George’s Pet Anachronism

This post is something of a ragbag and it’s missing one photo. 

Aston Martin Rapide

A Maserati Ghibli pulled up next to me at traffic lights yesterday. As ever, I checked out the brightwork around the sideglass. Much to my amazement, Maserati opted for two pieces, instead of one, around the rearmost pane. For the kind of money Maserati want, I’d expect one single part. Opel and Kia can do it.

What’s this got to do with the Rapide? It’s another brightwork matter.

Aston Martin Rapide sideglass.

I ask myself if this could have and should have been done as one piece. It probably would have appeared no less sharp had it been done as one. If the absent Ghibli should have this one-piece solution then for the kind of money AM want, it is mandatory; the option of having no chrome upper (the base and DL models) isn’t an excuse for having two parts, in my book.

Nissan Qashqai brightwork

This is the humble Nissan Qashqai DLO brightwork (above). The part runs from the door shutline and stops at same. It’s as big a part as that on the Ghibli.

2014 Mazda 3 sideglass

Credit to Mazda, the join is not visible unless you’re hunting for it.

2014 Mazda 3 sideglass

… but it’s there and not very neatly alligned. There might be a superior type of clip used elsewhere on the car to compensate, for example, but we can’t see it.

2016 Renault Espace

Renault (above) have been generous with their brightwork and have used a spectacularly large trim piece and to good effect. Again, Maserati, are you sure you’re making the right choices? As an aside, more Espaces are appearing around my part of Jutland with surprising frequency, despite the lack of a rear centre arm-rest. That’s okay for an i20 but not for a car competing with 5s, A6s and lesser Es. That’s a deal-breaker for me.

And finally, Opel’s Crossland has this:

2017 Opel Crossland

While Citroen’s C-Aircross has this:

2017 Citroen C-Aircross

While they are cousins stylistically, Opel make use of the gap between the  roof/c-pillar and body to find a home for the lights.

2017 Opel Crossland

It is a bit busy, no?

This post perhaps can be summed up as being about the tension between production demands and craftsmanship. If Aston Martin’s is a marginal case, Maserati’s is a clear-cut case of design not being supported by production. Overall, I couldn’t see the price of the Maserati in its outward form: the panel gap layout was no better than that found on cars costing a seventh of the price. For what it’s worth, Renault’s Espace, the Volvo S90 and even Ford’s Mondeo look more imposing and glittery than the Ghibli. That’s not how it should be, should it?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

22 thoughts on “George’s Pet Anachronism”

  1. The Ghibli just cannot shake off the impression of skin-deep quality. All of its detailing looks rather hurried in its execution and cheap in terms of materials used. There’s certainly none of Quattroporte V’s ‘bespoke’ aura left – with a different grille, the Ghibli could even be a rather decent compact Dodge saloon.

    As far as the Rapide’s concerned, I actually always though the split chrome trim was due to its frameless doors. I certainly don’t mind its brightwork, even though I was never a great enthusiast of that particular VH-platform Aston.

    I was actually rather pleased to see a fair few Espace V’s on the road in southern Germany. It maybe half the car its immediate predecessor was, but I still silently applaud Renault for not having given up on the segment whenever I see the not so new anymore Espace. It deserves to succeed for that reason alone.

    1. Frameless doors you say: that partially explains it; they could have ommitted the upper bar then.
      The Ghibli has more brightwork than is usual but the lamps and bumpers are humdrum. I’d have wanted the car to suggest heft and density. There are other, less pricey vehicles that are ritzier. Speaking of which, the Espace manages to be more alluring even if it’s a big hatchback.

    2. The Teslas’ brightwork is similarly underwhelming, which isn’t just a matter of fit & finish. I wonder whether there’s a metallurgist around who could shed some light on the different kinds of chroming processes.

    3. Bill: the Mazda’s joint is nearly invisible which is good but still there which is less good. About the Espace, you’ve banged me to rights. The lower junction is off; Opel Insignias and latter 5ers have a similar problem but it varies from car to car.

  2. Funnily enough I was going over my friend’s 2014 Mazda3 yesterday (acquired May that year) and missed that join you first praise and then condemn – which I am at a loss to understand. What do you mean really? Didn’t see that join at all, and it was one of the very first assembled in Mexico, so it’s well disguised. Must examine again next weekend. He still sings the praises of the car compared to having a new Golf every three to four years since 1994 – “it drives the same as the day I got it, not used to that!” He wanted me to examine crash repair to mirror and front door handle caused by a squeezer in a parking lot which is the reason I was there, full of DTW ideas naturally.

    The Espace trim may be one piece, but the alignment is dreadful where it meets the doors. What am I missing? Should we praise the single piece design yet ignore how well it fits?

    The Aston I find nothing wrong with. The upper strip runs from the bottom of the A pillar clear over the door to the rear, where it neatly meets the upsweep piece. A single piece would be unwieldy to manufacture unless the top strip were broken at the rear of the door. I like this solution better personally. I looks classy just the way it is.

    1. Yes: the Aston is a marginal case. It did make me wonder and think: is it okay? On balance and in the light of Kris and your observations it seems to pass muster, though it’s a head decision not a heart decision.

  3. Yes – the Aston’s bright work is split by the door opening. The lower, thick part opens with the door. The upper span does not. Stylistically one may prefer the upper part to be dark not chrome, but it’s been unfairly maligned here I think.

    These other faddish D pillar flourishes are mostly awful, though. The Espace is probably the best, but GME’s efforts are terrible. All attempts to be different, not better.

  4. Hi, yes the join in the Mazda3’s ‘chrome’ window trim always struck me as unnecessarily penny pinching and jarred. I recently replaced my 3 Fastback with an Octavia Estate, which came with full ‘chrome’ window surround and which has no such flaw and yet is a much larger and more complex shape. There’s much that I miss about the Mazda (2 months departed now – it went as a rejig of the family garage in order to accommodate my son who is now learning to drive and a long-held wish of my wife to have one of the ‘new’ FIAT 500s), but the Octavia (now my more regular driver) shines a pretty powerful light on that car’s limitations as practical family transport, and also that VW Group cars, even the less glam Skoda, can teach Mazda a lot about perceived quality and attention to details. The long-standing Xsara Picasso goes on Friday to make space for the cutesy, nearly-new, Pasodoble Red, 500, so it’s quite different line up on the front drive chez-nous these days.

    1. There is another example of the apparently limitless demand for Fiat 500s.
      The Aston Martin framelss doors have got me thinking. If one is to be really strict then no brightwork is needed for a frameless door´s upper. When the car door is open there is some brightwork seemingly hanging and I notice there will be an odd gap where the lower brightwork is temporarily gone. On reflection, if the conception of this has me puzzling about it so much there must be something amiss.

    2. On the 500, it’s a pastiche, but it’s quite well done. It’s nothing special to drive, but gets away with it because a) it’s easy and pretty fool-proof, and b) being small, there is fun to be had just nipping around and thinking, for example, how big car parking spaces have become. Of course, relative to history, it’s not that small (my old Cinquecento Sporting – with which the 500 shares its FIRE engine – was a lot smaller, but roomier inside), which explains why leg room in the rear is OK (headroom, less so, dictated by the styling in general and, more specifically, the sloping rear). Not wanting to reinforce stereotypes, but my wife and daughter love it (which will help the latter to get over the lass of the Picasso), and I do too as it makes me realise how much I have missed owning a small car, but my son is worried about looking too ‘gay’ in it … to which my response has been to ‘get over himself’ … or walk!

    1. Does this radical revision of the domestic fleet entail the loss of the C6 as well, SV?

    2. Eoin, no, I got to keep the C6 :-). The QE2, as it is known at home, feels like a fixture, at least until it self destructs. It goes for its MOT next week … an event for which I (and my bank balance) am braced. I haven’t got to the 10 year/ 130k ‘biggie’ service yet (cam belt change, etc.), but I suspect BL Autos will identify a few things. There is a small area of surface corrosion coming from under the chrome trim strip at the bottom of the front passenger window that needs attention and I’ll probably recondition/ replace the alloys as they are now looking quite shabby. If anything, though, I am appreciating the C6’s charms more than ever – the cushy ride, the comfort, the ease of driving – which feel like they are fast becoming lost and forgotten by car makers these days.

    3. Speaking of small Fiats, a close relative of mine spends a decent portion of the year abroad and has developed a strong attachment to a succession of rental Fiat Pandas. So much so, that said relative has given serious thought to purchasing one. The Panda is probably the closest approximation to an old-school Fiat in current production and remains I believe, the second best selling car in Italy. Says something, does it not?

      SV: Very pleased to hear the C6 has survived the cull. Long may she sail…

    4. Eoin, my preference would have been to go for the Panda, but the whole point was to allow my wife to actually choose a car that she wants for once (the last occasion was when she went for a 2CV, of which I thoroughly approved). Don’t get me wrong, I like the 500, but the Panda is less contrived and more practical – more car, less accessory.

    5. I like the Panda too, although the one I rented was a pretty gutless device. (I think it was a 1.2 litre) I like cars that some might deride as being somewhat ‘light on their feet’ – they’re usually quite pleasant things, although I always felt I was siting on the 500 rather than in it. But it’s a jolly little car and they enliven the place with their retro appearance and cheerful colours. Yes, the Panda might appeal more to the likes of you or I, but the 500 sells in the numbers it does for good reason. I do wonder however how many of the younger generation of owners are even aware that it has a 60 year old forebear?

  5. I hadn’t really twigged to this previously, but a recent trip to Lingotto reminded me of one of my favourite concepts, the Downtown. They were ahead of their time with the C-pillar treatment:

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