Little Or No Corrective Action

Earlier this year PSA purchased Opel from General Motors. We discussed how long it would take for Opel´s identity to fade away. Sooner than even I expected.

2017 Opel range, expected mortality: Opel.de

“Peter Fintl is the director of technology and innovation at the German subsidiary of the French development services provider Altran, which works closely with PSA. He has a precise understanding of PSA’s technology strategy.

“PSA doesn’t need Opel’s conventional technology,” Fintl said. “Since both manufacturers are active in the same class, it is likely that the Opel platforms will be gradually decommissioned and PSA technologies introduced.” (Automotive News)  This is excellent timing: “Opel has just invested 210 million euros in a new development and test center for engines and transmissions in Ruesselsheim. The center, which went into operation last October, employs 800 engineers.” Continue reading “Little Or No Corrective Action”

IAA 2017: Pillar of Style

Augmented by colourful accents and/or a girth suggesting they’d last a thousand years – this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show showed that creativity rests on the D-pillar 

DSC_0450
When Marc Newson met Zaha Hadid

For once, I shall let the pictures do the talking. Continue reading “IAA 2017: Pillar of Style”

To Boldly Go…

As JLR moves further into the white space of seemingly infinite possibility, we ask a few awkward questions.

You could put a car in there. Some white space, yesterday. Image: Freedom of Creation

This week, Autocar exclusively reported the prospect that JLR is advanced on developing a more road-biased, Range-Rover-derived vehicle, said by the journal to be dubbed Road-Rover. According to journalist, Hilton Holloway, the forthcoming model, set to debut in about three years time, will be the first of a range of cars aimed at the top end of the luxury market. But one aspect missing from Autocar’s piece is Continue reading “To Boldly Go…”

Ambling Between the Walls

This slightly tatty motorcycle caught my attention recently. It’s a Moto Guzzi V-twin, labelled “Indian”.

1965-1974 Moto Guzzi V-7 

For anyone who’s ever enjoyed looking at an engine and trying to find out which bit does what, such a device is a pleasure to behold. The V-2 is arranged longitudinally to the body, presumably for better balance and cooling. The engine rests in a tubular frame which is also clearly visible. Pretty much every important part is easy to find which means that you can Continue reading “Ambling Between the Walls”

What We Talk About When We Talk About the S-Type

Driven to Write (with little thought for his own safety) addresses the big one.

S-Type
Image: Driven to Write

In every Jaguar aficionado’s lifetime he must approach X200 and try, really try to view it with something remotely akin to an objective gaze. Because, let us not mince words, it’s the Sargasso Sea of Jaguars. The mad aunt in the attic, the great un-namable. But has sufficient time elapsed to Continue reading “What We Talk About When We Talk About the S-Type”

IAA 2017: A Culinary Perspective

Despite this particular group of people hardly being renowned connoisseurs of the finer things in life, manufacturers try their utmost to make the Frankfurt Motor Show a palatable experience for the press. Do they succeed?

DSC_0300

The IAA press days are all about hustle and bustle. Most attendees have appointments to make or deadlines to meet, which – coupled with the distances that need to be covered at Messe Frankfurt, not to mention the above average levels of dehydration, (courtesy of the halls’ air conditioning) one is afflicted with – can render grabbing a bite to eat a difficult necessity. Continue reading “IAA 2017: A Culinary Perspective”

A medley for Sunday

Across the road from the bus-stop, there stood this VW Passat:

A dark photo of a dark car. Source: reality

Around the C-pillar I saw a lot of what in the olden days we’d call BMW style. I reflect a lot on how BMW once did some of the work involved in epitomising German design, but it’s been a long time since this : Continue reading “A medley for Sunday”

Lost in Rotation

Unlike the car upon which it was based, the 1971 NSU RO80 by Pininfarina was not a landmark. But that doesn’t mean it was without influence.

1971 NSU RO80 by Pininfarina. Image: classiccarcatalogue

Four years after the NSU RO80’s announcement, Pininfarina showed this, the carrozzeria’s take on Nekarsulm’s 1967 engineering and stylistic masterpice. But how does one advance upon a car that not only seemed to predict the future at its debut, but would actually come to embody it? Not like this, one might argue. Continue reading “Lost in Rotation”

Evermore the Realm?

The 2017 Frankfurt motor show has ended. Ford showed Kugas, Kas, Fiestas, Foci and Mustangs. Ten years ago, things looked not much different, now I come to think of it. 

2007 Ford Focus: Ford Motor Company

Chief among the novelties in 2007, Ford showed off a markedly re-styled Focus with virtually every panel changed. The show previewed the Kuga, their first cross-over “designed and developed in-house”, they said, which distinguished it from the bought-in Maverick. The Mondeo gained a 2.3 litre engine and a six-speed automatic was made available for that car, the S-Max and the Galaxy.

At the very back of the bottom of the list, Ford announced something they called the “Ford Individual” treatment to be rolled out (in management speak) Europe-wide. How many people felt compelled to Continue reading “Evermore the Realm?”

Sons of the Silent Age – (2)

Part two: We briefly take the wheel

Image: Driven to Write

As Steve fires up the NSU’s power unit, it quickly settles into its distinctive buzz-saw rotary whine. I ask him how often he uses it? “Not as often as I should – I have too many cars. I don’t use it in the winter, but this summer it’s done about 1500 miles.” Mileage incidentally, which includes a trip to the recent 50th anniversary commemorations in Suffolk, where over 30 Ro80s converged. Among the attendees was an owner from Stuttgart who Continue reading “Sons of the Silent Age – (2)”

Sons of the Silent Age

Part one: Driven to Write meets (and briefly drives) one of its heroes.

Image: Driven to Write

A commonly espoused orthodoxy warns us that close proximity to our idols can only lead to disappointment. Some go further, suggesting that the renunciation of hero worship is the mark of a mature mind. This being the case, I can categorically claim not to have attained it. But surely it is preferable to Continue reading “Sons of the Silent Age”

Diamond Dream, or Ruined Rhombus?

Chinese-owned, Stuttgart-headquartered Borgward AG presented an all-electric Isabella concept at the Frankfurt IAA. Is it a hubristic Frankenstein fantasy, or a worthy bearer of the revered name? 

Source: Borgward AG

Die Isabella ist tot, es lebe die Isabella.  Ein gute idee is besser als tausend Bedenken.

(The Isabella is dead, long live the Isabella.  A good idea is better than a thousand concerns.)

So said Dr. Jochen Schlüter, the fictional chairman of the living and thriving Borgward AG in Andreas B Berse’s 2006 contra-factual novel ‘Borgward Lebt’  on the occasion of the launch of the fourth generation Isabella at the Frankfurt IAA in September 1989. Continue reading “Diamond Dream, or Ruined Rhombus?”

Should The Waves Of Joy Be At One With The Tide? Well, Should They?

Despite the enormous size of the automotive industry and the enormous importance of aesthetics, the academic literature on the topic is sparse.

Citroen C5 sketch: source

There can be found in any bookshop a shelf of ten to thirty books on marques, full of glossy images and I am not talking about these. A few books supposedly on automotive design exist and these are inadequate. This has a few nice pages on rendering. The rest is fluff, sorry to say. The same goes for this book which is mostly about drawing not design.

Car Styling and Auto & Design purport to tell the design story and do often have revealing studio photos of rejected clay models and theme sketches that lead to the final cars. Both, however, are essentially very dependent on the industry that provides the information and so, apart from Robert Cumberford’s articles, they only Continue reading “Should The Waves Of Joy Be At One With The Tide? Well, Should They?”

Photo for Sunday : 2017 Bentley Continental

Driven to Write’s star of the Frankfurt motor show may surprise you.

It’s more than a little Bentayga. Image: Carbuyer

Since we founded Driven to Write three and a half years ago, (where has the time gone?) I think I’ve written almost nothing on the subject of Bentley – a glaring omission on my part and one for which I ought to make amends. There are a number of reasons for this Crewe-shaped hole in my DTW outpourings, but I suppose if I was pinned to a wall (or similar stout object) and forced to explain, I’d Continue reading “Photo for Sunday : 2017 Bentley Continental”

Jolly Times On Bavarian Roads!

The legendary motoring scribe Archie Vicar, takes a look at the 1972 BMW 3.0 CSi in what may be a transcription of a period review.

1972 BMW 3.0 CSi: source

The article seems to have been first published in the Clitheroe Morning Register, May 17, 1972. The original photos were by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to the poor quality of the images stock photos have been used.

In these increasingly competitive times, it is now essential that manufacturers must offer continual improvements every year on a rolling basis. The time when a car could be launched and left unchanged for ten to twelve years are long past, except at Citroen, whose antediluvian DS goes back to 1955. With an eye to staying ahead of the pack, BMW, the specialist maker of sporting saloons, has had another stab at another revision to their slow-selling coupé, the 3.0. With its awkward appearance and lack of space, BMW need to do all they can to Continue reading “Jolly Times On Bavarian Roads!”

Danger, High Voltage

With the motor industry abuzz with the prospect of electric propulsion, just how confident are we they’ve thought this one through?

Image: clker

Earlier in the week we considered the mainstream industry’s lack of leadership when it comes to the design of electric cars. But at the Frankfurt motor show this week, two industry leaders fleshed out some of the challenges they’re facing. Firstly Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche pointed out to auto journalists the effect the push to electric is likely to have on profitability.

At first glance, this is a case of stating the blindingly obvious, but while the mighty Stuttgart Untertürkheim car giant can weather the loss of 50% of its potential profits, putting aside an alleged €4.0 billion to cover the likely revenue shortfall, it raises questions of how other less financially robust car businesses can possibly Continue reading “Danger, High Voltage”

Twattling About Precision

Earlier in the week we presented, with regret, the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance. Mark Tisshaw at Autocropley didn’t like it either. Many others didn’t like it either. Why?

2017 BMW Concept X7 iPerformance: source

Because it manifests a lack of form co-ordination. Let’s take a look at the car from a few angles, see what is there and ask why it can Continue reading “Twattling About Precision”

Leading the Charge

Electric cars are coming. But when are we going to be presented with one we might actually want to buy?

Coming never to an Audi dealer near you. AiCon. Image: autoblog

During a recent conversation with an automotive design commentator and critic I pointed out that motor manufacturers had so far failed to create a truly desirable electric car. He agreed, suggesting they appear stuck at the Blackberry phase and that their i-phone moment has yet to occur. He isn’t wrong, as this week’s deluge of concepts and production cars illustrates. On one extreme we have Audi’s Frankfurt-fodder Aicon, which as implausible flights of conceptual fancy go, is about on point and on the other we have the 2018 Nissan Leaf, which takes retrenchment to new levels of jaded whatever.

One of the advantages of a pure electric car is that by taking the engine and powertrain out of the equation, the entire architecture of the vehicle can Continue reading “Leading the Charge”

Leaving Off The Saws

It’s now autumn, a time to reflect. Recently, DTW has been driving Lancias and we have discussed the decline of this once noble marque. It is not the only brand to have faded away.

The demise of Saab, Rover and Lancia

In the diagram I have marked the timelines of two other defunct brands: Rover and Saab. Rover closed in 2005 and Saab shut up shop in 2011. You’ll notice that while Rover had no new models in the Phoenix years (I don’t count the MG versions), Saab had new product in the pipeline right until the last minute. Lancia’s demise is more muddled.

First, the badge engineering of Fiat cars increased and then swapped around 2011 to Continue reading “Leaving Off The Saws”

Auto-da-fé

BMW have enjoyed a decade of success selling an ever-expanding range of four wheel drive hatchbacks. Now they are making their largest one yet. What madness is this?

So much awful in one photo. Image: bmwblog

“I think if you try and make something impressive, rather than good, you’re doomed.” Spen King, engineer and creator of the Range Rover.

On paper at least, BMW is the smallest and theoretically most vulnerable of the German premium big three. Daimler is bigger and its business more diverse. Audi is insulated to a large extent by nestling within the VW mothership. This however ignores BMW’s deftness as a business, to say nothing of its profitability and net worth, which may well outstrip its rivals.

Still largely controlled by the same Quandt family who have Continue reading “Auto-da-fé”

Three Steps After Sunday

Much like discontinued brands, some rather old models of existing car lines can be hard to place: what is a Buick Wildcat in new money?

This car seems to be a second series, from 1965 to 1970. That still isn’t enough. Hermeneutics comes into the picture here because we want to Continue reading “Three Steps After Sunday”

Awakening the New

Re-engagement with a previous (and prescient) concept leads us to speculate on Kia’s latest Frankfurt show offering.

Remember this? 2015 Kia Novo. Image: motorauthority.com.

When KIA announced the Novo concept at the 2015 Seoul motor show, it passed without much by way of comment in the mainstream press – although Driven to Write’s resident design critic did give it the benefit of his gimlet eye. At the time, Kia appeared to suggest that the Novo’s styling would influence its forthcoming compact car line-up, a statement nobody took very seriously at the time. Continue reading “Awakening the New”

Mountains And Dales, Oh, My Quickening Heart

Industrial designers often personify their target market customers as personas. Meet Antonella again.

2017 Ford Fiesta: Ford UK

As we know, the Ford Fiesta’s archetypal customer is “Antonella”. According to Ford she’s left home now and wants her Fiesta plusher, pricier and something else beginning with p. The question is should Ford Continue reading “Mountains And Dales, Oh, My Quickening Heart”

Altered Images

Today we explore alternative realities – one where perhaps Rover didn’t necessarily take the fork in the road marked ‘SD1’. What would that have looked like?

Image: Autocar

Counterfactuals are for the most part, exercises in futility, or at best, wishful thinking. When it comes to the products of what used to be British Leyland, added layers of poignancy come as standard. Few cars embody this like the Rover SD1 series; a car of enormous visual promise, fatally undermined by Continue reading “Altered Images”

The Cormorant Rethinks

Much was made by Lancia of the Delta’s symbolism: change and continuity at the same time. Before it came the Lybra. Read on to see what that was like.

DTW has had a chance to rewind the years and test a 2002 Lybra SW, the Delta’s predecessor. This puts in perspective the step-backward that was the Delta and reveals a car that probably deserves a wider audience.  Continue reading “The Cormorant Rethinks”

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Quiet and unassuming by day, the 262C saw the distinctly suburban 200-Series loosen its tie and show a slightly darker side to its personality.

Image: boitierouge

Loved by owners, derided by the UK motoring press, the 200-series Volvo seemed even by mid-Seventies standards, something of an anachronism. Its upright and uncompromising appearance made few concessions to fashion, majoring on values of practicality, durability, comfort and occupant safety. Not that this prevented it from becoming a firm favourite and the model that Continue reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

A Photo For Sunday: Highlights

Lines: edge lines, shutlines, graphic lines and most elusive of all, highlights. 

Concentrate on the white band of light running from the wheelarch flare, up to the roof and down the A-pillar onward.

Yes, it’s a Nissan Juke which is a polarising car. It’s highlights tell us that the steel pressings are good and the tolerances tight. How? The highlights flow with little interruption across the gaps. I looked at this for several minutes and decided to Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: Highlights”

The Dust Settles

Welcome to the all-new Dacia – now even Dustier.

Eat my Duster! Image: Dacia UK

Why are you showing me this? I can see it’s a Dacia Duster.

Yes, but this is the new Dacia Duster.

Really? Not being funny or anything, but this looks more like a mild facelift. Are you certain it’s new?

We’ve only got Renault’s word on this, and while it’s clearly on the outgoing car’s inner structure, Dacia insist every exterior panel has been changed. This is what they have to say on the matter: Continue reading “The Dust Settles”

Infamia, By Lancia

Always first with the news that matters, this just in…

In a surprise move today, FCA’s Sergio Marchionne announced during an earnings call that the beleaguered Lancia brand could be set to make a comeback. During his conference call with analysts he left strong hints that a new Lancia model, (tipped to be a compact crossover), is being planned – a vehicle type increasingly popular across European markets.

Insiders familiar with the matter suggest Continue reading “Infamia, By Lancia”