1978 Citroen Visa Road Test

“Citroen’s newest car!” In what very much looks like a verbatim transcript of a period review, Archie Vicar considers Citroen’s 1978 Visa. Does it have what it takes be a proper Peugeot?

1978 Citroen Visa: source

The article first appeared in the Evening Post-Echo in November 1978. Douglas Land-Windermere provided the accompanying print photos. Due to the poor quality of the images, stock pictures have been used.

French car-firm Peugeot’s buy-up of the perennially troubled French car-firm Citroen could not have come soon enough. The new Visa is the last of Citroen’s lunatic inventions, engineered under the former rule of Michelin, surveyors of food and purveyors of tyres. It takes a good six years to devise a new car so the germ of the Visa hatched long before Peugeot could rescue Citroen from itself. That’s why Peugeot find themselves watching Citroen launch the deliberately eccentric and challengingly strange new Visa yet it is still a car with a hint of Peugeots to come.

So, how does one Continue reading “1978 Citroen Visa Road Test”

Drophead Candy

Up to now we’ve managed relatively few words on the subject of Aston Martin. It’s probably time we remedied that.

2018 Aston DB11 Volante. Image: South China Morning Post

It wasn’t necessarily a matter of prejudice, but I suspect a degree of ambivalence might have crept in. Certainly in recent years under the leadership of the over-rated Ulrich Bez, the storied British marque came to rival Bentley as purveyors of overstyled and increasingly vulgar trinkets for the well heeled and indolent. Continue reading “Drophead Candy”

A Potato For Sunday

Our item yesterday on the demise of the Citroen C4 made me consider blandness yet again.

2017 Citroen C4

Here’s the car. Despite its many small styling features there’s nothing to focus on. Unlike the Alfa Romeo 164 it suggests nothing more than what is there. Like the Tagora, the car has undynamic proportions, a generic contemporary design which offends no-one except to the extent one considers it a waste of resources. Continue reading “A Potato For Sunday”

Tailoring the Tagora

The other day I posted an article about blandness in which the Talbot Tagora had another drubbing.

1981 Talbot Tagora adjusted: based on a Wikipedia image.

Above is a very roughly revised version. What I learned in making it look a bit better (I believe) was that a) it a had a slightly over-tall glass house b) the front axle-to-scuttle distance needed to be longer c) the boot needed to be longer and d) the c-pillar is too far back. In executing these rough changes I noticed how much parallelism is deployed.

There are substantial areas of the car that seem to Continue reading “Tailoring the Tagora”

The Citroën C4 Hatchback is dead. All Rejoice.

The outgoing C4 is a car that will pass without comment or eulogy. Except here. Well, of sorts anyway…

Shut the door on your way out, there’s a love… The Citroen C4, yesterday. Image carsguide.au

They say that above every cloud lies blue sky, so while we get over our disappointment with the creative execution of the heavily facelifted C4 Cactus, its advent has brought about the demise of perhaps the least worthy bearer of the double chevron ever. Seemingly killed for lacking that now essential Citroën quality, its lack of joie de vivre and cynical adequacy has ensured that it no longer fits within Linda Jackson’s (bouncy) castle moat.

Announcing the decision to Continue reading “The Citroën C4 Hatchback is dead. All Rejoice.”

About Really Nice Cars and Boring Ones Too

Today I’ll ask why the 164 is ace and why the 2017 Mazda Vision Coupe is like a naked lady.

2017 Mazda Vision Coupe: source

An article and a comment by our colleagues on the Alfa Romeo 164 constitute the launch position of this particular rocket aimed into Inquiry Space. The article can be found here for your review but I will cite part of S.V.Robinson’s follow-up comment as it suggests the direction of this piece today: “I remember one commentator stating that the 164’s styling had that same balance and immediate sense of effortlessness as the Supermarine Spitfire and, oddly, it stayed with me as a very left field but accurate point if view…. I see a beautiful red 164 V6 regularly and it still Continue reading “About Really Nice Cars and Boring Ones Too”

When the Poets Dreamed of Angels

Fiat received most of the credit, but the 1987 Alfa Romeo 164 was a genuine Alfa Romeo, despite what some might retrospectively suggest.

Fumia’s masterpiece. Image: favcars

In 2014, then Alfa Romeo chief, Harald Wester illustrated the marque’s latterday decline with an image of the 164, stating that by making it front wheel drive, it had diluted the carmaker’s bloodline. But instead he demonstrated both an eloquent disdain for his forebears and a blind ignorance of history. Dismissing the 164, perhaps the most accomplished and rounded product the troubled Milanese car maker had produced since the 1960s, not only made Wester Continue reading “When the Poets Dreamed of Angels”

From Within Outside Turns Upside Down

It’s Tokyo Motor Show Time again. There is so much to discuss. Recently we politely drew your attention to the new Toyota Century. Crouched at the other end of the spectrum from that is the Fine Comfort Ride concept. It’s not real, it’s not petrol driven, it’s not very square at all. 

2017 Toyota Fine Comfort Ride: source

The powertrain of this Toyota sets up the framework for this concept car which has strong points and a major weak point. The fuel-cell arrangement allowed the designers to have another go at re-defining the luxury car: a flat floor, a short nose and a wheel at each corner so lots of room can be crammed inside. From a creative point of view, the freedom from the constraints of the RWD petrol-engined three-box saloon should mean a chance to be a bit daring. On first examination, I want to Continue reading “From Within Outside Turns Upside Down”

Arc de Triomphe

Visually speaking, the 2006 Citroën C-Triomphe didn’t quite live up to its name, which may explain why it remains something of an automotive unicorn today.

2006 Citroen C-Triomphe/C4 Sedan. Image: citroenet

PSA announced this particular iteration of their C-segment contender in 2004, a car which replaced the unloved and visually underwhelming Xsara model line. This car, believed to have been the work of Donato Coco and Bertrand Rapatel under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Ploué marked the beginning of a renaissance at Citroën’s Vélizy styling centre. Adieu to the creative torpidity of the Blakeslee years, welcome back creativity. Theoretically at least. Continue reading “Arc de Triomphe”

Untether the Ewes and Sing Your Song, Euan.

The only way forwards is back, according to an old dictum. BMW thinks so too.

More premium, uglier. Image: autoblog

In a recent article at Autocropley, Richard Bremner presented without criticism BMW’s plans to “go upmarket”. Firstly, one has to say, aren’t they already supposed to be upmarket?

Well, the answer is no apparently. As we showed here, BMW’s price spectrum has dropped somewhat in the last twenty years. The price of the cheapest cars fell well into territory that was long the preserve of the hum-drum, mass-market brands as BMW traded on its name. Further, the price of its most expensive cars fell too. Altogether this means that as BMW has managed to Continue reading “Untether the Ewes and Sing Your Song, Euan.”

A Photo for Sunday – They Grow Up so Fast

Don’t be fooled by the musicals, the rain in Spain falls on the coastline too.

Image: Driven to Write

Marbella in October can be precipitous and to be fair, this was the only day it rained during my recent visit, so I’m not complaining. The Irish are used to getting wet anyway, so I was hardly going to let a drop in atmospheric pressure interrupt my ongoing quest for a green car. However, while pounding the streets, I Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday – They Grow Up so Fast”

Nothing Sundered, nay: Ambivalence Restored

From certain viewpoints, the 2000-2005 Kia Magentis looks quite acceptable. 

With the passage of many seasons and, especially in the context of engine downsizing, the V6 allied to a comfortable ride make the Magentis seem even more acceptable. The very same day I saw the Kia, a retired policeman and his wife proudly showed off the engine bay of their (metallic green) Volvo S70: a 2.4 litre quint. Both of these Continue reading “Nothing Sundered, nay: Ambivalence Restored”

Cactus World News

Citroen’s C4 Cactus is a popular choice in Southern Europe, but signs are that it’s fading. Is the fun over already?

A common Costa del Sol sight. All images: Driven to Write

One of the drawbacks of being something of a novelty act is that there is often a risk that its appeal will fade. Upon its introduction in 2014, Citroën’s C4 Cactus was viewed as something of a character amidst a sector somewhat devoid of it. With styling which combined a studied practicality and ruggedness with a cheerful and largely unaggressive demeanour, initial sales for the model were strong, with 28,974 registered in 2014. Continue reading “Cactus World News”

1973 Peugeot 204 Road Test

“More and more than before!” In what appears to be a period review of the Peugeot 204 by  legendary motoring critic, Archie Vicar, the car is assessed in the course of a drive in Portugal.

1973 Peugeot 204

The article first appeared in the Neath Guardian, January 12, 1973. Douglas Land-Windernere (sic) is credited with the photography.

The French do like these peculiar little cars, the English less so: 130 a month is all Peugeot can sell around here compared to 1300 Renault 12s. One doesn’t have to look hard to see why this might be. The coachwork demands concentration to behold, the price is high and the interior is Spartan. But Peugeot want to  Continue reading “1973 Peugeot 204 Road Test”

Green Car Bingo

Driven to Write’s accidental tourist discovers an unusual way to amuse himself on holiday.

Corsa Verde in downtown Marbella. All Images: Driven to Write

Following a recent sojourn back in Ireland, your correspondent has pitched up in the Costa del Sol for a well-merited change of scenery – and climate. But given that I appear to have forgotten how to behave on holiday, how is a Driven to Writer to spend his downtime, other than to Continue reading “Green Car Bingo”

As They To The Lychgate Draw Near So Waxes Quick The Quiet Fear

Chopping the back off a saloon can lead to unfortunate results.

1979 Buick Century Aeroback

The 1978 A-body cars at GM lost a lot of fat in the downsizing wave of the mid-70s. Half a tonne of car vanished per model. For the Aeroback cars such as this 1979 Century coupe even more metal got sliced off (the same went for the very similar Olds Cutlass Salon).

The 1977 Talbot Sunbeam and 1975 AMC Pacer underwent the same sort of radical surgery in the name of making one car out of another. But if you want to Continue reading “As They To The Lychgate Draw Near So Waxes Quick The Quiet Fear”

Getting Down With Da Kidz, Heide Style

Volkswagen’s T-Roc compact recreational SUV is not some belated attempt at jumping on the bandwagon. It’s worse than that. 

vw-t-roc-2017-1_1
Livin’ the urban spirit of Photoshopolis, photo (c) autozeitung.de

Despite decades of commentators claiming the opposite, being a designer at VW never was an easy job. One needs to be within spitting distance to current fashion, but still keep the technocratic aloofness that’s characterised the brand’s best products intact. Which is no mean feat under any circumstances. Continue reading “Getting Down With Da Kidz, Heide Style”

A Photo For Sunday: 2007 Ford Focus CC

The 1996 Mercedes-Benz SLK (R-170) by Mauer and Gunak started a trend for coupe-convertibles. In 2007 Ford joined the party as it began to end. 

2007 Ford Focus CC

Pininfarina helped out with the styling and created one of the more successful attempts at using a C-class platform upon which to base such a car. Unlike Mauer and Gunak’s neatly styled roadster the Ford had to Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 2007 Ford Focus CC”

Where Shall That Die Fall? Whom From Their Path Will It Deflect?

It was thirty years ago this month that Car magazine excitedly put the new Cavalier on their front cover. Mainstream cars helped sell magazines in those bygone olden days of yesteryore.

I have plucked some of the most interesting bits from the four-page spread which depends for its value on six spy shots of the car. The then-current Cavalier/Ascona, once a sales superstar had begun to wilt in the market so the new one had to catch up with the ascendant Sierra rather than Continue reading “Where Shall That Die Fall? Whom From Their Path Will It Deflect?”

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Amid a landscape characterised by an unremitting and frankly repugnant aggression within mainstream European car design, thank heavens for the Japanese.

Daihatsu’s 2017 Tokyo concepts. Image: AutoGuide

September’s IAA motor show at Frankfurt was as dispiriting a illustration of an industry adrift as one could realistically hope not to witness. (Thankfully, I didn’t). Whether it was the remote and soulless autonomous concepts, (step forward Audi), the endless parade of evermore vulgar and over-wrought SUVs, or the even more depressingly torpid production offerings, Frankfurt was (with one or two exceptions) something of a bore. Continue reading “Reasons To Be Cheerful”

Grabbing The Bull By The Horns

Maybe Italian supercarmakers should revisit the past modus operandi of hiring the services of external styling houses. A recent case certainly gives food for thought in this regard.

fullsizeoutput_f19
A Lamborghini Aventador S braving a sand storm in the desert of Photoshopistan, photo (c) Lamborghini S.p.A.

Bertone: gone. Italdesign: Volkswagenised. Pininfarina: part of the Mahindra conglomerate. The Italian carrozzerie have seen better times than today, that much is certain. Continue reading “Grabbing The Bull By The Horns”

Lineaments, Landmarks and Leys

The code names HT51S, E-28, W-124, CDW27 and SD-1 surely no longer remain obscure enough to demonstrate proof of your car design knowledge. Add, please, G20, G30 G40, G50 to the list. Toyota’s third Century, G60,  arrives soon.

2018 Toyota Century: source

Elsewhere here I have discussed the possibility of technical updates of classic designs where the styling remains much the same even as the engineering gets revised on an evolutionary basis. The Porsche 911, the New Beetle and New Mini approximate to this ideal. Cars like the LR Defender didn’t change enough to count and nor did the long-lived original Mini or Renault 4. For an exemplar of gradual, engineering-led evolution, we must turn to the Toyota Century, now only getting to its third incarnation since 1967.  Continue reading “Lineaments, Landmarks and Leys”

Mégane à Trois Volumes

Advance apologies to the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France and their eagle-eyed cohorts regarding the title header. 

All Images: Driven to Write

Earlier in the year I spoke at some length about Renault’s Mégane Grand Coupé offering, a car which is not only unavailable in drear old Blighty, but also (somewhat surprisingly) within Renault’s homeland. Introduced to the Irish market earlier this year, the Mégane sedan (sorry, but it’s neither grand nor a coupe) appears to have taken off here, with my highly unscientific visual survey suggesting Continue reading “Mégane à Trois Volumes”

Missing The Ball At Polo

The newest generation of one of VW’s non-Golf evergreens stands for the greater malaise of the German car industry – and acute deficits chez Wolfsburg

VW Polo VI, photo (c) automobil-produktion.de

To the untrained eye, this newest generation of Polo looks pretty much the same as its predecessor. Alas, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Whereas the Polo V was a small stylistic gem, boasting subtle craftsmanship of the highest order, from its expert surfacing to the delicacy of its detailing, this new car’s styling achieves the feat of managing to Continue reading “Missing The Ball At Polo”

A Photo For Sunday: 1993 Ford Mondeo CLX

The UK didn’t get this badge though it might have got an identically specified car under another label. This is a Euro-market, Mondeo CLX.

1993 Ford Mondeo CLX

Unfortunately I did not get close enough to the object to a) take a better picture or b) inspect the tailgate. From a distance I could see no clues as to whether this one could Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1993 Ford Mondeo CLX”

Combing The Hair Underwater Again, Are We?

Among the numerous small obsessions nurtured, nay, incubated at DTW is a concern for brightwork. Here’s another example of the art:

2016 BMW 425d DLO garnish

The car is a BMW 425d, complete with the rather supernumerary, superfluous and unnecessary label in the rearmost sideglass. Isn’t that the kind of thing you’d expect of a lesser marque in the 1980s? (Prizes for finding the kind of thing I have in mind). We’ve reflected on brightwork here (very good) and here (interesting) here (shocking, frankly) and here (a bit technical but ultimately rewarding) but not here (more people need to read that one). At this point, readers might be wonder when we are going to Continue reading “Combing The Hair Underwater Again, Are We?”

Barchetta to Bobcat

Ford’s pre-millennial coupé didn’t gestate in an Erlenmeyer flask, but it was something of an amalgam nonetheless. We take a look at the Puma’s moodboard.

Production Puma in the inevitable Moondust Silver. Image RAC

The design theme for the 1997 Ford Puma bridged the blue oval’s early ’90s ovoid, organic design era and the ‘New Edge’ theme which arrived at the dawn of the millennium. But the roots of the Puma programme lie deeper. Continue reading “Barchetta to Bobcat”

Better Never Than Not at All

Recently we have been debating Opel and Vauxhall. The general consensus is not that good for a brand fielding its best products since the last lot of good products…

1995 Opel Vectra “B”: source

…which, if you think about it, it is pretty much most of their cars with one very debatable model and one not debatable model. For reasons known only to Opel and Vauxhall’s marketing staff, Opel have been tarred with a Clarkson-shaped brush. Good old Sir Jeremy, now Lord, Clarkson, saw fit to damn the Vectra “B” because it wasn’t an Alfa Romeo, Porsche or BMW M3 but happened to suit the needs of regular motorists.

In so doing he seemed to Continue reading “Better Never Than Not at All”

Registering Discontent

Everybody’s gettin’ down at the Disco, so Land Rover’s CCO gets his boogie shoes on.

Asymmetric or just plain odd? Image: autoexpress

Since Land Rover announced the current L462 Discovery last year, JLR and Land Rover’s Chief Creative Officer, Gerry McGovern have been batting away varying degrees of critical opprobrium over the vehicle’s rear-end styling – the Discovery’s offset numberplate positioning to be exact. A few weeks ago GMG expressed his defiance at the critical backlash associated with his creation, suggesting the problem was not of his making.

Speaking to Auto Express, McGovern made it clear that he saw no issue with the styling feature, instead suggesting LR dealers Continue reading “Registering Discontent”

Far From The Mainstream: De La Chapelle

One example is for sale here, and it is a scale model: €11,000. It does however, have a 4hp petrol motor. It’s 224 cm long and has never been used. 

2007 De La Chapelle 328 scale replica: Autoscout24.com

None are listed at Mobile.de.

De La Chapelle must be one of the most unusual small-scale constructors. Not content with making five full-size cars in the repro-retro mould, the also make operational cars for children (the BMW roadster shown above). They will also make a car to order, which is what the 328 appears to be, hence the remarkable price.  Continue reading “Far From The Mainstream: De La Chapelle”

Bobcat by Another Name

Another in a series of lasts: The 1997 Ford Puma. We won’t see its like again.

Image: carcatalog

The 1990s saw Ford’s European outpost embark upon a period of reflection; a polar realignment from the provision of lowest common denominator perambulatory devices to a respected and critically lauded manufacturer of class-leaders. This process began in earnest with the 1995 debut of the BE91-series Fiesta. While retaining the body structure and basic mechanicals of the critically unloved preceding model, a series of chassis and engine refinements in addition to a major external and internal restyle saw the Fiesta Continue reading “Bobcat by Another Name”

IAA: Lone Star

The classiest, most charming Mercedes-Benz S-class derivative in ages does not wear a three-pointed star. How poignant. 

fullsizeoutput_e01

This is not a Mercedes-Benz S-class convertible sporting some new DetoxAmbience® specification, but the Carlsson Diospyros. Hiding behind that clumsy moniker – and the presumption that car customising inevitably leads to Mansory-like levels of gaucheness – is the most assured and tasteful version of the current S-class released so far. Continue reading “IAA: Lone Star”

If We Really Stop and Think

There’s something rather peculiar about selling the only car of its kind in the whole country and noting it’s a “non-smoker’s car”. Is there really a person who will consider a car like this only if the ashtray has been unused?

1996 Toyota Paseo interior: source

There’s only one on sale in Denmark at the moment.

The small ad world throngs with peculiarities like this. The likelihood is that the seller isn’t a professional so probably hasn’t been able to Continue reading “If We Really Stop and Think”