photo for Sunday: 1980 Ford Escort

This is a public service more than a very interesting post.

1980 Ford Escort
1980 Ford Escort

When I wrote about the Astra F, I noted that there were very few good images of the 1980-1986 Ford Escort. Well, here is a clear image of an unmolested example. And it is not that nice to behold. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1980 Ford Escort”

Green Cars and Night Photography

Our correspondent in Sweden, Niels Moesgaard Jorgensen, spotted this green Suzuki recently.

suzuki
2015 Suzuki SX4: Niels Moesgaard Jørgensen

We’ve been logging green cars as the colour looks like a minority taste yet metallic mid-greens can be very flattering. Additionally, the image prompted me to think about how difficult (for me) it is to get good night time images of cars, or rather cars under street lights. My photos end up murky and lack the deep black of this image.
Continue reading “Green Cars and Night Photography”

Then and Now: 2000 Ford 24/7

When I presented the Faction yesterday, I thought I would refresh readers’ memories about some of the other Ingeni-era cars.

2000 Ford 24/7 concept: source
2000 Ford 24/7 concept: source

The Ford 24/7 sprang to mind. When I checked up I encountered the fickle and fragile nature of memory: the 24/7 appeared in 2000, quite some time before the Ingeni studio opened. Let’s look at it anyway. It’s a nice coincidence that we are scraping about in the annals of car design just as the LA Motor Show is also on these pages.

Continue reading “Then and Now: 2000 Ford 24/7”

LA Motor Show Shorts 4

Ah, the nuances of form. So, you want your SUV to be big and strong. But strong like what? 

2017 Subaru Viviz-7: source
2017 Subaru Viviz-7: source

Like iron or like diamond? One of those is able to dent and the other smashes to bits. Subaru got their fingers burned with the Tribeca which exuded a friendly gormlessness. This crystalline vehicle, supposedly a concept, is like the Incredible Hulk to the Tribeca’s Dr Bruce Banner. There was an episode of the Hulk where he didn’t appear – the focus was on the journalist searching for him. They got four years out of that concept. I had to look that up on Wikipedia. Back to the design: semantically, it’s wrong. The lamps are fragile and the scuff plate on the valence is going to be knocked off at the first site of real off-roading.
Continue reading “LA Motor Show Shorts 4”

LA Motor Show Shorts 3

Space is infinitely divisible, marketing space doubly so.

2017 Jeep Compass: source
2017 Jeep Compass: source

The 2017 Jeep Compass sits between the sub-compact Renegade and compact Cherokee. This sector is boiling, steaming hot and people will buy pretty much anything that does not burst into flames upon ignition. Continue reading “LA Motor Show Shorts 3”

Theme : Sudamerica – Parallel States of Evolution

I write as someone who is far from convinced of the universal wonders of the Free Market, yet I tend to the conviction that state-owned car makers are a bad idea.

badges

I think that’s because I can’t help but regard most cars as rather frivolous things, so I base my prejudice on the feeling that I wouldn’t want to be governed by an organisation that wastes even part of their energies thinking about cars, except in legislating their use.

This prejudice soon falls apart. True, most of the cars built for a captive market in the old Communist states of Eastern Europe were disappointing at best, but Tatras were glorious things. The nationalised British Leyland was a reasonably cack-handed enterprise, with sparks of cleverness, but it only got nationalised due to the uselessness of its private management. Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Parallel States of Evolution”

LA Motor Show Shorts 2

Very short this time. While everyone else is wondering if this three-row, seven seat leviathan can crack the US market for VW, I am wondering if…

2017 VW Leviathan: source
2017 VW Leviathan: source

…VW has a thing about gold metallic paint. Looking past the attractive paint, I notice they have chosen to give it a curious-looking feature line down the side, one paralleling the wheel-arches which are very nearly squarish. The headlamps and grille are styled to look rational – is this what the SUV buyer in the US actually wants? I had argued they want something quite ugly and butch-looking. I mean that buyers of SUVs who use them to cart junk and do heavy work probably don’t care a lot for Bauhaus geometry. The people who do will buy a Q7, I would have thought.

LA Motor Show Shorts 1

This is the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio. You will have seen it elsewhere. They are pitching it as an SUV.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: source
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: source

I am reminded of the images of hamburgers shown over the counter in fast food restaurants and the way the damp wad you are served is somewhat less manicured and airbrushed. Here we are being told the car is a CUV or crossover or SUV (Autocar says SUV) but is it not just a tall hatchback? Take a hard look with Continue reading “LA Motor Show Shorts 1”

Design Review : 2003 Ford Faction

This forgotten concept stands for a raft of vehicles conceived in a brief time at Ford’s London studio, Ingeni.

2003 Ford Faction Concept:source
2003 Ford Faction Concept:source

Not unreasonably, Ford wanted a studio located somewhere other than the drab environs of Merkenich and Basildon. So J Mays, then chief of design for FoMoCo, selected in 2002 a lovely office in a ritzy bit of London where designers could work hard, inspired by the buzz of city life. There is some good sociological thinking behind this. It didn’t last long, being closed in 2003, the year the Faction was shown. Continue reading “Design Review : 2003 Ford Faction”

Electric Shock – Jaguar I-Pace

Is this the end of history? Well, it’s about time…

Image: Wired
Image: Wired

It’s the old story. You wait ages and then along comes two positive Jaguar news stories at once. First was the announcement that over the three months to September, global Jaguar sales rose 84%. It’s unclear at this point whether that translates into anything of significance, but yesterday’s announcement of the I-Pace concept at the Los Angeles motor show was a cat of an altogether different stripe. I’ll be honest with you, I-Pace is a shock, but not for the reasons you might imagine. Continue reading “Electric Shock – Jaguar I-Pace”

Corsa Revisited

As promised during the weekend here is a small reconsideration of the Opel Corsa, this time the 1.4 litre, 75 PS petrol five-door.

2015 Opel Corsa 1.4 Cosmo
2015 Opel Corsa 1.4 Cosmo

We had a short review of the 1.0 litre version in the summer of 2015 and decided it was okay. This time I have the 1.4 litre mid-spec version to try.

I can immediately say that the uprated interior decorations make for a much more festive feeling. The steering wheel looks like it’s the nice one from the Adam and so the upshot of this is that without wood and leather and shades of beige, it still makes for a comfortable and quite convivial driving environment. My notes, written up after a hard charging day at the wheel, list the nice steering, smooth uptake and HVAC controls that won’t cause you to Continue reading “Corsa Revisited”

The Fellow Traveller

We’re looking at the Fiat 124 at 50. Or are we?

Fiat 124 Berlina - You call that snow. You should see what they have in Russia.
Fiat 124 Berlina as lifestyle transport – You call that snow? Wait until you see what they have in Russia.

For many eyes, the car above is, irredeemably, depending on their country, a VAZ or a Lada or a Zhiguli, a vehicle that citizens of the former Soviet Bloc view with a frustrating mixture of contempt and affection. To me it is (and in this example, correctly) a Fiat 124, the first car that I had free, unaccompanied access to the open roads in, with all that allowed, so anything that follows might have to be filtered by the reader to allow for the rosy glow of nostalgia, although actually it’s a frustrating mixture of contempt and affection. Continue reading “The Fellow Traveller”

Micropost: 2016 Opel Corsa

In the rental car lottery I drew the Corsa straw. There will be a short report on it before very long.

2015 Opel Corsa
2015 Opel Corsa (not the car tested).

The first thing I noticed related to the spec. They have Adamed this version so it has more of a feel-good factor than the one I rented in 2015. I drove off in the dark which somehow made me more aware of the delightfully light steering and also the fun way the dials do a test sweep of the car’s instrument faces. It’s a pleasant vehicle to drive around town and the city-steering makes it a breeze. The day’s mission is a four hour drive over motorways and country roads. We’ll see the car bears up in the course of the day…

Theme: Sudamerica – Are There DAFs for Sale in Suriname?

Suriname is South-America’s smallest country and it has a strong Dutch connection.

2016 Chevrolet SUV range in Suriname: source
2016 Chevrolet SUV range in Suriname: source

Until 1975 it was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Dutch is still the official language of state. So, I wondered, is it possible that DAF cars were sold there and do any remain? So, I tapped in “Suriname autos te koop” and discovered that the only DAFs are trucks. There are no Volvos there either.
Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – Are There DAFs for Sale in Suriname?”

Theme: Movies (Late, Late Show) – Cannonball!

On a misty morning in May 1971, an unassuming Dodge Custom Sportsman van christened ‘Moon Trash II’ pulled out of a New York parking lot and headed into the low sun, due west. 

moon-trash-2a
Moon Trash II (Image: Transcontinental Drivers Association)

Inside were journalists Brock Yates and Steve Smith, photographer Jim Williams and Yates’ son, Brock Yates Junior, plus a stash of junk food, cans of Coke and some empty quart bottles. Continue reading “Theme: Movies (Late, Late Show) – Cannonball!”

Alfa Romeo Promises Delays and Fewer Models

Autocar, Gearheads and Carscoops reports today that Alfa Romeo promises “up to” nine new cars by 2021. The numbers don’t add up.

A good decade late to market. Alfa Romeo's Kamal concept. Image:digitaltrends
Still waiting. Image:digitaltrends.

As a check on this let’s look back: in February we reported that the plan was for eight cars by 2020. This is what I got out of the last report: – the promises included a mid-size SUV on sale by 2017 (one), by 2017-2020 there would be a ‘full-size’ SUV (two), then come two more UVs (for ‘utility vehicles’ (four).  And by 2021 there would be two more ‘speciality’ models in the vein of the Alfa 4C (making six) Also confirmed by Alfa was a new hatchback (seven). I can’t find reference to car number eight.  Continue reading “Alfa Romeo Promises Delays and Fewer Models”

Theme: Sudamerica – Chevrolet in Uruguay

This is a micropost. Chevrolet have a huge range in Uruguay. This is what is looks like when seen from space:

2016 Chevrolet Urguaguay range: source
2016 Chevrolet Urguguay range: source

The Chevrolet Celta Mk1 (see below) was based on the Corsa B, on sale from 2000. It seems to have stopped production. In 2006 Chevrolet revised the car but it still seems to have its roots in the Corsa B. The Onix is a partial replacement. The giveaway is the split A-pillar: the front window frame is half of the A-pillar, just like the Corsa B (1993-2000). GM have done really well out of the Corsa and indeed Opel. I notice a lot of what they sell around the world has its roots in Rüsselsheim. There is no way they are shutting down Opel and there is no way Opel actually makes a loss. Its an accounting wheeze. Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – Chevrolet in Uruguay”

Theme: Sudamerica – Fiat in Uruguay

Uruguay is the second smallest state in South-America. Being right next door to Brazil, it’s natural enough one can buy Fiats there.

2016 Fiat Uruguay range: source
2016 Fiat Uruguay range: source

There are two South American specials (if I can be so Eurocentric) in the Uruguayan range. One is the Uno and the other is the Palio Adventure. Looking at the Uno we find a vehicle that evokes the Panda but isn’t a Panda. Fiat Brazil came up with this one and Fiat Centro Stile developed the appearance. Note the asymmetric grille. It’s Type 327 for Fiat anoraks. The underpinnings are from the Fiat Palio, making it something of a middle point between the Panda and Palio.  Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – Fiat in Uruguay”

No, I Don’t Think So

Taking the unveiling of the facelifted Golf as the starting point Autocar thinks all car makers should aspire to evolutionary design. DTW disagrees.

2017 VW Golf: source
2017 VW Golf: source

“It’s a ballsy move, though, making a car look like its predecessor. But one that’s starting to spread – Audi’s in on the game too, with its new Q5, and BMW did it with the new 5 Series not long ago” writes Autocar.

The Golf is a text-book example of a product that has evolved gradually over the course of its 40 years on the market. Audi have also cleaved to such a strategy as do BMW (nearly). Mercedes have been less adept at this. Sometimes they’ve adopted quite florid designs such as the fintail cars and most of the current batch. At other times they’ve had the urge to

Continue reading “No, I Don’t Think So”

Light on the Fens – Lotus Progress Report

There are no more unicorns in Norfolk, but until we can discuss Lotus without the Great Bahar being mentioned, unfinished business remains.

Lotus' Jean-Marc Gales. Image: Eastern Daily Press
Lotus’ Jean-Marc Gales. Image: Eastern Daily Press

Dany Bahar’s legacy hangs around Hethel like a dank mist over marshland on a gloomy winter’s evening. But since Jean-Marc Gales took over in 2013 there have been a few shafts of sunlight. The sales slide appears to have been been reversed, and new models are filtering through. Gales has focused on improving quality, delivering cars on time and above all, executing the living hell out of the product he has, rather than what he’d like to have. Continue reading “Light on the Fens – Lotus Progress Report”

Theme: Sudamerica – Ecuador

Before we go any further, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind readers that genuine Panama hats are made in Ecuador.

Big in Ecuador: source
Big in Ecuador: source

And that country is the topic of today’s investigation. The Republic of Ecuador lies on the north-west coast of South-America. Its capital is Quito but the largest city is Guayaquil. About 16 million people live in the country. They drive on the right (where possible) and the economy is dependent on commodities. Vehicle sales were down 30% last year (2015). That’s a big blow for Chevrolet who hold about 50% of the market.

What do they drive? Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – Ecuador”

The Late Film: Mistaken Identity

Another thinly disguised excuse to write about a car that I like and used to own (yes, another one). This is my singular experience of going Italian, and very gratifying it was too. And, reliable.

dsc09929-copie-4f2ccce
The mighty FIAT Cinquecento Sporting (source Retro 02)

I remember falling in love with the FIAT Cinquecento Sporting at first sight (and read, it was an article in Car – by Andrew Frankel, I think – entitled “Eeenie Weenie, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Hotted Up Machinie”, or something very similar). The little FIAT had everything I liked at the time. Continue reading “The Late Film: Mistaken Identity”

Goodbye MPVs and Other Opel Stuff

MPVs are so ’00s. Opel have announced the name of their new small CUV, the Crosslander which replaces the Meriva. Autocar said so too. As did BBC’s Top [Insert Name of Presenter here]

2016 Opel Meriva interior: source
2016 Opel Meriva interior: source

Opel used lot of design talent on the Meriva. It had a superb interior with some excellent colour and fabric options. The window line was unique in that it recognised the fact the kids in the back might want to see out. That’s user-centred design which I can only applaud. Those doors too. Continue reading “Goodbye MPVs and Other Opel Stuff”

Micropost: Mid-Greens

My search for green paints in current cars didn’t turn up much. This and this and this, only. However, these. These are properly green.

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Today I saw this 2006 Ford Fiesta and a Skoda Felicia. These are the greens that are now in short supply. If you really want to

Continue reading “Micropost: Mid-Greens”

Going to Extremes – 1986 Lancia Thema 8.32

Successful motor companies are consistent motor companies. Did Fiat miss a meeting?

Image: Aboutcars.bg
Image: Aboutcars.bg

Looking at those who’ve made a success of the motor business, they stand out for (amongst other things) an unswerving consistency. This isn’t however a trait one could ascribe to the mighty Fiat group over the past four decades, lurching as they have from crisis to recovery like a cadre of drunken sailors on shore leave. Continue reading “Going to Extremes – 1986 Lancia Thema 8.32”

A photo for Sunday Article That Got Out of Hand

Just for once this is not a car on my street.

1981 Saab 900 Safari: Niels Moesgaard Jörgensen
1981 Saab 900 Safari: Niels Moesgaard Jörgensen

It is one of two remaining Saab 900 Safari estates.  The other one was offered for sale in 2014. Notice the red car in the link has the bumpers from the 1987 Saab 900. Saabists can help clarify this difference. You might also want to compare this limited-series car with Alfa Romeo´s 75 concept car. We will be reporting with two articles on the Saab museum (where this car was spotted) during the Christmas period. I might do a third. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday Article That Got Out of Hand”

Theme : Sudamerica – Nothing Is Quite What It Seems

The various manufacturers involved in the South American market over the years can cause some confusion to casual car spotters.

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Willys / Renault Dauphine

The US maker Willys had set up in Brazil in 1953. Seeking to diversify from its US based cars, it built a version of the Renault Dauphine under licence ….

Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Nothing Is Quite What It Seems”

This One Isn’t About Cars

It’s about roads. A lot of them are a bit too big.

A bit of Gothenburg, Sweden: source
A bit of Gothenburg, Sweden: source

This thought could have occurred to me anywhere in Western Europe but I had it while driving along a motorway-grade road in the middle of Gothenburg, Sweden. Do we really still want 20 metre-wide roads in our cities? And if speed limits are falling in cities, why do we still have roads designed to facilitate rapid driving?
Continue reading “This One Isn’t About Cars”